Chamber calls for blanket extension of temporary wage subsidy scheme

Limerick Chamber chief executive Dee Ryan Photo: Oisin McHugh
LIMERICK Chamber welcomes the launch and publication by Government of the new National “Return to Work Safely” Protocol, which outlines the minimum protective measures that employers are required to put in place as preparations are being made throughout the county for the phased reopening of the economy.
Speaking today Chamber CEO Dee Ryan called for urgent action on further support measures .
“Businesses throughout Limerick are doing the maths on whether or not they can afford to reopen, or indeed if they can afford to bring all their people back to work.
“The Government’s Roadmap for reopening indicates that by August, all going well, most of the economy can expect to be operating again with mandatory safety measures in place. The Autumn will reveal what our new normal will look like,  and more accurate projections of income can be made based on trading levels then.” she said.
Ms. Ryan stated that the temporary wage subsidy scheme has been the most significant support measure implemented to date for Chamber members and that it has been a life-line for Business.
“I urge the Minister to extend the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme, in line with the phased reopening, to continue supporting companies to retain workers while businesses ramp up to the September new norm levels. “
Other critical measures in the short term include grants to assist businesses in meeting their fixed costs which are continuing to accumulate. The Restart Grant announced by the Government last week is based on a local authority rates rebate from 2019 and is capped at a maximum of €10,000.
“This grant simply does not go far enough. Many small businesses will not qualify for the maximum grant under this scheme. It is not logical to base grants on a commercial rate property valuation.  Grants should instead be determined by loss in turnover as is the case in Denmark”
VAT reductions on consumer goods and services are also critical for restarting the economy according to Limerick Chamber, which represents 440 member organisations throughout the Mid West including members in Retail and Hospitality sector.
“Significant measures need to be taken around VAT for the remainder of this year. Looking ahead, the Tourism sector is not expected to return to 2019 operating levels until 2023 and so an on-going reduced VAT rate and other funding measures will be essential to support employment in this sector.”
The process of re-opening will come with additional costs for many employers, as was found in research published by Chambers Ireland last week. These costs will impact viability in many cases.
“If we are to successfully reopen and thus prevent an economic crisis from becoming a full scale Depression then much more needs to be pledged by government.  Until we have clarity on these issues, anxiety levels will remain high for employers and employees in Limerick Businesses”