Millions on offer to bring Limerick back to work

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LIMERICK business owners are benefitting from a multi-million euro package of incentives to get their employees back to work as the Covid-19 restrictions are gradually relaxed.

With more than €11 million a week being claimed in the city and county through temporary unemployment benefit and wage subsidies, the range of supports will be significantly enhanced next week when Government announces its July stimulus plan.

Around 2,000 Limerick employers have registered for the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme which has been subsidising their payroll costs by an estimated €7 million a week.

More than €4 million a week is being paid out in Pandemic Unemployment Payments (PUP) to 13,000 people across Limerick city and county. Many of them are expected to return to their jobs as more local firms expand their operations over the coming weeks.

The number of Limerick people in receipt of PUP is already showing a steady decline with an average of 930 people a week coming off the payment since May 5 when there were 22,300 claimants. The rate of decline has accelerated in recent weeks with 2,100 coming off the payment in Limerick last week alone.

The payments have been a vital lifeline for many workers and businesses since the imposition of the Covid-19 restrictions last March and they have been backed up by a range of incentives introduced by Limerick City and County Council over recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Collins urged small business owners to apply for restart grants of between €2,000 and €10,000, based on their commercial rates bill from last year.  The council administered scheme was introduced to help local firms with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers.

So far, 1,032 grants have been processed with €4.46 million in payments going direct to Limerick businesses. Average payments are €4,510 per business with Limerick City and County Council paying out the highest amount of money in the country.

It is estimated that less than a third of the businesses eligible for the ReStart Grant have actually applied.

Mayor Collins said that as a small business owner, he fully understood the worry and uncertainty brought about by Covid-19.

“The ReStart Grant will help allay some of the costs associated with re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. It can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs and is available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or fewer.

The business must have suffered a loss of at least 25 per cent in revenue from April to July, and must commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed.  It must also declare the intention to retain employees that are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).