August 31, 2020
Flawed Employment Wage Subsidy scheme putting jobs and businesses at risk – Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has warned that weaknesses in the new Employment Wage Subsidy scheme must be addressed immediately to avoid job losses and business closures in the weeks ahead.

Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said:

“Sinn Féin have worked constructively with the Government to protect workers and incomes with wage supports – a vital tool in maintaining jobs and staving off the scourge of unemployment.

“We have also worked to resolve problems such as the low level of subsidy for low-income workers under the previous Wage Subsidy Scheme, and its exclusion of women returning from maternity.

“The Government’s new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is replete with problems for workers and businesses, which must be resolved immediately.

“The new scheme significantly reduces the level of wage subsidy for workers and their employers, and removes all support for those earning less than €151.50 per week.

“This blanket reduction in support fails to take account of the fact that some sectors have suffered more than others as a result of public health measures.

“In addition to this, employees with gross weekly pay of less than €151.50 per week will not be eligible for any subsidy whatsoever.

“There are over 153 thousand such workers across the economy, who are now locked out of the new scheme. This risks permanent job losses for part-time and low-income workers.

“In July we called for a subsidy of 85 percent of prior net weekly pay for workers earning less than €152 per week, with differing levels of subsidy introduced for sectors most impacted by the public health measures.   

“In addition to these problems, employers face administrative difficulties that risk their viability and the jobs of those they employ.

“The requirement for a Tax Clearance Certificate risks many employers not being eligible for the new scheme from next week, threatening their very viability. This requirement for the new scheme has been poorly communicated by the Government.

“To ensure maximum take-up, this requirement should be temporarily suspended.

“Furthermore, under the new EWSS, employers will be waiting up to 6 weeks from 1st September until they receive their first subsidy payments. This will create grave cash flow problems which many businesses do not have the working capital to overcome.

“The Minister and Revenue must shorten this time-frame to ensure that businesses receive subsidies as quickly as possible to support their cash flow and their employees.

“Unless these issues are resolved quickly, this Government risks causing a Jobs Crisis in the weeks and months ahead.”

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