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Minister announces increase to wage subsidy scheme

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said for incomes that are less than approximately €24,400 per year, the State will increase the subsidy available to employers from 70% to 85%.

For those employees with previous average net pay between €412 and €500 per week (equivalent to €24,400-€31,000), the subsidy will be up to €350 per week.

The aim of the scheme is to maximise staff retention and firm viability by maintaining the link between the employer and employee.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Donohoe said that the State will also introduce “flexibility” on how the subsidy is paid.

There are 42,000 employers on the scheme, Minister Donohoe said, and he highlighted that at its inception he had agreed that he would use “affordable change” to maximise the number of people in a job.

He said in the absence of a scheme there would be over a million people on the Live Register or in receipt of other forms of income support.

Mr Donohoe agreed that this increase would put additional pressure on the State’s finances but he said it would create savings in other areas.

“Depending on the number of employers or employees who avail of this scheme it could increase the cost of the operation by €100-€140 million but on the other hand the saving we would get is potentially reducing the number of people who are accessing the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.”

Business group, Ibec, has welcomed today’s announcement.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said the scheme offers a strong solution for business and workforce continuity.

“It will continue to play a vital role in enabling the economy to bounce back at the other end of this crisis, helping vulnerable firms to stay afloat and keeping their employees engaged whilst protecting the incomes of individuals.”

He called for all stakeholders to help make the scheme work “including those employers acting in good faith and doing their best to support employees and preserve their business for the recovery.”

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the changes will end weeks of uncertainty for low-paid and middle-income earners.

General Secretary, Patricia King said, “It is understandable having regard to the context in which enabling legislation was drafted that anomalies would arise. I hope that today’s announcement will spur a further growth in the uptake of the scheme and look forward to working with the relevant parties in ironing out any further irregularities.”

From RTE News.