From the WCDAI submission letter on the 13th of June last we have had representation in both Cork West and Galway East.
Below is the answers to the three questions we asked:
Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if he will assist in securing an extension for a moratorium on business debt for businesses that are unlikely to see a recovery until 2021 at the earliest.
Paschal Donohoe – Minister for Finance
As the Deputy will be aware, as Minister for Finance I have no function in the commercial decisions made by banks. I would urge anyone who may be worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their ability to repay their loans to make contact with their bank and discuss their options. Each of the banks have a wide range of supports available for customers impacted by COVID-19.
I welcome the ongoing work of the banks in helping business customers impacted by COVID-19, which included the initial three month payment-breaks that allowed their customers to defer some of their most significant outgoings. In April the members of the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) announced their intention to extend these payment breaks to six months for customers that require it.
The European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority have made a number of announcements recently, which set out regulatory flexibility to ensure that the banking sector can support their customers who experience repayment difficulty due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In particular, the EBA has clarified that payment moratoria, such as the one adopted by the banking sector in Ireland, should not automatically result in the reclassification of borrowers who avail of the payment break. It is important to note that these payment breaks must be applied for by 30 September 2020, as this is the new extended deadline announced 18 June by the European Banking Authority.
The Central Bank is focused on ensuring that extensions to COVID-19 related payment breaks operate in borrowers’ best interests and in line with regulatory requirements. The Central Bank has clearly communicated and agreed with the BPFI that it expects that at the end of the agreed payment break that borrowers who can return to full repayments be given, at the minimum, the option to either repay the loan within the remaining term or extend the term of the loan, without penalties noting that borrower circumstances and the appropriateness of each option may differ. These options may result in an increase in monthly repayments due to the overall increase in the cost of credit and this should be fully explained to the borrower. Borrowers can find more information on payment breaks at the Central Bank’s COVID–19 Hub.
Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the extension of the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment will be extended beyond the current timeline for the small public service vehicle industry. [12658/20]
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Regina Doherty)
I propose to take Questions Nos. 790, 797, 830 to 832, inclusive, 846, 857, 858, 862 and 863 together.
The COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment was introduced as a time limited emergency measure in response to the pandemic and Government has approved the extension of this payment until 10th August. The Government is aware that there are certain sectors which will be affected by business closures longer than others and the confirmation that this payment will be available until early August provides financial certainty to people affected at this time.
The conditions for receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment are that a person must be of working age between 18 and up to 66 years old, have been in employment immediately before 13th March and have lost their income from employment due to the pandemic. Where a person does not meet the conditions for receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment and they are unemployed for 4 days or more in a week they can apply for the social-insurance based jobseekers benefit or means tested jobseekers allowance.
A self-employed person must have suffered a collapse of income and be available to take up other full time employment if it was available, in order to qualify for the pandemic unemployment payment. Where a self-employed person does not meet the conditions for receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment and are operating at a reduced level of business they may be eligible for support under the jobseekers allowance payment. Jobseeker’s Benefit for the self- employed, which I introduced last year, is available for self -employed people who have ceased trading and who satisfy the conditions of the scheme which include having sufficient social insurance contributions paid.
It should be noted that any person who is experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for other financial support under the means tested supplementary welfare allowance scheme including an Exceptional or Urgent needs payment.
My colleague, the Minister for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has introduced a range of supports and guidance to assist businesses with their recovery from the severe financial impacts of the pandemic. The Minister Children and Youth Affairs has announced a major funding package to facilitate the reopening of childcare facilities from 29 June 2020. Details of these supports are available on www.gov.ie.
Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will meet representatives of organisations (details supplied) to discuss their recovery plan and in order to open lines of communication with the tourism recovery task force and the task force for aviation recovery.
Shane Ross – Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
The Tourism Recovery Taskforce and the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery continue to consider a range of ideas for stimulating the recovery of the tourism and aviation sectors and it is open to any interested party to make a submission. I have appointed Independent Chairs to both streams of work and will await their recommendations. I would be happy to receive written submissions from the groups and ensure that they are sent on to the Taskforces for consideration.
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