Varadkar: Changes to Covid supports will target them to those most in need 

Opposition TDs raise concerns as Tánaiste says Government plans to make changes to EWSS, PUP, and other supports 
Varadkar: Changes to Covid supports will target them to those most in need 

Leo Varadkar said the Government will have to make decisions in the coming days regarding PUP, EWSS, and other financial supports for businesses and workers.

Changes to Covid measures will ensure only workers and businesses in need of support will be targeted for financial help, the Tánaiste has said.

Leo Varadkar has said the Government will have to make decisions in the coming days regarding the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP), the employment wage subsidy scheme (EWSS), and other financial supports for businesses.

A number of TDs raised concerns in the Dáil that Covid supports are being reduced at a time when businesses are being hit as a result of public health advice to limit social activity.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the hospitality, entertainment, and tourism sectors are "struggling to cope with the wave of cancellations" after Nphet and the Government appealed to people to reduce their social contacts: 

This amounts to death by a thousand cuts for the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

"While the advice was undoubtedly necessary to stem the steep increase in Covid cases, it came with a very real cost," she said.

Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin called for the restoration of supports for tourism and hospitality businesses "to at least the equivalent" of the payment that was available under the EWSS.

"They have been through a torrid time and need the support of the Government," he said.

Mayo TD Alan Dillon told the Dáil that extending supports at the full rate would act as "an incredible sign of support" to struggling sectors: 

It is one thing to see a change in public behaviour but the reduction in the EWSS is rubbing salt into the wound.

Mr Varadkar said any changes would be made after the Government considers the latest Nphet letter.

However, he said: "It should not necessarily be a cross-economy approach for sectors that may not need these financial supports anymore, which are ultimately very expensive and at the cost of the taxpayer.

"The employment wage subsidy scheme, for example, costs €400m a month, which is a huge amount of money. 

We need to make sure that anything we do is targeted at the businesses and sectors that need support and not those that do not. 

Mr Varadkar pointed out that there are now 2.4m people at work in Ireland and said most owners he encounters say they are struggling to find staff.

However, he added: "It would not be fair to say to those people, some of whom are potentially being laid off for the second or third time, that all we have for them is the traditional jobseeker's payment. That is my view. 

“We’re at that point where we will be able to make decisions in the next couple of days," he told the Dáil.

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