Landlords and Tenants must work together in the face of coronavirus

Landlords and Tenants: you can’t have one without the other, and the Covid-19 crisis is certainly creating challenging and uncertain times for both sectors. Ultimately their fates, as ever, are intertwined. But fairness, transparency and open honest dialogue between both groups will be essential as we navigate this crisis.

In normal times there is a dip, a trough and a recovery. In this case, the dip has been immediate, the trough is uncertain but will last a number of months and for most the recovery is hopefully going to be relatively quick as there will be a push to get back to business both nationally and globally.

Both Landlords and Tenants are interdependent on each other and the failure of one will undoubtedly impact the other. Landlords and Tenants will, of course, be anxious to get through this period while protecting their investments and businesses. This has to happen in a fair and balanced way and needs both sides to understand the difficulties that each sector has. Landlords may have bank loans on the relevant properties and repayments to make plus may need to report to other stakeholders. A business who may have been forced to close or who is operating remotely albeit with a significantly reduced turnover. Unless they have sufficient cash reserves they simply cannot make their rental commitments.

There regretfully is no silver bullet that will solve this dilemma. However, it is obvious that putting unreasonable demands on the tenant and not being prepared to take into account the issues that the business is contending with, will prove counterproductive. Landlords who are inflexible and demand full payment of rent as per the terms of their lease irrespective of the businesses circumstances will greatly impede the ability of the business not alone to recover but indeed to survive.

We don't know when we will return to any degree of normality but it is sadly some way down the road. Any return will more than likely be on a staggered basis and the economy will slowly but surely begin to restart. Every sector needs to support the other, and this includes the Banks, Landlords, Businesses, and Government. Nothing else will suffice if we want an economy and indeed a society to go back to.

Covid-19: Ireland launches “The Community Call” in major nationwide volunteering effort

The Community Call, a major initiative that links local and national government with the community and voluntary sectors, was announced today by Government.

The Community Call is an unprecedented mobilisation of both state and voluntary resources to combat the effects of Covid-19.

The purpose of the Community Call is to coordinate community activity, direct community assistance to where it is needed, and marshal the volunteering energy of the country.

The immediate focus is on the elderly and the most vulnerable, and mobilising rapid response in every country to make sure everyone is looked after. In the coming weeks, the focus will expand to broader the wellbeing of our society and how communities can work together to help the country through the Covid-19 crisis.

The Community call was announced today by the Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring TD, the Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan TD, and the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly who represented the Local Authorities. Speaking at the launch this morning, An Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD said:

We are all finding it very strange to be home and to be keeping away from our family and community. But those that are vulnerable or in need of a bit of help need to know that they are not alone. The government is tapping into the reach of our local authorities in every corner of Ireland as well as the extraordinary dedication of a legion of voluntary groups and charities. For those who need some help, it is there for you.

Speaking at today’s event, Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, praised the outstanding contribution of the community and voluntary sector to the national effort to address the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the very start of this emergency, the community and voluntary sector has been working on the ground and also at national level with my Department, to prepare for the Community Response which we are outlining today. One of our greatest assets in this country is the strength of our local, community and voluntary networks.

We are now asking that those networks – formal and informal – be mobilised so that everyone in our communities can look after each other. If your neighbours or relatives are required to stay at home – check with them to see if they need supports. And if you are in that category yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help - whether it’s with shopping, fuel delivery, collecting medicines or any other necessities of daily life. The Local Authority helpline is there as a safety net, to ensure that everyone is looked after.

For more information, go to Gov.ie

At National level, Community Call will be overseen by a group from the Department of An Taoiseach, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Health, and the County and City Management Association.

The Community Call will be overseen and managed locally by our Local Authorities, led by the county Chief Executives. The CEOs, the most senior public official in every county, have been tasked with making this work, and are leading a dedicated community Forum in each county to coordinate and connect the wide range of services and supports that are available. The forum involves an extensive list of state and voluntary organisations. A dedicated phone line is now operational in every county, details at. gov.ie and the national number 0818 222 024 is also now in operation.

 

 

  • Cork City Council 1800 222 226
  • Cork County Council 1800 805 819

COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme - Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs/ FAQs on : Operation of the Transitional phase of the COVID-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

 

Dear Members,
The Employer Refund Scheme has been replaced by a new and enhanced Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme for employers.
It is important for you to note that Employers who have already signed up for the refund scheme announced do not need to reapply.  Revenue will contact them to confirm that they meet the conditions for this new scheme.
  • The scheme, enables employees to receive significant support directly from their employer. The scheme is expected to last 12 weeks from 26 March 2020. Draft legislation governing the scheme will be published shortly.
  • To qualify for the scheme, employers must:
    * be experiencing significant negative economic disruption due to Covid-19
    * be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of Revenue, a minimum of a 25% decline in turnover
    * be unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings fully
    * retain their employees on the payroll.
  • An eligible employer will be supported by up to 70% of an employee’s take home income up to a maximum weekly tax free payment of €410 (i.e. 70% of take home weekly income of €38,000 per annum).
  • The scheme will provide support on incomes up to €76,000 or twice average earnings.  It will be capped at net €350 for incomes between €38,000 and €76,000.
  • You can read more detail from Government here.

The approach to this refund scheme has been agreed, and will be managed by Revenue Online Service myEnquiries. Select ‘Employer’s PAYE’ then ‘Employer’s PAYE General Enquiry’ when submitting the query through myEnquiries.

 

COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme - Information on Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs

COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme 

On 24 March 2020, the Government announced measures to provide financial support to workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. As part of these measures and building on the functionality developed through PAYE Modernisation, Revenue will operate the Wage Subsidy Scheme. This note sets out the Revenue approach to confirming employer eligibility and examination of supporting proofs. The scheme is a significant investment by Government in supporting both employers and employees through a subsidy that will be paid in real-time.

Key Principle Revenue’s general approach to businesses experiencing cash flow and consequent tax payment difficulties is to work towards agreeing mutually acceptable solutions that assist a return to viability as soon as possible. In any such engagement, Revenue expects businesses to be able to produce relevant supporting documentation when requested to do so and to fully engage with Revenue on any follow up discussions or checks.
Revenue’s administration of the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will operate on a similar basis – eligibility will initially be determined, largely on the basis of self-assessment and declaration by the employer concerned, combined with a risk focused follow up verification by Revenue involving an examination of relevant business records where that is considered necessary.
 
The COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme is available to employers across all sectors excluding the Public Service and Non-Commercial Semi-State Sector. To qualify for the scheme a business must be experiencing a significant negative economic disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In general, this will be readily apparent, some businesses and some sectors have had to close their premises, the impact of public health advice on individual businesses in terms of restrictions on trade, physical distancing, the nature of essential and non-essential businesses, will be obvious. It will also be obvious that some businesses will continue trading and, in some cases, have an increase in business.

Our purpose is to support businesses through the scheme, our approach will be based on a presumption of honesty and we expect businesses to approach the scheme in a similar manner.

Application for the scheme is based on self-assessment principles, a qualifying employer declares that it is significantly impacted by the crisis. Key indicators are that the employer’s turnover is likely to decrease by 25% for quarter 2, 2020; that the business is unable to meet normal wages or normal outputs and any other indicators set out in our guidelines.
In relation to the likely reduction in turnover of 25% or more, this is a reduction in expected turnover for Q2, 2020. The employer is best placed to determine that and may base this judgement on the decline in orders in March 2020, in comparison to February 2020, or the likely turnover for the quarter compared to Q1 or if appropriate Q2, 2019, or on any other basis that is reasonable. In Revenue’s administration of this scheme, the key focus will be on the fact of significant negative economic disruption on the employer due to Covid-19.
Regarding retention of employees, the scheme is confined to employees who were on the employer’s payroll at 29 February 2020, and for whom a payroll submission has already been made to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020. Employees who were laid off after 29 February 2020 may be taken back onto the payroll for the purposes of this scheme.
Revenue will not be looking for proof of qualification at this stage. We may in future, based on risk criteria review eligibility. In this context, employers should retain their evidence/basis for entering the scheme. It will, of course, be very clear to us from our normal relationship with businesses and our normal interaction with businesses that there was no doubt about their qualifications and most importantly it will be very clear that the businesses were so impacted.

Eligibility Supporting Proofs

In any check, Revenue will focus on the types of business records, having regard to the nature and scale of the business, that should normally be readily available for such a business. Where, for example, a business has negotiated forbearance measures with a financial institution, Revenue will not seek to duplicate the relevant information and the documentation from the financial institution will generally be adequate for verification purposes as evidence of financial disruption. As stated already, the critical requirement is to be able to show significant negative economic disruption due to COVID-19. The evidence in that regard will contribute in large part to demonstration of compliance with the other criteria.
The proofs mentioned below are intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive and Revenue is open to considering other relevant evidence as a reasonable demonstration of eligibility for the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and as examples are brought to our attention we will update our Guidelines accordingly.
  • If for some reason the decline in turnover was less than 25% the business should retain documentation supporting its rationale for believing that it would suffer such a decline. 
  • Copies of documentation submitted to a financial institution as part of the negotiation of forbearance measures with the financial institution. 
  • Copies of notifications or communications to employees or Trade Unions or staff representative bodies of salary/wage cuts implemented as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Copies of documentation that show that any cash reserves in the business that are required to fund debt that is equal or greater than the reserve amount. 
Evidence of reliance on the Government Credit Guarantee Scheme or overdraft facilities or other borrowings for capital purposes.
In the case of start-up businesses, for example, evidence of a decline in investment by at least 25% arising from the COVID-19 crisis.
An employer that has been hit by a significant decline in business but has strong cash reserves, that are not required to fund debt, will still qualify for the Scheme but the Government would expect the employer to continue to pay a significant proportion of the employees’ wages.
To emphasise, the examples listed are illustrative only and Revenue is open to considering other relevant evidence as a reasonable demonstration of eligibility for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Conclusion 

In operating the scheme, Revenue’s priority is to ensure that all employers experiencing significant negative economic disruption from COVID-19 can register for and start to receive payment as quickly as possible.
The declaration by the employer is not a declaration of insolvency. The declaration is simply a declaration which states that, based on reasonable projections, there will be, as a result of disruption to the business caused or to be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a decline of at least 25% in the future turnover of, or customer orders for, the business for the duration of the pandemic and that as a result the employer cannot pay normal wages and outgoings fully but nonetheless wants to retain its employees on the payroll.
Revenue does not consider that any employer will require professional advice or assistance in being able to prove to the satisfaction of Revenue that these criteria are met. Should Revenue seek to validate employer eligibility for the scheme, it will adopt a reasonable, fair and pragmatic approach in considering whether the criteria have been met.

Covid-19 Latest Updates for Business & Advice Links

 

LATEST UPDATES & COVID -19 RELATED BUSINESS ADVICE & LINKS

The government announced National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme, will provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis.  Read Here  More information about the Wage Subsidy Scheme can be found here 

Support for businesses impacted by COVID 19 through commercial rates deferral. Read here

The latest announcements from DBEI is available here

Updates from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are available here

The most up to date Government advice is available here

There has been an update to the Employer Refund Scheme, allowing employers engaged with the scheme to top up the payment provided by the State. Find out more here

Minister Doherty announced details of the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme on 18 March, read full details here.

Minister Humphreys announces supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19 on Wednesday 11th March 2020, read about it here.

Recruitment: The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has advised us that businesses can contact employerrelations@welfare.ie with details of their requirements and a response can be activated centrally via Intreo offices and case officers undertaking to match against existing job seekers:

 

         How will this affect your business

 

                 It is important to consider how the virus impacts your business:

  • Check your insurance policy (or with your broker) whether your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by Coronavirus.
  • Are you adequately insured to cover potential financial losses?
  • What local agencies are in a position to support you should your business require support?
  • Consider how a business decision will be made as to whether or not the closure is necessary. Who will make the decision and more importantly, how will this decision be communicated to employees?
  • Are the contact details for all of your employees up to date?
  • Can employees be issued with equipment that facilitates remote working from home? If so ISME has a policy on remote working available in the Members area here.
  • How will the company respond with regard to payment in the event of a closure?

The measures SMEs should take are:

  • Gather information on pandemic influenza and assign responsibilities for planning. Government advice is available here and advice from DBEI is available here.
  • You will be asked about payment for workers self-isolating. This issue is dictated by issues such as the employee’s contract of employment, whether they are symptomatic, whether they have travelled from an at-risk area, or whether they have been in contact with such a person. You can get current information on entitlements here.
  • Consult within your staff, customers and suppliers. If you have Asian suppliers, you need to talk to them immediately about their production and export plans.
  • Understand what are the ‘high level’ impacts pandemic could have on your business, and prioritise the most impactful ones.
  • Nominate deputies for the key personnel in all roles.
  • Consider where you would be in a position to access contractors if your own workforce was to be significantly impacted.
  • Develop a business continuity plan, brief your staff on that plan, and test it in exercises. Maximise the use of remote and flexible working. The DBEI provides a template here.
  • Discuss contingencies with your accountant and your bank should there be significant impacts on your suppliers or your customers.

HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre has the following information for the Business and Retail Sector. It is available HERE and they update it regularly.

 

                     Opening or Closing

                                  Steps to take where there is no office closure:

  • The main issue within an office setting is hand-hygiene, consider placing sanitiser around the office and asking staff to use it and to maintain good hand hygiene. Also consider providing wipes for keyboard, phones, printers etc. What support will be offered to employees to prevent germs from spreading?
  • Has the company conducted a full Risk Assessment? Members can access assessments here.
  • Have the employees been briefed, and where necessary trained, on the findings of the Risk Assessment?

Employers have a duty of care for all employees under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and must give due consideration if it is safe to ask employees to travel to work (consider public transport with a virus) or to undertake their work. It is imperative that an appropriate Risk Assessment is conducted to ensure that management makes an informed decision and that no employee’s Safety is put at risk unnecessarily. Members can access assessments here.

The Department of Health has developed social distancing graphics to help you maintain distance in your premises. You can download them for free HERE

In the event of the closure of a company:

  • Minister Humphreys announces supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19 on Wednesday 11th March 2020, read about it here.
  • How will the company communicate the situation and any updates to employees?
  • Payment:
      • Continue to pay the employee as normal or put the employee on short term lay off (contract permitting)?
      • Allow the employee to work from home – where possible? ISME Members Radius technologies have the following advice on remote working here
      • Provide them with the option of taking a day’s annual leave to cover their absence?
      • Allow the employee to make up any missed time at a later date?
  • What supports can be offered to employees adversely affected by a closure?

Where employees are present in the workplace, care should be taken to remain vigilant for any worsening conditions and cancelled/amended travel services throughout the day.

Payment information for staff is available here:

Financial support for your business is available here

                           Staffing

Government Supports

The government has announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme. This will provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis.

In summary:

  • temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take-home pays up to a maximum weekly tax-free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax. More information about the scheme can be found here.
  • workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis will receive an enhanced emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203)
  • the COVID-19 illness payment will also be increased to €350 per week
  • the self-employed will be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (rather than the Revenue scheme)
  • enhanced protection for people facing difficulties with their mortgages, rent or utility bills

Read in full HERE

In the unfortunate cases where staff will need to be let go, ISME HR has a number of resources for you in the Members Area such as templates for:

  • Redundancy Letter – At Risk
  • Template Letter for Redundancy and payment
  • Lay Off Notification
  • Short Time Notification
  • Collective Redundancy
  • Protective Notice

You can access these here

You can also email or call our HR Support service Monday – Thursday 9.00 -5.30 and Friday 9.00 -5.00

Releases

Government announces new COVID-19 Income Support Scheme
The government has today announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme. This will provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis. Find out more here:

Employer Refund Scheme update on top-ups
There has been an update to the Employer Refund Scheme, allowing employers engaged with the scheme to top up the payment provided by the State. Find out more here:

Minister Doherty announces details of the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme. 

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty today announced details of how the government would refund employers who temporarily laid off their employees but are continuing to pay them €203 per week during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation.

Under the arrangement developed with Revenue, employers who have to temporarily lay-off staff and who are not in a position to make any wage payment to them, are asked to keep their employees on the payroll and pay them an amount of €203 – the equivalent of the COVID-19 Support Payment. When they submit payroll returns to Revenue via their payroll provider, Revenue will refund the employer the €203.

Read about it here 

 

                       Financial Support

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) have put a range of supports in place, including:

  • SBCI
    • A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website
  • Enterprise Ireland
    • A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
  • Local Enterprise Office
    • The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website or through your local LEO.
  • Credit Guarantee Scheme
    • The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years.
  • DEBI Supports
    • You can read about the steps and supports for SMEs available from the DBEI here.

Financial support for staff

The government has announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme. This will provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis.

In summary:

  • temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take-home pays up to a maximum weekly tax-free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax. More information about the scheme can be found HERE
  • workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis will receive an enhanced emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203)
    • A presentation about the scheme can be found HERE
    • FAQs for employees and employers can be found HERE
  • the COVID-19 illness payment will also be increased to €350 per week
  • the self-employed will be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (rather than the Revenue scheme)
  • enhanced protection for people facing difficulties with their mortgages, rent or utility bills

Read in full HERE

You can also email or call our HR Support service Monday – Thursday 9.00 -5.30 and Friday 9.00 -5.00

Releases

Government announces new COVID-19 Income Support Scheme
The government has today announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme. This will provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis. Find out more here:

Employer Refund Scheme update on top-ups
There has been an update to the Employer Refund Scheme, allowing employers engaged with the scheme to top up the payment provided by the State. Find out more here:

Commercial Rates
Support for businesses impacted by COVID 19 through commercial rates deferral. Read here

Refunding Employers

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty today announced details of how the government would refund employers who temporarily laid off their employees but are continuing to pay them €203 per week during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation.
Under the arrangement developed with Revenue, employers who have to temporarily lay-off staff and who are not in a position to make any wage payment to them, are asked to keep their employees on the payroll and pay them an amount of €203 – the equivalent of the COVID-19 Support Payment. When they submit payroll returns to Revenue via their payroll provider, Revenue will refund the employer the €203. Read about it here 

Business Supports from DEBI
Minister Humphreys announces supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19 on Wednesday 11th March 2020 read about it here.

 

               Customers & Suppliers

Customers and Suppliers

  • How will they be impacted by closure and how will it be communicated?
  • If you have Asian suppliers, you need to talk to them immediately about their production and export plans.
  • How will the company be impacted if there is a drop in sales?
    • Is there a contingency fund in place to account for a drop in sales?
    • Has the company considered customer safety on the premises?
  • How will the supply chain be impacted?
    • Will the company have enough stock if a supplier is forced to close?
    • How long will it take to reestablish supply?

Curtesy ISME

Updated List of Essential Retail Outlets ( 27th March 2020)

Dear CBA Members the following restrictions to retail  are in force until Easter Sunday April 12th and only essential retail outlets as listed below will be allowed to open. This is the recommendation of the National Public Health Emergency and all non-essential retail outlets will close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement physical distancing.

To assist the public and business owners the following is an indicative list of what are considered essential retail outlets.

essential retail

Essential retail outlets

1. Retail and wholesale sale of food, beverages and newspapers in non-specialised and specialised stores

2. Retail sale of household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences and businesses

3. Pharmacies/Chemists and retailers providing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical or dispensing services

4. Retail sale of selling medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores

5. Fuel stations and heating fuel providers

6. Retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding

7. Laundries and Drycleaners

8. Banks, Post Offices and Credit Unions

9. Retail sale of safety supply stores (work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment, for example)

 

Businesses that can only offer emergency call-out or delivery services

 

It is recognised that there may be emergency needs arising in a number of areas, the following retailers who can offer an emergency call-out or delivery service can continue to operate on that basis ONLY:

  • opticians/optometrists
  • retailers involved in the repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities (tyre sales and repairs for example)
  • hardware stores, builder’s merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening/farming/agriculture
  • retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses
  • retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home.

Physical distancing measures that must be adhered to

Essential Retail Outlets must implement physical distancing measures:-

  • ensure adequate distancing between customers and shop assistants in line with public health guidelines
  • only let people into the store in small groups and ensure spaces are not crowed.
  • manage queue control inside and outside the door to maintain necessary physical distance.
  • all Essential Retail Outlets are encouraged to provide online services where that is possible and appropriate to minimise footfall.

Department of Health Department of Health

The Government has today agreed to defer rates for immediately impacted businesses


Dear Members,

We have just received this information please read carefully.

 

The Government has today (20 March, 2020) agreed with local authorities that they should agree to defer rates payments due from the most immediately impacted businesses - primarily in the retail, hospitality, leisure and childcare sectors, for three months, until end-May.  This measure will be implemented by each local authority in its own area.

pictured of closed gate

Recognising that this flexibility will have implications for local authorities in terms of cash flow and critical service delivery implications, short-term cash flow support for local authorities will be made available. It will review the arrangements, as required.

The announcement was made by Ministers Murphy, Donohoe and Phelan today (20 March). Local authorities deliver critical services, including emergency response, housing, homelessness, parks and amenities and they are working with the HSE at national, regional and local level on the co-ordinated response to COVID-19.

Businesses around the country contribute €1.5 billion in commercial rates to local authorities every year. This is a critical source of income, making up between 16% and 53% of total funding for essential local services at individual local authority level, averaging 33% nationally.

Local authorities are working as part of the State’s co-ordinated response to dealing with the Public Health threat posed by COVID-19, while also helping to ensure that the impacts on communities, businesses and other stakeholders are minimised.

They are acutely aware of the potential issues faced by their ratepayers. In particular, in the first instance, businesses, such as those in the hospitality sector, small and medium retailers, leisure and childcare areas, have been identified as those that could be adversely affected.

The Government is engaging with business owners and representative bodies nationally, while each local authority is engaging with its ratepayers and representative groups, monitoring the impacts at this stage of the COVID-19 response and keeping the evolving situation under review.

Already, individual local authorities are dealing with difficulties experienced by rate payers on a case by case basis. They are taking account of business pressures at this extraordinary time in terms of collection of rates and enforcement, in the sectors most impacted so far.

While the identified types of businesses may be most impacted initially, local authorities are also conscious that there may be impacts on other categories of ratepayers as the impact of COVID-19 and responses evolve and are monitoring the situation closely.

Individual local authorities have a long-standing relationship with local businesses and are very well placed to deal with this evolving situation and its impact on ratepayers in their own local authority areas and operating environments.

Any commercial ratepayers that have had to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations during the COVID-19 response period should contact their local authority immediately in relation to any rates payments falling due in the period to end-May.  Ratepayers that can continue to pay their outstanding local authority rates should continue to do so in the normal way.

 

Minister Murphy:“The Government will support businesses while also making sure our local authorities continue their own vital services to the public. Today I can confirm that the most immediately impacted businesses will get a rate payment deferral. To facilitate this cash flow support will be made available to assist affected local authorities. I urge businesses to engage with their local authority so that they can get the supports they need in these incredibly challenging times.” “Local authorities have always worked with ratepayers of all types and will continue to do so in these uncertain times. This can be achieved by balancing their obligations to levy rates with the vital need to support employment and economic activity. Local authorities will work with ratepayers that engage with them on flexible payment options and enterprise support, relevant to their circumstances. To those businesses that are facing financial problems: please engage with your local authority.”

Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of towns and villages across Ireland. Right now, they are facing unprecedented challenges, not least of which is the speed at which some are feeling the impact and having to pull down their shutters. We want to make sure those shutters can come up again when the time is right. That is why we are announcing these measures today. For ratepayers fortunate enough to not have been impacted so far, or not impacted to date, it is critical they continue to contribute to national efforts to maintain the economy by continuing to pay rates. Local authorities will be more reliant than ever before on sustained contributions from those that can continue to pay.”

Minister Phelan: “Local authorities across the country have huge experience dealing with difficult situations and will work to help keep ratepayers afloat. Right now, some businesses just cannot pay these bills. Local authorities are already engaging with businesses in difficulty on a case-by-case basis. To support them in their crucial work, cashflow support measures will be made available for the local government sector. This will ensure they can work with struggling ratepayers in a constructive way.”

Refunds Employers and Measures introduced by the Five Main Banks

Woman work from home

 

Dear Members,

Please study the attached information, it is vital you fully inform yourself how these changes from the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection could impact your business.

Secondly we are attaching an update on new measures being introduced by the five main banks.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty today announced details of how the government would refund employers who temporarily laid off their employees but are continuing to pay them €203 per week during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation.
Recently, the Minister announced the implementation of exceptional measures to enable workers who are temporarily laid off claim a special COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €203 per week.

Refund Scheme

At the time the new payment was announced, the Minister indicated that the preference of the government is that the new payment would, as far as possible, be made via employer payrolls.

In addition to minimising the demand on the processing capacity of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection this approach would, critically, help maintain the link between employers and workers and make the return to work more seamless.

In support of this approach the Minister also stated that the department would introduce a refund scheme for employers who kept workers on their payroll during the period of a temporary lay-off.

The approach to this refund scheme has now been agreed. Revenue has come forward and offered to implement the refund system on the department’s behalf. The Minister wishes to acknowledge the support of the Revenue Commissioners as it will help speed up the refund process and reduce the need for employers to rely on short-term finance.

Under the arrangement developed with Revenue, employers who have to temporarily lay-off staff and who are not in a position to make any wage payment to them, are asked to keep their employees on the payroll and pay them an amount of €203 - the equivalent of the COVID-19 Support Payment. When they submit payroll returns to Revenue via their payroll provider, Revenue will refund the employer the €203.

 

The Minister emphasised:

“This is a significant departure from our normal approach but meets a critical and immediate demand to address instant income needs of workers who have been temporarily laid off while also allowing them to stay on the employer payroll – a reassurance that they will, in all likelihood, have a job to return to. We are very appreciative of the work not just of Revenue but of the cooperation of employers and their payroll providers.”
In order to ensure workers who have child and adult dependants receive their full entitlements, these individuals will be asked to apply for Jobseeker’s Benefit via the online portal www.mywelfare.ie.

Please see further information on the scheme on the Revenue Commissioner's website.

 

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments Update

Meanwhile, since its announcement, the department has received over 50,000 claims from people who have been laid-off for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments. This indicates the huge impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our economy and on our people.

The Minister acknowledges that this is an incredibly difficult time for many people, particularly those people who lose their jobs, even if this loss is temporary.

 

 

“The measures taken already are extraordinary but this is an extraordinary time. There is great uncertainty and much anxiety about what lies ahead. The loss of a job and an income increases this anxiety and stress. We are doing all we can to help people through this anxiety.
“The new payment we introduced is just one measure and it means that we can get people into payment as quickly as possible. Hopefully this will provide some measure of reassurance to people unfortunate to be laid-off. We are also calling on banks, landlords, utility providers and others to exercise forbearance with regard to payments of mortgages, rent and utility bills.”

 

The measures being introduced by the five main banks are as follows:

1. Implement a payment break up to three months for business and personal customers affected by Covid-19, to be followed by ongoing reviews depending on the scale and extent of the situation. Customers wishing to avail of a payment break should contact their respective bank.

2. The banks agree there is a need for a simplified application process to make it as easy as possible for businesses and personal customers impacted by Covid-19 to receive support from their banks. They are working with all member banks to achieve this.

3. The banks want to ensure that any Covid-19 application for a payment break and further reviews will not adversely impact the customer's credit record, and the banks reporting of these facilities. Banks want to avoid this and are meeting with the Central Bank of Ireland to urgently achieve a solution in this regard.

4. Banks will also defer court proceedings for three months.

5. The banking system stands ready to provide working capital support.

6. They had initial discussions with Credit Servicing Firms and with those non-bank lenders who provide mortgages. Both the Credit Servicing Firms and non-bank lenders have issues which we need to address with the Central Bank of Ireland, but both are committed to working with the Government and industry to provide the flexibility that people need right now.

CBA Welcomes the news that Green light has been given for Cork events centre

The news that planning permission has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála for the Cork events centre in the heart of Cork city is hugely positive. We have heard little good news recently and this announcement is very much to be welcomed.

Cork City Council had granted permission for the development last year, however, it was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by both the applicant and a third party.
The third-party appellant hand-delivered their appeal just minutes before the deadline, and it was made on the grounds of commercial over-development in the historic core of Cork city, which is an area that should be developed primarily for tourism.

The individual said that they are in favour of the development at the former Beamish and Crawford site, but believes the revised design submitted by developers BAM are not good enough, and the city deserves better.

Meanwhile, developers BAM also objected to condition 48 of their planning permission, which deals with development contributions

They claimed that any work assessed and incorporated into the General Development Contribution Scheme cannot be subject to a Special Development Contribution.

They said that the contribution requested for the Crosse’s Green pedestrian/cycle bridge, or the Lamley’s Lane approach street cannot be charged due to being part of the City’s development plans for many years.

However, An Bord Pleanála has now said that the development can proceed, with conditions. Detailed internal designs of the events centre will take six to eight months to complete, and construction wouldn’t be able to begin until that happens.

But given that a judicial review of the development has been sought, it’s not likely the project will get off the ground soon.

Gleneagle Hotel (Killarney) Ltd, who also operate the INEC entertainment venue in Killarney, have sought a judicial review against Cork City Council.

The issue in question is the decision-making process of granting €50m to the project from the Government, and not the actual final decision itself.

The project now cannot move forward until the High Court process is complete.

Article curtesy Echo Live.

How Your Employees can claim Social Welfare if affected by Covid-19

Some 140,000 workers are estimated to have been laid off around the country as shops, restaurants, bars, creches, gyms and other customer-facing businesses close their doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said a newly introduced Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their jobs.

The payment has a one–page application form and will be paid for over six weeks at a flat rate payment of €203 per week for jobseekers.

The application can be done online and applicants do not need to attend their Intreo offices, the Department said. please use this link .https://www.mywelfare.ie/

Once the form is downloaded online, it should be sent off by Freepost, according to instructions.

Individuals applying for the payment will be required to apply for the normal jobseeker’s payments within this six-week period.

Once this normal jobseeker claim is subsequently received, the department will process the claims and accommodate payments at that time, the Department added. It will involve backdating increased payments for certain customers, it said.

The emergency payments do not address those who have not contributed to PSRI for more than a year.

The Department also urged employers to pay their workers €203 per week "if at all possible", with the promise that businesses will be entitled to refunds for complying with the request.

However, the Department acknowledged the refund process could take "some time to process".

In the meantime, banks will provide working capital finance in the form of overdrafts or short-term loans to cover costs, Minister Regina Doherty said.

These measures, she said, mean workers will not have to personally submit a jobseeker's claim, and that continuity in the employer-employee relationship remains unbroken.

Article courtesy Irish Examiner

Please follow the advice of the HSE and remember Wash Your Hands

Lidl and Tesco bring in priority shopping times for elderly.

Lidl and Tesco are implementing priority shopping hours for the elderly due to the coronavirus.

The German supermarket is prioritising older shoppers at stores nationwide from 9 am until 11 am every day from now on.

They will be able to avail of prioritised queuing and additional assistance during this time.

Lidl is asking that others allow more vulnerable customers to pick up the food and supplies they need during this time.

Meanwhile, Tesco is offering over 65-year-olds and family carers a dedicated time for them to do their shopping.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting this Wednesday, March 18, these customers will have dedicated access to all Tesco stores up to 9 am. Tesco stores open at 7 am or 8 am, every morning, depending on location.

Rember follow the advice of the HSE and remember to Wash Your Hands