National covid-19 Income Support Scheme

The Irish Government has announced a National Covid-19 Income Support Scheme to provide financial support to Irish workers affected by the crisis. 

In summary

  • a temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take home pay 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;
  • 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;  
  • 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 protections for people facing difficulties with their mortgages, rent or utility bills; 

These follow on from a range of supports already in place to help business through the crisis. The Government is taking these extraordinary measures to help ordinary Irish citizens and families during this period of great economic and social stress.   

These measures will be costly – with an initial estimated cost of €3.7 billion over a 12 week period. The Government believes these costs are necessary to ensure social solidarity with workers and their families affected by the crisis. 

Separately, the Government has announced that it is implementing further measures to slow the spread of the virus as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer, and by the National Public Health Emergency Team - an expert team of public health doctors, virologists and scientists.

Income Support

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. 

The employer is expected to make best efforts to maintain as close to 100% of normal income as possible for the subsidised period. There will be severe penalties for any abuse of the scheme.

Employers must self-declare to Revenue that they have experienced significant negative economic disruption due to Covid-19, with a minimum of 25% decline in turnover, and an inability to pay normal wages and other outgoings.

This scheme is open to impacted employers in all sectors. This recognises the impact that Covid-19 is having across all parts of the economy. The employee must have been on the payroll in February 2020. 

Self-employed who qualify will be paid the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 rather than through the Revenue scheme. They will be eligible on a similar basis as the Revenue scheme for employees. 

Revenue and Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection will provide details to employers today on how to apply and guidance on operation of the scheme. 

Enhanced emergency Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

People who have already been approved for the Covid-19 pandemic Unemployment Payment will now get an increased payment of €350 per week (instead of €203). 

Anyone else who loses their job due to the Covid-19 crisis can apply to the Department for payment at the new rate. 

The Covid-19 illness payment will also be increased to €350 per week. The new Scheme will be in place for 12 weeks.

New Public Health Measures

The Cabinet also formally approved new public health measures, alongside existing measures, to apply until Sunday 19th April. These were recommended by NPHET:

  • Physical distancing restrictions remain in place;
  • People should stay home as much as possible, work from home if they can, and only leave home to go to work if there is no alternative;
  • only go to the shops for essential supplies, for medical or dental appointments, to care for others or to take physical exercise;
  • social events or gatherings involving more than 4 people that have not already been cancelled should be cancelled;
  • Non-essential indoor visits to other people’s homes should be avoided. Social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be no more than 4, unless from the same household.
  • No unnecessary travel should take place within the country or overseas. 

Further details will be outlined by the CMO and NPHET teams.

Support for renters

The Government is introducing legislation to prevent both the termination of residential tenancies and any rent increases for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. 

The banks have also said they will support buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID 19 with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to three months – so they can in turn offer forbearance to their tenants. 

Rent Supplement is also available as a short-term income support to those in the private rented sector who are experiencing difficulty paying their rent. In view of the difficulties created for many in the private rented sector who have lost significant employment income, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will use the full flexibility of the scheme to provide the necessary support.

Support for mortgage-holders

A series of measures to support people impacted by Covid-19 have been announced by the banking sector. These include: 

  • flexible arrangements, including a payment break for mortgages and other loans. Customers affected by COVID-19 must contact their bank to discuss the flexibility available to them, including the possibility of a payment break of up to 3 months.  Non-bank mortgage lenders and credit servicing firms have also announced their support for this measure.  
  • support for buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID 19 – customers with rental property in which the tenants are adversely impacted by COVID-19 will also be provided with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to 3 months, allowing them to exercise due levels of forbearance to their tenants 

Support for utility bills 

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has issued a moratorium on disconnections of domestic customers for non-payment to the gas and electricity suppliers.   The suppliers have arrangements in place for any domestic/residential customers in arrears which are overseen by CRU and have a number of emergency provisions to assist Pay As You Go customers.