Chambers Ireland has today (1 September) sent a letter to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin outlining the concerns of our members regarding the Government response to Covid-19 in advance of the Dáil reconvening.

Chamber Ireland Concerns:

  1. There is a need for additional supports to help areas where restrictions must be reintroduced, to sustain businesses that are active in those areas, and then to support them upon reopening.
  2. It is critical that there is a co-ordinated, coherent and clear programme of policy and communications from government, the absence of which is undermining the viability of businesses and the sustainability of our economy.
  3. There are failings in the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme which need to be addressed urgently.

Speaking today, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,

“Chambers Ireland welcomes the early reconvening of the Dáil this week as there remains many policy areas which need the immediate attention of government. The transition from a set of temporary schemes to a longer-term response is to be welcomed but has not been communicated or co-ordinated as effectively as it might have been.

Businesses need to know what will happen if their area gets caught up in the future restrictions of an outbreak. Staff need to know that their jobs will be supported if their area is locked down. Government action in the three counties that suffered the reintroduction of restrictions, while welcome, has been limited to mentoring supports, marketing for the county, and training vouchers. If businesses and jobs are to be sustained through periods of restrictions, additional supports for cashflow will be required.

And, critically, we need a generalised, co-ordinated and coherent policy response to this disease. It is six months since the first Irish case of Covid-19 was diagnosed, and still businesses are trying to make decisions while the policy and regulatory environment is shifting on a month by month, even week by week, basis. Businesses continue to call on Government to provide certainty and sustainable long-term support during what will be a difficult winter trading period.

Of most concern at present is the transition from the TWSS to the EWSS scheme. This transition is concerning for several reasons and includes eligibility, the sudden change of rate from €350 per week to €203 per week and the proposed seven-week delay in payment of the subsidy to businesses. The new changes could seriously undermine the objective of the Subsidy, which is to support business cash-flow so that jobs can be protected.

We urge Government to work with the business community to ensure that a coherent, co-ordinated national policy response is put in place to support local economies and communities as we continue to grapple with the threat of the COVID-19 virus.”