Clarity needed on business supports to help recovery from Covid pandemic, says Cork Chamber

Clarity needed on business supports to help recovery from Covid pandemic, says Cork Chamber

Conor Healy, Chief Executive of Cork Chamber. Pic Darragh Kane

The recovery of the most vulnerable sectors of the economy will rely on Covid supports being extended "far beyond June", according to Cork Chamber.

The business organisation has urged the government to give more clarity on business supports ahead of another expected announcement following Friday's Cabinet meeting.

Covid-19 restrictions and closures have hit many business sectors, with some businesses closed or operating below capacity since March 2020.

Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber said: “Despite the recent reopening of retail, personal services and cultural businesses, and plans for elements of leisure and hospitality, business is not yet in a position to plan ahead with any certainty. Covid business supports have been a lifeline to many but their extension far beyond June will be essential as it is clear the pandemic’s impact will extend beyond this date.

 “It is essential that Government extends the Wage Subsidy Scheme and waiver on commercial rates for vulnerable sectors in tourism, hospitality and events to the end of 2021. This will give the worst affected businesses the ability to plan for the months ahead, to re-employ staff with reasonable confidence and to contribute to economic and social stability.” 

Cork Chamber have also called for measures to address what they describe as the "deepening crisis of our aviation sector".

Mr Healy said: “The news that Aer Lingus is to close its base at Shannon and temporarily close at Cork is a clear indicator of the pressure on aviation. This is very distressing news for the employees, and it is a negative development for the region's direct connectivity to the US, Europe and beyond. 

"If we are to protect our reputation as a destination for business, Government must provide substantial support for regional Airports well into 2022. These are issues that affect the whole of the region and need a robust response from Government.” 

Cork Chamber along with the national network of Chambers in Ireland has also called on Government for the reintroduction of a Redundancy Rebate Scheme for sole traders and SMEs and the enactment of the Summary Rescue Process for SMEs.  The extension of the debt warehousing scheme, the Chamber says, would also be of value to the affected businesses, many of whom have been ineligible for other supports.

“It is critical that Government communicate a co-ordinated, coherent, and clear programme for the continuation of supports and full reopening of businesses with urgency," Mr Healy said.

"Any delay or lack of clarity from Government will undermine the viability of businesses, the speed of our recovery and the sustainability of our economy.”

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