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Finance Minister says wage subsidy scheme will not end abruptly in August

Central Bank figures show that just over one million people, or 22.5% of the population, are now out of work.

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Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the wage subsidy scheme would not end in August (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the wage subsidy scheme would not end in August (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the wage subsidy scheme would not end in August (Julien Behal/PA)

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) will not come to an abrupt end in August, the Finance Minister has said.

First introduced in March, the scheme provides up to 85% of staff costs and is due to expire at the end of August.

However, Paschal Donohoe said the new government will examine how to extend or change the scheme.

It comes as new figures from the Central Bank show that just over one million people, or 22.5% of the population, are now out of work.

In its report published on Friday, it warned the unemployment rate may not return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024.

Mr Donohoe said the TWSS is responsible for keeping more than 400,000 people in work and his department is examining the future of the scheme.

“We are looking at options in relation to the future of it. What I can confirm now is that it will not come to an abrupt end because were that to happen, that creates the risks of jobs being lost,” he told RTE Morning Ireland.

“In relation to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the last government outlined that across the month of August, we would begin to make changes in relation to that payment as our economy reopens.”

Asked if both payments will be extended to the end of the year, he said: “This is a decision that needs to be taken by Government. When I was in the last government, I brought in these payments.

“The value of them and the value of the wage subsidy scheme is recognised very strongly by the new Government and I will be working with my new colleagues to come up with the right plan for those schemes.”

Mr Donohoe paid tribute to Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan who announced on Thursday night that he is stepping aside to care for his terminally ill wife.

Dr Holohan has been the Government’s key adviser and at the forefront of public health messaging on combating the infection.

He said his wife was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2012 and had been admitted for palliative care last Saturday.

Mr Donohoe said Dr Holohan had saved hundreds of thousands of lives with his advice.

“I am reminded of what Ernest Hemmingway once wrote when he said that courage is grace under pressure. If ever we needed an example of that ideal then it is the service that Dr Holohan provided us in recent weeks and months.”

“There are literally hundreds if not thousands of people who are now alive due to Dr Holohan’s service and he will always have the nation’s gratitude and esteem for that and I want to wish him and his family every grace and every comfort in the journey ahead.”

On Thursday, the authorities said another five people had died and another 15 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed.

PA