MINISTER for Finance Paschal Donohoe said 2.7m people will qualify to benefit from the €200m Stay and Spend tax back scheme launched today.
However, for those on benefits, there will be no help towards an autumnal or winter holiday in Ireland, or evening out with the family, as this is a purely tax based scheme.
Unlike Britain’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, rolled out in August - where members of the public were gifted €10 off meals and non-alcoholic beverages to stimulate spending - Ireland’s initiative is dependent on being claimed as a tax benefit.
Minister Donohoe told RTÉ News at One: “If someone decides they want to go away on a bank holiday weekend in October, they get the benefit when they do their taxes at the end of the year.”
Minister Donohoe said those who are on State benefits would not be included in the scheme “Because we are trying to do this quickly, we are doing it through tax liabilities.
“2.7m will be able to apply for the scheme. Anyone who’s on three quarters of the minimum wage will have enough of a USC liability at the end of the year to apply for the scheme.
“Some people will not have enough of an income tax liability at the end of this year, or next year to make it worth their while accessing the scheme…”
However, Minister Donohoe said the initiative was “all about encouraging people when hospitality needs support to spend, to stay and eat out in our country.”
Consumers will be able to download an application form and when they spend more than €25 in a restaurant, pub, hotel or B&B, participating in the scheme - then they will be able to claim back 20pc.
The initiative will provide for a maximum of €125 income tax credits back for those who spend up to €625.
The scheme will operate right up until Christmas and includes the festive period.
Minister Donohoe said: “There would have been challenges in getting (a voucher) to everyone in the country and we would not have been able to do it quickly.
“To set up the system like that and have it in place, it would simply have been too late for many businesses that need support quickly.
“It’s not just about encouraging people to spend €125 - it’s about encouraging them to spend €625 and get €125 back, it’s about encouraging additional spending and supporting a really important part of our economy, with so many jobs.”
Alcohol was not being included in the plan because the Government felt the priority was food and accommodation.
The scheme starts on October 1 for qualifying businesses, which includes restaurants, cafes, hotels etc.
Aidan Cummins, from the Restaurants Association, said the voucher system "would have been easier" but "let's give it and see how it goes."
"Let's see how it goes for a month. We are up for trying to promote it and encourage people to staycation in the county and spend in the country.
"The voucher scheme would have been easier but we are where we are, we have to go with what we have.
"If there are teething problems we need to amend them quickly, we can't say we have to wait until next year.
"We need an ongoing review and changes must be made immediately for consumers and businesses (if there are any issues.)
"I will encourage everyone to sign up, it's 20pc off your bill provided you spend a minimum of €25."
Louise Bayliss, from Spark, a group representing lone parents, said: "A lot of lone parents wouldn't be able to avail of this scheme - even if they are working.
"They might not be earning enough to pay tax. So they might only work 20 hours a week to work round school hours.
"And what about carers? They're fully working and can't avail of this.
"There's a big cohort who aren't included and it's the group who really need this little break or meal out.
"Some children and parents and carers who really could do with a staycation break, a night in a hotel or dinner out, won't get it.
"It needs to be rethought. The Government is excluding a huge group of people in bad need of a break - lone parents and carers.
"Carers and lone parents are working, to exclude the poorest out of this break is so morally wrong."