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Government to 'fine-tune' welfare payments in bid to bolster job growth

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Picture: PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Picture: PA

PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Picture: PA

The pandemic unemployment payment and wage subsidy scheme will be "fine-tuned" as part of a major jobs stimulus package.

Newly elected Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the two welfare supports introduced during the Covid-19 Emergency will be more "targeted" towards sectors most impacted by the crisis.

Mr Martin said there was a "very comprehensive response" from the previous government to the Covid crisis through the pandemic payment and the wage subsidy scheme.

He added: "You will see a fine-tuning of that and a targeting of that to the sectors that give a response, and there will have to be a very careful evaluation of existing schemes that are working."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned of "mass unemployment" and "mass insolvency" if the Government did not act quick.

It came as the Government agreed to establish a Cabinet committee to develop an economic recovery plan which will address the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The leaders of the three Government parties will sit on the new committee along with the finance and public expenditure ministers.

Mr Martin said the committee will "very quickly" draft a stimulus package which will create jobs for people who have been impacted by the national health emergency.

The new Taoiseach said legislation will be needed to underpin the measures they hope to enact within the coming months.

Mr Martin said he will ask departments to identify "shovel ready" projects which will lead to job creation.

Mr Varadkar said young people and those working in the private sector have been the worst impacted by the virus and said the Government will look to provide opportunities to allow them return to work.

"It is a matter of real concern for the Government that there are still 900,000 people either on employment payments or the wage subsidy scheme," Mr Varadkar said. "There's an enormous inequality, I believe, opening up where the young people are much more affected than older people, and people in the private sector are much more affected than people in the public sector," he added.

Climate Minister Eamon Ryan said the Government will "hit the ground running" to get the country back working again.

Mr Ryan said there is already a good relationship between the three parties and said he is "confident" they will work well together.

"We need to be quick, we need to be collective and we need to start digging the country out of a very difficult situation," Mr Ryan said.

He also urged people to spend their holidays in Ireland this year to help put more money into the domestic economy.

The July Jobs Initiative will be centred on a Recovery Fund, to support the economy and help restore employment to the end of 2020.

The July Stimulus package aims to create 200,000 new jobs by 2025 and it will focus on giving State supports to SMEs, large companies and the self-employed.

It will also include setting out a clear path for unwinding the pandemic unemployment payment and the wage subsidy scheme for businesses.

The Government will also establish taskforces for sectors most impacted by job losses, such as the tourism and hospitality industries.

A group involving businesses and State agencies will be separtely tasked with finding solutions to the financial problems facing small business owners,

There will also be a "high-level review" of the economy led by the Department of the Taoiseach to identify the sectors that have the greatest opportunity to grow and sustain quality employment in light of the continuing public health crisis.

It will also examine the geo-political trends, and the long-term challenges of the climate crisis, technological disruption and future public health challenges.

The Government will also move to enact legislation for the introduction of a new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme, SURE scheme, and the warehousing of tax liabilities. There will be a review of the Business Restart Grant and further grant supports for SMEs will be considered.

MicroFinance Ireland will be beefed up so it can support greater numbers of small businesses and start-ups in accessing finance.

They will also review how funding from European Investment Bank can be utilised and other opportunities for external investment.

The long-term goal of the scheme is to get people back to work and ensure businesses can operate as they did before the nationwide public health emergency.

Irish Independent