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'We're already on our knees' - pubs plea for Paschal Donohoe to amend wage subsidy scheme as 'thousands of jobs at risk'

The Finance Minister has today confirmed that company directors will now be included in the scheme after they reacted angrily to being left out

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LVA chief Donall O’Keeffe warned more pubs are likely to close

LVA chief Donall O’Keeffe warned more pubs are likely to close

LVA chief Donall O’Keeffe warned more pubs are likely to close

Thousands of jobs are at risk in the hospitality sector due to “significant problems” with the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).

The Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA), which represents pubs in the greater Dublin area, has written to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe asking for an urgent amendment to be made to the scheme to help an industry “already on its knees”.

As it stands, anybody earning less than €151.20 per week will not receive the subsidy, which will have a massive impact on staff who previously worked one or two days a week.

“Anyone working 14 hours a week or less at that rate will not be covered by this scheme. That will immediately raise questions as to whether it will be financially viable for pubs operating at 50pc capacity or less to utilise these members of staff,” said Donal O’Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA.

“The LVA estimates between 20-30pc of staff could be impacted.”

Cleaning staff who work short weeks may also be seriously affected.

“So while these pubs, who make up the majority of the sector continue to keep their doors closed by order of the Government – long after the rest of the hospitality sector began trading, they are being hit again by these provisions,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

“As they cannot add new staff until they know if they will be reopening, they will not be able to avail of the higher subsidy available under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme which will still apply throughout August.

“We were the first sector to close and most of our industry will be the last to reopen under the Government’s reopening roadmap. Yet despite our ongoing efforts to assist with protecting the public health, employees and businesses in our sector continue to be hit again and again.”

Minister Donohoe has already made one u-turn in respect of the EWSS.

Today he confirmed that company directors will now be included in the scheme after they were initially excluded.

Business owners had reacted angrily to the move.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, called on Minister Donhoe to amend the scheme urgently so that struggling business owners could avail of it.

Meanwhile, the LVA confirmed that 11 pubs in Dublin have announced they will not be reopening after being hit hard by the Covid pandemic.

Bakers Pub in the Liberties is the latest bar to make the “very tough decision” not to open again.

“The end of an era has come. We would like to thank all of our amazing staff and loyal customers over the past 16 years,” the owners said in a statement on Friday.

“We wouldn’t have made it this far without all your continued support. The memories will last a lifetime. Goodbye and stay staff through these uncertain times.”

Online Editors