Cutting EWSS “scandalous” decision as pub trade cancelled for Christmas, says VFI

Today’s cut in the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is heaping huge pressure on publicans and the wider hospitality sector as it faces a bleak Christmas season where the message from Government is to ‘stay away’ from pubs and venues across the country. According to the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) the EWSS is a vital support for members that must revert to the initial subsidy given the ongoing collapse in trade.

The VFI says the Government decision to begin tapering the EWSS was based on a full reopening of hospitality from 22nd October. As that reopening is now cancelled for the foreseeable future the EWSS tapering must be fully reversed.

VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben says: “This is a scandalous decision to cut the last remaining subsidy available to publicans, particularly at a time when business is collapsing due to Government messaging that people should avoid hospitality venues.

“The EWSS is an absolutely vital support designed to keep staff employed during a significant downturn in the employer’s turnover in the middle of Covid. If the current scenario doesn’t qualify I don’t know what would.

“We were told EWSS would begin tapering because hospitality would fully reopen on 22nd October. With the reopening now indefinitely postponed the rational for tapering the EWSS is gone so it must be fully restored immediately.

“The Government can’t have it both ways, it can’t on the one hand say pubs are open but on the other tell people not to visit them. Our members’ businesses have been decimated over the past couple of weeks, a situation that won’t change in the run-up to Christmas. The cancellation rate across the sector is horrendous, the vast majority of bookings are lost.

“The current situation is alarming for our members. At the very least the EWSS should revert to the original subsidy, but with the crisis showing no signs of abating we are also calling for a return of a graduated version of the CRSS. Government needs to act now instead of pretending that hospitality is somehow ‘sorted,’” concludes Mr Cribben.