Smith calls for COVID-19 Unemployment Payment to be extended to include over 66s.

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Clarity still needed on Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan/Monaghan Brendan Smith says there are anomalies regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment which include clarity needed for former employees who worked in the South but reside in Northern Ireland and their eligibility for the payment and extending the payment for over 66s.

Deputy Smith explained, “I have been contacted by a number of cross border employees who are concerned about their eligibility for the pandemic unemployment payment.  Some are in the process of applying and some are fearful if they lose their jobs what supports are there for them.

”In these cases, there are employees who have worked for many years in the South, paying taxes to Revenue, but because they reside in the North it seems they will not be able to receive the payment.

”The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection should clarify this immediately, and if necessary, engage with her counterparts in Northern Ireland to deal with this problem.

”I am also concerned that the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is only applicable to people aged between 18 and 66. I have been contacted by numerous people over the age of 66 who are working but have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic. The fact that these workers have been excluded from receiving this payment is deeply unfair and has left many older people in a financially perilous situation.

”I hope Minister Doherty will urgently review the eligibility criteria for this income support and ensure that older workers and cross border workers are protected during this crisis”, concluded Deputy Smith.

3 April 2020

Pre-paid rents must be returned to students who have left accommodation – Smith

Dept eCorrespondence Brendan Smith TD

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on Universities and private student accommodation providers to do the right thing and refund rent to students who had to leave accommodation early due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Deputy Smith said, “It’s unfair to expect students who have returned home to continue paying rents. Many of them have lost their part-time jobs in hotels or restaurants and are already at a financial disadvantage.

“In response to my representations the Minister of State for Higher Education has said “the majority of students in university-owned accommodation will receive pro-rata refunds if they have vacated their accommodation”. While this is welcome it does suggest that not all Universities will act this way which is worrying.

“More often than not students pay by semester for their accommodation on University campuses and in many instances, there are many other bills built into the cost of the accommodation such as bin charges, WiFi, and gas and electricity bills.

“Allowing students to claim back their deposits early is not enough, in fact it’s a pretence, students would be due those deposits anyway at the end of the semester.

“When this crisis passes those who did not refund students will be remembered. Many students have lost their part time jobs due to the public health emergency. To take advantage of this crisis and not be forthcoming with refunds is deplorable. Private student accommodation providers and Universities need to step up and refund students,” concluded Deputy Smith.

 

1/04/2020

Government should implement FF action plan to support Farmers and Agri-food sector – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says an action plan published by Fianna Fáil detailing immediate measures needed for farmers and the agri-food sector to deal with the impact of the current coronavirus outbreak should be implemented by government.

“While public health is paramount it is imperative our farming communities and agri-food sector is supported during this time. Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have stepped up to support their communities and ensure the safety of the food supply chain. Now they need our support.

“Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have endured a difficult 18 months with low beef prices, the uncertainty of Brexit, and the proposed South American trade deal. Now, the unprecedented challenge of a global pandemic has changed the industry entirely.

“My party and I are calling on Commissioner Wojciechowsk, the government and Minister Creed and his European counterparts to examine the following measures to protect farmers and the Agri-food sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

  • Immediately deliver an emergency crisis fund for farmers, especially those in vulnerable sectors e.g. beef and sheep, to compensate for market losses via CAP market disturbance aid.
  • Introduce EU market supports i.e. intervention and Aid for Private Storage in order to provide price supports for farm sectors impacted e.g. meat and dairy.
  • Vital that the Department of Agriculture has full engagement with the European Commission for farm scheme flexibility in light of Covid-19.
  • All 2020 scheme payment deadlines must also be maintained, and flexibility given by the EU Commission on issues such as inspections.
  • Suspend the need for any non-essential inspection requirements and ensure that there is no impact on payment dates.
  • Amend the stocking density rules under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme so that all farmers do not come under pressure to purchase cattle immediately.
  • Avail of new EU state aid flexibilities to directly support farmers. Member States are now allowed to draw up schemes to directly grant-aid those active in the primary production of agricultural products to address urgent liquidity needs up to the value of €100,000 per undertaking.
  • Flexibility to be shown in the awarding of the Green Cert this year.
  • Ensure that necessary flexibility is provided to Marts to put in place alternative trading arrangements for livestock during the crisis period.

“It is essential that we now see the necessary supports put in place to enable those in the farming sector in the Border Region to continue with this crucial work at a time of national and international emergency,” concluded Deputy Smith.

31/03/2020

Immediate EU support needed for Irish Agriculture – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the government should be doing everything it can to work with our European neighbours to ensure the EU Commissioner for Agriculture acts decisively in supporting the sector during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Deputy Smith said, “It is very disappointing that Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski did not announce the deployment of immediate market support measures and emergency aid funding for vulnerable farm sectors last week.

“As the Agricultural Commissioner, it is incumbent on him and his officials in the EU Commission to immediately implement support measures that fall under their exclusive competence as provided for under the CAP’s Common Market Organisation Regulation. These measures cover market disturbance funding, and exceptional aid measures under Articles 219 & 221.

“Alarmingly, the Commission made no announcement on opening up market support tools i.e. intervention and aid for private storage, to provide price supports in sectors such as dairy and beef.

“I would echo the calls made by several countries for maximum flexibility in farm schemes by the EU Commission, given that the pandemic is a force majeure event. This includes the simplification of procedures and derogations from non-essential inspection requirements. It is also vital that that the timely transport of food products and live animals is maintained at this critical time throughout the EU.

 “Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have continued and will continue to ensure the viability of the supply chain. They will remain farming, working hard in these difficult circumstances and contributing to their country during this time. European authorities need to stop procrastinating, act decisively and show solidarity with the primary producer and the agri-food sector,” concluded Deputy Smith.

30/03/2020

 

Government should implement FF action plan to support Farmers and Agri-food sector – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says an action plan published by Fianna Fáil detailing immediate measures needed for farmers and the agri-food sector to deal with the impact of the current coronavirus outbreak should be implemented by government.

“While public health is paramount it is imperative our farming communities and agri-food sector is supported during this time. Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have stepped up to support their communities and ensure the safety of the food supply chain. Now they need our support.

“Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have endured a difficult 18 months with low beef prices, the uncertainty of Brexit, and the proposed South American trade deal. Now, the unprecedented challenge of a global pandemic has changed the industry entirely.

“My party and I are calling on Commissioner Wojciechowsk, the government and Minister Creed and his European counterparts to examine the following measures to protect farmers and the Agri-food sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

  • Immediately deliver an emergency crisis fund for farmers, especially those in vulnerable sectors e.g. beef and sheep, to compensate for market losses via CAP market disturbance aid.
  • Introduce EU market supports i.e. intervention and Aid for Private Storage in order to provide price supports for farm sectors impacted e.g. meat and dairy.
  • Vital that the Department of Agriculture has full engagement with the European Commission for farm scheme flexibility in light of Covid-19.
  • All 2020 scheme payment deadlines must also be maintained, and flexibility given by the EU Commission on issues such as inspections.
  • Suspend the need for any non-essential inspection requirements and ensure that there is no impact on payment dates.
  • Amend the stocking density rules under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme so that all farmers do not come under pressure to purchase cattle immediately.
  • Avail of new EU state aid flexibilities to directly support farmers. Member States are now allowed to draw up schemes to directly grant-aid those active in the primary production of agricultural products to address urgent liquidity needs up to the value of €100,000 per undertaking.
  • Flexibility to be shown in the awarding of the Green Cert this year.
  • Ensure that necessary flexibility is provided to Marts to put in place alternative trading arrangements for livestock during the crisis period.

“It is essential that we now see the necessary supports put in place to enable those in the farming sector in the Border Region to continue with this crucial work at a time of national and international emergency,” concluded Deputy Smith.

 

30/03/2020

 

Greater supports needed for businesses who face uncertain future – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, says more urgent action is needed from Government to protect struggling SMEs in Cavan-Monaghan and to protect market confidence as we descend into an unprecedented economic shock due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Deputy Smith said, “Fianna Fáil supports 100% the national battle against COVID-19 and will use every opportunity to reinforce the key public health messages being advocated by the authorities. We all have to work together to contain the spread of this virus. In addition, as a party in opposition, we have a duty to highlight what we believe has been a piecemeal, underwhelming and poorly executed economic response to date.

“In a little over a week unfortunately tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, businesses have scaled back or closed entirely and consumers are staying at home, bracing themselves for a potential cut in their household income. While the specific business supports already announced will provide some assistance, there is still a wide gap in the level of aid intensity and actions being taken in comparison to other European countries. This does not bode well for businesses in Cavan-Monaghan who have closed their doors and are unsure when they may reopen.

“There is no doubt that the scale of our response has been below the average of other developed countries. Other small open economies such as Switzerland and New Zealand have undertaken fiscal packages of 1.6% and 4% of GDP respectively while Irelands measures stand at just 0.7% of our GDP. 

“Fianna Fáil believe the Government’s package should support workers to remain in employment during the Covid-19 pandemic by rapidly increasing the subvention of wages to avoid a shock across the economy.

“However, while many countries are paying almost 80% of a person’s salary in an attempt to stem the shock, our government only recently conceded to allow businesses to top-up the basic social welfare payment for their employees and now they are preparing a new plan expected this week.

“I have heard from businesses in Cavan-Monaghan, who need supports such as a waiver of 2020 commercial rates for all business effected by COVID-19 and to see the Government engaging with insurance providers to determine what damages they could cover – considering the unprecedented challenge facing SMEs.

“There are major economic decisions to be made in the coming days and weeks that will either safeguard us through this period or plunge us into a recession. We should not be afraid to make bold decisions to protect our economy, our SME’s, and our people during this time,” concluded Deputy Smith.

23/03/2020