Please find below this month’s newsletter from Connellan Solicitors LLP.
Covid-19 and Level 5 Restrictions- Accessing Our Services:
Due to level-5 restrictions which were implemented by the Government until the end of November, Longford firms, including Connellan Solicitors LLP, have agreed to close our doors to the public, save for urgent and essential face to face appointments. Our state-of-the-art case management system and network will enable our staff to work remotely, abide by health and safety precautions and continue to support our clients through online platforms and remote working technology.
Our case management system allows us to conduct legal services for clients in any County or Country. The system allows a seamless and secure working environment during the uncertainty of Covid-19, allowing for accessibility to case files through a secure remote network. This system will allow us to continue to provide legal assistance to our clients regardless of what level of lockdown we are in. We wish to encourage our current and prospective clients to reach out to us via phone or email.
Earlier this month, Brendan Noone, a Partner at Connellan Solicitors LLP analysed what Budget 2021 means for business owners. The Government’s decision to increase lockdown restrictions to level-5 means that sectors such as hospitality, retail, public transport and the food and drinks industry are now facing further limitations and risks. Non-essential retail and services closed but sectors such as construction and manufacturing remain open. Updates were made by the Government to assist businesses and SMEs by introducing fiscal stimuli to supply support to businesses particularly through the Strategic Banking Corporation, Ireland’s Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund’s Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund. €100 million was set aside in Budget 2021 to support businesses affected by Covid-19 and its subsequent restrictions. VAT remains at a reduced rate from 13.5% to 9% for hospitality and tourism sectors from 1st November onwards.
Covid Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS): This scheme which was outlined in Budget 2021 is aimed at businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. The CRSS was intended by Government to be in addition to the supports provided to employers under the Employer Wage Support Scheme (EWSS). During level-3 lockdowns, the CRSS applied solely to sectors such as accommodation, food and the arts, recreation, and entertainment. As restrictions have increased, other sectors which have been impacted now qualify for the scheme and will cease to qualify when restrictions are lifted. Businesses can apply to Revenue for a cash payment of maximum €5,000 and the scheme runs from 13th October 2020 until 31st March 2021. Payments are officially calculated on the basis of 10% for the first €1million in turnover and 5% thereafter, based on average VAT exclusive turnover for 2019.
Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS): The aim of the EWSS is to ensure that employees retain their link with their employer to avoid rising unemployment rates. As a result of the increased lockdown measures, updates were made to Budget 2021 and will remain in place until the end of January 2021. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme which has been amended to align with the updates made to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. The new five payment rates/bands are as follows:
0 – €151 = €0
>€151 < €203 = €203
>€203 < €300 = €250
>€300 < €400 = €300
>€400 < €1,462 = €350
Pandemic Unemployment Payment: The PUP which faced no original changes in Budget 2021 has now been amended so that the rate of €350 has been restored to those who earned over €400 per week. This change was made from the 27th October 2020:
Prior Weekly Earnings (Gross) PUP Payment
< €200 €203
€200 – €299.99 €250
€300 – €399.99 €300
> €400 €350
Commercial Leasing: On Friday 27th March 2020 the Government introduced emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 entitled The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act. This Emergency Act introduced a number of measures which prevent residential landlords from serving a termination notice and increasing rent during this time. The Government has urged commercial landlords to make concessions to struggling businesses as lockdown measures continue and increase. The legislation was not originally intended to include commercial leases. However, the Government are encouraging all landlords to follow the legislation despite the official rights and obligations of landlord and tenant being governed by the terms of the lease.
Unless the lease contains a ‘keep open’ provision, tenants must temporarily close their premises. A ‘keep open’ obligation would, however, need to be balanced against a tenant’s obligation to comply with government guidance and applicable laws or restrictions. Communication between landlords and tenants is imperative during this time and we advise both parties come to an agreement which respects Government advice and both parties involved. Parties may decide to reduce or waiver in rent while Level 5 restrictions continue in return for another break option at a later stage.
Upskilling and Work from Home: Budget 2021 invested a total of €118.5 million to upskill and reskill those who have been affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic and train in the skills of the future particularly in relation to the Climate agenda. The investment was aimed at those seeking employment or upskilling in current roles. The budget measures included a €50 million fund to provide financial assistance to full time third level students, €120 million to reskill and upskill those affected by the pandemic and 50,000 further education and training places in 2020/21.
Remote working/Working from home has been essential in the response to the pandemic. The Budget states that in cases where the employer makes payments towards the expenses of working from home, up to €3.20 can be paid to employees without a Benefit-in Kind arising. In addition to this, where an employer does not make a contribution, employees are entitled to a tax deduction for utility expenses such as heat, light, and broadband. Claims may also be made for any other expenses which were undertaken exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of employment.
Connellan Solicitors LLP welcomes a new partner – Brendan Noone
In July 2020, Brendan Noone was appointed as a partner in Connellan Solicitors LLP and now serves alongside Mark Connellan and Gerard Carthy. Brendan joined Connellan Solicitors LLP in October 2017 after spending a number of years working in Dublin. Brendan is experienced in all areas of general practice and has a particular focus in the areas of Litigation, Personal Injuries, Employment Law, Property Law and Administration of Estates. Brendan is also qualified to act as a solicitor in England and Wales and earned a specialised certificate in conveyancing from the Law Society of Ireland. Brendan is originally from Creggs, Co. Galway and currently resides in Westmeath. In addition to his professional role, Brendan is currently the secretary of the Longford Solicitors Bar Association. Connellan Solicitors LLP is delighted to have Brendan as a partner, and we wish him the best of luck with his new position.
Connellan Solicitors LLP supporting local clubs
Connellan Solicitors LLP has a long history of supporting local sport and clubs in our area. We understand that Covid-19 has had an overwhelming impact on sport, physical activity, and well-being. Connellan Solicitors LLP is a proud supporter of local clubs such as County Longford Golf Club, Ballynacargy GAA and Longford Rugby Football Club.
The forthcoming National Economic Plan
The National Economic Plan which is due to be published in mid-November of this year, will outline Ireland’s longer-term priorities and objectives to allow movement towards a resilient, balanced, sustainable economy. The areas of primary focus at the moment appear to be construction, SMEs and aviation. The capital expenditure included as part of the July Stimulus Package and Budget 2021 will prioritise delivering increased resources for the capital investment set out in the National Development Plan. There is set to be over €9bn in public capital investment and public investment in construction in 2020 and 2021, among the highest per capita in the EU.
The Taoiseach maintains that the construction industry is an important key in getting and keeping the economy on track. Although current lockdown restrictions allow for the industry to remain open, increased resources and agendas will need to be targeted towards the sector to fuel the economy.
The SME Growth Plan is also set to form part of the National Economic Plan which will be published in November. The SME Growth Taskforce is a commitment outlined in the Programme for Government which was formed in order to design a National SME Growth Plan, mapping out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint for SMEs and entrepreneurs. The Taskforce is composed of a broad range of businesspeople from a range of sectors in addition to SME representative groups and has already met twice during October.
The joint Chambers of Limerick, Ennis, Shannon, and Galway have also requested further grants to offset operational losses and further operational supports for Shannon and Cork Airports in the National Economic Plan. The Chambers ask that focus is given to resetting air access to Ireland and to engage with airlines to devise plans for strategic route development and to align national aviation policy with the goals of Project Ireland 2040. If airports are appropriately resourced, the Chambers maintain that regional economies will be more poised towards a speedy and significant recovery.
Connellan Solicitors LLP supports Fermoyle National School with donation of a Numicon Package
Connellan Solicitors LLP has partnered with Fermoyle National School to provide a Numicon Package which supports the teaching of Maths. This new equipment will allow students to achieve their full potential, particularly in the area of mathematics.
Students and their families across the island of Ireland have had to face insurmountable difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic and we at Connellan Solicitors LLP wanted to support Fermoyle N.S.’s efforts in ensuring the school has access to appropriate resources.
Connellan Solicitors LLP appreciates the importance of educational resources and the challenges faced by pupils, teachers, and families. We acknowledge and value the role Fermoyle N.S. plays in bringing people together and want to play our role in supporting our community and further enhancing a renewed positivity during these challenging times.
Please keep an eye out for more news on our partnership with Fermoyle N.S.