‘Stay and spend’ scheme: take-up well below estimates

Initiative offered tax credits against restaurant bills and holiday accommodation

Ready for outdoor dining in Dublin city centre before Level 5. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ready for outdoor dining in Dublin city centre before Level 5. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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The take-up by taxpayers of the Government’s “stay and spend” scheme has been well below original estimates.

The scheme, due to conclude at the end of this month, was announced last July by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to encourage people to support the domestic hospitality sector.

The initiative offered a tax credit against part of the cost of holiday accommodation, eat-in food and non-alcoholic drinks in restaurants.

Mr Donohoe estimated the scheme would cost the exchequer about €270 million, based on more than €1 billion of spending.

The latest figures for the uptake of the scheme from the Department of Finance show that, as of April 15th, the total expenditure recorded on receipts uploaded was €10.1 million, with total tax credits of €2 million due to taxpayers. A total of 61,819 receipts have been uploaded to Revenue.

Following the scheme’s commencement last October, the State entered Level 5 later that month until December, and returned to such measures shortly after Christmas. These Covid-19 restrictions included a ban on inter-county travel and the closure of restaurants and bars.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said: “The scheme needs to be either extended, reconstituted or reimagined. The take-up was extremely low, but obviously businesses were closed.

“The minute businesses are open again we believe there should be some sort of a kick-start scheme for our industry.”

The Department of Finance said decisions on “next steps relating to the scheme” have yet to be taken. “The department will continue to assess matters as circumstances evolve.”

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