70% of companies will have to pay back some coronavirus support

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Some seven out of 10 businesses which applied for government wage support last year fared better than expected and will have to pay back part, or all, of the money, finance ministry officials have calculated.

Around 50,000 firms which applied for the NOW bridging subsidy for the period between March and October are faced with making repayments after the expected drop in turnover didn’t happen. Between them they will have to reimburse a total of €4.2bn out of the €18.7bn paid out, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Wednesday.

Travel organisations and bars and restaurants were among the businesses with the most realistic estimates of loss of turnover. Vets predicted that their clients would stay away in droves but this did not happen and they have to pay back nearly all of the wage support, NOS quoted the analysis as saying.

By contrast, over half of self-employed workers saw a decline in the amount of work coming their way while, a recent two-yearly survey among 8,000 freelancers has shown.

Freelance service providers such as hairdressers, beauticians and cooks were the worst affected with some 80% said they had faced a loss of income. The creative professions were also hard hit, with 73% reporting lower income. Workers in the transport and logistics sector, such as taxi drivers, also saw their turnover fall.

However, some 10% of self-employed doctors, psychologists and IT specialists saw a rise in demand.

Despite the setbacks the number of freelancers who said they were happy working the way they were remained at 80% as did the number of people who said they would rather be in paid employment – some 11%.

The self-employed were also offered financial support during the crisis but many turned out not to be eligible.

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