Monday 13 July 2020

New company support package confirmed, cash also allocated to local councils


The decision to extend the duration of next package of measures to help companies get through the coronavirus crisis to four months is partly to give more breathing space to negotiations on what should happen next, social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees told MPs on Thursday.

It is ‘crucial’ that employers and unions work together in the next phase, Koolmees said. This is why the expiry date for the second support round has been extended by one month to October 1.

As reported earlier by broadcaster NOS, firms which get government support to help pay wages and then go on to sack at least 20 members of staff will have to pay a fine after all.

The new measures to shore up industry against the impact of coronavirus, announced by ministers on May 20, removed the threat of a fine if companies let staff go, much to the fury of trade unions.

Koolmees now says he will fine firms up to 5% of the total wage support they have received if more than 20 workers lose their jobs, as long as there is no agreement with the unions.

Companies will also be able to apply for up to €50,000 to pay fixed costs during the next four months, up from the €20,000 mooted on May 20 under the revamped TOGS scheme. The exact amount will depend on how much turnover has gone down by.

Local authorities

The government also announced on Thursday that it has set aside €566m to help local and provincial councils and waterboards keep services up to scratch after coronavirus impacted on their finances.

The loss of income from parking, tourist taxes and other taxes have had a major impact on some councils, and research by television current affairs show EenVandaag earlier this week suggested that nine in 10 local authorities could be in financial difficulty.

More money may be forthcoming because the government does not yet have a true picture of local authority finances, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollogren said in a briefing to MPs.

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