School hallway pexels

Parents forced to take time off work to care for their children while schools are closed are set to receive their first payment of the latest iteration of the COVID support scheme, which will cost the Government more than €105,000 total.

Announced on 16th March, after the Government closed schools to help fight a rise in COVID transmission rates, the scheme will run from 15th March to 11th April, after which schools are set to reopen.

Whilst the Government also closed a vast array of non-essential businesses, working parents employed at businesses deemed essential, such as supermarkets and pharmacies were left in a quandary over how to take care of their children. 

The support is available for parents of children under 16 who are employed in the private sector, and whose places of work remain open. 

In a press conference on Thursday, Family Minister Michael Falzon and permanent secretary Mark Musa provided details about the uptake of the scheme.

They revealed that 934 people had applied for the support, with 418 applications being assessed as things stand.

Of these, 70 have been rejected, another 70 are waiting authorisation, and 270 applicants are set to receive their first payment this week.

The first payment, set to go out by the end of the week, will cost the Government €105,000, with an additional €11,680 in social security. 

The Ministry expects the cost of applications received to reach €320,000, with €32,000 more in social security payments.

Dr Falzon commented, “we have several goals here, not only providing financial assistance to families but also piece of mind that families will not be hit by the loss of income”. 

Additionally, he said, the Government wants to make sure that “in the long term, people have an incentive to stay within the workforce, so that when the cloud of the pandemic passes, [the Government] can focus on economic recovery and get the wheels to start turning again”. 

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