The Department has provided significant financial supports to the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS), which supported services by providing funding to top-up staff wages and contribute towards overhead costs. To ensure that funding continued to flow, a number of preliminary payments were made, which in some cases resulted in overpayments.
The overpayment amount will be viewable on your PIP portal in due course. In the meantime, if you have any concerns/issues regarding your overpayment, you can contact the Early Years Provider Centre directly or alternatively raise a service request on the HIVE and select the following options:
The recoupment of these overpayments commenced in November 2020 and there was an option to extend the recoupment into 2021 with final payments made by end March 2021. However, in light of new Level 5 restrictions in the post-Christmas period, a decision was made to delay any outstanding recoupments. This decision was made to avoid placing any undue administrative burden on services and financial challenges at a time where there were already additional pressures and uncertainty.
The Department remains committed to its public duty of ensuring that all tax payer money is properly accounted for, and for this reason recoupment will now resume and take place from April until June 2021. Services that have overpayments are now given advance notice to allow them to make arrangements to manage their cashflow in the coming weeks. Recoupment plans already agreed will resume in April and will be completed by the end of June. For all other services, you may either repay Pobal directly or we will spread the recoupment across payments due from April to June in agreement with Pobal.
ELC and SAC services continue to be supported through a number of funding packages such as the extension of the enhanced EWSS until the end of June, and more recently the DCEDIY–led COVID Operating Support Payment (COSP) to ensure that services’ ongoing sustainability is maintained.
If for any reason a service does have concerns about sustainability arising from recoupment of TWSCS overpayments, they are advised to contact Pobal. If this arrangement is not viable for the business and an alternative arrangement is needed, this can be arranged. Hence, if you have any concerns or issues, please raise a service Request on the HIVE (see steps above)
Pobal will be available to support any providers who face sustainability issues with resumption of TWSCS recoupment and will work with you to manage re-payments.
The enhanced EWSS, COSP and other Government measures have been designed to support providers to the greatest extent possible. If your service is currently experiencing sustainability issues even after these measures, the Department has asked us to advise you of a new Sustainability Fund in place – COVID19 Impacts Support Fund. This will assist providers (not-for-profit and for-profit) that require further financial assistance in addition to current support measures available to remain viable. The Department encourages providers in such circumstances to contact their CCC to seek advice on applying for this funding which is available from 1 March.
As stated previously, Pobal recognises the pressure that services have been under and is committed to continuing to work with the Department and the sector to support all providers through these exceptionally difficult times.