The federal government officially confirmed that it will be extending financial support for people in Belgium affected by the restrictions imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus.
During Friday’s meeting of the core cabinet, the financial support package was approved. This follows the announcement in the previous Consultative Committee that existing measures would be extended into 2022 and new ones would be implemented.
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the federal government has always supported the sectors, companies and people affected by the restrictions linked to the health measures. Today, we are once again delivering on that commitment,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
The government stressed that businesses in the heavily-affected events sector will benefit from a reduction in social security contributions in the fourth quarter of 2021. This includes events, culture, discotheques, dance bars and indoor playgrounds.
Continuing temporary unemployment scheme
The government extended the temporary “corona unemployment scheme” (due to expire on 31 December 2021) and announced that it will still be valid in the first quarter of 2022.
This support will kick in as soon as a company switches some workers to partial or complete unemployment, either because of a drop in activity or forced closure. This will also be implemented if employees have to take time off due to the quarantine of a child.
Economy and Labour Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne has repeatedly stressed the social and economic importance of the government continuing the support mechanisms: “On average, 300,000 workers and 55,000 companies benefited from temporary unemployment in 2021. In November, 167,000 workers and almost 38,000 companies are still using it.”
End of year bonuses
The government will also support the hospitality sector in the payment of end-of-year bonuses for its employees. “A budget of €66 million has been released for this purpose,” Dermagne said.
In 2021, the federal government has already spent €6.3 billion on support measures, with €2 billion used to finance the temporary corona unemployment scheme.