The Minister for Finance has confirmed that the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place in a "graduated" form until the end of April next year.

"That is six months after the lifting of most public health restrictions and two months after the PUP ceases," Minister Paschal Donohoe said in his budget speech.

He said there will be no change to the EWSS for the months of October and November, while businesses availing of the EWSS on the 31 of December 2021 will continue to be supported until the end of next April.

The scheme will close to new employers from 1 January 2022, he confirmed.

Across December, January and February, a two-rate structure of €151.50 and €203 will apply, he explained.

For the final two months of the scheme – March and April, a flat rate subsidy of €100 will be put in place.

Minister Donohoe said the reduced rate of Employers' PRSI will no longer apply for these two months.

"These revised arrangements for EWSS strike a balance between helping those businesses which continue to need support, while recalibrating the scheme in light of the wider economic recovery," said Minister Donohoe.

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, has welcomed the extension of the scheme.

The group said that while much of the retail sector was bouncing back, it would be a long road to recovery for many businesses.

It said footfall has yet to fully recover and businesses remain in "survival mode".

Arnold Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland said labour shortages are now a big challenge for many retailers.

"The high cost of housing and childcare is making Ireland a less attractive place to live and work.

"Increasing the allocation of money for quality housing and childcare is crucial, but so too is accelerating the delivery," he said.