The final cost of the Government's Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme was almost €2.9 billion when it expired last Monday, according to the latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners who administered the scheme.  

From Tuesday, the TWSS - which ran from March 26 to August 31 - was replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

This will continue to provide payroll supports to employers until March 31 - though with different criteria. 

During the five months of its existence, the TWSS delivered €2.844 billion in wage subsidies to employers, of which €108m was paid out in the last week. 

Over 663,100 employees received at least one subsidy from the time the scheme was launched in March.

An estimated 360,000 people are being directly supported by the scheme in the last week, having received a subsidy in their most recent pay period.  

A total of 69,500 employers registered for the scheme, which delivered supports of up to €410 a week for workers earning up to €960 per week. Of those, over 66,400 actually received subsidy payments. 

Revenue estimates that around 20,100 employers with 161,600 employees left the TWSS before it expired. 

As regards the new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), to date over 26,700 employers have registered with Revenue.  

Unlike the TWSS, the new scheme requires qualifying employers to have tax clearance. Since the middle of August Revenue said it had received 22,700 applications for tax clearance. 

As yet it is unclear whether all employers eligible for the TWSS will transfer to the EWSS.  

To qualify for EWSS, employers must experience a drop in turnover of at least 30%, compared to 25% for TWSS.

The maximum level of support falls from €410 per worker per week under TWSS to €203 under EWSS. 

In addition, the turnaround time for actual delivery of support payments to companies will rise from around 48 hours under TWSS to up to six weeks under EWSS. 

Employers have raised concerns that this will put additional cash flow pressure on firms. 

However, employers will be able to claim the subsidies for a broader range of workers, including new hires, seasonal employees and workers earning up to a higher threshold of €1,462 a week.