One firm repaid €6 million in Covid-19 wage subsidies to the Revenue Commissioners last year.

That is according to new figures provided by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, who has confirmed that 5,195 employers repaid a total of just over €79m last year as part of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

In a written Dail reply to Social Democrat co-leader, Catherine Murphy TD, Minister Donohoe stated that the top ten repayments ranged from €6m down to €1.4m "and span various sectors of the economy".

Over 664,000 employees and 66,500 employers received €2.8bn in subsidies through the scheme which has since been replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).

Late last year, some of the country's major employers confirmed that they had voluntarily returned all Covid-19 wage subsidies to the Government.

These include building materials giant CRH where its chief executive, Albert Manifold, confirmed in a November trading update, "we decided that all the extra costs that we’ve had to cover, we will cover that ourselves".

The Grafton Group repaid €2.5m to Revenue after sales rebounded at its Woodies DIY stores after the first lockdown lifted.

In order to qualify for the scheme firms had to record a 25% drop in sales and a spokesman for Revenue said that the monies refunded include monies voluntarily returned by employers who met the schemes eligibility criteria and correctly claimed the payments received.

He stated that refunds also came from a small number of employers who have completed all of the necessary steps to have fully 'reversed out’ of the scheme.

He added that just over 1,100 employers who, early in the scheme, inadvertently claimed duplicate TWSS refunds which they later repaid at Revenue’s specific request.

In a separate written Dail reply to Labour's Ged Nash, Minister Donohoe confirmed that under the EWSS over €1.5bn have been made and PRSI relief worth over €270m granted to over 41,600 employers to date in respect of over 467,000 employees.

He said that if the scheme was to be maintained in its current form, it is estimated that it could cost an additional €350m per month in direct subsidy payments and €61m in PRSI relief.

Minister Donohue stated: "Over an additional nine months that would cost a further €3.15bn in direct subsidy and €550m in PRSI relief."

He added: "I have always been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS."

He said that the legislation implementing the measure provides that it will be in place until 31 March 2021, but also allows him as Minister to extend the scheme until the end of June 2021, subject to certain conditions.

He added: "It is likely that continued support will be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable businesses and employment and to provide businesses with certainty to the maximum extent possible. 

Decisions on the form of such support will take account of emerging circumstances and economic conditions as they become clearer."