About 77,000 companies have been promised wage support (NOW) for the last three months of last year.

More than half of these companies are active in the hotel and catering industry, catering or retail trade, the benefits agency UWV reports Wednesday.

The NOW scheme was created to encourage employers to employ as many people as possible.

Companies are reimbursed for part of their wage costs, depending on the size of their loss of turnover.

The UWV received 81,000 applications for the period October to December, of which 77,000 were approved.

The other applicants did not meet the conditions.

In the latter part of this period, the stricter lockdown took effect.

The Hospitality and Catering industry is the absolute leader when it comes to applying for wage support, with 20,243 NOW recipients.

Retailers come in second, with 18,621 companies.

Companies receive a total of 2.8 billion euros in wage support

The 77,000 companies that receive wage support together employ 1.3 million people.

They receive 2.8 billion euros in aid, of which 1.7 billion euros has now been transferred.

This means that the total amount of aid is considerably smaller than in previous periods.

In the spring, 139,500 applicants together received 7.9 billion euros.

In the second period (June to September) 63,500 companies received a total of 4.3 billion euros.

One of the reasons that companies will receive less money over this last period is that they will receive a maximum of 80 percent of the wage costs.

That used to be 90 percent.

More applicants than in the summer months

The number of applicants in the last months of last year was higher than the period before.

This was mainly because the strict lockdown was introduced in mid-December, which meant that saunas, amusement parks, swimming pools and many shops had to close their doors.

The NOW support is an advance.

At a later time, the companies must report their actual loss of turnover to the UWV.

Based on this, it determines how much money the companies are actually entitled to.

This may mean that they receive additional support or have to repay all or part of the money already received.