Number claiming pandemic unemployment payment falls by 3,600
More than 477,000 on benefit but Minister welcomes first fall in applications since December
Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the rate of applications for the pandemic unemployment payment had levelled off. File photograph: Alan Betson
The number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment has fallen by more than 3,600 over the last week, the first reduction since stringent Covid-19 restrictions were reimposed in December, the Department of Social Protection has said.
It said 477,665 people were receiving the benefit this week. It said all sectors with the exception of electrical/gas/water supply had seen a reduction in the number of receiving the special pandemic unemployment payment.
The department said more than 10,200 people had closed their claim for pandemic unemployment payment as they were returning to work.
It said Dublin had the largest number of people closing their claims to return to employment (2,526), followed by Cork (1,047) and Kildare (510).
It said there were with 705 fewer people in the construction sector receiving the payment this week compared with last week.
The department said that the sector with the highest number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this was accommodation and food service activities (111,280), followed by wholesale and retail trade (75,927) and construction (62,197).
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said on Monday that the figures this week reflected “the first reduction in the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment since the Level 5 restrictions were introduced in late December”.
“This is a positive development and shows that the rate of applications for the pandemic unemployment payment has levelled off.
“Almost 13,000 people closed their pandemic unemployment payment claims in the past seven days with some 10,000 of these stating that they were doing so because they were returning to work.”
“This is to be welcomed and it is encouraging for businesses and our economy. The construction sector saw over 2,000 employees close their pandemic unemployment payment claims in the past seven days. Furthermore, some 1,700 people in wholesale and retail trade and some 1,300 in manufacturing closed their claims in order to return to work.”
The Minister also said there had been a reduction in the number of people receiving the separate Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit payment, down to 4,707 from 7,149 last week.
The 477,000 people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week are in addition to the 188,543 people who were on the Live Register at the end of January.
The Department of Social Protection said 50 per cent of those receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week would get the maximum rate of €350.
Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said the pandemic unemployment payment would be extended beyond the current deadline of March 31st for many months to come.
Mr McGrath told RTÉ News at One the Government would publish a plan regarding the payment and Covid-19 supports next week.