Number on Pandemic Unemployment Payment falls by 4,000

Almost 3,000 receiving illness benefit due to workers with Covid-19 or in self-isolation

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys urged employees not to let their guard down and to work from home where possible. File photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys urged employees not to let their guard down and to work from home where possible. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

About 4,000 people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment returned to work this week.

The reduction was most notable in the construction sector, which saw just over 1,000 people in the industry leave the PUP scheme this week to return to work.

The Department of Social Protection will on Tuesday issue payments totalling €139 million to 464,860 people on the PUP scheme. A further 186,702 people were on the Live Register at the end of February. There were 598,000 people on the PUP scheme at the height of the first lockdown in early May.

All sectors, with the exception of the energy and water supply industries, have seen a reduction in the number of workers receiving PUP this week.

Nearly 110,000 people employed in the accommodation and food service sectors remain on the emergency payment scheme, the highest of any industry.

Almost 75,000 people who worked in wholesale and retail are receiving the payment, as are 59,000 in the construction sector.

Almost half of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment are getting the maximum rate of €350 per week.

The Department of Social Protection has issued a statement reminding workers who return to work that they must close their claim for the pandemic payment on the date they start back at work.

Meanwhile, there has been a marginal rise in the number of people receiving the Enhanced Illness Benefit payment. There are 2,938 people due to receive the benefit this week compared with 2,846 last week. The payment is made to employees or the self-employed who cannot work due to being diagnosed with Covid-19 or receiving a medically certified instruction to self-isolate or restrict their movements due being a probable case of the virus.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the slight increase in the number of recipients was a “stark reminder” that the virus remained at large and posed a risk to all.

She urged employees not to let their guard down and to work from home where possible.

“Our efforts are making a difference … All of us need to continue to follow the health guidelines,” she added.