About 3,600 fewer people receiving pandemic unemployment payment

Minister warns impact of new restrictions in Dublin not yet reflected in figures

Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys: “Throughout this pandemic, we have taken decisions that we never thought we would have to make.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys: “Throughout this pandemic, we have taken decisions that we never thought we would have to make.” Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The number of people receiving the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment has fallen by 3,600 to 206,341 over the last week.

However the Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the new figures did not take into account the impact of new Covid-19 restrictions introduced in Dublin last week.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said on Monday that over the past seven days, 6,333 people had closed their claim for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

It said 4,568 people would be receiving their final payment on Tuesday.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said the number of people receiving the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment had now fallen by 65 per cent from a peak of nearly 600,000 in early May.

It said the sector recording the largest numbers returning to employment this week was accommodation and food service activities with 820 people going back to work, followed by wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles as well as education.

Ms Humphreys said: “Throughout this pandemic, we have taken decisions that we never thought we would have to make. But underpinning our entire approach has been the need to save lives.”

“The reduction in the number of people in receipt of pandemic unemployment payment is welcome. However, it’s important to bear in mind that today’s figures do not reflect the decision taken last week to move Dublin to Level 3 of restrictions.”

“We are experiencing unprecedented times in our country and it is essential that now more than ever we raise our efforts to suppress the Covid-19 virus.”

“We owe it to our families, friends, work colleagues and businesses that have been affected by the virus. Most of all, we owe it to the frontline staff who are making enormous sacrifices to care for people in hospitals, care centres and nursing homes.”

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said where, due to ongoing restrictions, a person’s employer had not restarted operations or where a sector was still temporarily closed, or had to close their business again temporarily, it would continue to support the workers concerned through payment of the pandemic unemployment payment.

“New applications for pandemic unemployment payment can be made until the end of this year”, it said.

Payment rates for the pandemic unemployment scheme changed from this week.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said that from September 17th there would be three rates of payment instead of two.

A recipient’s rate is linked to their previous incomes as follows:

* If they earned over €300 (gross) per week, they will now receive €300 per week.

* If they earned between €200 and €300 (gross) per week, the rate of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will now be €250 per week; and

* If they earned less than €200 (gross) per week, the rate of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be €203 per week (there is no change to this rate).

“Recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will see the impact of these changes in their bank accounts on Tuesday, September 22nd,” it said.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said that since the beginning of September, approximately 261 people had been medically certified with having Coronavirus to qualify for the €350 Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit payment. It said about 4,000 other people were medically certified for the payment as they were self-isolating.

“To date 64,029 people under age 66 have been medically certified for receipt of the Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit.”