Almost €130m to be paid in arrears to recipients of pandemic payment

Numbers claiming the benefit falls by 654, with 351,400 people receiving the payment

Heather Humphreys: ‘This week’s pandemic unemployment payment figures are showing a steadying off of new claims’. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

Heather Humphreys: ‘This week’s pandemic unemployment payment figures are showing a steadying off of new claims’. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

 

The Government is to pay out nearly €130 million in arrears to approximately 286,000 people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment.

Overall the number of people receiving the payment fell slightly by over 600 this week for the first time since new Covid-19 restrictions were introduced several weeks ago.

The Department of Social Protection said 351,400 people would receive the pandemic unemployment payment this week.

The Department of Social Protection said on Tuesday that the €129 million in arrears to be paid this week as well as the payment of the €390million Christmas Bonus next week to over 1.6 million social welfare recipients, including approximately 311,270 people claiming the pandemic unemployment payment, would see over €500 million being injected into the economy.

The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: “This week’s pandemic unemployment payment figures are showing a steadying off of new claims with some 4,500 people having closed their claim in the past week as they return to work.”

“The overall number of claimants has also fallen slightly. This is expected to be followed by a much more significant drop next week as a result of some sectors of the economy reopening.”

“While all of these signs are positive, it is not the time to drop our guard.”

The Minister said the €500 million boost arising from the arrears and the Christmas bonus would provide great benefit to the local economy and she encouraged people “to choose to shop local”.

The Minister said: “ I know that some people are worried that if they close their pandemic unemployment payment claim they will not be able to reopen the claim if their workplace closes again in January.”

“I can assure them that this is not the case. Last week I secured Government approval to keep pandemic unemployment payment (scheme) open until March so people who have the opportunity to return to work can do so with the peace of mind that they can still access the pandemic unemployment payment again if the need it.”

“I also know that some people fear that if they return to work this week they will miss out on any entitlement to the Christmas bonus payment next week.

“Again, I can assure them that this is not the case. Because the pandemic unemployment payment is paid on a weekly basis everybody who goes back to work this week and, has been on the pandemic unemployment payment for at least 17 weeks over the period since March, are entitled to a Christmas bonus.”