More than €3bn paid out so far under pandemic unemployment scheme, Minister says

Number receiving payment falls by 12,300 in past week, down 54 per cent from peak

 Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys: ‘This week sees a further decrease in the number of people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys: ‘This week sees a further decrease in the number of people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The number of people receiving the Government’s special Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment has fallen by about 12,300 over the last week.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said on Tuesday that 274,600 would receive the payment this week, down 54 per cent from the peak in early May when nearly 600,000 people were covered by the scheme.

The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the Government had so far paid out over €3 billion to claimants under the pandemic unemployment payment scheme.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said the main sectors in which workers were returning to employment were accommodation and food services; wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles as well as construction.

In addition to the pandemic unemployment payment, about 390,000 staff working for nearly 69,500 employers are having their wages supported under the Government’s separate Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

There were also the 220,900 people on the Live Register as of the end of June.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said that about 200,400 people will this week receive the higher pandemic unemployment payment rate of €350, which is 8,500 less than last week.

It said about 74,200 people will receive the lower €203 rate under the pandemic unemployment payment scheme this week which is 3,800 less than last week.

The department said that in the past week, some 11,200 people closed their claim for the pandemic unemployment payment of which 8,300 reported that they were returning to work.

“Of those 8,300 returning to work, some 5,300 are receiving their last payment this week. As the pandemic unemployment payment is a weekly payment paid in arrears, there can be a one week lag in how closures, due to people returning to work, are reflected in the payment data.”

Ms Humphreys said: “This week sees a further decrease in the number of people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment. It is particularly encouraging to see this trend reflected in every county as people continue to get back to work.”

“Today we are paying €85.2 million to recipients of the pandemic unemployment ayment, bringing the total amount paid under PUP to over €3 billion. “To put this into context, last year my Department paid out €2.1 billion in Child Benefit.”

Ms Humphreys said that where Covid -19 restrictions were still having an impact such as in the pub and arts and entertainment sectors, the Government wanted people in these areas to be able to return to their jobs once these were eased.

“Workers who remain temporarily laid off are therefore not required to meet the ‘genuinely seeking work’ requirement for work in other sectors.”

“The focus for the department will, as always, be on supporting those who have been permanently laid off and who now need to look for new job opportunities.”