Number of people claiming Covid-19 payment has fallen by almost half

Some 313,800 are claiming pandemic payment, down from a high of almost 600,000

The main sectors where employees are returning to work are accommodation and food services; wholesale and retail trade;  construction and the motor trade. Photograph: Getty Images

The main sectors where employees are returning to work are accommodation and food services; wholesale and retail trade; construction and the motor trade. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The number of people receiving the Government’s special pandemic unemployment payment has fallen by 31,800 in the past week to 313,800, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has said.

It said on Monday that in the past fortnight, the number of people closing their claim for the pandemic unemployment payment had dropped by almost 100,000.

At its peak in early May there were nearly 600,000 people receiving the special Covid unemployment payment.

The department said the main sectors where employees returned to work this week were accommodation and food services; wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; and construction.

It said the largest cohort returning to work were those aged between 35 and 44.

In addition to the pandemic unemployment payment, an estimated 415,000 people working for about 67,400 employers are having their pay supported by the Government’s separate Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

A further 220,900 people were on the live register at the end of June.

The department said this was the third week of operation of the Government’s new two-tiered payment structure for people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment.

It said the majority of people – 226,300 – would continue to receive the original €350 rate of payment which is 23,500 fewer than last week.

It said 87,500 people will receive the lower €203 rate of payment this week which was 8,300 fewer than last week.

Under the revised payment arrangements those whose average weekly earnings in 2019 or January and February 2020 were less than €200 gross receive a pandemic unemployment payment of €203.

The department said about three quarters of claimants would continue to receive the original €350 benefit.

The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said on Monday that the figures this week showed increasing numbers of people were returning to work as businesses large and small throughout the entire country emerged from the Covid-19 health crisis.

“This week, I will be announcing initiatives under the Government’s July stimulus package aimed specifically at enabling people to move back into employment. I have been working closely with the officials in my Department and my colleagues in Government on developing a suite of measures that will stimulate the economy and provide supports to businesses.

“A key element of the package will be enhancing the supports available to people who have lost employment during this pandemic to assist them back into work as quickly as possible.”

The Minister said while she was pleased with the figures showing greater numbers were returning to work, she was cautious.

“It is absolutely critical that we heed the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team as everyone is eager to move ahead. Now is not the time to become complacent and we must continue to follow the advice of Nphet.”