Number receiving Covid unemployment payment falls to 439,000

New figures show 405,000 people having their pay supported by wage subsidy scheme

The newly-appointed Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys. File photograph: Julien Behal/PA.

The newly-appointed Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys. File photograph: Julien Behal/PA.

 

The number of people receiving the special Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment has fallen to 439,000, the Department of Social Protection said on Monday.

This represents a reduction of 26,900 on the number of people who were receiving the benefit last week.

The Department of Social Protection said there were also 405,000 people working for 63,500 employers who were having their pay supported by the Government’s separate Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme .

The numbers receiving the pandemic unemployment payment and benefitting from the wage subsidy scheme are in addition to the 225,600 people who were on the live register at the end of May.

This means that there are over one million people relying on State support for all or part of the their income.

Separately the newly-appointed Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said on Monday that the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme would not be ended abruptly.

Support could not and would not be withdrawn overnight, he told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show.

He said the scheme had played “a hugely important role” during the crisis and support would be withdrawn in a phased and gradual manner.

The Minister said the priority was getting people back to work. As the economy reopens it was going to be like taking a bandage off a wound to see how it had healed, he said.

“The country has come through a period of great trauma.”

He said that there had been “major economic disruption” and the Government’s planned July stimulus package would be ambitious with the aim of supporting employers and business.

One week lag

The Department of Social Protection said that last week 25,700 people closed their claim for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. It said of these 20,100 reported that they were returning to work.

Of those who are returning to work about 14,000 are receiving their last payment under the scheme this week. It said that as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment was a weekly payment paid in arrears, there could be a one week lag in how closures, due to people returning to work, are reflected in the payment data.

The department said the top three sectors in which employees were returning to work this week were wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles with 4,100 back in work. It said 3,600people had returned to their jobs in accommodation and food service activities and 2,900 had gone back to work in construction.

The newly-appointed Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said on Monday: “I welcome the continuing fall in the numbers of people who are depending on the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. I look forward to working closely with the officials in my Department in making every effort to help people who have lost their jobs get back into employment as quickly as possible.

“This will involve providing people from all communities across the State with the necessary supports and services to assist them transition back into employment . This will be one of my main priorities as Minister with responsibility for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands and it will be high on my agenda when I meet with senior management in my Department early this week.”