Number receiving pandemic unemployment payment falls by 42,000

Minister welcomes fall in claimants as a result of exiting Level 5 restrictions

The number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) has fallen by 42,000 over the last week.

The Department of Social Protection said on Monday that there were now 306,200 people receiving the benefit, a decrease of 42,000 in a week.

It also said that a further 40,000 closed their claim for the PUP in the past seven days to return to work.

The 306,200 people receiving the PUP is in addition to the 194,058 people who were reported on the Live Register as of the end of November.


At the height of the coronavirus pandemic last April and May there were nearly 600,000 people claiming the PUP.

The Department of Social Protection said the new figures suggested that the largest numbers of people closing their pandemic unemployment claims were in the younger age groups, with most being based in Dublin.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: "I very much welcome the significant drop in the number of people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment this week.

“The figure reflects the impact of exiting Level 5 of [coronavirus] restrictions – which has seen many businesses reopen and thousands of staff return to the workplace.

“A further 46,000 people have closed their pandemic unemployment payment claim in the past seven days and over 40,000 of them have done so because they too are returning to work.”

‘Sheer determination’

The Minister said that “sheer determination and solidarity” on the part of people had brought about the current situation.

“If we continue to focus on suppressing the virus rather than letting our guard down, we will succeed in making Christmas enjoyable for all.”

The Department of Social Protection said the top sectors from which employees closed their PUP claim to return to work were accommodation and food service activities (17,478 people), hairdressers and beauty salons (6,858) and wholesale and retail trade (6,693).

"Dublin had the greatest number of people closing their claims (10,295), followed by Cork (5,037), Galway (2,395), Kildare (1,752) and Limerick (1,741).

“This week, the largest cohort of people who closed their claims to return to work is in the under-25 age group (12,014), followed by the 25-34 age group (9,323) and those aged 35-44 (8,947),” it said.


The Department of Social Protection said that last week the Minister had announced that self-employed people in receipt of the PUP who were looking to restart their business could now earn up to €960 over an eight-week period while retaining their full entitlement under the scheme.

It said this represented a change from the €480 previously allowed over a four-week period and was introduced following engagement with the arts sector, including the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI), as well as other sectors with significant numbers of self-employed people.

“This new measure allows a self-employed person to take on intermittent jobs or ‘one-off gigs’ without losing their entitlement to the pandemic unemployment payment. The measure takes effect immediately.”

The Minister said on Monday: “I don’t want to see people turning down work for fear that it might impact their pandemic unemployment payment.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent