Plans to move workers on PUP to Jobseeker’s Benefit deferred

Payments made under pandemic unemployment scheme to reduce from next week

The Department of Social Protection said the the maximum Pandemic Unemployment Payment weekly rate of €350 will reduce to €300. File photograph: Getty

The Department of Social Protection said the the maximum Pandemic Unemployment Payment weekly rate of €350 will reduce to €300. File photograph: Getty

 

Plans to move workers who are claiming the pandemic unemployment payment to Jobseeker’s Benefit have been deferred until after October 22nd, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has said.

The Minister said she made the decision as she is “acutely aware that some sectors of the economy are reopening slower than others”.

The Department of Social Protection said on Tuesday that the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment was continuing to fall. It said 140,138 people would this week receive the pandemic unemployment payment. It said this represented a fall of 3,468 compared to last week.

Under new changes being introduced by the Government payments made under the pandemic unemployment scheme are to reduce from next week.

The department said the top three rates of pandemic unemployment payment would reduce by €50 this month.

“The maximum weekly rate of €350 will reduce to €300. The current rate of €300 will reduce to €250 and the current rate of €250 will reduce to €203. These new payment rates will be reflected in payments received on Tuesday, 14th September.

“The process of moving from the lower €203 rate of pandemic unemployment payment to a jobseeker’s payment was due to begin in early September. This has now been deferred until after all sectors have started to reopen in line with the roadmap announced on Tuesday, 31st August, and all affected customers will continue to receive their pandemic unemployment payment until 26th October when the process of their possible transition to a jobseeker’s payment will begin. Work on the transition process will commence at the end of September when the department will write to all affected customers to outline the options available to them.

“Two further phases of rate changes are scheduled to take place from 16th November, 2021, and 8th February, 2022. As pandemic unemployment payment recipients go on to the €203 rate in each phase, they will be transitioned to standard jobseeker terms.”

The department said students receiving the pandemic unemployment payment, who had advised it that they would be in full-time education for the forthcoming academic year, would receive their final payment on Tuesday, September 7th.

The department said it had “communicated this change to over 28,000 students”.

‘Avoidable hardship’

The 140,138 people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week are in addition to the 179,761 people who were on the Live Register at the end of August.

Sinn Féin, meanwhile, has maintained that the reductions in the pandemic unemployment payment scheme starting this week would “cause avoidable hardship for thousands of workers”.

Sinn Féin spokeswoman on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane said: “I am appalled that the Government has insisted on going ahead with these PUP cuts today. From today, thousands of workers across the state will see their financial supports slashed despite the fact that they remain unable to return to work due to their sectors being closed under public health advice.

“These cuts should not have gone ahead when sectors are only starting to reopen as a result of the updated public health guidelines, which took effect yesterday.

“The live and entertainment sectors are operating at reduced capacity through no fault of their own, simply because they are following Government guidelines put in place to keep us all safe. Yet many working in this sector will see their pandemic unemployment payments cut by €50 per week from today.”

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