Readers respond to PUP changes: ‘Lack of understanding is disheartening’
‘What about people who never got PUP, who struggled on much lower welfare rates?’
The weekly Pandemic Unemployment Payment rate – which is set at a high of €350 – will be reduced by €50 increments in three phases.
The Government has decided to reduce the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) from early September, as part of series of measures under the Economic Recovery Plan.
The currently weekly rate of €350 will decline by €50 increments in three phases: the first on September 7th; second on November 16th; and the third on February 8th, 2022, the plan states, bringing it into line with the jobseekers’ allowance of €203.
The scheme will also close to new applicants from July 1st. We asked readers who are receipt of this pandemic support payment to share their views on the decision to reduce it.
The following are a selection of reader submissions to irishtimes.com.
I work in a pub and restaurant. I am a single parent of a teenager and my take-home pay pre-Covid was €400.
The PUP has allowed me to spend quality time with my daughter; it has been difficult for her age group.
I will now not have to return to work until after the summer. PUP will provide opportunities for students to get jobs in hospitality over the summer as there is little point in regular workers returning to work just yet.
I am a self-employed Fáilte Ireland National Tourist Guide and a professional genealogist. My principle business is driving the diaspora from north America around Ireland on a holiday to trace their ancestry.
I have only had PUP as income since March 2020. My business income can’t resume until six months or more after restrictions end so that’s March 2022, as it is extremely difficult to get anyone to book a holiday for the winter.
Hotel occupancy and rates will not come back to profitable levels until March next year in Dublin (best case scenario). As a consequence, there is little hope on the horizon for hotel managers to find reasonable salaries and contracts. Plenty of short-term low-paid positions with zero-hour contracts on offer.
The PUP was already more than 60 per cent cut at €350.
Maybe emigration beckons.
From earning up to €500 a day self-employed, I was refused PUP as my earnings were allegedly too low. My tax affairs were fully up to date and in order, and my earnings for relevant periods were 4 times the PUP threshold amounts.
I was eventually granted PUP at the €250 rate. In May 2021, after 36 emails, one civil servant realised I had escalated the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.
I was immediately paid a five-figure sum in arrears, and on May 1st, 2021, I received my first PUP payment at the €350 rate.
I have never claimed social welfare in my life . . . I pay taxes through the nose, but when the State forced me to stop working, it refused to accept the amount of earnings I had already been taxed on.
I’ve already given several hundred of my recent windfall to charity, as the State is certainly going to look after the weak.
Ennis, Co Clare
As a professional musician working in the industry for the last 30 years I feel the complete lack of understanding from the Government to be disheartening . . . there are no grants available to musicians who are self-employed non-VAT or rate-registered.
The economic rocketthat Leo [Varadkar] expects to “take off” will take some time to get ignited as venues and theatres will not suddenly book gigs or musicians on September 7th and have us all playing the following weekend.
Every musician I know wants to be back working, the whole logic of slowly turning off the tap of support, [is] literally squeezing the life out of us because the Government decides it’s time for them to look good and balance the books.
Leo assured us last year he didn’t want to lose people in our industry, that he didn’t see the need for us to re-train in other areas.
It’s priceless, no need to retrain, just wait for the rocket to take off and the . . . Government will slowly take away your support,which will add to your already anxious and fearful future.
Ennis, Co Clare
I’m on a pension that falls far short of [the] PUP . . . for which I have contributed through PRSI. Government now intends to wind down [the] PUP, which is not based on taxes paid or levy contributions, from September. Businesses will get grants to continue business and these are also not based on tax or levy contributions . . . who is going to tell pensioners and those on the minimum wage/low-hours contracts that we will have to pay for something we never got . . . again?
What about the people who never got the PUP? People who struggled on the much lower welfare rates for the “undeserving poor” all through the pandemic, and will continue to do so afterwards?
The double standards and hypocrisy on the PUP is repellant. This is about protecting the “deserving” and continuing to ignore those unfortunate enough to have had their lives turned upside down by something other than a pandemic – people with a disability, or who provide unpaid care for someone who needs it, or whose job disappeared before Covid-19, or the poorest families in the State – lone parents.
Where is The Irish Times inviting stories from people who have to get by on less than two-thirds of a PUP?