Recipients of PUP to get Christmas bonus on December 8th

Over 350,000 people now in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment

People wearing masks pass the Christmas windows at the GPO in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

People wearing masks pass the Christmas windows at the GPO in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will receive the Christmas bonus on December 8th, officials from the Department of Social Protection have said.

Those who have received the PUP for 17 weeks since it was launched and who are on the scheme on the week ending December 3rd are eligible for the bonus, the Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands heard on Wednesday.

Ronan Hession, assistant secretary general at the Department of Social Protection, said as of November 16th, there were just over 350,000 people in receipt of the PUP, valued at €103.8 million.

Those in receipt of the payment have increased by 150,000 since restrictions were re-introduced at the start of October.

The 352,000 people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment are in addition to the 203,172 people who were reported on the Live Register as of the end of October.

The committee also heard that the PUP will remain open to new applicants until March.

Under 25s

Mr Hession said that within two weeks of the PUP being introduced in March, the department received and processed 389,000 applications, the “equivalent to a 19 month claim-load in one fortnight”.

“By the peak on May 5th, we were issuing payments to 602,000 people at a cost of some €209 million per week. By that time, over 1.1 million people were in receipt of State supports, either via the live register, PUP or under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme,” he said.

The committee heard that from a sectoral perspective, measured in terms of PUP recipients, the re-introduction of restrictions has impacted accommodation and food “to the most significant extent”.

“In terms of age, under 25s make up a proportionately higher share of current recipients than was the case at the peak,” Mr Hession added. “Given the high concentration of young workers in hospitality and retail, this is unsurprising.”

Third wave

Separately, chair of the committee Independent TD Denis Naughten, said he was “very surprised” at comments made by Leo Varadkar on Tuesday and accused him of “throwing in the towel” regarding managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar signalled that a third wave of restrictions may be necessary in the New Year after the Christmas holiday period.

Mr Varadkar did not call it a lockdown but said “a short third period of enhanced restrictions may well be necessary in January or February but we should try to avoid it being a prolonged one.”

Mr Naughten said: “I was very surprised at the Tanaiste yesterday suggesting that there would be a further lockdown in the New Year.

“I believe he’s throwing in the towel in relation to what we need to do in terms of managing this pandemic. We need to make every possible effort to ensure that there are no further lockdowns in this State in 2021.”