Some 533,000 receiving Covid-19 unemployment payment

There are about 54,000 people who are receiving the payment for the first time

There are now 533,000 people receiving the Government’s special Covid-19 unemployment payment of €350 a week.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said on Tuesday that about 54,000 people would receive the payment for the first time this week.

It said the numbers receiving the Covid-19 unemployment benefit were in addition to the 210,000 who were on the live register. More than 42,000 employers have now registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the Government’s temporary Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme which is aimed at having workers remain on the books of their employer during the current coronavirus crisis.

The department also said it had received 27,300 applications for the Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit of €350 a week. It said these applications were mainly from people who had been asked by their GPs to self-isolate as well as a smaller number of individuals who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty suggested that with just over 50,000 additional Covid-19 benefits approved in the past week, "we are perhaps reaching a plateau in terms of those on the Covid-19 payment".

The Minister said about 1.4 million people were still in full-time work.

“This is a temporary health crisis but it needn’t be a permanent economic emergency,” she said. “As we reach the plateau of those on income support, we hope to bend and lower that curve also – getting as many back to work as soon as possible, as and when the health environment permits.”

Duplicate claims

The department added that in total, since mid-March, it had to process applications from 625,000 people for the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment or a jobseeker’s benefit when duplicate claims were excluded.

It said, to date, more than 40,000 people had contacted the department to close their Covid-19 payment. In the majority of such cases employers were taking the individuals back on to their payrolls under the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.

“However, approximately 68,000 payments have been withheld for a variety of reasons. These include the people concerned who were still in employment, who had not been in employment prior to claiming the Covid-19 payment, a temporary Covid-19 wage subsidy was being paid in their name, who were not resident in the State or because they submitted incorrect details including invalid public service personal numbers [PPSNs] and international bank account numbers [Iban],” the department said.

“The department is continuing to resolve any issues, such as invalid Ibans or PPSNs, with legitimate applications and is contacting the people concerned directly over the next few days.”

It asked that people take care when submitting applications, to ensure that critical information such as dates of birth, PPSNs and Ibans are entered correctly.

The department also said it was aware that “some workers may be incorrectly registered as part of the temporary wage subsidy scheme” or “may face difficulty in transitioning back from the pandemic unemployment payment to the employer payroll”.

“Such a situation may arise, for example, because a worker has been registered in error by their employer, or because an employer having registered for the temporary wage subsidy scheme has since ceased operating their payroll, or, due to differences in the weekly payment pattern of the pandemic unemployment payment as compared with a monthly or fortnightly payroll from the employer.

“Any worker affected by these issues can contact the department and arrangements will be made to restore their payment or provide them with interim income support as appropriate.”