There has been a more than 16 per cent increase in the number of people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) over the past fortnight, according to official figures from the Department of Social Protection.
The department said it issued PUP payments valued at €16.66 million to 66,905 people this week. That represents an increase of 9,302 on the number of people in receipt of the payment on December 21st.
The payment has been reopened for new applicants since December 7th for workers who have been impacted by the latest public health restrictions and measures to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
There are five weekly rates of PUP payable for workers who lose their job as a result of the latest restrictions. The rate of payment is determined by the person’s weekly earnings prior to needing the PUP.
The PUP figures are in addition to the 164,626 people who were on the Live Register at the end of November.
The sector with the highest number of people receiving the PUP this week is accommodation and food service activities (12,717), followed by wholesale and retail trade (10,832), and administrative and support service activities (7,520).
Separately, there were 14,439 people in receipt of the enhanced illness benefit on Wednesday. Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said her department is currently dealing with a large number of applications for the benefit.
“As the Omicron variant continues to pose significant challenges, it is vitally important that we take every necessary step to protect ourselves and our families from infection,” she said.
“My clear message to anyone who receives a positive test or is displaying symptoms is to follow public health advice and self-isolate immediately.
“As a result of changes I introduced last week, the enhanced illness benefit is being provided on a more flexible basis.
“For example, people under the age of 40 who apply for an antigen test from the HSE can use this proof of application to apply for enhanced illness benefit for the days they are out of work.
“My department is currently receiving a large volume of applications and it is making every effort to process these as quickly as possible.”