Over €6bn spent on pandemic unemployment payments, Minister says

Number of people on PUP scheme fell slightly to 473,413, department figures show

‘During the space of 11 months, the department has paid almost three times more in pandemic unemployment payments than it did in jobseeker’s payments for all of last year,’ Heather Humphreys says. Photograph: Alan Betson

‘During the space of 11 months, the department has paid almost three times more in pandemic unemployment payments than it did in jobseeker’s payments for all of last year,’ Heather Humphreys says. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The cost of the Government’s pandemic unemployment payment scheme has exceeded €6 billion, the latest figures show.

The number receiving the payment has fallen slightly by just over 4,200 over the last week to 473,413, according to the Department of Social Protection.

In addition to the regular payment of the benefit this week, some 38,600 people will receive collectively nearly €12.5 million in arrears under the scheme.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said on Monday that for a second week in a row there had been a reduction in the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment.

“We have now paid over €6 billion through the pandemic unemployment payment since the introduction of this emergency support last March.

“To put this into context, during the space of 11 months, the department has paid almost three times more in pandemic unemployment payments than it did in jobseeker’s payments for all of last year.”

The total amount to be paid out this week including arrears under the pandemic unemployment payment scheme will be €154.37 million.

The number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment is in addition to the 188,543 people who were on the Live Register at the end of January.

There were also 3,999 people receiving the separate Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit this week.

Returning to work

The Department of Social Protection said over the last week 10,941 people closed their claims for the pandemic unemployment payment with 9,862 of these stating that they were doing so because they were returning to work.

“The sector with the highest number of people receiving pandemic unemployment payment this week is accommodation and food service activities (110,697), followed by wholesale and retail trade (75,196) and construction (61,077).

“Construction is the sector that has seen the largest decrease in the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week, with 1,120 fewer people receiving the payment compared to last week.”

The department said Dublin was the county with the highest number of people who were receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week, at 148,028, followed by by Cork at 48,101 and Galway at 25,304.

It said that 50 per cent of those receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week were receiving the maximum rate of €350.