I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. The Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, was introduced as an emergency measure to meet the surge in unemployment which resulted from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. From the outset, the payment has been made available to both employees and the self-employed. From a peak of more than 600,000 claimants, there are now fewer than 300,000 people claiming the payment. The latest figure is 287,000.
As part of the Government's July stimulus package announced last week, the pandemic unemployment payment has been extended to 1 April 2021. Changes have also been introduced to the structure of the payment to ensure that the payment not only continues to be a strong income support but that it is also fair and targeted.
From 17 September 2020 until 31 January 2021, the pandemic unemployment payment will be paid at three rates, linked to the previous earnings of claimants. We would expect that the number of people in receipt of the payment will have fallen further by mid-September when these changes will take effect.
For those who earn less than €200 per week, which represents 19% of the current claimants, they will remain on a rate of €203. For people who earn €200 to €300 per week, the rate of payment will be €250 per week. This will affect 23% of claimants based on the current profile of claimants. People in this bracket will still be receiving between 83% and 125% of prior earnings, or 105% of average prior earnings.
For people who earned more than €300, they will receive a weekly pandemic unemployment payment of €300 per week from mid-September. This will affect 58% of claimants, again based on the current profile of claimants. They will go from €350 to €300 per week, representing, on average, 65% of prior earnings.
The ESRI was asked to undertake a social assessment of the impact of the introduction of the proposed new rates from September 2020. The analysis considers the effects of the new PUP rates with reference to changes in household disposable income, family type and the impact upon poverty rates. The analysis indicates that the changes result in a very small reduction in disposable income at 1.4% and that the new PUP rates would increase the at-risk of poverty rates for everyone by 0.6 of a percentage point.
Other research undertaken by the ESRI examined the impact on family incomes of Covid-19 related job losses.