Of the approximately 206,000 people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) some 5,900 (or 2.8%) are members of the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. This represents a 58% reduction from 14,200 claimants in that sector at the peak in May. This reduction in the numbers of people in receipt of PUP is in line with reductions seen in other sectors and indicates that many people working in the sector have been able to return to work as the public health restrictions have been relaxed.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has been extended until 31st March 2020 which will provide support to sectors facing extended periods of closure, including the live performance and events sector. I have also secured approval to keep the scheme open to new applicants until the end of the year. This means that anyone who loses their employment over the coming months will be able to avail of the support.
Government has determined that from 17 September the pandemic unemployment payment will be paid at three rates. Individuals whose prior earnings were €300 or over per week will receive a payment of €300 per week. A rate of €250 will apply to those who earned between €200 and €300 and the rate of €203 remains unchanged for those with prior earnings of less than €200. The Department is advising recipients of the changes in rate and setting out the basis for the decision in each case.
These new rates will apply to all recipients. I do not think it would be fair to make exceptions for those who had previously worked in the live performance and events sector, while applying the changes to the majority of recipients who have worked in other sectors.
I trust this clarifies the matter.