Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (335, 336)

Gino Kenny

Question:

335. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to change the age criterion for jobseeker's and pandemic unemployment payments that are only payable to persons between 18 and 66 years of age. [2241/21]

View answer

Gino Kenny

Question:

336. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the jobseeker's age criterion of 18 to 66 years of age unfairly discriminates against persons under 18 years of age and persons over 66 years of age who were working and paying tax and PRSI during the Covid-19 pandemic. [2242/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 335 and 336 together.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is a statutory support which is available to support persons of working age from 18 years up to pensionable age, 66 years, who have lost their employment due to the pandemic and where they are not being paid by their employer. The age range provided for is consistent with other social protection schemes payable to people of working age.

People aged 66 years and over are provided for through the social insurance based State pension (contributory) or the means-tested State pension (non-contributory). A person aged over 66 who is in employment may retain their State pension (contributory) and employment income.

If a person does not have the required number of contributions to receive the maximum rate of State pension (contributory) they may qualify for an increased rate of State pension (non-contributory), depending on their circumstances. People who receive the non-contributory State pension who also have employment income may have their pension payment increased if they lose their employment income due to the pandemic or if their employment income is reduced.

People aged 66 and over may also be entitled to a range of ancillary supports which include free travel, fuel allowance, household benefits package for gas or electricity costs and living alone allowance.

A person under 18 years of age who has lost their employment and is living in the family home is treated as a dependent in relation to a social welfare payment payable to a parent.

A person of any age who is experiencing financial hardship may access assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme including Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payments.

It is also important to note that an employer who is availing of the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme can claim the subsidy in respect of all PAYE workers on their payroll.

I trust that this clarifies the position for the Deputy.