I propose to take Questions Nos. 513 and 516 together.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced as an emergency measure to provide an income support to those who had lost their employment as a result of Covid. In order to ensure that the scheme was simple and accessible for the unprecedented number of applicants, a flat payment rate was introduced. This rate was the equivalent of the rate for a two-person household.
From 26 June 2020, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment moved to 2 rates of payment; a 3 rate structure is in place since 17 September; and a 4 rate structure is in place since 16 October. These changes more closely link the rate of payment to the amount that individuals previously earned and make the scheme more targeted and fair. In determining the rate payable, the objective was to ensure that recent earnings were taken into account.
The rate of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for a self-employed person is calculated by reference to their reckonable income in either 2018 or 2019, whichever is the greater. Details of reckonable income are supplied to the Department by the Revenue Commissioners, and are supplied net of business related costs, including capital allowances. When submitting returns to the Revenue Commissioners, self-employed persons can offset business related costs against gross trading income, with the resulting assessment to tax and PRSI based on the net profit accruing to the individual.
My Department uses 2019 and 2020 (to end September) earnings data in respect of employees as this information is readily available from the Revenue Commissioners. In contrast, 2018 and 2019 are the last two years for which complete information is available in respect of the reckonable income of self-employed persons, and it is for this reason that different reference periods are in use. There are no plans to change these reference periods at this time.
I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.