Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Questions (76, 78, 79, 83, 86, 87, 102, 113, 116, 118, 127, 142, 558)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

76. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Clare currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Galway currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county who have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26258/21]

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Joe Flaherty

Question:

78. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Longford currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Westmeath currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county who have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26276/21]

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Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Question:

79. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Carlow currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Wexford currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county who have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26270/21]

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John McGuinness

Question:

83. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Kilkenny currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Waterford currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county who have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26269/21]

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Willie O'Dea

Question:

86. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Limerick currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in County Limerick who have received the payment since its introduction; the total expenditure on such payments in County Limerick over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26260/21]

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Seán Haughey

Question:

87. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Dublin currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in County Dublin who have received the payment since its introduction; the total expenditure on such payments in County Dublin over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26266/21]

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James Lawless

Question:

102. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Kildare currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Wicklow currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county that have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26275/21]

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Dara Calleary

Question:

113. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Mayo currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Roscommon currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county that have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26256/21]

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Barry Cowen

Question:

116. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Offaly currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Laois currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county that have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26272/21]

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Marc MacSharry

Question:

118. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Sligo currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Leitrim currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county that have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26281/21]

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Jackie Cahill

Question:

127. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Tipperary currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in County Tipperary who have received the payment since its introduction; the total expenditure on such payments in County Tipperary over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26265/21]

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Michael Moynihan

Question:

142. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Cork currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Kerry currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county that have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26262/21]

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Niamh Smyth

Question:

558. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Cavan currently in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment; the number of persons in County Monaghan currently in receipt of the payment; the number in each county who were in receipt of the payment on the same date in April 2021; the number of persons in each county that have received the payment since the introduction of the payment; the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26278/21]

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Oral answers (8 contributions) (Question to Social)

As I am conscious that a number of colleagues asked similar questions, I will paraphrase the question for the Minister. It is to ask the number of people, by county, in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment at present and the corresponding figures for those same counties last month. The question also seeks the number of people in each of those counties who have received the payment since its introduction and the total expenditure on such payments in each county over that time and if the Minister will make a statement on this matter. I will share the two minutes allotted with my revered colleague, Deputy Murnane O'Connor, in order that we can give the Minister a proper grilling.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 78, 79, 83, 86, 87, 102, 113, 116, 118, 127, 142, and 558 together.

I thank the Deputies for raising this important issue. As the Deputies are aware, the pandemic unemployment payment is an income support provided for employees and the self-employed who were in employment on or after 13 March 2020 and who lost employment as a direct consequence of the public health restrictions to address the adverse health outcomes from the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme is scheduled to remain open until 30 June 2021. Since the payment began, more than 865,000 workers have received a payment under the PUP. To date, more than €7.5 billion has been spent on the PUP since it was first introduced. Total expenditure for the scheme between 13 April 2021 and 11 May 2021 was €520 million.

Many Deputies have requested in their questions information on the number of PUP recipients and expenditure amounts at county level. These statistics form part of the reply, and are provided in a table for the record of the House.

The total number of PUP recipients on 11 May was 377,000. This is the tenth consecutive week in which the PUP numbers have fallen and since 9 February, there are 105,000 fewer workers in receipt of this scheme. I remind the House that last year, when the public health restrictions were eased, the total number receiving income support from PUP reduced from more than 600,000 to over 200,000 over a period of 20 weeks. As restrictions continue to ease in the coming months, further large reductions in the number of PUP recipients are anticipated. The very latest PUP figures are being published today and show that the total number of PUP recipients has fallen further in the past week by 13,498 to 363,167. As I noted, I envisage that the wider re-opening of the economy this week will be reflected in further reductions in the numbers claiming the payment in the coming weeks.

County

Total Recipients since introduction

Estimated expenditure (€m) since introduction

Recipients W/E 13th April 2021

Recipients

11th May 2021

Estimated expenditure (€m) w/e 11th May

Carlow

10,082

€79.5

4,151

3,680

€1.1

Cavan

14,091

€112

6,070

5,307

€1.6

Clare

21,034

€186.2

10,306

9,218

€2.8

Cork

89,483

€753.5

42,396

37,118

€11.3

Donegal

29,814

€259.6

14,421

12,983

€3.9

Dublin

255,888

€2,413.8

134,433

122,775

€37.7

Galway

46,509

€412

22,779

20,567

€6.3

Kerry

30,676

€283.3

16,499

14,894

€4.6

Kildare

39,368

€336.2

18,659

16,486

€5.1

Kilkenny

16,428

€138.3

7,686

6,889

€2.1

Laois

13,943

€114.9

6,351

5,544

€1.7

Leitrim

5,402

€47.1

2,560

2,372

€0.7

Limerick

31,945

€268.3

14,665

13,223

€4.0

Longford

6,497

€51.4

2,781

2,452

€0.7

Louth

24,606

€209.3

11,589

10,436

€3.2

Mayo

22,889

€197.8

11,382

10,151

€3.1

Meath

37,758

€324.6

18,041

15,769

€4.9

Monaghan

12,892

€98.4

5,388

4,795

€1.5

Offaly

13,402

€105.9

5,800

5,023

€1.6

Roscommon

10,549

€87.7

4,815

4,265

€1.3

Sligo

10,742

€94.4

5,192

4,674

€1.4

Tipperary

25,759

€208.3

11,80

9,803

€3.0

Waterford

19,645

€24.2

9,221

8,206

€2.5

Westmeath

16,065

€165.1

7,224

6,477

€2.0

Wexford

29,229

€131.7

13,218

11,238

€3.5

Wicklow

25,512

€235

12,728

11,035

€3.4

Unknown

4,318

€226.7

1,844

1,348

€0.4

Total

864,526

€7,565.2

421,379

376,665

€115.4

Dealing directly with Deputy Flaherty's question on County Longford, the total number of recipients since the introduction of PUP in Longford was 6,497, which represented an expenditure of €51.4 million into the county. The number of recipients at the week ending 13 April was 2,781 and as of 11 May, it is down to 2,452.

On the figures for County Carlow for Deputy Murnane O'Connor, the total was 10,082 with an expenditure into the county of €79.5 million. The number of recipients at the end of April were 4,151 and as of 11 May, there were 3,680 people in receipt of PUP. There are further fresh figures out this evening and I will provide those figures to the Deputy later. The estimated expenditure for the week ending 11 May into Carlow was €1.1 million. We will send out this report, which gives a list-by-list account of all the counties, the total number of people in receipt of the PUP and the estimated expenditure to which this amounted.

It has all the details and I am sure it will be helpful.

Obviously, I and my fellow Deputies are very pleased to see the reduction in the number of people in receipt of the PUP as the economy starts to reopen. I commend the Department on the speed and efficiency with which this was rolled out and I commend the staff who, as the Minister rightly stated, have answered more than 10 million phone calls regarding the PUP.

I know it is not necessarily related to the question I tabled - and the Minister alluded to it in response to an earlier question tabled by Deputy Kerrane - but I am interested in the review of the PUP. It is slated to take place in June and a consultation process is under way with the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputies Donohoe and Michael McGrath, regarding industry and employer stakeholders. In that context, consideration should be given to possibly extending the review beyond June so that the extent of the impact of the pandemic can be fully gauged, as well as the scale and nature of supports that will be needed for businesses. It would also be important to engage with the stakeholders to whom the Minister referred.

I thank the Minister for the figures she provided in respect of Carlow. I, too, welcome the fall in the number on the PUP because it is so important that we reopen the country as best we can. We are definitely on the way to doing so. I am concerned that support be maintained for the people who need it, such as those in the accommodation and hospitality sector who have not fully returned to work. I welcome that the scheme remains open to new entrants until 30 June but one of my big concerns relates to people who have been left behind.

I am particularly concerned about those who turned 66 during pandemic. What supports are in place for them? This issue has come up several times at my clinics and it is important that we do whatever we can in terms of providing supports in this area. I ask the Minister to come back to me with an answer on that issue.

I thank the Deputies for raising these very important issues. The Government has not been found wanting in terms of supporting people during the pandemic. A sum of €7.6 billion has been spent on the PUP to date, with 23 million individual payments made and more than 850,000 people having received support.

As regards the future of the PUP, I am working with my colleagues in government, namely, the Ministers for Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance, the Taoiseach and the Cabinet committee, on the issue. We plan to bring forward proposals on the future of the PUP in early June. The one thing I can say is that the Government has been clear that there will be no cliff edge for people. We will have a better sense of how things are going in terms of the vaccine roll-out which, thankfully, is proceeding very well, the number of new cases and the trajectory of the virus. Things are improving. We will have a clearer picture at that stage in terms of the number returning to work. As I stated, the Government has not been found wanting.

In the context of people who reached the age of 66 in the past year or so, at that stage they qualify for the State pension. It is only people aged between 18 and 66 who qualify for unemployment payments.

As the Minister mentioned, it is very important that we commend the staff across the country who have worked in the PUP section throughout the pandemic. Many new staff were brought in and trained up very quickly. I know from personal experience that the level of service and their interaction with Deputies, as public representatives, has been excellent. I also commend the staff at my local office in Longford, who have excelled throughout this period. The staff of the Department of Social Protection were one of the first front-line cohorts to be mobilised in the face of the pandemic. They really answered the call, came to the fore, knuckled down and did an excellent job. I know the Minister is suitably proud of them and it would be remiss not to take this opportunity to commend them.

I thank the Minister for her reply. I thank the people of Carlow in the context of the work that has been done in respect of the PUP through the Departments. This payment has been so welcome and vital for people that it is important we ensure that, as the Minister stated, no one will be left wanting. I refer to the hospitality sector and other sectors that have not fully reopened. It is important that we make sure that businesses that really need it get that payment. I know the Minister said that will be the case and I will be able to go back and say that to my constituents in Carlow. It is important that no one is left wanting, especially now that we are going so well with the vaccine, as the Minister stated. Even in the past week with the reopening of shops and everything there was a different sense that people are starting to get on the right road, it is to be hoped. We need to make sure that the businesses that still have not reopened fully get their proper payments.

As I stated, the Government will not be found wanting. I thank the Deputies for their comments regarding the staff of the Department of Social Protection. I am very proud to head up and be Minister of that Department because what the staff have done has been amazing. It has been a monumental effort across the board by staff in every county. I offer my thanks to them because they are the ones who made sure people got their payment on time and when they needed it. It was not just the PUP; there is a plethora of other payments that we pay out of our Department and all those payments were made. My Department has stood by people. We have been here to help during the pandemic and that will continue to be the case as the economy reopens and we help get people back to work. That is what we want to do. We want to help people who cannot get their old jobs back. We want to work with them, help them to retrain and reskill and support them in moving into a new career. Some people have been out of work for a long time and we want to help to build their confidence, help them to fill up the forms, get their CVs together and consider areas in which they might need to reskill or upskill.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has supported the industries that have been particularly badly impacted by Covid. We will continue to help them in the weeks and months ahead as they get back on their feet.

Question No. 77 replied to with Written Answers.
Questions Nos. 78 and 79 replied to with Question No. 76.