Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Questions (84)

Bernard Durkan


84. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which her Department anticipates a reduction in Covid-19 support payments to be replaced by employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26152/21]

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Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Social)

I thank the Minister for the previous replies and reiterate our appreciation of the work being done. Is it possible to determine the areas most likely to respond quickly in bringing their employees back to work? Have the indicators so far given that information? For instance, the construction, retail and wholesale sectors. Does she see them progressing in the way anticipated?

Retail opened yesterday, so I expect those numbers will reduce considerably over the coming weeks. One of the last sectors to open will be hospitality and accommodation so there will be a lead-in time for those numbers to come down. There are a number of sectors but we are happy to work with them all and we will do that across the board. Many young people have been impacted by Covid in terms of losing their jobs and we want to target those. We want to try and get people with disabilities back to work. We will have a good suite of services in our job activation measures to help people get back to work where they have not been able to go back to the jobs they were in. We will continue to work with them.

I want to say on behalf of the staff in the Department that we are here to help. Our main priority is to help people transition to new employment and get back to work.

Is it possible at this stage to give some indication from available information as to the areas most likely to be affected by jobs being no longer available? Is the potential for recovery still there for those sectors and, as a result, the employment potential for employees?

There are a number of sectors which have been impacted more than others. The music sector, for example, has not had an opportunity since last March, which is over a year. It has been particularly impacted. We hope the accommodation services, hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation and all those facilities will come back but it is hard to say. I reassure the Deputy we will do everything to support people working in those sectors and help them in any way we can. There will be no cliff-edge reduction in the pandemic unemployment payment. It continues until the end of June. I do not have the specific figures to hand. I can look here and see. For example, the beauty sector numbers are on there and I expect they will considerably reduce over the coming weeks.

Has the Minister carried out any research to indicate how many people have left their former sectors, for instance, construction, and gone into other sectors during the pandemic? Has she any comment to make on reports about the black market during the Covid-19 emergency? Has that grown in any way? Are there figures available to indicate how many people with skills have indicated during the pandemic?

I do not have those figures to hand. I will ask my officials. I do not know if they are available. There were a number of people in different sectors who closed their pandemic unemployment payment for the week of 11 May. We had the highest number of closures in the construction sector, with 3,107 that week. The previous week we had 3,729. There is a gradual reduction in that sector and that is the highest reduction.

All these figures are commensurate with the reopening of the economy and we will have a better and clearer picture when the economy is fully reopened. Then we can really target our resources at people who have lost out and will not go back to the jobs they were previously in.

Question No. 85 replied to with Written Answers.
Questions Nos. 86 and 87 answered with Question No. 76.
Questions Nos. 88 to 95, inclusive, replied to with Written Answers.