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Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 1 July 2021

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Questions (135, 168)

James O'Connor

Question:

135. Deputy James O'Connor asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding requirements to apply a detail-orientated approach to ensure the removal of the pandemic unemployment payment recognising the need to balance potential labour shortages across the services sector and the protection of employees lives and livelihoods; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35273/21]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

168. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection if recipients of the pandemic unemployment payment whose payment is reduced to the €203 on 7 September 2021 or the subsequent two dates will be moved to jobseeker’s allowance rather than stay on the payment at the relevant rate; her views on the way this can be justified given the payment is not a jobseeker’s allowance payment but a payment for those whose incomes or jobs continue to be impacted by public health restrictions, such as taxi drivers, musicians and those in the entertainment industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35264/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 168 together.

Approximately 227,980 people received a payment under the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) this week, representing a drop of 254,000, or almost 53%, since the numbers in receipt of PUP peaked this year at around 482,000 in February. We expect tens of thousands more people to close their PUP over the coming weeks and months because their employments will reopen. As thousands of jobs are resuming each week with the gradual lifting of public health restrictions, the requirement for emergency measures is diminishing.To allow as much time as possible for employment to recover, a transitional approach will be taken as regard payments of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) with payments reduced on a tapered basis over 6 months from next September. PUP will continue to be paid at existing rates until 7th September when the rate will commence a gradual reduction back to the jobseekers rate on a phased basis. Further adjustments are scheduled from 16 November 2021 and from 8 February 2022. As recipients are placed on to the €203 rate, they will be transferred to standard Jobseeker terms commencing from this September. Where a person is due to transition to a jobseeker’s payment from the pandemic unemployment payment the Department will contact them in advance and they will be given an opportunity to claim a standard jobseeker payment and have their claim assessed before they transition from the PUP payment. Transitioning people from the PUP on a gradual basis to standard jobseeker terms will ensure equity with other Social Welfare schemes. My focus over the coming months will be to support people back into employment and I plan to launch the Pathways to Work, 2021-2025 strategy in July 2021. I will also launch the new Work Placement Experience Programme alongside the strategy. In addition, Government is continuing to support employers who have been severely impacted by Covid-19 through the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. I trust this clarifies the position.

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