I propose to take Questions Nos. 1135 to 1137, inclusive, 1148, 1154 and 1155 together.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was introduced as an emergency measure in the exceptional circumstances of Covid-19 to help cushion the financial impact on people temporarily laid-off work as a direct result of public health measures mandated by the Government. To date expenditure on the scheme is approximately €8.3 billion.
As public health restrictions are lifted and employments gradually reopen, the need for emergency measures is diminished. The PUP is closed for new applications from 7th July as the Government is not anticipating any further job losses directly attributable to Covid-19. A person is advised to close their PUP on the day that they return to work to ensure that their claim is processed correctly.
The Government acknowledges that some sectors including the live entertainment sector will be impacted for a longer period. To allow as much time as possible for the economy to recover and employments to reopen, there will be no change to the PUP rate until September when it will be gradually reduced on a tapered basis over a 6 month period back to Jobseekers terms.
From 7th September the PUP will begin to be gradually reduced on a phased basis in increments of €50 per week which will take effect in payments on 14th September. Two further phases of rate changes are scheduled to take place from 16th November 2021 and 8th of February 2022. As PUP recipients go on to the €203 rate in each phase, they will be transitioned to standard jobseeker terms.
The Deputies will understand that it would not be fair or practical to make an exception to these changes on a sectoral basis.
Arrangements will continue for self-employed PUP recipients to earn up to €960 over an eight week period and maintain their full PUP; this figure is net of expenses. Where a person is self employed for up to 24 hours per week and their self employment income exceeds this earnings threshold, they may apply for the Part Time Job Incentive for Self employed. Qualifying recipients of the scheme receive a payment of €128.60 per week and there is no income limit applied in these cases. The extension of the Part Time Job Incentive to self-employed people will continue until the end of the current year.
Furthermore, the €1,000 Covid-19 Enterprise Support Grant to assist self-employed people to restart their business will continue to be available to self-employed people closing PUP claims until the end of 2021. A self-employed person closing their PUP claim to reopen their business will be able to avail of this grant even if they have previously claimed it as part of a reopening in 2020.
The Live Performance Support Scheme is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Deputy Catherine Martin T.D.
I trust that this clarifies the position for the Deputies.