Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Questions (1135, 1136, 1137, 1148, 1154, 1155)

Robert Troy

Question:

1135. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will allow the pandemic unemployment payment to remain at its current rate of €350 per week for persons involved in the events sector support scheme. [40203/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

1136. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the pandemic unemployment payment criteria for recipients who were employed in the music and entertainment businesses to assess their eligibility given their work is periodic and they should be allowed to sign back on to the payment after 8 July 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40208/21]

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Robert Troy

Question:

1137. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will allow the pandemic unemployment payment to remain at its current rate of €350 per week for persons involved in the events sector support scheme. [40264/21]

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Steven Matthews

Question:

1148. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to a potential conflict between two Government supports, the live performance support scheme and the pandemic unemployment payment, by which if a person in the live entertainment sector gets short-term employment through the live performance support scheme it may force them permanently off the pandemic unemployment payment by going above the €960 allowable income threshold; her views on whether this will act as a disincentive to take up short-term employment opportunities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40599/21]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

1154. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if workers in the music and entertainment sector fortunate enough to receive a few days' work through the live performance support scheme will be expected or required to give up their only guaranteed support of the pandemic unemployment payment if the funds they receive through the scheme results in them earning more than the allowed €960 over an eight week period. [40717/21]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

1155. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the basis on which her Department requires workers who receive funding under the live performance support scheme to come off the pandemic unemployment payment if the scheme brings them above the threshold of €960 over an eight week period, despite other Government supports such as the small business assistance scheme for Covid-19, music and entertainment business assistance scheme and Covid recovery support scheme not affecting a person’s eligibility for the pandemic unemployment payment; if it is not the longstanding Government practice to view business expenses over an annual period rather than in eight week period instalments; and her views on whether self-employed workers in the music and entertainment sector in particular are unfairly disadvantaged and discouraged from accepting live performance support scheme funding due to this eight week rule. [40719/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

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.

Question No. 1136 answered with Question No. 1135.
Question No. 1137 answered with Question No. 1135.