As the economy has reopened we have seen a huge reduction in the number of customers receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) across all sectors including the arts and entertainment sector which fell by approximately 91% since the height of the pandemic in May 2020 when some 14,300 recipients were being supported by a PUP payment as with just under 1,300 recipients last week. The majority of workers who exited PUP returned to employment.
The PUP scheme, which closed for applications on 8th July 2021, has been re-opened again specifically to support workers who lose their employment as a direct result of the introduction of new public health restrictions effective from 7th December 2021, which mainly affects workers in the night-time economy including the live entertainment industry. Workers who lose their employment on or after Tuesday 7 December because of the effects of these restrictions are eligible to apply for PUP. This includes self-employed who lose their employment or experience a significant reduction in their income as a consequence of these latest restrictions.
As the current restrictions are targeted and limited in nature a sectoral approach is required. On 8th December, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media announced a funding package of €50m to support the Live Performance Sector which includes €34 million funding for the Live Performance Support Scheme. The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is also examining how further supports can be provided to the broader events sector. In addition, the Minister for Finance also announced plans for an extension of support for businesses under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme.
The situation will be kept under close review in accordance with public health advice on the progress in suppressing the Covid-19 virus and the impacts of restrictions on the labour market.
I trust that this clarifies the position.