I propose to take Questions Nos. 527, 552 and 585 together.
The Government has extended the pandemic unemployment payment until 31 March 2021 to support people whose employment and businesses remain closed. I have secured Government approval to extend the closing date for new applications for the pandemic unemployment scheme to the end of this year. This provides security to anyone who loses their employment over the coming months, particularly in sectors of continued uncertainty.
Government has decided that from 17 September the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be paid at three rates linked to a person's pre-covid employment earnings. Individuals whose prior earnings were €300 or over per week receive a payment of €300 per week. A rate of €250 applies to those who previously earned between €200 and €300 per week; and the rate of €203 remains unchanged for those who had prior earnings of less than €200 per week.
For self-employed people there is some flexibility to take up occasional or intermittent work without it affecting their pandemic unemployment payment. The once off or occasional work should be infrequent and must show a clear divergence from previous work patterns. Where the work become regular or highly paid then the individual should close their payment as they would not satisfy the eligibility conditions for the scheme.
Where a self- employed person is engaged in regular employment they may be able to apply for a jobseekers payment, depending on their circumstances, which also provides increased allowances for adult and child dependents. Under the jobseekers schemes a person may take up employment but they must be fully unemployed for 4 in 7 consecutive days.
A self-employed individual may also be able to avail of my Department’s enterprise support grant that provides support of up to €1,000 with business re-start costs where they transition from the pandemic unemployment payment. To date approximately 2,750 people have benefited from this grant. Full details of the funding and the application process are available on www.gov.ie
Any person who is experiencing financial hardship may access assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme including Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payments. Information on the supports available under this scheme is available at www.gov.ie
I trust that this clarifies the matter at this time.