The Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced as an emergency measure to provide an income support to those who had lost their employment as a result of Covid. In order to ensure that the scheme was simple and accessible for the unprecedented number of applicants, a flat payment rate was introduced. This rate was the equivalent of the rate for a two-person household.
From 26 June 2020, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment moved to 2 rates of payment, and a 3 rate structure is in place since 17 September. These changes more closely link the rate of payment to the amount that individuals previously earned and make the scheme more targeted and fair. In determining the rate payable, the objective was to ensure that recent earnings were taken into account.
For employees, the greater of their gross weekly earnings in either 2019 or January to February 2020 was used to determine the rate of Pandemic Unemployment Payment. The period January to February 2020 was chosen as this represented the period immediately before the majority of individuals lost their employment due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and was representative of average earnings. It is not intended to extend the period where 2020 earnings are assessed beyond that period, as this would require significant IT development work, potentially compromising the delivery of other essential work.
I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.