Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (569, 570)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

569. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Social Protection the timeline for payment of arrears due on the pandemic unemployment payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26946/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

570. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Social Protection if a separate timeline for payment of arrears due on the pandemic unemployment payment has been established for those no longer in receipt of the payment; and if so, if the timeline will be outlined. [26947/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 569 and 570 together.

Since the introduction of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme in March, approximately 750,000 people have applied for payment and in some cases, they have done so on a number of occasions as they moved in and out of employment. Consequently, there are over 1 million applications to be examined to determine if arrears are due.

During the month of March, my Department received and processed jobseeker claims equivalent in number to a three year claim-load. These applications were processed as quickly as possible, with almost 59,000 people paid in the first week of the scheme, 283,000 people paid in the following week, and over 507,000 people in the third week of the scheme. 

My Department is keenly aware that many people are due some arrears and that every case will be different. In order to address an issue of this scale, the Department is currently developing an automated process, which will examine each case and look at their overall entitlement to payment and match this against their payment history. The work involved is complex as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment system itself evolved from a manual applications system to one where applications were submitted online and paid over two different payment platforms (one from March to July and the second from July to date).

Given the complexity attached to the project, it will take some time yet to complete the necessary development work to review all cases and to determine to what extent, if any, arrears are due to individuals. I can assure the Deputy that this is a priority for the Department and it is hoped to make payments before end of the year . It is intended that awarded and closed cases will be identified for arrears payments at the same time.

I hope that this clarifies matters for the Deputy.