Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Ceisteanna (556, 580, 592)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

556. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if the outstanding amount in arrears of the pandemic unemployment payment will issue to recipients of the payment; the number of persons who are waiting on arrears of the payment; the reason for the outstanding arrears; and the steps she is taking to have the payments made in a timely manner. [38058/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Paul McAuliffe

Ceist:

580. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the payment of arrears to persons who are or were in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment. [38559/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

592. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department will expedite the process of arrears payments for pandemic unemployment payment recipients, which is currently planned for the end of the year, to early to mid-December to help alleviate some of the stress and burden of the cost of Christmas. [38871/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 556, 580 and 592 together.

Since the introduction of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme in March, approximately 815,000 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 or where their employer availed of the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. Consequently, there are over 1.4 million applications to be examined to determine if arrears are due. To date, over 13 million individual payments have issued over a 36 week period.

Arrears in respect of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will arise under two broad headings. Firstly, there may have been an initial time lag in the commencement of payments. During the month of March, my Department received and processed jobseeker claims equivalent in number to a three year claim-load. Almost 59,000 people were paid in the first week of the scheme, increasing to 283,000 people in the following week and over 507,000 people in the third week of the scheme. The focus was on putting claims into payment as quickly as possible was and it was not possible to generate arrears payments at the time. Secondly, arrears may also arise in respect of individual weeks where claims could not be processed due to incomplete applications or data mismatches.

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, my Department has developed 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). Final testing and implementation of the automated process is currently underway with a view to issuing payments before the end of the year and as soon as possible.

I hope that this clarifies matters for the Deputies.