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Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (15)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

15. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will ensure that the full pandemic unemployment payment is made available for workers losing work as a result of recent Covid-19 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57936/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment, or PUP as it is referred to, was introduced as an emergency response to an almost complete economic shutdown. The Government mandated public health restrictions meant that most sectors throughout the economy were closed with the hundreds of thousands of employees and self-employed did not have alternative employment options.

In those circumstances the Government supported workers throughout the pandemic with expenditure on PUP and EWSS/TWSS combined now exceeding €16Bn. We have also carefully calibrated the transition from PUP to standard jobseeker terms over a prolonged period until next February. I have no plans to change this position at this time.

Since then the number of PUP recipients has fallen dramatically by 90% from a peak of 600,000 last year to just over 57,000 this week. The numbers are continuing to fall with a reduction of over 3,300 within the last week. This shows that people are continuing to avail of employment opportunities.

The measures announced by Government last week, including the introduction of an earlier closing time limit in the night time industry, do not represent an economic shutdown along the lines of those previously in place.

Many employers in the sector have adapted their trading hours to meet the new closing time requirement and they can also avail of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to retain workers on their payrolls.

It is also the case that while employment opportunities were very limited under the wider restrictions of previous lockdowns, many business are, this time around, struggling to find staff and some are having to limit their own opening hours due to non-availability of staff.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, I do not propose to reintroduce PUP as a consequence of the measures announced last week.

I would encourage employers to avail of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to retain staff on their payroll. Where this may not be possible, there are a range of income supports available from my Department for people who lose their employment, under the Jobseeker's schemes.

The situation remains under close review by Government as we continue to monitor the impacts of the Covid-19 virus on our health services over the coming weeks.

Question No. 16 answered with Question No. 9.
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