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New Pandemic Unemployment Payment bands kick in today, here's what you need to know

The PUP will move from two rates of payment to three rates, and the top rate is being reduced.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Joey Laffort

NEW COVID-19 PANDEMIC Unemployment Payment (PUP) bands come into effect today.

The PUP will move from two rates of payment to three rates, and the top rate of €350 is being reduced to €300.

The rate a recipient will receive will depend on the amount of money they previously earned:

  • If a person earned over €300 per week, they will now receive €300 per week
  • If a person earned between €200 and €300 per week, they will now receive €250 per week
  • If a person earned less than €200 per week, they will now receive €203 per week (there is no change to this rate)

Recipients of the PUP will see the impact of these changes in their bank accounts next Tuesday, 22 September.

People do not need to contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection about these changes as they will happen automatically.

“The Department has access to this information from the Revenue Commissioners and will be contacting PUP recipients in advance of these changes informing them of their new rate of payment,” a statement noted.

Over 200,000 people are still receipt of the payment.

As part of the July Jobs Stimulus, a decision was taken to close the PUP for new entrants from today. However, Cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend this date until the end of 2020.

‘No bottomless pit of money’ 

The decision to reduce the top rate of the PUP and change the bands has been criticised by entertainment, arts and hospitality industries in particular.

The livelihoods of many people who typically work in the arts and entertainment sector have been decimated, most of whom currently have no prospect of work due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. 

Speaking on RTE’s Drivetime yesterday, Minister of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development Heather Humphreys acknowledged those who normally work in these industries are in an “extremely difficult situation” as events such as concerts are unable to be held in most circumstances.

Humphreys noted that a government taskforce is looking into the recovery of the arts and culture sector. She encouraged those working in these industries to “engage” with her department, saying: “We want to work with you.”

She said the government wants to protect as many jobs as possible, but noted: “We don’t have a bottomless pit of money and we have to try to be as fair as we can here.”

To date, over €3.5 billion has been paid via the PUP to hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. 

More changes in February 

The PUP rates will change again on 1 February 2021.

From next February, the following changes will apply:

  • The rate of payment will be reduced from €250 to €203 for people who previously earned between €200 and €300 per week
  • The rate of payment will be reduced from €300 to €250 for people who previously earned over €300 per week

The PUP will end on 1 April 2021. People getting the payment will have to apply for a jobseeker’s payment if they have not found work by that date.

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Revenue has said it will treat the PUP as taxable income. Depending on a person’s overall income during a year, the PUP may affect a person’s overall tax liability for the year.

PUP recipients will be deemed to have paid PRSI contributions at the same rate they were paying immediately before they were laid off, enabling them to qualify for other social welfare payments.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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