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Changes to Covid-19 payment could come as soon as next week, says minister

The government is working on a number of options regarding the payment, Regina Doherty said.

Regina Doherty said that there would be changes to the Covid-19 payment.
Regina Doherty said that there would be changes to the Covid-19 payment.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

CHANGES TO THE Covid-19 payment for anyone made unemployed because of the crisis could come as soon as next week, Minster for Social Protection Regina Doherty has said.

The government, she said, “is working on a number of options”.

In a statement, Doherty said that the Department of Social Protection would be introducing further measures to support anyone who has lost their jobs

Doherty didn’t specify exactly what the government is working on, but said that it was looking at what has been done in other EU countries and hoped to be able to announce new measures early next week.

“We want to introduce measures which work and whatever else we announce will be well thought-through and thorough. We’re about meeting the challenge not chasing headlines,” she said.

Earlier today, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty proposed an income support scheme that would see everyone who earns up to €32,500 a year receiving a full wage for the next 20 weeks.

Yesterday, the UK government announced that it would cover 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month if businesses were forced to close because of Covid-19.

The announcement prompted considerable attention here, where the government has introduced a €203 a week payment for anyone who loses their job because of the coronavirus until they are moved onto an existing scheme.

However, many have questioned the scale of the payment and have asked how people would be able to afford the costs of living and renting under the scheme.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, Doherty said that 90,000 people have already applied for the emergency Covid-19 payment since it was announced earlier this week.

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While not giving details of the scheme, Doherty said that the Covid-19 payment “was genuinely made in the fullness that we would get people onto the right scheme in a matter of weeks. It was only an emergency payment to make sure you could put food on your table”.

“The world is a very different place six days later and we now recognise that we will have to do something much different to the emergency payment”, she said.

While she said that the government wasn’t currently looking at extending or using rent supplement to help people affected by the crisis, she said that whatever the government introduces “it will be built to have an impactful response to the drastic drop in income that people will feel if they lose their jobs”. 

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