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Dublin: 24 °C Tuesday 2 June, 2020

Covid-19 welfare schemes could cost Ireland €5 billion every three months

The figure is according to a new report from the ESRI.

Image: Leon Farrell/

IRELAND’S COVID-19 WELFARE supports could cost the government nearly €5 billion in three months, according to a new report from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI). 

However, the report suggests that the measures announced so far in response to the pandemic will significantly reduce the severity of job losses for many people. 

The government has announced a number of measures to tackle the virus, which has forced hundreds of thousands of people out of work. 

In the last week of March, 283,037 people were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and 25,104 people were receiving money from the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The study from the ESRI found that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will reduce the number of people who lose over 20% of disposable income by around a third. 

However, the report also warns that the wage subsidy scheme will have a “minimal” impact – it argues that this is partially because the scheme is less generous to low-earning workers than than the Covid-19 unemployment scheme.

Barra Roantree, who authored the report, said that the rise in unemployment “will bring significant costs to the exchequer”. 

The ESRI estimates that the rise in unemployment because of the coronavirus outbreak will reduce tax revenue and increase welfare spending by around €800 million per quarter for every 100,000 people who lose their jobs.

“We estimate that the pandemic unemployment shock will result in higher income families seeing larger proportionate falls in their incomes than lower income families. Families in the lower two-fifths of the income distribution are, on average, insulated from income losses,” the report says. 

There is no clear indication of when the pandemic will end – there are currently 6,074 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. 

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