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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

PUP claimants reach 335,600 people as ministers promise payments won't change during Level 5

The scheme has cost the State over €5 billion since last March.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 5th 2021, 3:38 PM

SOME 335,600 PEOPLE will receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) this week, an increase of over 20% since Christmas week.

The nearly 58,000 uptick in claims reflects an increase in the number of workers who have lost their jobs in recent weeks as a result of business closures that followed the tightening of public health restrictions.

The Department of Social Protection said the total cost of PUP payments made this week is just over €99 million.

The scheme has now cost the State over €5 billion since its creation last March.

The sectors with the highest number of people in receipt of the payment are: accommodation and food service activities (97,798 claimants, up from 74,101 before Christmas); wholesale and retail trade (46,853 up from 40,406) and other sectors like hairdressers and beauty salons (30,221, up from 28,099).

These figures are in addition to the 194,058 people who were reported on the Live Register as of the end of November, the department said.

Speaking this afternoon, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said the current PUP rates and the wage subsidy scheme won’t change in the near term and that a review would not take place until the current Level 5 restrictions are eased. 

“We will look to continue those while this economy is in this state of closure,” Donohoe said.

And as we see the public health restrictions that are in place continuing to be very, very demanding, I don’t anticipate that we will be changing those subsidy levels to until we get to a point when our economy is opening up again and then being sustainably open.

McGrath added: “We are committed to maintaining those rates until the overall situation improves.”

‘Difficult Christmas period’

Around 23,000 PUP payments were made between Christmas Eve and 30 December to people who were laid off in the week before Christmas, as the Government tightened public health restrictions.

Those who lost their jobs over Christmas will receive their first payment today. 

Just 1,195 people have closed their claims in the last week because they have returned to work.

That compares with 16,600 people who closed their claims over the seven-day period before Christmas.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the increase in the number of claimants was anticipated.

“It has been a really difficult Christmas period for people who lost their employment due to the move to Level 5 restrictions.

As anticipated we have seen a significant increase in the number of people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment since 22 December.

“Every county has seen the number of people applying for PUP increase over the past two weeks and, similarly, there has been an increase in every sector applying for the payment over this period,” she said.

Today’s figures also show that the cumulative total 98,009 people under the age of 66 have been medically certified for receipt of the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit since March.

“It is expected that these numbers will increase substantially in the coming days and weeks as the number of people contracting the virus soars,” the department said.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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