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Over half a million people receive Covid-19 unemployment payment this week, as IMF releases dire economic forecast

Over 42,000 employers have registered for the temporary wage subsidy scheme, according to the government.

PAYMENTS HAVE BEEN issued to 533,000 people who applied for the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has said.

A further 54,000 people are receiving a payment for the first time this week and, in all, 625,000 applications have been made for the payment since 16 March.

It comes after new projections from the IMF suggest Ireland’s unemployment rate could rise sharply this year while the economy could also shrink significantly. 

In its world economic outlook report, the IMF predicted that the coronavirus pandemic would push the global economy to the edge, bringing the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

image004 A graphic released by the department of pandemic unemployment payments by county. Source: DEASP

In an update today, the department also provided a geographic and industry breakdown of those receiving the payment.

The county with the most people in receipt of the payment is – unsurprisingly – Dublin with 152,700 people. Next is Cork with 55,600 people and Galway with 29,100.

The most affected industry is the accommodation and food service sector, with 115,500 people in receipt of the payment.

Wholesale and retail trade (81,400) and construction (71,000) are also affected. 

As well as over half a million in receipt of this pandemic unemployment payment, there are 210,000 people on the Live Register and over 42,000 employers have registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the temporary Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.

Minister Regina Doherty said that the latest figures suggest “that we are perhaps reaching a plateau in terms of those on the Covid payment”. 

“It is clear that we are living through the most challenging of times,” she said. “Never before has there been such a need for welfare support from workers and employers, with more than three years’ worth of claims being processed in less than a month.”

The department also said that 40,000 people have so far contacted it to close their payment claim, with the majority of these because employers were taking them back onto payroll under the wage subsidy scheme.

A further 68,000 payments have been withheld for a variety of reasons, including still being in employment, who hadn’t been in employment prior to claiming the payment, they weren’t resident in the State or they’d submitted incorrect details.

It advised people to make sure their details are correct when applying, and said it was working with people to resolve these problems.

When it comes to the temporary wage subsidy scheme, the department said it was aware some workers may be incorrectly registered as part of scheme or may face difficulty in transitioning back from the pandemic unemployment payment to their employer payroll.

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Any worker affected is advised to contact the department. 

A further 27,300 applications have been received for the Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit. 

Doherty added: “This is a temporary health crisis but it needn’t be a permanent economic emergency. As we reach the plateau of those on income support, we hope to bend and lower that curve also – getting as many back to work as soon as possible as and when the health environment permits.”

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Sean Murray

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