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Pandemic Unemployment Payment extended - but some rates will be tapered from 17 September

The wage subsidy scheme will also be extended but the Taoiseach indicated a move away from supports towards greater employment.

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THE PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT Payment (PUP) is to be extended until April as part of the government’s July stimulus package.

Cabinet has today signed off on the package, with measures aimed at assisting businesses and getting people back to work.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) will also be extended until next spring, but under a new name – the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

The PUP, which is currently being claimed by 313,000 people, will be tapered over time. From 17 September there will be three rates of payment. 

  • For people who previously earned less than €200 per week – €203
  • For people who previously earned between €200 and €300 per week – €250
  • For people who previously earned over €300 per week – €300

The payment rates will be further calibrated in February and April next year to taper back to the standard jobseeker payment of €203 from April 2021.

The PUP and the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which is to be succeeded by an Employment Support Scheme will run until April 2021, after which the taoiseach expects people to return to employment or take up education and training opportunities. 

“This package of measures takes us to a €30 million deficit by the end of the year and obviously we then would like the trajectory of that deficit to be on the downward trend in 2021,” he said in response to a question from TheJournal.ie

“Obviously in relation to the pandemic, it is uncertain and we are learning, the key challenge is to learn to live with Covid and that will be far more complex and difficult than shutdowns and so forth, and we will assess where we are in October as we plan [the budget] for the following year, and assess again in early 2021. 

“What is important is that we continue to keep community transmission as low as possible so that the economy, particularly domestically, can operate at the highest level.

You”ll notice we’re moving away every so gently aware from the support mechanisms to reorientate the economy as well. You’ll see a piece on retrofitting… and above all reskilling. 

“You’ll see more apprenticeships and it’s quite a substantial labour market activation to get young people in particular into work and also to retrain people to secure jobs in new areas that are emerging.”

Speaking after the announcement, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said:

“Although many people are now returning to work I am acutely conscious that many businesses may not be able to re-open to the same level of activity as they enjoyed before Covid-19. Unfortunately, some may not be able to re-open at all. This is of huge concern to me.

People who lose their jobs and remain unemployed for some time can become disconnected from the labour market. They lose the vital social and work connections that are needed to identify and pursue work opportunities, they find that their past work experience and skills can’t easily translate into new sectors of employment.

“They find employers tend to favour people with recent work experience over those with an employment gap in their CV. We have a responsibility to help them overcome these barriers and to do so we need to invest in our employment, training and education services.”

The government has confirmed the wage subsidy scheme will be available until April next year. The scheme, which currently supports more than 400,000 workers in the Irish economy, will be expanded to include other employees like seasonal workers. 

Launching the stimulus today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the package “will protect existing jobs while creating new and sustainable employment options in the months and years ahead”.

“These measures will support small and medium businesses, give young people greater opportunities in training and education, support workers who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic and rejuvenate communities worst affected by the economic impact of the virus.

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“This is a comprehensive plan which will boost the economy and bring confidence back to towns and villages across Ireland.”

Martin described it as an “unprecedented package” of measures to help stimulate the economy.: “No-one should be in any doubt about the fact we are not returning to pre-March reality,” he said.

“The economic recession is the most rapid and dramatic ever recorded.”

- With reporting by Ian Curran and Conor McCrave.

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