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Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty. Niall Carson/PA Images
Out of pocket

Pandemic unemployment payment set up to help people out of work due to coronavirus closures

People are being urged to apply online or via the post and not to attend an Intreo office.

LAST UPDATE | 16 Mar 2020

THE GOVERNMENT HAS established a Pandemic Unemployment Payment to help people who have lost work because of the coronavirus outbreak.  

The payment of €203 per week will be available, for a six-week period, to all employees and the self-employed who have been affected by the seizing up of economic activity. 

The social welfare payment is an attempt to quickly deliver income security to the unemployed. People can get the payment by applying for the normal jobseeker’s payments within this six-week period.

People are being urged to download application forms online and apply via the post instead of visiting an Intreo centre, where social distancing rules will be applied and lines are expected to be long. 

Those who have a Public Services Card can apply through the MyWelfare online portal, but it is not necessary to have the card to apply for the payment via the post. 

The department also asked members of the public not to phone its offices in order to allow staff to focus on processing applications.

The government is asking employers to continue paying staff,  at least at the rate of €203 per week, throughout the national emergency. Those that do so can apply for a refund of €203 per week from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. 

Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said the refund scheme will take some time to process but in the meantime banks will provide working capital finance in the form of overdrafts or short-term loans to cover costs.

“I want to reassure our clients that the Department will process all applications for income support as soon as possible,” minister Doherty said.

“The new payment will speed this process up and ensure that our customers receive a payment from the Department in as short a time as possible.

Payments will issue based on date of application, not date of processing, meaning that all payments will be back dated. We would ask customers to please keep checking your Bank Account as payment may issue in advance of us formally notifying you.

Public Services Card

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, Doherty said that 20,000 applications had been received on Friday – these payments are taking around 24-48 hours to process, so many should be processed by today.

Doherty stressed that you can use a Public Services Card to apply online, but that you don’t need a card to apply for the payment. Instead, you can download the form and send it via post.

“We will get people on a payment as quickly as possible in the coming days,” she said.

Doherty said that employers who close their doors but keep paying staff a minimum of €203 per week will be reimbursed by the government in the coming weeks. She said that more detail will be provided on the exact refund mechanism by Wednesday.

“I would expect it wouldn’t be more than a couple of weeks,” she said, for employers to get paid.

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