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No plans for rollback of cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment rates

From today, the €250 PUP rate will reduce to €203 per week.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

Updated Nov 16th 2021, 7:13 PM

PEOPLE RECEIVING THE Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will notice a reduction to the scheme in their pockets today – and the government has no plans to change this.

Concerns were raised about the payment following the updating of Covid-19 measures, such as announcing a closing time of midnight for clubs and nightclubs. But when asked about it tonight as he announced the measures, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there is no plan to delay the planned cuts or renew the payment. 

Minister for Justice and Social Protection Heather Humphreys said this evening following the government announcement on the latest restrictions that:

“We’re not in a lockdown situation as was the case previously when the PUP was needed. We’re not closing businesses down en masse.”

She added: “I also think it’s important to say that for staff in nightclubs, like bar staff, there are a lot of opportunities out there at the moment.”

Cuts

From today, the €250 PUP rate will reduce to €203 per week — the standard jobseeker’s rate. The PUP rate of €300 will reduce to €250. 

People on the higher €350 payment have already been moved to the €300 band as of September. 

The income support, introduced at the outset of the pandemic last year, is set to be scrapped altogether in February 2022.

Today’s reduction comes as The Journal reported yesterday that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has told politicians that the government must bring forward plans to link unemployment benefits to previous pay levels and scrap the old flat-rate Jobseeker’s Benefits system.

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ICTU general secretary Patricia King says the “relative generosity” of the €350 PUP payment compared to the standard jobseekers’ rate of €203 has highlighted the fact that the benefit is currently “inadequate to secure a worker’s normal living standards during temporary breaks in employment”.

At the moment, anyone who loses their job and satisfies the means test for Jobseeker’s Benefit gets paid at a flat rate of €203 per week, regardless of their previous earnings.

A person on the payment for a year would receive €10,556. ICTU has highlighted that for a single worker previously earning an annual salary of €27,000, this would be just 39% of their gross pay.

Workers earning above €27,000, meanwhile, would have an even smaller proportion of their pay replaced. 

With reporting by Ian Curran and Zuzia Whelan.

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