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Tánaiste expects number of PUP recipients to fall to a third of current level by end of the year

The payment is due to be abolished next February.

Image: Shutterstock

THE TÁNAISTE EXPECTS that the number of people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will fall to a third of its current level by the end of this year.

Last week, 334,000 people received the payment, amounting to €102 million.

Leo Varadkar said tonight that the government forecasts that figure to drop to around 100,000 to 130,000 by the end of 2021.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time, Varadkar said: “We anticipate that by the end of the year, the number of people who are still on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment might be somewhere in the region of 100,000 to 130,000.”

The PUP is closing to new applications from July and being phased out through reductions in the value of the payment from September.

It is due to be abolished in February 2022 under the government’s economic recovery plan announced earlier today.

“At that point, it’ll have been in place for nearly two years,” Varadkar said. 

“I was the one who created the Pandemic Unemployment Payment as Taoiseach and we thought at that time it would only be there for 12 weeks, and now it’s more like two years,” he said.

“I expect the vast majority of people who are now in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payments to either have returned to their own jobs or to have found new ones. Perhaps I’m overconfident but I honestly believe this.”

Varadkar said that “in July, we’re going to see the return of aviation and international tourism and with every adult fully vaccinated by September, I think that wedding band will be playing again”.

“I think the vast, vast majority of people currently on the payment will be back by September, and an even larger number – perhaps not all, but not far off that by February,” he said.

The government expects to “take off like a rocket” if people begin to spend money that was saved while industries were closed.

However, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said there are “huge deficiences” in the economic recovery plan announced by the government today, including the decision to phase out the PUP.

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“This isn’t the first attempt by this government to cut PUP. They cut PUP back in September last year, they cut it from €350 down to €300 and we forced them to reverse it,” Doherty said.

“They tried to cut it again in January and in March and in April, and we forced them to reverse it. And now what they’re doing is pulling the rug out from under people who are restricted from going back to work as a result of government decisions, and who will continue to be restricted,” he said.

“I believe that you’re going to see tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people come off the PUP as restrictions [ease], and we all want these restrictions to be eased and lifted. so you’re going to see that naturally happen, but there are certain sectors and indeed the government acknowledges it their own facts, like aviation, like events, like hospitality, those type of sectors are going to still have restrictions in place.”

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