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The Finance Minister in Government Buildings. Leon Farrell/PA Images

Paschal Donohoe says wage subsidy and pandemic payment will continue 'in some form'

The Finance Minister said however that the level of support may change.

FINANCE MINISTER PASCHAL Donohoe has said the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will continue beyond its original end date but that the level of the payment may change.

The PUP provides €350 per week to someone who has lost their job as a result of Covid-19 while the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme provides money to an employer to keep a worker on the payroll.

Both supports were implemented in mid-March and expire in the middle of next month. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Donohoe said both would be continuing beyond this date “in some form”.

“We’re going to be dealing with this now across the next few weeks and then we will be in a position to outline a pathway for both of those payments. They are going to continue in a form, but the level of those payments, and how they will be made available to the economy is something that the government will make a decision on soon,” Donohoe said. 

The reason why we need to be careful about these payments is twofold. The first one is, they’re working. They’re working keeping people in a job, or if you have lost a job, they’re working in helping our citizens cope with a huge change in living standards that nobody was expecting. The second reason we have to take care with the future is because of their cost. They are costing many hundreds of millions of euros per week. And what I, and the government will aim to do is change those payments in a way that is affordable but also makes sense for our citizens.

Donohoe added that changes are being made to the wage subsidy scheme to make it “more effective” for people on low incomes. 

Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said that “absolutely” the supports “need to be extended” but he cautioned the government against reducing them.

“They need to be extended. We’ve called for that at the very start. When we called for such a scheme, we said it should be at least 20 weeks and then monitored afterwards, Ibec I think do have also argued the same when they argued for such a scheme. A 12-week period isn’t simply enough as many businesses will be not back up,” Doherty said.

Indeed, some businesses will not be in a position and to be back up and running after the 12 week period in mid-June has expired. And we can see that from the roadmap of lifting restrictions. So of course those supports need to be extended. I’m very concerned that all the murmurings coming for government is that they will be reduced and weaned off and you have to remember just look at the figures.

“There’s a quarter of a million people this year who will still be unemployed as a result of the Covid crisis, we cannot leave those families high and dry,” he added.

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