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Department says 85 people who had their PUP stopped may be entitled to it

It comes after a review of 2,500 people who’ve had their payment stopped.

Minister Heather Humphreys
Minister Heather Humphreys
Image: Julien Behal Photography

Updated Wed 9:27 PM

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection has said it has identified 85 cases where people had their Pandemic Unemployment Payment stopped (PUP) but may be entitled to it. 

The department has said it will be contacting the individuals in question over the coming days.  

The development comes after Minister Heather Humphreys said earlier today that people on the PUP or Jobseeker’s assistance can travel to countries on the Green List without losing their payments.

Humphreys told the Dáil today that her department could “have communicated more effectively” on the matter in recent days. 

She said the vast majority (90%) of the 2,500 people who’ve had their payment stopped due to travel abroad were leaving the country permanently.

The minister said that some travelling abroad may have been unaware of the new criteria, and that her department was to review all cases where holidaymakers travelling abroad had their payment stripped.

In a statement this evening, the department said it had completed the review of those 2,500 cases:

This review has identified some 85 cases that have the potential to be entitled to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for a holiday period. The department will be contacting the 85 individuals directly in the coming days to verify these cases.

Humphreys confirmed today that regulations will be signed to allow recipients of the PUP to travel to Green List countries.

These are the countries designated by the government where people can travel to and from without the advice to quarantine for 14 days afterwards.

For non-Green List countries, those in receipt of PUP or Jobseeker’s will be permitted to travel to them for essential reasons, but they must notify their local welfare office first.

The countries on the Green List are Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino.

The affair has proven to be yet another headache for the new government, with the move to remove the PUP for those travelling abroad heavily criticised in recent days.

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Since 7 July, 104 cases of the PUP have been stopped after people in receipt of the payment were found to have travelled abroad for non-essential reasons.

Yesterday, the Free Legal Advice Centre (Flac) said there was no legal basis to remove or suspend PUP for those who holiday abroad.

Its chief executive Eilis Barry said: “While legislation may allow for this suspension in relation to Jobseekers Benefit, it does not go so far as to allow the Department sweeping powers to suspend or close other payments that people may receive – including Covid PUP.” 

Minister Humphreys, however, did add today that her officials had advised her that “there was no provision to receive a payment while out of the country under any circumstances”.

With reporting from Christina Finn and Rónán Duffy

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Sean Murray

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