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File photo. Minister Heather Humphreys.
File photo. Minister Heather Humphreys.
Image: Julien Behal Photography

Over 340,000 receive Pandemic Unemployment Payment this week as total spend on scheme tops €4 billion

The minister for social protection said the rise in the number of PUP recipients was expected given the Level 5 restrictions in place.
Nov 9th 2020, 6:52 PM 23,643 20

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection has issued payments of €99 million to 342,500 recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) this week.

This week’s spend – up from €95.5 million last week – brings the spending on PUP to date to €4 billion. 

The number of recipients on the scheme has increased by 12,500 in the past week and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said that “the increase was anticipated and reflects the impact of moving to Level 5 restrictions”. 

The sector with the highest number of people receiving a PUP this week is accommodation and food service activities with 100,994 recipients.

This is followed by wholesale and retail trade (55,516 recipients) and other sectors such as hairdressers and beauty salons (30,141). 

When the government introduced Level 5 restrictions, which included the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail outlets, it reinstated the highest rate of the PUP.

This meant that those with gross weekly earnings of €400 or more receive a rate of €350 a week. 

Minister Humphreys said she was aware that people were “making huge sacrifices” as they continue to heed the public health advice.

She added: “But the fall in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days is encouraging and gives cause for optimism ahead of the upcoming Christmas period. Let’s all keep going together. We brought this virus under control before. It is within our gift to do so again.”

In a statement this evening, the department also said that regulations are currently being finalised that will extend the 2020 earnings reference period for employees to September 2020.

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The department said: “This will mean that people who only commenced employment after February 2020 but have now been laid-off due to increased restrictions can have their payment rate fixed by reference to their earnings in the period March to September 2020. 

“The regulations will also provide that people who may have been in employment before February 2020 but whose earnings have reduced in the period since February can still have their PUP payment rate set by reference to their earlier, higher, earnings.”

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Sean Murray

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