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Pandemic Unemployment Payment to remain open to new applications until 31 March 2021

Following a decision in September, the PUP was due to close to new applications on 31 December.

Image: Shutterstock/Cilinskas

THE PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT Payment (PUP) will remain open to new applicants until 31 March 2021. 

Following a government decision in September, the PUP was due to close to new applications on 31 December. However, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys secured government approval today to extend it until the end of March next year. 

The extension of the closing date will ensure workers can still access the PUP in January in the event that their employment ceases after Christmas.

To date, over €4.3 billion has been paid out under the PUP to hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. 

“By keeping the PUP scheme open to new applicants until 31 March 2021, we are providing certainty to employees who may be returning to work in the run-up to the Christmas period,” Humphreys said. 

“I have listened to the retail and hospitality sector and I know they have had concerns that closing PUP to new entrants on 31 December, as originally planned, would act as a disincentive to take up work,” she said. 

“Workers can be reassured that if they have to reapply for PUP in January, February or March, they will have an entitlement to the payment.” 

The Minister has also secured government approval to extend the waiver on waiting days for jobseeker payments until the end of March 2021. 

Ordinarily, when a person makes an application for jobseeker’s benefit or allowance, payment is not made for the first three days of unemployment. These are called waiting days. 

These waiting days will continue to be waived on applications for jobseekers’ payments until the end of March 2021. 

“In line with keeping the PUP scheme open for applications, I am also extending the waiver on the waiting days for jobseekers’ payments. This will ensure that individuals who get temporary work between now and the end of March, and who lose their jobs can claim a jobseekers’ payment and receive their income support immediately,” Humphreys said. 

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Taxation

Elsewhere, FLAC chief executive Eilis Barry has written to members of the Oireachtas to express concern at the provisions of Section 3 of the Finance Bill 2020 which proposes to retrospectively impose a tax liability on claims for the PUP. 

In her correspondence with TDs and senators, Barry enclosed a legal opinion, prepared by FLAC’s legal team, in relation to the legislation which is at report stage in the Dáil on 2 December before consideration of the Bill begins in the Seanad on 9 December. 

FLAC’s managing solicitor said: “FLAC’s analysis suggests that the retrospective provisions of Section 3 of the 2020 Bill may create a tax liability which is unexpected and which disproportionately affects those who have suffered the most financial hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The proposed provisions may not accord with the constitutional protection of citizens’ property rights. The introduction of retrospective legislation which interferes with those rights is only constitutionally permissible in certain limited circumstances and these circumstances do not seem to apply to the current situation.” 

Barry added that it is FLAC’s hope that its “significant concerns in relation to this legislation will be addressed as it progresses through the Oireachtas in the coming weeks”. 

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