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Department 'inadvertently' emailed 1,700 people telling them their Covid-19 payment was to be stopped

The department said it has now emailed all individuals affected to advise them of the error and reassure them their payment will continue.

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THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection (DEASP) has said it ‘inadvertently’ sent emails to more than 1,700 people last night informing them that their Covid-19 unemployment payments were to be stopped.

After being notified of the error by TheJournal.ie, the department carried out an investigation today and has now contacted all affected individuals to reassure them their payments will continue.

One woman who was impacted by the error told TheJournal.ie today that she received an email at 9pm yesterday telling her that she is not eligible for the payment she is receiving.

The woman’s place of work has closed for the duration of the pandemic measures and she is now temporarily unemployed. The correspondence she received explained that she did not meet the eligibility criteria because of an “existing DEASP income support”. 

She is a single mother and receives a €60 per week Working Family Payment, but this  support is not listed as one that would deem an applicant ineligible. 

In the email she received, the criteria for eligibility were listed as:

  • You are aged between 18 and 66 years
  • You lost your employment (or self-employment) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are fully unemployed and are not being paid by your employer.
  • You are not already in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit or Illness Benefit.

She said she was “very worried” because she relies on this support and has a car payment of €240 due out of her account next Friday. She said she does not receive maintenance payments from her child’s father. 

“I’m stressed to the hilt because of it,” she said, adding that she had tried today to speak to someone on the phone but her attempts had been unsuccessful. 

The department said this evening that it has been informing applicants who are not eligible for the payment to allow them to understand why this is the case and provide further information.

It said it was in this context that it inadvertently issued an incorrect email to a “small number” of people – 1,753 in total – yesterday evening who had applied for the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. 

“The email suggested that the individuals were not entitled to receive the payment and that they would not be receiving a further payment.

“As soon as the department became aware of the issue, it carried out an investigation and it has sourced the error today that resulted in the email being generated.”

The department said it wanted to apologise to these individuals for the error and the distress it has caused them. It has now emailed all individuals affected to advise them of the error and to re-assure them that their Covid-19 payment will continue.

The woman who spoke to TheJournal.ie said she has now received this follow-up email informing her that she will get her payment next week. 

In this email, she was informed that the payment will be lodged into her account on Wednesday 15 April – a day later than it was originally due to be lodged.  The department said it will revert to Tuesday payments from the following week. 

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