Explained: What is happening with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment?

explained
Explained: What Is Happening With The Pandemic Unemployment Payment? Explained: What Is Happening With The Pandemic Unemployment Payment?
According to the Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys, the PUP will not be reintroduced. Photo: PA
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Danielle Walsh Ronan

As the Government introduced a range of new measures to tackle the latest surge of Covid-19, questions have been raised about possible reopening of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Here is everything you need to know...

What new measures were brought in?

In his address to the nation, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced a range of new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Among them were the requirement for Covid-19 passes in cinemas and theatres.

Furthermore, people have been advised to work from home where possible.

During his speech on Tuesday, the Taoiseach warned that increased socialisation comes with a cost.

Regardless of vaccination status, all household close contacts of a confirmed case should now also restrict movement for five days, pending completion of a recommended antigen test.

One of the more controversial measures announced was a new midnight curfew for venues in the hospitality sector. However, residents in hotels are not impacted by this.

How are businesses affected?

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Due to the new curfew placed on the hospitality industry, concerns have been raised by opposition politicians and representatives of the sector.

From Thursday, pubs, bars and nightclubs have to be closed by midnight.

With venues like nightclubs only opening late at night, the industry has warned that the new curfew time will severely impact trade and that extra support will be needed in the coming weeks.

According to the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland, the curfew has already led to the cancellation of a number of gigs.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has called on the Government to immediately reintroduce Covid supports for the late-night sector.

Opposition politicians such as Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy and People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy have also called for the reintroduction of the payment amid the new measures.

So, will the PUP be reintroduced?

Following the reopening of the economy, the PUP closed to new applicants on July 8th.

According to the Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys, the PUP will not be reintroduced. She said the Government have no plans to reopen the financial support at this point.

Commenting on the issue, Ms Humphreys said the new measures are not like previous lockdowns where the entire economy is closed. Therefore, the reintroduction of the PUP is not necessary.

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According to Ms Humphreys, because the new measures include a curfew rather than a closure, the hospitality industry will still need staff.

What financial supports are available?

Despite the PUP not reopening, there are still some supports available to those who need them.

The Minister for Social Protection has said that any businesses struggling can avail of supports such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme which is still in place.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said that rather than needing the PUP, one of the major problems facing businesses at the moment is that they can’t get staff. © PA Media

Ms Humphreys also pointed out that other social welfare supports remain available for people who do lose their job.

The Department of Social Protection has said that anyone who loses their job can apply for a Jobseeker's payment since the closure of the PUP.

But are there still people getting the PUP?

Although new applications closed in July, there are still people receiving the payment, according to the Department of Social Protection.

As of November 4th, the number of people receiving the payment was just under 78,000. Those still on the support were issued payments that totalled €20.7 million that week.

With the reopening of the economy, as well as the closure of applications for the PUP, the number of people receiving the payment has continued to fall.

When will the payment end completely?

As part of the Government's Economic Recovery Plan, the PUP is set to be gradually phased out to align with standard jobseeker's payments.

This transition period started in October and is due to be completed in February 2022.

As part of the process, all PUP recipients on the €203 rate were invited to apply for a jobseeker's payment in October if they remained out of work.

People who applied have continued to be on the PUP while their application is processed. Those who did not apply had their payment cut.

The second phase of the transition took place this week, when all recipients on the €300 PUP rate were moved to €250. Meanwhile, those receiving the €250 rate moved to €203.

As all recipients move to the €203 rate they will be phased into standard jobseeker's terms.

What if there is another lockdown?

According to the Government there are no plans for another lockdown currently,

Throughout the reopening period since the last lockdown, the Government has continuously said a key aim is to keep all sectors open, so the economy can recover.

However, the Taoiseach has not ruled out further restrictions being introduced in the run-up to Christmas.

If, like hospitality, other sectors are impacted by new restrictions, it remains to be seen if the Government will change its position on the PUP and if they have to reinstate it in the future.

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