Some claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be checked against revenue data, according to the Minister for Social Protection.
Amid the reintroduction of restrictions, the Government is reopening the payment for people from affected sectors at the higher weekly rate of €350.
Minister Heather Humphreys told RTÉ radio’s News at One that if people could show that they had been “genuinely laid off” because of the most recent restrictions, they would qualify for the PUP.
“We are here to help you,” the Minister said. It was important that people, especially those who worked in the nightclub sector, would be supported she said, alongside those in hospitality who had lost work because events had been cancelled.
Ms Humphreys pointed out that anyone who had their working hours shortened could qualify for short time payment.
There were 53,000 people currently on PUP, Ms Humphreys said, 47,000 of them for more than 12 months, and they would continue to receive the payment at the same rate they were on at present.
However, the new PUP levels would not be backdated and would not cover people who had lost their jobs in recent weeks.
The situation would be monitored and kept under review, said the Minister, who hoped that by January 9th the situation will have improved “and we can get back to normal.”
When asked about any restrictions being imposed on members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) in speaking with the media, Ms Humphreys said that they were free to do interviews and she expected Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn to be “out in the media explaining why we have to move to more restrictions.”
But the Minister said she did not want to see letters from Nphet to the Government being made public before the Government had time to consider them. Such situations were not helpful when documents were in the public domain before Ministers had seen them.
“We don’t want mixed messaging,” she said.