Number of people on Pandemic Unemployment Payment drops 15%

The number of people receiving the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment has fallen to 515,700 – down 15% on the peak of almost 600,000 during the economic shutdown.

For the first time, more people are in jobs subsidised by the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme than are receiving the PUP.

At the peak of the Covid-related unemployment surge, 598,000 people were claiming the €350 per week payment.

Since then, over 80,000 people have returned to work as the economy gradually reopens – a drop of around 15%.

However, on top of the 515,700 receiving the PUP, a further 225,600 people are receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit from the State – meaning unemployment remains a significant challenge going forward. 

Construction accounted for the biggest sectoral drop in PUP claims.

However, while the bill to the exchequer for the PUP welfare payment is diminishing, the number of workers having their pay subsidised by the State through the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has hit a new record of around 520,900.

This is the first time the number of those in subsidised employment has exceeded those on the PUP welfare payment.

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said that as Ireland enters a new phase of re-opening, the numbers returning to work were expected to continue to climb.

She stressed the “vital” role of the PUP in contributing to the strong public support necessary for public health measures allowing the country to move to Phase 2.

However, she acknowledged: “Not everybody will return to work today or tomorrow and my department will continue to assist those who need income replacement supports.”

The Minister reiterated that the PUP will continue until August, adding: “I have tasked my officials to start working on options for the scheme’s future beyond that – taking into account progress in the re-opening of society and the developing health situation.”

The main sectors where people are returning to work are Construction (6,500), Wholesale/Retail/Motor Repair (3,700), Accommodation and Food (2,000) and Manufacturing (1,900).

In total, 48,900 have been medically certified to receive the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit – though of those, only 3,460 actually contracted the virus, while the remainder were advised to self-isolate on a precautionary basis.

In the last week, only 200 people were deemed eligible for the Enhanced Illness Benefit – and only 14 of those had actually contracted the virus.

This compares with a peak in the week ending 22 March, when 13,500 received the benefit, with 308 with a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus.

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