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Largest weekly drop in number of people claiming special pandemic payment

About 44,400 people have closed their Pandemic Unemployment Payment claim in the last week.

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Heather Humphreys said the development was ‘heartening’ (Julien Behal/PA)

Heather Humphreys said the development was ‘heartening’ (Julien Behal/PA)

Heather Humphreys said the development was ‘heartening’ (Julien Behal/PA)

The number of people claiming the Government’s Covid-19 payment has fallen by over 67,000 – its largest weekly drop since the introduction of the scheme.

The number of people depending on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has dropped by 42% since its peak on May 5.

On Monday, the Department of Social Protection issued payments valued at 106.8 million euro to 345,600 people for the PUP.

In the past week, 44,400 people have closed their claim and some 19,800 will be receiving their final payment on Tuesday.

The top three sectors in which employees are returning to work this week are accommodation and food services as well as hairdressers and barbers, wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles.

The largest cohort returning to work is aged 35 to 44.

Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, Heather Humphreys, said: “It is heartening to see that the phased approach set out in the Roadmap to Recovery is now being reflected in the number of people returning to work.

“Today’s figures are reassuring for employees, businesses and communities throughout the State as they clearly show people getting back to work with a significant fall in the number of people in every county receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

“A further 44,400 people have closed their claims in the past week with 36,600 of these confirming that they are returning to work.

“I am particularly pleased to see the number of employees in the accommodation and food service area who are back in work again being supported by the Government’s Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme.

“This number has increased from 8,100 last week to 22,000 this week.

“The Government is now finalising its work on preparing the July economic stimulus package that will drive the way for an economic recovery.”

As well as those availing of the PUP, there are now over 66,900 employers who have registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

The Government is now finalising its work on preparing the July economic stimulus package that will drive the way for an economic recoveryHeather Humphreys

An estimated 405,000 employees are currently being supported by the scheme having received a subsidy in their most recent pay period.

This is the second week of the two-tiered payment structure for people receiving the PUP.

Employees whose average weekly earnings in 2019 or January and February 2020 were less than 200 euro gross will receive a weekly PUP of 203 euro a week.

Employees with average earnings of 200 euro or more a week will continue to receive 350 euro PUP.

Three in four recipients will continue to receive 350 euro per week.

Some 95,800 people will receive the 203 euro rate of payment this week. The majority of people, some 249,800, will continue to receive the 350 euro rate of payment.

Meanwhile, workers who have their wages subsidised or are in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment are to be credited with social insurance contributions for the period, leaving their contribution record intact.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humprheys said she secured approval from Government to legislate to ensure that the social insurance record of workers who lost their jobs arising from the health crisis is maintained.

She said: “Due to the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, the legislation will provide for the award of paid contributions for employees at the same Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contribution class as when they were in employment immediately before being laid off.”

Ms Humphreys said the measure is needed to protect future entitlement to long-term payments, such as pensions, and shorter term payments such as illness, maternity and paternity benefits.

“It is a fair and right approach and I hope to ensure this legislation is passed by the Dail in the coming period,” she added.

PA