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Over half-a-million people receiving social welfare support, new figures show

Some 283,037 people were in receipt of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment by the end of March, statisticians said.

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The data shows that the share of under-25s in receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Payment is at 23% (Dave Thompson/PA)

The data shows that the share of under-25s in receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Payment is at 23% (Dave Thompson/PA)

The data shows that the share of under-25s in receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Payment is at 23% (Dave Thompson/PA)

Over half-a-million people are now receiving social welfare support because of the lockdown measures in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The latest figures show that 283,037 people were in receipt of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment by the end of March.

More than 25,000 people were also receiving the temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme recently announced by the Government.

Covid-19 payments are currently viewed as short-term in nature, with an expectation that after 12 weeks, those in receipt of such payments may return to workEdel Flannery, CSO

These figures were also on top of the seasonally adjusted unemployment Live Register of 207,200 people – up 24,400 from February.

Edel Flannery, senior statistician at the CSO, said the majority of those whose income from employment had been affected due to Covid-19 were currently being facilitated through the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

She said that a smaller cohort were currently being facilitated through the coronavirus Wage Subsidy Scheme.

She added: “These emergency payments are not captured in the traditional methodology of the Live Register which is a historical series that captures the number of claimants for Jobseeker’s Benefit Assistance.

“Furthermore, Covid-19 payments are currently viewed as short-term in nature, with an expectation that after 12 weeks, those in receipt of such payments may return to work.”

The data shows that young people are being particularly affected, with the share of under-25s in receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Payment at 23%.

It also emerged on Thursday that the total value of payments made under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme was 54 million euro.

In a Government briefing, Liz Canavan, assistant secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach, said that a dedicated phone line for Irish citizens stranded abroad had fielded nearly 14,000 calls in March.

Ms Canavan said: “Currently, we are trying to help over 1,000 of our citizens in 86 countries who are seeking assistance to return to Ireland.

“Many are small groups but there are large numbers in Australia with a couple of hundred in New Zealand.”

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

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(PA Graphics)

She also reminded the public about fraudsters taking advantage of the health crisis.

“There are those out there who will attempt to take advantage of people’s fear at this time and the gardai are urging that people be cautious in the following circumstances,” she said.

“Beware of anyone calling to your house offering services in relation to Covid-19.

“Beware of bogus charity collectors. Beware of emails, online requests and online advertisements offering Covid-19-related tests, products.

“Always double-check before transferring any money or buying any product.”

She also said that the chief medical officer Tony Holohan was back at his desk after he was in hospital for tests unrelated to Covid-19 earlier this week.

PA