Dáil debates

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions


12:20 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy. I am sorry to hear those stories. I know so many people who work in the night-time economy and they had been looking forward to a very different Christmas one where they could do their job, practise their art and maybe make a little bit of money for Christmas and for the year ahead. They now find themselves in a very difficult position. We want to make sure those financial supports are in place for the people in the night-time economy and the experience economy who are going to need them because we are going to need them back whenever we get over this Omicron wave. If the Deputy wants to pass on those details to me later on or directly to my office, I will make sure the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Humphreys, gets them. I will speak to her today and see if there are any particular flexibilities we can reintroduce because we do not want to leave people without any money for Christmas, for all the reasons I think Members will understand.

As the Deputy will be aware, the PUP has been reopened on a limited basis for individuals, including self-employed people who work in the night-time economy and taxi drivers, who lose their employment on or after Tuesday, 7 December because of the additional public health restrictions. These measures have a negative impact on sectors like hospitality, the night-time economy, the arts and entertainment sectors, and the loss of employment must be linked to those new restrictions. Individuals, including taxi drivers, who satisfy the criteria are eligible for the PUP. The eligibility for the PUP includes self-employed people but they must have been a self-employed PRSI contributor and checks to ensure that are carried out by the Department. I am told the majority of claims are processed quickly and without the need for engagement with the customer before payment commences. The Department says it is not aware of any particular problems in processing claims from any particular sector. There is flexibility provided to self-employed people receiving the PUP to take up occasional or intermittent work and retain their PUP. This measure has assisted people to maintain their business during the pandemic and provides that a person can earn up to €960 from self-employment over an eight-week period without losing his or her PUP. In total, 55,300 such payments are being issued this week, of which 3,800 represent new applications received in the past week as a result of the restrictions introduced on 7 December.


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