Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Photo of Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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1181. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when persons whose pandemic unemployment payment claims were not paid will receive their backdated arrears; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6553/20]

Photo of Noel GrealishNoel Grealish (Galway West, Independent)
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1232. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to backdate the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment for persons who were unemployed as a result of the pandemic but did not receive their payment for a number of weeks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6061/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 1181 and 1232 together.

The emergency Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment has been introduced as a time-limited emergency measure so that payments can be made as quickly as possible to the large number of people who have become fully unemployed due to the pandemic.

During the month of March, my Department received and processed jobseeker claims equivalent in number to a three year claim-load. These applications were processed as quickly as possible, with almost 59,000 people paid in the first week of the scheme, 283,000 people paid in the following week, and over 507,000 people in the third week of the scheme. To date, approximately 4.33 million payments have issued to just over 670,000 individuals at a cost of over €1.5 Billion.

Currently, the Department is focused on processing and managing payments to ensure that they continue to be made to all who qualify for them. The work involved in doing this is complex, with people joining and leaving the scheme each week, along with management of overlaps between the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The Department is aware that many people are due some arrears and that each person’s case is unique. This means that each person’s application may need to be individually reviewed .

I can assure the Deputy that all cases will be examined and where arrears arise they will be processed and claimants will be notified.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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1182. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason substitute teachers who are contracted for a minimum amount of hours but work more during the school term are not being included for Covid-19 unemployment payments to bring their pay in line with the €350 rate. [6568/20]

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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1245. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will extend the entitlement to the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment to persons who have an established historical work pattern of annual substitute teaching, exam aide, invigilator and or exam superintendent and are currently precluded from receiving the payment in view of the fact they were not in employment before 13 March 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6224/20]

Patricia Ryan (Kildare South, Sinn Fein)
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1278. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if provision will be made for on-call workers and small business owners which are not PAYE workers but are on-call in essential services and may or may not have an income in a given week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6720/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 1182, 1245 and 1278 together.

The COVID 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced in March 2020 as an emergency time-limited measure to meet the surge in unemployment which resulted from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. This emergency payment was introduced to support persons aged between 18 and up to 66 years old who have lost their employment due to the downturn in economic activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and where they are not being paid by their employer. In order to qualify for the payment a person must have been in employment on or after the 6th March. The conditions around the payment to self-employed people are that they must have experienced a collapse of income and be available to take up other full-time work if it was available to them in order to qualify.

People who do not meet these conditions may be eligible for support under the social insurance based jobseekers benefit schemes or the means tested jobseekers allowance scheme depending on their individual circumstances. People who are already in receipt of a jobseekers payment, which may include substitute teachers and exam invigilators, who were not employed on 6 March will continue to remain on this payment for as long as they are entitled to it.

Where a person is experiencing financial hardship they can apply for financial support Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.

I trust that this clarifies the matter.

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