Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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1261. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. [6477/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is an emergency payment of €350 per week introduced by the Government for a 12 week period and intended to compensate those workers whose employers cannot retain them on their payroll. The payment is also being made to people who are self-employed but whose trade has temporarily ceased.

One of the eligibility criteria for the payment is that a person must have been in employment on or after 6 March 2020 and lost their employment due to COVID-19.

The person in question made an initial application for PUP on 1 April 2020 indicating their last day worked as 25 February 2020.  The person in question submitted two further applications containing information contrary to the original application.  Confirmation from the employer was requested by the Department. I am advised that the employer has stated in his letter that the person’s last day of employment was 25 February 2020.  The person in question, therefore, does not meet the eligibility criteria for PUP. 

I understand that the person in question is currently in receipt of a One Parent Family Payment from my Department.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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1262. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the pandemic unemployment payment can be extended indefinitely under section 202 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005; if there are limits placed on the powers granted under this section; if she can spend as much money as deemed appropriate under this section; if primary legislation will be needed for the pandemic unemployment payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6490/20]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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1276. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if section 202 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 has been used previously for a payment such as the pandemic unemployment payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6669/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 1262 and 1276 together.

Given the need to pay the Covid Pandemic Unemployment Payment as expeditiously as possible, Section 202 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 was used.  This section allows for the provision of payments in urgent cases by way of Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant immediate economic impact is unprecedented and created an urgent requirement for the provision of income supports to over 600,000 people in a period of a little over a month.  Therefore, it was appropriate to use section 202 as the basis for the payment.  As there has never been a situation comparable to the Covid-19 'lock-down' of businesses, an urgent need to provide payments of this type to so many people in such a short period of time has never arisen before.  This is the first time that the section has been used for this purpose.

There are a number of matters that may require placing the payment on a separate legislative footing including, for example, granting social insurance contributions to people who were temporarily laid off and are either in receipt of PUP or are being paid via the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.  These matters are currently being considered and legislative proposals will be brought to Government for approval.

Pandemic Unemployment Payments are funded through the Department's vote.  As the Revised Estimates Volume for 2020 has not yet been voted upon, spending thus far in 2020 is operating under the ‘four-fifths’ rule which applies to voted expenditure under the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act, 1965. 

I understand my colleague, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, will bring proposals to Government in the near future with regard to the Department's estimate and requirement for a Dáil vote.

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