Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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1301. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the pandemic unemployment payment will be extended to persons over 66 and under 18 years of age who were working prior to the pandemic, to those in the gig economy and involved in precarious work who are ineligible due to not having worked on 6 March 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7012/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced as an emergency income support measure to meet the dramatic surge in unemployment as a consequence of the pandemic.  The emergency payment supports people of working age from 18 and up to 66 years who became unemployed as a result of the pandemic and are not being paid by their employer.  This age range is consistent with other Social Protection income supports paid to working age persons.

The primary State income support in respect of people who are aged 66 years or over is the State Pension – either the contributory State pension or the non-contributory pension, which is means tested. Those over 66 years do not pay social insurance contributions and can, if in receipt of State Contributory Pension, retain all of their State pension as well as their employment income and retain that pension if they lose employment, thus guaranteeing an income support.  People in receipt of a reduced rate of non-contributory or means tested pension who are also in receipt of an employment income may have their pension payment increased if they lose that employment income or if it is reduced.  Recipients of State pension payments may, subject to satisfying eligibility conditions, have access to a range of supports not available to unemployed people aged under 66.  These include living alone increase, household benefits, telephone support allowance, free travel and free TV licence.  Additionally, as part of the Department’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, the Fuel Allowance season has been extended by four weeks. 

A person under 18 years of age who has lost their employment and is living in the family home is treated as a dependent in relation to any social welfare payment payable to a parent.

As previously outlined, the COVID 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced for people who were in employment or self-employment on or after 6 March 2020 and have become fully unemployed due to the downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.  People who work in the gig economy or who are in precarious employment who do not satisfy these conditions are not entitled to the COVID 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.  People in these circumstances may be eligible for either the social insurance based Jobseekers Benefit or the means-tested Jobseekers Allowance.

Where a person, of any age, is experiencing financial hardship they can apply for financial support through the means tested Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. 

I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy. 

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