Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
1028. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 666 of 9 June 2020 and her contribution to the Dáil debate of 28 May 2020, if she will clarify the position regarding the future clawback of the pandemic unemployment payment (details supplied). [11533/20]
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment was the most effective and remarkable emergency response in the history of our nation’s social welfare system. In the space of days, we provided assistance to over 600,000 people who lost their income suddenly and without warning. At a time of great stress and worry about the health effects of Covid-19, the introduction of the payment helped reduce the extent to which this stress was compounded by worries related to financial concerns. In doing that it played a vital role in contributing to public support for the necessary public health measures including social distancing.
This public support is now paying dividends and we can begin to roll back the restrictions and re-open our society – even at a faster pace than we thought was possible a number of weeks ago. However we cannot be complacent. Many people are still dependent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and will be for some time. We need to continue to support them.
On 5 June, I announced that the Government has approved the extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment until 10 August 2020. I also announced the introduction, from Phase 3 of the Roadmap (29th June), of a two level payment structure to link the Pandemic Unemployment Payment level to prior earnings.
This latter change addresses the fact that a minority of recipients who previously only worked a small number of hours received significantly more in the Pandemic Unemployment Payment than while in employment.
In order to address this issue the PUP will now be paid at two levels:
- For those whose prior employment earnings were €200 per week or higher (about 75% of recipients), the PUP rate will remain at €350 per week;
- For those whose prior employment earnings were up to €199.99 per week (about 25% of recipients), the PUP rate will be €203 per week - the primary rate of payment of the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme.
No person on the lower rate of payment will receive less on PUP than they were previously paid by their employer.
Finally, with regard to the issues regarding arrears or overpayments, I have asked my officials to review the position and revert to me with appropriate options reflective of the position outlined in my response to the Deputy during the Dáil debate of 28 May 2020.
1029. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address a series of matters (details supplied) relating to planned changes to the pandemic unemployment payment; the new payment in respect of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11555/20]
People in receipt of Jobseekers Transition, One Parent Family Payment, Working Family Payment and Carers payment can receive the COVID 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) as well as their primary payment. PUP effectively acts as a replacement for the loss of employment income in these cases.
Where a person’s previous gross weekly earnings were €200 or higher there will be no change to their rate of PUP payment. If a person’s previous gross weekly earnings were under €200 the rate of their PUP will be adjusted to €203. This change will take effect in the payments made from Tuesday 7 July. This change to the structure of the payment means that it continues to be a strong support which is also fair and targeted.
To determine the gross weekly earnings for the purpose of calculating the rate of PUP, my Department will examine the employee’s average gross weekly earnings in 2019 and in January and February 2020, and the higher figure will be used. For example, if an employee’s average gross weekly earnings in 2019 were €195 and €210 in 2020, the figure of €210 will be used. Similarly if the employee’s average gross weekly earnings in 2019 were higher than in 2020, the 2019 figure will be used.
For self-employed people their gross average weekly income for 2018 will be used to calculate the rate of the pandemic unemployment payment, the last tax year for which verifiable data on self-employed income is available.
I trust that this clarifies the matter.