Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
214. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons who lose their employment due to Covid-19 continue in educational placements with the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. [30749/20]
220. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to amend the law to allow persons who are on the pandemic unemployment payment and likely to be so for some time to retain their pandemic unemployment payments while attending a one-year post-leaving certificate or university course to improve their employability or to retrain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30822/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 and 220 together.
The Department’s Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) provides income support for jobseekers and certain others in receipt of social welfare payments who pursue full-time education courses at second or third level. The allowance enables qualifying applicants to improve their educational qualifications and their prospects of gaining employment.
The Back to Education Scheme has been extended as part of the July Stimulus in response to Covid-19 so that people can avail of higher education and training initiatives to secure new employment opportunities as the economy recovers. Ordinarily a person must be in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a minimum period before being eligible to apply for the Back to Education Allowance when pursuing training or education. The qualifying period has been waived for people who have been in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This ensures that those who have lost their employment during the pandemic have immediate access to a range of educational options.
To avail of continued financial support while pursuing a full-time course, a person in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment should apply for a jobseeker payment. The Back to Education Allowance is payable at the jobseekers rate, currently €203 for the weekly maximum personal rate and increased allowances may be paid for qualifying adults and child dependents.
Where an individual in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment wishes to pursue part-time study, they can continue to receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment while they continue to satisfy the conditions of that payment.
Any person seeking to return to education should engage with their local Intreo Centre to assess their options.
I trust this clarifies the matter.