Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits
148. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the rules relating to requalify for jobseeker’s benefit and short-time payments will be suspended for workers, such as those at a company (details supplied), can have access to this support. [26733/21]
149. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration has been given to extending short-time work support jobseeker’s benefit for those that are currently in receipt of this payment and are due to be taken off the scheme given the fact that many that are in receipt of this payment work in industries which cannot return to full-time work due to ongoing public health guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26741/21]
150. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the supports in place for persons that work in industries in which they have been placed on significantly reduced wages and working hours as a result of Covid-19 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26742/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 to 150, inclusive, together.
The Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance schemes provides income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find full time employment. These statutory schemes allow individuals to work up to 3 days a week and still retain access to a reduced Jobseeker’s payment.
Jobseeker's Benefit is paid for up to 9 months (or 234 days) for people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid. It is paid for up to 6 months (or 156 days) for people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid.
It is a fundamental feature of a range of the Department's benefit payments, including Jobseekers Benefit, that the payment is time limited. Time limits apply across a range of PRSI related schemes such as maternity benefit and illness benefit.
Where a person exhausts their entitlement to Jobseekers Benefit, they may be eligible for support under the means tested Jobseeker's Allowance scheme. The Department will contact the Jobseekers recipient in advance of the expiry date of their claim to advise them that their entitlement is due to expire and that they should make an application for Jobseekers Allowance. They will also be provided with an application form for Jobseekers Allowance.
Jobseekers Allowance has no duration limit as long as a person meets the qualifying scheme conditions including the means test.
It should be noted also that employers may avail of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme operated by Revenue for employers to support job retention. The scheme provides a subsidy to qualifying employers who keep staff on the payroll. Employees who are on the scheme who are temporarily on reduced hours may be entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Short time Work Support for days they are not remunerated.
The wide ranging nature of the assistance available to those impacted by Covid -19 constitutes a comprehensive suite of supports. On that basis I believe there are sufficient supports available at this time.
151. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that moved from the pandemic unemployment payment to short-time work support jobseeker’s benefit since March 2020 to date; and the number of persons on short-time work support jobseeker’s benefit since March 2020 to date, by month in tabular form. [26743/21]
152. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that have been taken off short-time work support jobseeker’s benefit since March 2020 to date; and the number of persons accessing or being moved different social protection payments following after they have stopped receiving the benefit by type of payment in tabular form. [26744/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is available to those who have lost their jobs due to the restrictions necessitated by the public health emergency. The Short-Time Work Support scheme is a social insurance contribution payment provided under Jobseekers Benefit, for employees temporarily placed on a shorter working week by their employer and who are not being paid for days of unemployment.
Short-time work support jobseeker’s benefit is paid for up to 9 months (or 234 days) for people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid. It is paid for up to 6 months (or 156 days) for people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid. A person may requalify for Jobseekers Benefit if they have paid 13 PRSI employment contributions at the appropriate class after date of expiry of 156 days of Jobseeker’s Benefit and they have suffered a substantial loss of employment and earnings having lost at least 1 day of employment since the start of their current claim and satisfy all other statutory conditions.
Where a person exhausts their entitlement to Jobseekers Benefit/Short Time Work Support, they may be eligible for support under the Jobseeker's Allowance scheme. The Department will contact the recipient 10 weeks and 4 weeks in advance of the expiry date of their claim to advise them that their entitlement is due to expire and that they should make an application for Jobseekers Allowance. They will also be provided with an application form for Jobseekers Allowance.
Jobseekers Allowance has no duration limit as long as a person meets the qualifying scheme conditions including the means test. The maximum weekly rate of payment for Jobseekers Allowance is the maximum weekly rate as for Jobseekers Benefit, which is €203 and increases may be paid for qualifying adults and child dependents.
Over the time period requested by the Deputy (01 March 2020 to 16 May 2021), a total of 3,563 people who received a Pandemic Unemployment Payment were later supported by the Short-Time Work Support (STWS) scheme. This is set out in Table 1.
Over the same period, 10,142 people exited the STWS scheme, across 10,505 exits. Table 2 sets out the total number of exits by month, of which 3,329 people were in receipt of another social welfare payment in April 2021, and Table 3 details the payments these people received.
|Month||People moving from PUP to STWS||STWS total claims|
|to 16th May 2021||80||3753|
|STWS Exits||Of which are people in receipt of a payment in April 2021|
|to 16th May 2021||312||190|
|Back to Work /Back to Work Family Dividend||6|
|Exceptional Needs Payment/Supplementary Welfare Allowance||5|
|One Parent Family Payment||9|
|Pandemic Unemployment Payment||1,100|
|Part-time job incentive for the self-employed||1|
|State Pension Contributory||59|
|Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension||16|
* this includes Jobseeker's Benefit, Short Time Work Support, and Jobseeker's Benefit for the Self-employed
153. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has considered implementing a pathway for those on the pandemic unemployment payment to go onto the back to work enterprise allowance to support those on the pandemic unemployment payment that have started their own business during the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26745/21]
154. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the options for those on the pandemic unemployment payment that want to apply for the back to work enterprise allowance; if they can apply for the allowance with the security of having their pandemic unemployment payment continue if their application is not successful; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26746/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 and 154 together.
The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme offers support for people who are long-term unemployed and who are interested in self-employment as a route to entering the labour market. The scheme plays a vital role in supporting the development of new enterprises for the long term unemployed and is payable for a 24 month period from the commencement of their new business. The scheme is not designed to support existing business ventures.
The BTWEA was extended in response to Covid-19 where the qualifying period was waived for people applying from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to start a new business. The BTWEA is payable at the weekly rate of Jobseekers Allowance appropriate to the individual. The BTWEA applicant can retain their PUP until entitlement to the BTWEA is approved.
Aside from BTWEA, those in self-employment may have other income support options available from the Department depending on their circumstances.
Those in self-employment can earn up to €960 over a rolling eight week period and retain their PUP. Where a self-employed person exceeds this threshold they may apply for the Part Time Job Incentive for the self-employed. This enables a self-employed person, who has been in receipt of the PUP, to engage in self-employment for up to 24 hours per week and receive a personal weekly rate of payment of €128.60. There is no income threshold applied under this support.
The Covid-Enterprise Support Grant is also available to eligible self-employed recipients who close their PUP and re-open their business. A once-off grant of up to €1,000, to assist with the costs associated with reopening, is available under this measure. In excess of 9,000 applications have been approved since the introduction of this grant, with funding nearing €8.5m paid to small businesses. The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment has primary responsibility for other supports for businesses impacted by Covid-19.
If there is a particular case that the Deputy has a concern about, my officials would be happy to examine it and advise of the options available.
I trust this clarifies the position.