Govt delays PUP move to Jobseekers payments to October
The Government has said that no recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be transitioned to Jobseeker payments before October 22.
It had planned to move recipients whose payment was at or had been reduced to €203 over to Jobseekers payments in September as part of the wind down plan for the scheme.
“This has now been deferred until after all sectors have started to re-open in line with the roadmap announced on Tuesday 31 August and all affected customers will continue to receive their PUP payment until 26 October when the process of their possible transition to a jobseeker’s payment will begin,” the Department of Social Protection said.
“Work on the transition process will commence at the end of September when the Department will write to all affected customers to outline the options available to them,” the department added.
The Government had come under pressure to delay the changeover process, because some recipients would have faced means-testing and a cut in income when placed on Jobseekers payments.
Self-employed people would also have lost the ability under the PUP to earn up to €960 over eight weeks without losing their benefit.
Meanwhile, Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) rates will be cut by €50 after today, as part of the Government’s wind down of the scheme.
Students in full-time education will also receive their final payment today, as they return to college.
The PUP was introduced rapidly by the Government in March 2020 to provide an income safety net to those who lost their jobs when pandemic restrictions were introduced.
At its peak in May of last year, the PUP was being claimed by 605,000 people across a large range of sectors and in total more than 900,000 have received at least one payment at some point over the last 18 months.
The total cost of the scheme to date has surpassed €8.6 billion and last week 143,000 people were still in receipt of it.
In its Economic Recovery Plan announced during the summer, the Government outlined the steps it would take to slowly wind down the payment as the pandemic eased and workers claiming it returned to jobs.
After today, the €350 a week rate will be reduced to €300, with the change reflected in payments paid from September 14.
Those whose PUP rate is €300 a week will see it reduce to €250 a week, while those receiving €250 will see their payment fall to €203 – the maximum rate for Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Those who reach the €203 level will be gradually moved over to a jobseeker’s payment.
Further €50 reductions in the PUP rates will take place on November 16 next and February 8 next year.
The PUP closed to new entrants on July 8.
Just over 140,000 people will receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment this week, a fall of 3,468 on last week.