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Over half a million receive Covid Unemployment Support Payments

533,000 people have today been issued payments of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support payment – up 26,000 on the figure a week ago, according to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Around 54,000 of those are receiving payments for the first time. 

These Covid Pandemic payments first introduced on 16 March are in addition to the 210,000 people on the live register receiving “normal” Jobseekers’ Benefit – an increase of 3,000 in the last seven days. 

The Pandemic Payment figures also exclude workers whose jobs are now being subsidised under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), to which 42,100 employers have now signed up. 

A week ago, 130,000 workers were covered by the TWSS – but the Revenue Commissioners confirm that figure has risen to 219,400, with approximately 80% of those receiving a top-up from the employer.

According to the department, it has now processed 625,000 applications for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or a jobseeker’s payment since 16 March – the equivalent of three years’ claims in a month.

That excludes duplicate claims made by some applicants.

However, around 40,000 have closed their applications for benefits – and its believed most of these are due to the employer in question signing up to the TWSS administered by the Revenue Commissioners to keep the worker in employment with a wage subsidy from the State. 

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said that with just over 50,000 additional payments approved last week, it was possible that they were reaching a “plateau” in terms of those on the Covid-19 payment. 

She also noted that increasing numbers of employers were participating in the TWSS, while approximately 1.4 million people are still in full time work. 

However, she acknowledged the scale of the challenge, saying: “Never before has there been such a need for welfare support from workers and employers, with more than three years’ worth of claims being processed in less than a month”.

She went on to say: “As we reach the plateau of those on income support, we hope to bend and lower that curve also – getting as many back to work as soon as possible as and when the health environment permits”. 

Around 68,000 payments have been withheld from claimants for a number of reasons, including the fact that they were still in employment, were not in employment prior to claiming, were not resident in the State, were outside the relevant ages of 18-66, or had submitted incorrect details of PPS numbers or bank accounts. 

The department is contacting claimants directly to try to resolve any issues.

According to the statistics, the labour sector with the highest number of people receiving the Pandemic Support Payment is Accommodation and Food Services (115,500), followed by Wholesale and Retail Trade (81,400) and Construction (71,000).

The department has also published the number of Covid-19 Pandemic Support claims on a county by county basis.

Dublin accounts for the biggest number of claims, at 152,700.

Cork is in second place, with 55,600, and Galway coming third with 29,100.

The lowest number of applications was from Leitrim, with 3,700.

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