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Covid-19 unemployment payment recipients rises to nearly 600,000

There are now 598,000 people dependent on the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, which is up 7,000 in the last week, according to the latest figures from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

This week’s Pandemic Unemployment Payments will cost €209.3m, with 11,000 recipients receiving the payment for the first time this week.

Workers aged under 35 account for over 43% of recipients of the payment.

Of those in receipt, 122,500 (20.5%)  are aged under 25, while 137,700 (23%) are aged between 25 and 34. 

144,100 recipients (24%) are aged between 35 and 44, and 113,100 (18.9%) are aged between 45 and 54.

80,600 (13.5%) are over 55 – but persons aged over 66 are not eligible for the payment. 

The figures also show 52,000 employers have now registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), with more than 427,000 workers having their wages subsidised under the scheme.

These figures come on top of around 205,000 people who were already on the Live Register at the end of March.

In total, around half the workforce are either partially or totally dependent on the State for income support.

Workers aged under 35 account for over 43% of recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Since the Pandemic Unemployment Payment was launched on 16 March, the department has processed 694,000 applications or a jobseeker’s payment.

However, 73,000 subsequently closed their payments, in many cases because they have been re-hired under the TWSS.

Unlike for Jobseeker’s Benefit, there is no requirement for claimants for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to produce proof that they have been laid off by their employer.

However, the department insists that it conducts pre and post-payment checks to verify eligibility, including cross-checks against the Revenue Commissioners’ records for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.

It also notes that its inspection staff work with gardaí and customs staff in security checks on major transport routes and transport hubs, and advises that confidential reporting facilities are available for the public to report cases of suspected “mis-claiming”.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty cited today’s report published by her department, which found that some sectors, including retail and hospitality, had suffered a severe impact.

The report – ‘The Initial Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Ireland’s Labour Market’ – states that tourism, hospitality, food services, retail and construction are the sectors have seen the worst job losses due to Covid-19.

It also notes that transitional measures will be required when recovery gets under way to re-establish employer/employee relationships, minimise disincentives to work, and assist the unemployed in finding new jobs.

“Working with the new Labour Market Advisory Council I recently appointed, my officials are now planning the necessary further supports and initiatives we will need to put in place to ensure that the thousands of workers who have been displaced can return to work as quickly as possible,” Ms Doherty said.

“We are determined that this short term health crisis will not be a long-term economic one for all those workers and families who have been affected,” she added.

The minister also cited the measures announced by the Government on Saturday to give further support to businesses to restart, reconnect and rehire staff who have been laid off or furloughed.

Overall, 39,100 people have now been medically certified to receive the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit of €350 per week.

The majority of these have been advised to self-isolate on a precautionary basis, with a minority actually contracting the virus.

The figures show 341,800 of those receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment are male, while 256,200 are female.

The sectors with the highest numbers of CPUP recipients are accommodation and food service activities (128,500), wholesale and retail trade (90,300) and construction (79,300). 

On a county-by-county basis, Dublin tops the league for Pandemic Unemployment Payment with 171,700 claims.

Cork is in second place with 61,200, with Galway coming in third with 32,000 claims.

Leitrim has the fewest claims with 4,100 applications.

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