PUP to have five rates between €150 and €350 for new entrants
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will have five rates when it reopens to new entrants laid off as a result of the latest Government Covid-19 restrictions from tomorrow.
The top rate will be €350 and will be available to those earning €400 or more a week.
Those who received wages between €300 and €399 prior to being laid off will be entitled to €300.
There will be a €250 rate payable to those who were earning €200-€299, and €203 to those in the €151.50-€200 bracket.
A new rate of €150 will be paid to those who had previously been earning less than €151.50.
The Department of Social Protection said this was is to align the PUP with the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
It also better reflects the earnings of part-time workers, the department said.
The reopening of the PUP is limited to those who lose their employment as a direct result of the introduction of the new restrictions from tomorrow onwards.
The department said it will use Revenue data to verify employment status for all applications.
Applications should be made online through the MyWelfare.ie portal.
“Although applicants should apply online, they may be required, as is the case with other work-related payments, to attend an Intreo centre to present evidence of their employment status,” the department said in a statement.
The first payments will be made to the qualifying new applicants from Tuesday next week onwards.
The Minister for Social Protection said the PUP will apply to anyone who loses their job due to the restrictions announced last Friday.
Heather Humphreys said that her department wants to support people who work in nightclubs and in hospitality.
She added that the department will be carrying out checks.
In relation to taxi drivers, if they have a drop in their work they can apply for the PUP.
The leader of the Labour party welcomed the reopening of the PUP, but said there are issues relating to certain industries.
Alan Kelly said there will be a dramatic fall in income for a whole range of sectors, but also for the industries servicing hospitality and the taxi industry.
He called for a flexible payment system that would allow those who have experienced a serious drop in income to be allowed to avail of this.
Mr Kelly said this payment scheme has to be remain in place for the duration of these restrictions and for a period after that.
He also said the Government’s communication on its Covid-19 measures needs to improve.
The Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly said it is very helpful that the PUP has been re-opened, but called for clarity from the Government on how it is going to be applied and who is eligible for it.
On RTÉ’s Drivetime Deputy O’Reilly said consideration needs to be given to providing supports for those whose livelihoods were affected or income was reduced because of a change in people’s behaviour last month, in advance of the announcement of the restrictions.
She said businesses were already experiencing cancellations before this announcement.
She also said that it is not clear what supports are going to be available for those who lost their jobs or saw a serious drop in their income which arose following a change in the public health messaging.
Meanwhile, representatives from the hospitality met Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Arts, Culture and Tourism Catherine Martin today amid calls for adequate supports for businesses affected by the latest restrictions.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Martin said she knows it is not financially viable for those in the hospitality sector to be at 50% capacity, but that is the public health advice.
She said her focus is on getting supports in place and a scheme, to allow them to keep their doors open at a reduced capacity, will be announced in the coming days.
Mr Varadkar said it may also be also be necessary to do “some bespoke sectoral supports” for some businesses that may not be covered by the new CRSS payment.
A wave of cancellations were already being made before the Government announced the new restrictions that come into effect tomorrow.
Speaking at the same media briefing, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government wants theatres to remain open and artists to be able to perform.
He said the nature of the targeted supports should be such that enable concerts to take place that are viable for the participants.
Mr Martin said the details need to be worked out but that is the principle of the Government’s approach.
He said this is one sector that has suffered more than most and it does not want concerts or events cancelled.
The Tánaiste has said that there is an economic imperative but also a moral obligation on the Government to do everything they can to support the hospitality, late night and live entertainment sectors which are “really suffering” due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Speaking on Claire Byrne Live, he said that ministers “really feel for them” and their representatives were told at the meeting today that Government is “… going to do everything we can to help you get through this”.
He said the package of financial measures would include waving commercial rates for the first quarter of next year; reinstating the PUP from tomorrow; and a weekly grant for businesses – not just ones that are closed, but also ones that are restricted in their trading capacity.
Mr Varadkar said the Government was also prepared to subsidise performances to keep the doors open.
He said he recognised that imposing a 50% seated capacity on indoor entertainment is equivalent to 30% standing capacity – adding: “It’s very hard to make it economic.”
Mr Varadkar continued: “In a few weeks time, or perhaps after 9 January if these restrictions have to continue, we will intervene financially support those sectors to allow them open. We have an obligation to do that.”
Co-founder of the Event Industry Association of Ireland Elaine O’Connor also attended today’s meeting.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Connor said it has been a “very long year-and-a-half” for the industry and they are hoping for “some sort of progress”.
“We’re now in what I would describe as our worst scenario,” she said.
“We’re at our lowest ebb now and while we’re grateful to be added in on this occasion to this meeting, we need more, we need attention, we need our own meeting with these ministers that focus specifically on our industry and the challenges that it faces.”
Additional reporting Paul Cunningham