HALF of those claiming the pandemic unemployment payment will get a €50 increase in their payment bringing it to €350 a week.
A total of 122,000 people will benefit from the hike in payment from next week.
The top rate at the moment is €300 a week so the increase will mean they get an extra €50 a week or €200 a month.
It will be automatically paid to those who used to earn over €400 a week as part of a package of supports worth €2bn over the next six weeks.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the total spend on the payment for those who lose their jobs due to Covid-19 will be close to €6bn by April. A total of €3.8bn has been paid to date.
She said the government estimates that in the event of an extra 200,000 people availing of it, the total cost will rise to €135m a week in the weeks to come.
The extra payment rate means there will now be four rates paid – with other claimants receiving €300, €250 or €203 a week depending on their previous earnings.
There are currently 244,153 people on the jobless payment but there is likely to be a surge in numbers when the new restrictions come into force
Ms Humphreys said the payment has been a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people.
“Many people who have availed of PUP are people who never thought they would need social welfare support,” she said.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the additional measures announced on top of the budget will cost €1.25bn this year when tax is taken into account.
He said he indicated on budget day the expectation of the deficit changing and said it has now moved to €23bn.
He said this was well inside the parameters for expected borrowing announced in a stability programme update and equals 6.5pc of national income, well within the range of comparable countries.
Expenditure minister Michael McGrath said the sums of money involved are “mouthwatering”. He said a total of €2bn will be spent on three income support schemes over the next six weeks.
He urged people to use online trading and click and collect to keep businesses going.
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