700,000+ now dependent on income supports; 39,000 firms apply for wage supports

700,000+ now dependent on income supports; 39,000 firms apply for wage supports
Liz Canavan

More than 700,000 people are now dependent on social welfare income supports, the Government has revealed.

Last Friday, payments were issued to 507,000 recipients of the €350 per week Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support payment, which is up from 283,000 a week ago.

These payments are in addition to the 205,000 people on the Live Register receiving "standard" non-Covid-19 -related Jobseeker's Benefit of €203.

In total, 712,000 people are receiving income supports, with 507,000 signing on since 16 March when the Covid-19 Pandemic payment was first announced.

Meanwhile, 39,000 employers have registered for the temporary wage supplement payment with €87m paid out already.

At its daily briefing, the Department of An Taoiseach said the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme introduced by Government is continuing to have strong uptake.

“39,000 employers are now registered with Revenue for the scheme. Revenue has generated further refunds under the scheme worth €14m. These payments will be in the bank accounts of the majority of the respective employers tomorrow. The cumulative value of payments made under the scheme is almost €87m,” official Liz Canavan said.

The weekly €350 payment run of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment issued from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection over the weekend and it will be available to customers from tomorrow 7th April, Ms Canavan said.

She said that so far, a total of 66,000 duplicate applications were filed, while 15,000 people had given incorrect bank details while a further 15,000 applicants were deemed to be not eligible for the payment.

Ms Canavan also gave details of an Post’s Newspaper Delivery service which will provide same-day delivery to households nationwide Monday to Friday.

An Post will provide a same-day delivery service for the newspapers. Deliveries will be free-of-charge for older and vulnerable customers currently ‘cocooning’ during the Covid-19 crisis, she said.

Ms Canavan said her department is aware of some concerns around the impact of Covid-19 in Direct Provision centres.

Intensive work has been underway in the Department of Justice since the emergence of the Covid-19 crisis to ensure that to the best of their ability, they protect the health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees availing of their accommodation services. They are guided in that by the HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team, she said.

Centres have been requested to generate on-site self-isolation capacity and as a further protection for residents, all centres have been temporarily closed to visitors.

Last week, it was announced that 650 new temporary hotel beds have been procured following intensive negotiations by the Department of Justice within a very short space of time, Ms Canavan said.

In terms of Irish returning home, Ms Canavan said over 70 Irish citizens departed India safely on 4 April on a flight organised by the Irish Embassy in New Delhi and Consulate General in Mumbai.

The flight also carried over 100 citizens from a number of EU member states, the UK and Brazil.

To date, the Government has assisted over 2,700 Irish citizens in returning home to Ireland since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, they are trying to help a further 2,000 of our citizens to return home. Many are small groups but the majority at the moment are in Australia with a couple of hundred in New Zealand.

Citizens should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate to update them on their situation and they should closely follow information provided on the Embassy Twitter account, she said.

In relation to the high number of Covid-19 clusters in nursing homes, she said the HSE will be working closely with the sector to support a range of additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission within nursing homes:

  • Importantly each nursing home will be identifying a COVID-19 lead.
  • HSE will provide access to Personal Protective Equipment, expert advice and training.
  • Staff movement across residential facilities will be minimised and the HSE will support staff with alternative accommodation and transport, if required.
  • Staff screening will start in nursing homes twice a day, COVID-19 testing will be prioritised for staff

A temporary Covid-19 Financial Support Scheme is being introduced by Government and will be established in the coming days, to support the critical services provided by nursing homes.

The Scheme will provide a temporary assistance payment to support private and voluntary nursing homes in managing any outbreak that occurs. It will be reviewed after the first month’s operation, she said.

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