Pandemic payment to be reduced for part-time workers, Taoiseach confirms

The pandemic unemployment payment will be reduced for part-time workers, the Taoiseach has said.
Pandemic payment to be reduced for part-time workers, Taoiseach confirms

The pandemic unemployment payment will be reduced for part-time workers, the Taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar told the Dáil on Thursday, that the €350 per week Covid unemployment payment will be extended for months, not weeks, when it runs out on June 8, and will not be cut for anyone working full time.

It will, however, be reduced for part-time workers, but their weekly payment will still be more they were earning before the pandemic.

The Taoiseach expressed optimism about Ireland's virus reproduction rate and said he is confident the country can move to phase two on Monday.

Although it may be possible to speed up the roadmap, it has to be based on medical evidence: "Slow and steady. The plan can be accelerated but only if it's safe to do so."

Both opposition and government TDs have spoken in support of expediting the lockdown, as Ireland continues on a downward trend in terms of spread.

Micheal Martin said there was a "silent divide between people abiding by the measures and people who are not" and the only way to ensure people abide by the restrictions is full transparency.

The Taoiseach said: "As things stand, the pandemic unemployment payment is due to expire next week, cabinet will make a decision tomorrow on its future.

"I can give this assurance to anyone who has received the payment today, it will be extended for months, not for weeks," he added.

"Anyone who was working full time prior to the pandemic happening, will not see their payment change and they will continue to get 350 euro a week.

"Yes, some people who were working part-time before the pandemic will see their payments reduced, but they will still get more than they were getting on a weekly basis, before the pandemic in February, so nobody's income will be lower than it was before the pandemic."

Meanwhile, the government's claim that 200,000 of those on the PUP payment were "better off" than before has been thrown into disrepute after new figures released from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Leo Varadkar previously said the situation was “not fair” and “not sustainable” that almost 40% of people on the payment were making more money than before the pandemic began by recieving the €350 a week payment.

The figures, given to RISE TD Paul Murphy state that almost 90,000 of those on the payment were previously in receipt of a social welfare payment while working, for instance supports for part-time workers.

This income was not considered in the original claims about the 38% of those on the PUP "being better off" than previously.

According to the figures, including the social welfare payments, the previous average weekly income of PUP recipients is actually €471.30.

In a statement, Paul Murphy TD said: “Just like with Varadkar’s previous attempts to vilify those receiving welfare, this campaign has been based on spin and cooking the books.

"These latest figures suggest that the government almost doubled the numbers who are in receipt of more money under the PUP, to help them push their planned cuts to the €350 payment.

“There will be serious opposition in the Dail and on the streets to any attempt to cut this support to ordinary people hard hit by this crisis and force them into low pay work."

"This is just the start of austerity Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will have in store for ordinary people."

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