Government urged to restore higher Pandemic Unemployment Payment rate

Government urged to restore higher Pandemic Unemployment Payment rate

Brid Smith, with Richard Boyd Barrett (left), during a People Before Profit Press Briefing at Leinster House. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Opposition politicians have called on the government to restore the amount of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

The payment was split into three different rates this month: €300 for people who were earning over €300 per week, €250 for those earning €200-300 and €203 for those earning less than €200.

However, Labour and People Before Profit have called for the higher payment (€350) to be restored as virus rates continue to climb again.

"The pandemic has not gone away, so, why the hell would you cut the subsidy that you give to people to exist and to be able to follow the public health guidelines, and to let people know that indeed we are all in this together?," People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said.

"As soon as it starts to rise again, we start cutting their payments. 

"If you were getting €350 a week, and it's €300 down to €250, or indeed on the wage subsidy scheme from €410 down to €203, that is a massive cost and makes your life very, very difficult."

Ms Smith says the issue lies with how the payment is calculated, highlighting that artists or taxi drivers, or people in the gig economy, whose income may vary, will be negatively effective and could force people back into work when they feel unwell.

"I think the cut sent out the wrong message to society that we still have a pandemic but here we are cutting a pandemic payment," she said.

"I think they should leave it as it is. 

In fact, at this stage, then have to restore it because they cut it on the 17th of September. 

"We do need that to sustain people through the pandemic, people who can't go back to work, who can't get another job. 

"I'd be very happy to see those who profited hugely during the pandemic, the tech companies, to pay a solidarity tax to society because their profits soared for a while workers wages went down and workers incomes went down."

Likewise, Labour's spokesperson for Employment affairs, Arts and Culture, Senator Marie Sherlock said:

"It is simply unacceptable that draconian measures be taken to combat the increase in the incidence of Covid 19 without a commensurate package of supports for those worst affected in the art, events and hospitality sectors.

"Three days on from the announcement of the restrictions, the only support made available has been the offer of the Restart plus grant for businesses with no adequate provision for workers."

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