Details on the re-opening of PUP to workers impacted by the latest restrictions, Ibec calls for full restoration of EWSS

Following Friday’s announcement of the introduction of new public health restrictions, the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, announced the details of the re-opening of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

This limited re-opening of PUP is specifically designed to support those workers who lose their employment as a direct result of the introduction of the new restrictions from Tuesday, 7th December.

There will be five rates of PUP payable, which will be determined by the person’s weekly earnings.

To align PUP with EWSS and to better reflect the earnings of part-time workers, a new rate of €150 will be payable to those who previously earned less than €151.50 per week.

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The Department of Social Protection will use Revenue data to verify employment status for all applications.

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has said that the business community is growing increasingly frustrated with what it perceives as ineffective supports being offered to business to navigate Covid challenges.

In a letter to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and key Cabinet ministers, Ibec said that many of its members across a broad range of sectors of the economy are now experiencing disruption and substantial lost business as a direct result of Government’s latest Covid restrictions.

The most vulnerable of these businesses will not be able to avoid job losses under existing Covid support schemes. A repurposing of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) alone will not be sufficient as a business support response to the current challenges facing the economy. A full restoration of the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) for the duration of this period of restriction is the most effective and fair policy response which can assist those businesses and employees most negatively impacted, across all sectors of the economy.

Commenting on the letter, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “Last week’s announcement of further restrictions will inevitably lead to job layoffs over the coming days and weeks in the most vulnerable sectors. Our members in the impacted sectors are adamant that the supports announced last week simply do not go far enough.

“Government supports throughout the Covid crisis have been highly effective in supporting impacted businesses and we see no logic, fiscal or otherwise, for curtailing these supports at a time when additional restrictions have been introduced. It is very clear to us that repurposing of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) alone will not be sufficient as a business support for the current challenge facing the economy and a full restoration of the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is the most effective and fair policy response.

“Now is not the time for reticence. We know from the recent economic data that the budget deficit for 2021 is likely to be about €10 bn less than was expected in the Spring. Government has the resources to do the right thing and must deliver a much-needed safety net for those concentrated pockets of businesses struggling in the face of ongoing Covid restrictions.”