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More than 700,000 receiving income supports

The number of people dependent on income supports has soared to over 700,000, according to the latest figures from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. 

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 207,000 people on the Live Register receiving “standard” non-Covid-19 – related Jobseeker’s Benefit of €203.

This means that a total of 714,000 people are receiving income supports, with 507,000 signing on since 16 March when the Covid-19 pandemic payment was announced.

The department said all payments issued on Friday would be in recipients’ bank accounts or at their local post office from tomorrow.

In total, the department received and processed 583,000 applications for the payment, though a number were withheld for various reasons.

46,000 were ineligible either because they were under 18 or over 66; because they had not previously been in employment; or because they were still in employment. 

Over 9,100 applicants submitted invalid PPSN numbers, while 1,500 had incorrect bank details.

18,000 applications were subsequently closed and it is presumed that their employers have rehired them to avail of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, where the State subsidises wages by up to €410 per week if the employer keeps the worker on the books.

38,000 have applied for a Jobseeker’s payment. 

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said the scale of the demand for the Covid-19 payment demonstrated the “once in a century” nature of the emergency facing the country. 

She said the focus of the department was on ensuring that they got assistance to all who need it as effectively and quickly as possible. 

Ms Doherty acknowledged the innovation, commitment and energy of the department’s staff who had “moved mountains to meet this historic challenge”.

The minister said that for the duration of the emergency, the department will publish weekly updates on activity related to the Covid-19 response.

She said the Government was determined that a temporary health emergency would not be a permanent economic one, and will also be playing its part in getting people back to work as soon as possible once the emergency passes. 

The department is working to resolve issues on flawed claims such as bank and PPSN details and will contact the claimants concerned directly as soon as possible. 

It is also working on its online applications process to minimise the capacity to enter incorrect data in order to reduce the number of invalid applications.

According to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, men accounted for 284,000 of the 507,000 Covid-19 Pandemic Support claims, with women making 223,000 applications. 

On a county by county basis, Dublin topped the claims league with 147,000 claims with Cork in 2nd place with 52,500.

The lowest number of claims was in Leitrim with 3,500 applications. 

Below is a County by County Breakdown

County: No. of Payments Made

Clare: 12,100

Cork: 52,500

Cavan: 8,100

Carlow: 6,900

Donegal: 18,500

Dublin: 147,100

Galway: 27,300

Kildare: 22,300

Kilkenny: 9,200

Kerry: 18,500

Longford: 3,800

Louth: 14,600

Limerick: 18,800

Leitrim: 3,500

Laois: 7,400

Meath: 21,400

Monaghan: 6,800

Mayo: 14,100

Offaly: 7,500

Roscommon: 5,900

Sligo: 6,800

Tipperary: 16,000

Waterford: 12,300

Westmeath: 10,200

Wicklow: 15,700

Wexford: 17,600

County not provided: 2,100

Total: 507,000

Labour issues warning over Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Government’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) must be reformed to avoid “perverse” situations where lower-paid workers are financially better off if they lose their jobs than being kept on by their employer, the Labour Party has warned.

Labour’s spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection Ged Nash noted that many workers in the worst-affected sectors of non-grocery retail and hospitality were losing out by up to €100 per week if kept on by an employer with the government wage subsidy, compared to someone who is laid off and receiving the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support Payment of €350 per week.

Under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), the State is prepared to subsidise an employer by paying up to 70% of the normal take-home pay of a worker provided the employer keeps the staff member on the books.

It’s hoped that by maintaining the employment relationship between the worker and the employer, it will be easier to reboot the company, and kick-start economic activity, when the health emergency ends.

The government subsidy is up to €410 for workers earning under €38,000, €350 for workers on between €38,000 and €76,000, while workers above that threshold do not qualify for the scheme.

However, there have been reports that some low-wage workers are earning less while continuing to work than those who have been laid off and are receiving the flat €350 Covid-19 Pandemic Payment.

Some part-time workers who were laid off are also reported to be receiving the full €350 Covid-19 Pandemic Payment, leaving them better off than they were when they were working.

“Not only does this punish those low-wage workers but it also creates perverse incentivises that will inevitably lead to more and more people dropping out of the labour market,” said Mr Nash.

He continued: “This goes against the very rationale for establishing the TWSS in the first place to maintain the link between workers and their employment.”

He called for a wage floor of €350 net pay beneath which no one should fall.

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