Sinn Fein’s spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called for the government to ensure clarity is provided regarding access to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
Ahead of tomorrow’s reopening of the PUP as announced by the government last Friday evening, there is urgent need for clear communication on which workers affected by the most recent public health guidelines will be eligible for the payment.
As well as this, Minister Humphreys has announced today that there will be five rates of the payment available, with the highest rate of €350 retuning for workers earning over €400 per week, as well as a new rate of €150.
Speaking on the issue, Teachta Kerrane said:
“I absolutely welcome the reopening of the PUP for workers who are impacted by the announcement of extended public health guidelines on Friday evening.
“It is crucial that workers have access to financial supports when they cannot go to work through no fault of their own.
“I called on the Minister to consider this as soon as changes to guidelines were announced a few weeks ago. I am glad she has seen sense on the issue – albeit at the very last minute, yet again.
“Families and workers were left wondering where next week’s income will come from should they be unable to go to work due to Covid-related guidelines.
“Sinn Féin have repeatedly said that the PUP should be available whilst it is needed. We have not emerged from the pandemic yet, but the government has been too quick to wind up financial supports, despite them evidently being needed.
“The reopening of the PUP to applicants is positive and we welcome the move to make €350 available again for some workers who are impacted by the most recent announcements.
“We have advocated for payment linked to prior earnings, in order to ensure households do not fall off a financial cliff amidst changing public health guidelines.
“However, it is also important to recognise that a wider group of workers have been affected by since mid-November, when the public health advice prompted people to reduce their socialising, cancel children’s activities and Christmas parties, amongst other recommendations.
“That group of workers was simultaneously hit by planned cuts to the PUP scheme, which the government refused to halt at the time.
“As well as this, the various cuts to the PUP since September mean that households now don’t know if they will be eligible for the payment and how long will receive it.
“The devil is in the detail, and we need to know more regarding the reopening of applications to the PUP.
“The Minister indicated that she will review the availability of the PUP as the situation progresses. Yet, she and the government proceeded with cuts to the PUP just weeks ago.
“As we approach Christmas, the last thing families and workers need is further financial stress around how they will buy groceries and pay the bills.
“Clear communication and ease of access to available supports is urgently needed. There is no time to waste and the government must get this right.”