Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has raised concerns at the government’s decision to continue with plans to transfer recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to Jobseekers payments from today.
This comes despite ongoing confusion around restrictions particularly in the Hospitality and Live Entertainment Sectors which means that some employment sectors are not yet fully open.
In September, the government decided to hold off on transitioning workers receiving €203 PUP per week to Jobseekers in light of delays to the reopening of many sectors. Yet today, this transition will proceed despite over 93,000 people still in receipt of the PUP.
Of this number, a staggering 31,701 people currently receiving the PUP rate of €203 will be transitioned to standard Jobseekers payments from next week.
This transition includes the requirement to be actively seeking work, even for those recipients who have not returned to their jobs as a result of public health guidelines.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“The Minister’s decision to proceed with the transition of workers from the PUP to Jobseekers is deeply disappointing and concerning.
“Minister Humphreys confirmed to me by way of Parliamentary Question last week that she intended to proceed with plans to move PUP recipients who have not yet returned to work to standard Jobseekers terms.
“In the midst of a significant lack of clarity about what restrictions would look like on 22nd October, the Department had sent letters to thousands of workers confirming that they would be moved to Jobseekers and they needed to apply for it. This is despite their sectors not knowing at that point if they would be reopening this week or not.
“This week, just 3,731 people closed their PUP claim and over 93,000 people remain in receipt of the PUP while they await a return to work. A huge portion of these people, over 31,000, will be moved to Jobseekers from next week.
“The transition to Jobseekers not only requires people to be actively seeking work, there are serious financial consequences too.
“For those without the required number of PRSI contributions, this means moving onto the means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance which takes entire household income into account. As a result, their weekly payment could be much less than €203 per week, which will unnecessarily push households over a financial cliff-edge.
“It will also hit young workers particularly hard as 3,235 recipients aged between 18-24 will see their income plummet to a maximum of €112.70 per week and that’s at a maximum, those living at home could receive much less if anything at all.
“We are also hearing reports of those who had been in receipt of the Working Family Payment along with the PUP not getting their Working Family Payment either last week or this week. It seems to be the case that where those on the PUP applied for Jobseekers as required had their Working Family Payment withdrawn despite the fact this was to remain in place while the PUP was being paid.
“The Minister is aware of the stress and financial uncertainty this transition has caused for many workers and self-employed people, and has decided to proceed regardless.
“The Minister must not proceed with this scheduled transition until sectors are reopened in full. I am calling on her to see sense and support workers and households now when they need it.”