Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on the government to ensure that the Covid related Illness Benefit is processed in a timely manner, amidst new public health measures.
Announcements made by the government yesterday will see close contacts of positive cases within households, who are fully vaccinated and showing no symptoms having to restrict their movements for five days.
This means that supports like the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit will receive higher demand from those who cannot go to work as a result of these updated guidelines.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“Yesterday the government announced a range of updated public health guidelines as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“These changes will affect and, in some cases, limit the ability of people to go to work.
“Requiring close household contacts of someone with Covid-19 to isolate for at least 5 days will have a serious knock on effect to people’s weekly incomes and so, it is essential that people can easily apply for and receive the Covid related Illness Benefit payment.
“Minister Humphreys must ensure that the staff and resources are in place to deal with an expected increase in claims for this income support.
“I have requested figures from the Department on the current average timeframes for processing of Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit applications. Considering entire households are affected, this could see numbers for this payment in the tens of thousands and more.
“It is also crucial that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is made available for those working in sectors impacted by new and evolving public health advice. Despite widespread calls and concerns about pushing workers towards a financial cliff edge, the government have signalled their clear refusal to re-examine the PUP.
“Now is not the time to pull the rug from underneath families and workers. We are approaching Christmas and we are seeing spiraling heating and utility costs as we head in to winter.
“The last thing households need is to have uncertainty about their income or how they are going to pay their bills over the coming weeks.
“The government must ensure Covid-related supports are put in place and that they can be processed quickly and effectively for those who need them.”