Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Minister Humphreys to urgently address an issue with the transition from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to Jobseekers affecting those who had been receiving the Working Family Payment (WFP).
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“I have been made aware of an issue occurring as the PUP is wound down, which is resulting in recipients being unfairly denied Working Family Payment without any warning while they are moved to Jobseekers.
“This is occurring where those who had been in receipt of the Working Family Payment alongside the PUP lost their entitlement to the Working Family Payment on applying for Jobseekers, as instructed to by the Department.
“Those on the lowest rate of PUP of €203 were required to apply for either Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit by October 21st and on applying, rather than continuing to receive the PUP and the Working Family Payment until the transition, they immediately lost the Working Family Payment.
“Whilst they cannot receive Jobseekers payments and the Working Family Payment, recipients should continue to get the Working Family Payment with the PUP while remaining on the PUP and before moving to Jobseekers.
“It appears that the Minister and her Department did not provide appropriate arrangements to ensure this would be avoided.
“This situation is unnecessary and avoidable, considering there has been ample time to ensure a smooth transition from PUP to Jobseekers payments.
“Instead, families who rely on the Working Family Payment had an important source of income removed without any prior notice and before they moved onto Jobseekers. This is an important welfare payment and will be plunging families into financial difficulty without any warning. This will put huge pressure on the families affected and must be resolved urgently.
“This is in addition to the financial pressure that being transitioned to Jobseekers may cause for families who are eligible for means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance only.
“I sought figures from Minister Humphreys to reveal the numbers affected by this and I requested that the Minister address this matter with urgency; including ensuring that the Working Family Payment is backdated for those who have been affected so far.
“The Minister has responded to me, but worryingly was unable or unwilling to provide the figures of those affected. Her Department also did not say when officials became aware of this issue and if the problem had been known to them because I alerted them to it.
“I am also concerned that in the Minister’s response she pledged to address the issue but she did not say when it would be resolved and when the families affected would receive the money.
“It is vital that as the changes to the PUP continue, the Minister and her Department are on top of this issue and the real impact it is having for families.
“The Minister must ensure that this issue is resolved immediately so that the families affected are reimbursed this money. She also must ensure that this issue is avoided in the next two transition phases of the PUP.”