September 1, 2021
U-turn on PUP changes welcome – Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has welcomed the government’s U-turn on planned changes to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment but warned that they do not go far enough.

Over 27,000 workers on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) had been due to be transferred onto Jobseekers payments with everyone else seeing a cut of €50 per week from next Tuesday 7th September.

Teachta Kerrane had urged the Minister not to proceed with the cuts, which would have devastated the finances of thousands of workers still unable to return to work while their sector remains closed under public health advice.

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:

“I welcome this U-turn by government just days before changes to the PUP were due to take effect. These changes would have seen 27,581 people currently on a PUP rate of €203 moved onto a Jobseeker’s payment. 

“This would have been devastating for these workers’ finances. For those without the required number of PRSI contributions, this would have meant moving onto the means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance which takes entire household income into account 

“It would have hit young workers particularly hard as, those aged between 18-24 would have seen their income plummet to a maximum of €112.70 per week.

“The government’s plan to change the PUP in this way never made sense. I welcome that they have now accepted how ill-advised and ill-timed these plans were.

“As I have consistently argued, while public health restrictions are in place which mean workers are unable return to their workplace, they are not unemployed and it would have been inappropriate for them to be put on Jobseeker’s payments. This would have had serious implications for them, it would have meant they were obliged to seek work and could have been referred to Job Activation Schemes despite being neither Jobseekers nor unemployed.

“I repeatedly raised these issues with Minister Humphreys and I welcome that late in the day, she has made this U-turn. It is regrettable that it took her so long to change her plans, when I have been highlighting how flawed they are for many months now. If she had made these changes then, thousands of workers would have been saved the stress and anxiety of fearing their income was facing this cliff-edge.

“However, it is important to note that the government has changed its view on just some of the planned changes to the PUP. It is important that all the planned cuts do not go ahead next week. The PUP must not be slashed by €50 per week from next Tuesday. The Minister must cancel plans to implement these changes.

“I will continue to hold the Minister to account on this, to stand up for workers and ensure they are treated fairly.”

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