Mary Lou McDonald TD has criticised the government’s decision to start cutting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment from September.
Describing the decision as premature and reckless, Teachta McDonald told Taoiseach Michéal Martin that it is deeply unfair to punish those who remain locked-out of work due to necessary public health restrictions by cutting what are lifeline income supports.
The Sinn Féin President said:
“People want and need to be back at work. This is exactly what happened last year when 400,000 people went back to work as restrictions were lifted.
“Workers don’t want to be on the PUP. We all hope that these supports will only be required for the shortest time possible.
“However, the reality is that come September, some people will still be locked out of work due to public health restrictions – people in aviation, in hospitality, in events, those whose jobs depend on international and many other sectors.
“The economy will not be operating at full tilt come autumn. The Taoiseach knows that and yet the government is choosing to cut the very supports that these workers and their families rely on.
“Government is walking away from its responsibility to these workers and their families, Taoiseach. You will cut their income by a third. This is huge. It is the difference between surviving another few months and not.
“For the vast majority, the need for the PUP will fall away naturally as their sectors reopen. That is what the evidence tells us. But what your decision to cut the PUP does is ensure that those who remain locked out of work are made poorer.
“They still have to pay their mortgages, their rents, their childcare and their utility bills. Cuts of €50 will be devastating to their efforts to make ends meet.
“Everybody wants to get back to work as quickly as possible but the government has to make provision for that section of workers who will not return by September or even in the course of this year. It is wrong to punish these workers by removing their supports.
“The fair thing to say to every worker is that we want to return to work, to return safely, to return quickly but for so long as you cannot return due to public health restrictions the government will support you.
“I am asking you not to push ahead with these cuts on which people will need to survive through September and indeed through the rest of the year.”