Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection John Brady has said that the Wage Subsidy Scheme needs to be urgently reformed to ensure that workers are being paid the full equivalent to their wages and that people need clarity on when their backdated welfare payment will be processed.
Deputy Brady said;
“Many families are experiencing serious financial difficulties as a result of becoming unemployed or being put on the Wage Subsidy Scheme. It’s a time when the safety net of our social protection system is needed most.
“Intreo offices across the State have received and processed 389,000 applications for the COVID-19 Unemployment Payment.
“I have been inundated with questions from people right across my constituency and it’s critical that people get the right information as quickly as possible.
“On Tuesday 283,000 people received the flat rate payment of €350 for PUP. Many of those people had applied for this payment several weeks ago and had been living hand to mouth awaiting this critical payment. It wasn’t backdated as they had been expecting.
“The Minister needs to state clearly when this backdated pay will be issued so families across the state can finally see their questions answered.
“I welcome the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, however a number of issues with its criteria make it more accessible for the people who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This means ensuring that €350 is the floor or minimum payment employees receive through the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.
“The Minister should also look at extending Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment support to under 18 who have lost full time employment and the issue of over 66s, many whom are in financial hardship during this pandemic.
“Many people under 18 and over 66 who have been made unemployed as a result of this crisis aren’t eligible to apply for the PUP.
“These include young apprentices who can start their apprenticeships from 16. It also includes many people over the age of 66 who for financial reasons have been forced to continue working.
“If this government is serious about supporting families and those who lost their job as a result of the COVID outbreak they should support these measures.”