Pandemic unemployment payments in Ireland to be cut by €50 per week

Pandemic unemployment payments in Ireland to be cut by €50 per week

COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) in Ireland is set to be cut by €50 per week in Autumn.

The €350 top rate of PUP, which is currently going out to around 250,000 people - is to be lowered to just €300 per week as the government looks to implement a phased reduction of the payments.

Over the next nine or ten months, the payments will be continually lowered until they reach the €203-a-week level of the current jobseekers' allowance.

The current PUP regime is due to expire in three weeks' time on August 10. However, the first reduction of €50 to the top rate won't happen until several weeks later.

Last night, sources stressed details of the plan are still being finalised, according to the Irish Independent.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath last week promised there won't be a "cliff-edge" reduction in the level of PUP payments.

Ms Humphreys said: "I don't want to see people just falling off a cliff edge in terms of their income reduction.

"I want it to be fair. People have lost their jobs".

The PUP payments were brought in after hundreds of thousands of people found themselves suddenly unemployed during the coronavirus lockdown.

At its peak more than 600,000 people were in receipt of the support.

Last week, there were 249,800 people on the €350-a-week top rate of the payment, while a further 95,800 people have been on a lower rate of €203 a week since July 7.

Proposals for the phased reduction of the PUP are to be included in the Government's July stimulus plan for boosting the economy and returning people to work.

While the mini-budget is primarily aimed at injecting cash into businesses that have struggled since lockdown, ministers will also use it to try to chart a way back to the normal management of the State finances.

However, with fears of a second coronavirus wave this winter, the wind-down of the payments could well coincide with a widespread return of the virus.