Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment form
While Donegal faces even more challenges as a result of new Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions which came into force at midnight, numbers receiving the weekly Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) have already increased here by over 3,200 since the introduction of Level 3 and more recently Level 4.
In the last week up to Tuesday, the numbers receiving the payment have increased from 8,530 to 9,119 - a weekly increase of 589.
The previous week, it had also increased from 7,946 to 8,530 - an increase of 584.
Ironically, Donegal registered its lowest numbers on the PUP scheme since May, on September 22, just days before government imposed Level 3 restrictions on the county.
However, this current 9,119 figure is still significantly lower than when the payment was at its height here, with 22,700 in receipt here on May 5, 2020.
The three counties currently under Level 4, Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan have also seen increases of 163, 173 and 97 people respectively medically certified to receive the payment this week.
The other significant difference between those previously in receipt of PUP and now is the amount of money being paid out, which has been a bone of contention, especially amongst opposition parties.
The previous payments of €350 per week for those earning €400 or more has been restored, but it will only apply from next week.
“This change to payment rates will apply for payments issued from Tuesday, October 27 (PUP is paid weekly on a Tuesday) in respect of all existing and new applicants,” a government spokesperson confirmed.
New applications for PUP can be made until the end of this year at present.
Back to weekly payments
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, weekly social welfare payments were changed to a fortnightly schedule from March 23.
This measure was kept under review and, in August, the Department moved a number of payments back to a weekly payment schedule.
These included One-parent Family Payment, Working Family Payment, Illness Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseeker’s Benefit.
Recipients who are in receipt of the remaining payments - e.g. State Pension Contributory, Non-Contributory, Widows pensions, Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit – received their last double week payment on Monday, and will revert to receiving their payment each week from the week beginning November 2.
They will also continue to have the option to collect their social welfare payment at their post office each week or anytime for up to 90 days.
To apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the easiest and quickest way is to do so online at www.MyWelfare.ie.
When applying, people should provide the name of their employer and details of their last day of employment.
Over 95% of people who applied for PUP last week did so online, ensuring that their payment was processed quickly.
Anxious and concerned
Commenting on this week's unemployment figures, Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, said:“I am deeply conscious that people feel anxious and concerned about the prospect of future restrictions.
“But I know too that we have it in us as a country to get back on top on this virus. We did it before and we will do it again.
“So let’s come together and ensure we do what is necessary to protect lives and protect livelihoods.
“I also want to thank the huge number of people applying for social protection supports who have moved to use our online service www.MyWelfare.ie.”
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