Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that it is his “expectation” that the PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) will return at its original rate of €350 for those made unemployed by COVID restrictions.
Speaking to On The Record With Gavan Reilly, Paschal Donohoe denied that new applicants for the PUP would receive a lower rate:
“My expectation is that it will be paid at the higher rate. We absolutely appreciate that there are some who are working in, for example, nightclubs, to give a very concrete example, that now find that their employment has gone nearly overnight,” Minister Donohoe said.
“And we fully understand and appreciate the shock that that has created for those who are working in that sector.
“So Minister [for Social Protection Heather] Humphreys will outline that plan in the coming days.
“But I’ll simply say that we appreciate that there is a group of workers in a really important part of our hospitality sector in particular who are finding themselves unemployed again within a year and we have a particular responsibility to them.”
Minister Donohoe also addressed the issue of a split in Cabinet over the return of restrictions; Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has called the new restrictions “peculiar” given that the number of COVID patients in Irish hospitals is falling. However, Minister Donohue said the changes were needed:
“Well, we all in Government accept that these measures do need to be implemented,” he said.
“But I think what is important is to acknowledge is that perhaps the rationale for measures like this is beginning to change.
“What the Tánaiste is pointing to, is that there are some early signs of our current efforts working.
“The number of people that we have in hospitals, we saw some signs that it is at a four week low. We’re seeing that the case numbers among our older citizens beginning to slightly change - but change in a positive way.
“And while our level of community transmission is still high, it hasn’t continued to increase at the pace it did a few weeks ago.”
However, speaking earlier on the programme, Sinn Féin Health spokesman, David Cullinane, criticised the Government and its health officials for mixed messaging:
“What I want to see is a joined up approach between the public health advice which is given, and then strong messages and leadership from Government.
“And that’s what we haven’t seen. There has been an absence of that over the last number of months.
“And I think what people are frustrated with is the disjointed nature of the decisions which have been made by Government and, I have to say, incompetence, on so many levels.”
Main image: Money is counted on a table. Picture by: Lino Mirgeler/DPA.