Announcement to halt transition from PUP to Jobseekers welcome but belated – Claire Kerrane TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has welcomed the government’s announcement to delay plans to transfer recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to Jobseekers payments.
Alongside cuts to PUP rates, the government had intended to transition recipients of the current rate of €203 to standard Jobseekers payments. Set to take effect from 14th September, this transition included the requirement to be actively seeking work, even for those recipients who had not yet returned to their jobs as a result of public health guidelines.
Following repeated warnings about the effect of these plans, it was yesterday announced that PUP recipients will now not be transitioned to Jobseeker payments before October 22nd.
Speaking about the announcement today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“This announcement is very welcome, but is also incredibly belated. For months I have been warning the Minister about the impact of moving people from the PUP to Jobseeker payments, particularly while many have not yet returned to work through no fault of their own.
“She has been aware of the stress and financial uncertainty this potential transition has caused for many workers and self-employed people, and yet has waited to make this announcement at the last minute.
“This week, just 3,486 people closed their PUP claim and we can see that the rate of those returning to work has now slowed dramatically. Updated public health guidelines have allowed many sectors to reopen this month, but there are sectors still waiting until October to open in full.
“With over 140,000 people still receiving the PUP, it is clear that we need supports in place for those who cannot yet return to work through no fault of their own. Almost 27,000 people are currently in receipt of the PUP rate of €203, and would have been moved to Jobseekers next week.
“The plan to transition PUP recipients to Jobseekers terms would have devastated the finances of thousands of workers still unable to return to work while their sector remains closed under public health advice. For those without the required number of PRSI contributions, this would have meant moving onto the means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance which takes entire household income into account.
“It would also have hit young workers particularly hard as, those aged between 18-24 would have seen their income plummet to a maximum of €112.70 per week.
“While I am glad the Minister has seen sense, she could have made this decision much sooner and been clearer to those workers who remain out of work due to public health restrictions.
“It is positive that we are beginning to emerge from the effects of the pandemic, but we are not out of the woods yet. I have repeatedly called on the Minister to ensure that supports are available for workers as long as they are needed.
“We will continue stand up for workers to hold the government to account.”