The numbers of people closing their claim to the Pandemic Employment Payment continue to decrease steadily in Louth, with 800 fewer people in the county collecting the payment this week compared to seven days previously.
While Phase 3 of the reopening of the country from its months of lockdown saw much of the economy return to something resmebling normality last week, large swathes of the country remain effected by temporary closures or job losses as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Louth, 12,000 people were in receipt of the PUP as of Monday July 6. That made up 3% of the national total of 412,900. The payments made across the county amounted to €128.3 million.
The Department of Social Protection say that a further 44,800 people have now received their final PUP payment and will be removed from the scheme this week.
Over the last six weeks as the country has gradually got back to work, no fewer than 700 persons per week in Louth have closed their claim to the payment, which was introduced by the former government in mid-March in response to the sudden closures of businesses across a wide range of sectors.
This week has seen the 10th successive decrease in numbers receiving the payment in the county. The number of recipients peaked at 17,300 on the week beginning May 5. The number receiving the payments is now at its lowest point since the scheme’s introduction.
Speaking on Tuesday, Fine Gael TD for Louth and East Meath Fergus O’Dowd said, “I am acutely aware of the continuing challenges faced by so many families and individuals here in Louth and indeed across the country as a result of COVID-19. We are dealing with unprecedented circumstances and the PUP will continue to be available to those who need it.
“It is encouraging to see the numbers returning to work since the economy opened up further last week. This represents the highest number to return to work in a single week nationally since the crisis began.
“The top sectors in which employees are returning to work this week are accommodation and food services, other sectors e.g. hairdressers, barbers and wholesale and retail trade, repair of ,motor vehicles and motorcycles, followed by the construction sector,” he added.
As of this week, employees whose average weekly earnings in 2019 or January and February 2020 were less than €200 gross will receive a new weekly rate of €203, while those whose average earnings were higher than that figure will continue to receive €350 per week.
Labour TD Ged Nash has previously criticised the decision to slash the payment for some, saying it “will impact women, young people and low-wage workers the most.
“These undervalued workers, such as our scandalously low-paid childcare professionals, provide essential services and have suffered years of underpayment, poor conditions and job insecurity.”