UPDATE: Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments and Enhanced Illness Benefits

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection issued payments valued at €206.3m to 589,000 people in respect of their application for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Around 8,700 people are receiving a payment for the first time.  This is a reduction of 9.000 on the number of people paid at the same point last week.

There are now over 53,000 employers who have registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) with at least one subsidy being paid in respect of 456,200 people under that scheme.  The number of employees supported at least once under the TWSS has increased from 427,400 as at 30 April.

The payments are in addition to the 214,700 people who were reported on the Live Register as of the end of April.

All Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment payments issued will be in recipients’ bank accounts or at their local post office tomorrow, Tuesday 12th May.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty today said: “Today we see a slight drop in the amount of people receiving Pandemic Unemployment Payments as the number leaving the scheme – primarily to go on the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme – is now greater than the number of new entrants. We now have a very clear view of the peak of the challenge we currently face.

“Hopefully the direction of travel from here on will continue to be positive.  As we move through the Government’s phased re-opening of society – while observing the recently published guidance for returning to work – we can expect certain sectors of the labour market to gradually re-open and for more people to close their applications for assistance.

“However, there won’t be a quick return to work for everybody and the nature of the virus is such that we won’t be able to switch the economy instantly back on in the same manner as we put it into sleep mode. My Department will continue to support those who can’t go back to work while simultaneously working on effective plans for the post-pandemic environment to retrain, re-energise and re-employ all those who have been disrupted by this unprecedented health emergency.”

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

In total (since launch on the 16th March, 2020), and excluding duplicate claims the Department processed applications from 682,000 people for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or a jobseeker’s payment.

As is the case, for all social welfare schemes, the Department conducts a series of pre and post payment checks.  For example:

–        Integrity checks are made against records already held by the Department including Public Service Information data and cross checks with payments on other schemes. These help to verify if a person is who they claim to be and that they are entitled to claim payment.

–        Each week when the Department processes the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payments (PUP), are conciliation takes place between the Department’s payment file and Revenue’s payment file for the Covid-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. This results in claims from those who are being paid by their employer being withheld and therefore not processed by the Department’s payment process. These people are then contacted by the Department to inform them of the position.

–        A prior employment status check is made by comparing all claims for PUP against prior earnings and employment records from Revenue data. Where this check indicates that a person may not have been employed, as claimed, the person is contacted and asked to submit corroborating information. Failure to submit corroborating information leads to the claim being closed.

–        As with other welfare schemes, the Department contacts recipients to ensure that they continue to satisfy the eligibility criteria of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

–        Data analytics is also used to identify claims where a person may not satisfy other conditions – for example residence in Ireland – and Department inspection staff check these cases.

–        The Department’s inspection staff also participate with Garda and Customs staff, in security checks on major transport routes and transport hubs.

–        Confidential reporting facilities are available to the public (1890 927999 and at https://www.welfare.ie/en/ Pages/secure/ReportFraud.aspx) and to employers (email to: C19EmployerReports@welfare.ie ) to report cases of suspected mis-claiming.

Following the application of these checks and controls the Department has this week paid 589,000 people out of the 682,000 unique claims processed, the vast majority of these claims were paid within a week of receipt. This indicates the efficiency of using data analytics to both identify incorrect claims and ensure prompt processing of valid claims.

To date, over 95,000 people have contacted the Department to close their Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Many of these requests are because employers are taking people back onto their payroll under the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The Department is continuing to resolve any issues, such as invalid IBANS or PPSNs, with legitimate applications and is contacting the people concerned directly over the next few days.  We wish to remind people to take care when submitting applications, to ensure that critical information such as dates of birth, PPSN and IBANs are entered correctly.  An IBAN has 22 characters and people should take care that it is entered correctly. Any errors by individuals in submitting their incorrect IBAN or PPSN will cause their application to be rejected by the Department.

Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme

There are now over 53,000 employers who have registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).  Workers whose employers have registered them on the scheme are not eligible to receive a pandemic unemployment payment. In addition workers who were in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment but who have now been registered by their employers on the TWSS are no longer eligible to receive a payment pandemic unemployment payment.

The Department is aware that some workers may be incorrectly registered as part of the TWSS or may face difficulty in transitioning back from the pandemic unemployment payment to the employer payroll.   Such a situation may arise, for example, because a worker has been registered in error by their employer, or because an employer having registered for the TWSS has since ceased operating their payroll, or, due to differences in the weekly payment pattern of the pandemic unemployment payment as compared with a monthly or fortnightly payroll from the employer.  Any worker affected by these issues can contact the Department and arrangements will be made to restore their payment or provide them with interim income support as appropriate.


Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment

There are now 42,000 people medically certified for receipt of the Covid-19 enhanced Illness Benefit. This predominantly relates to applications in respect of people who have been advised by their GP to self-isolate together with a smaller number in respect of people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19.