The number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) has fallen below the 100,000 figure this week for the first time since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has said.
A total of 97,130 people will receive the pandemic unemployment payment this week which represents a reduction of 4,340 compared to last week.
However new figures also show that there has been a rise this week in the number of people receiving the separate Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit which is paid to those who either contract the virus or who are medically certified by their doctor to self-isolate.
The Department of Social Protection said “this week some 1,972 people are in receipt of an enhanced illness benefit payment, compared with 1,843 last week”.
The Minister said on Monday that the fall in the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment benefit below the 100,000 figure represented “a significant milestone”.
She said that it meant that there had been an almost 85 per cent reduction in the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment since May 2020 at the height of the pandemic when it was paid to about 600,000 individuals.
“More and more people continue to return to work and the numbers on the pandemic unemployment payment have now fallen every single week for the past nine months.
“This clearly demonstrates the significant progress we are making in getting people off the pandemic unemployment payment and back into the workforce, as supported by our new pathways to work strategy”, the Minister said.
Ms Humphreys said that since the scheme was introduced in March 2020, her department had paid out over €8.8 billion in pandemic unemployment payments to almost 900,000 people.
She said this income support had been “a vital lifeline for these people and their families”.
The 97,130 people in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment this week is in addition to the 162,898 people who were on the live register at the end of September.
The Department of Social Protection said that the greatest reduction this week in the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment came among those working in the accommodation and food services sector, “as it has been for the past 18 weeks”.