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Minister signals 'changes' to €350 payment as 64,000 return to work

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Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty (Steve Humphreys/PA)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty (Steve Humphreys/PA)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty (Steve Humphreys/PA)

"Changes" to the €350 pandemic unemployment payment will be tabled by the Government soon, as it was revealed that 64,000 people have returned to work since lockdown unwinding began.

There are widespread fears that the income support being claimed by 543,200 people will be cut.

The Economic and Social Research Institute recently advised no immediate reduction in the payment.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said yesterday the nature of the payment needed to be reviewed, although it would be extended beyond its expiry date next Tuesday. She said the Government would examine how it fitted into its plans to keep Ireland healthy and get the country working again.

"We are currently considering this and will soon bring forward proposals for some changes," she said.

She added that peak demand for the payment had passed in parallel with the flattening of the Covid-19 curve and each week would see an incremental drop in the numbers in need of assistance if this progress continued.

New figures released by her department show:

:: The number of people claiming the Covid-19 payment fell by 36,200 since last week;

:: Among the recipients are 28,400 people who are returning to work;

:: There are 214,700 people on standard unemployment payments;

:: 57,800 employers have registered for a separate temporary wage subsidy scheme and more than 508,100 workers have received a subsidy.

The main sectors in which people are returning to work are construction, where 9,900 employees are back at work this week, and wholesale, retail and vehicle repair, where 4,300 have gone back. In addition, 2,800 who were claiming the payment have returned to work in manufacturing.

Since the first phase of the Government's roadmap for reopening society and business, 64,000 employees who claimed the payment are back at work. There are 47,800 people in receipt of the Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit.

Irish Independent