Thousands of people whose pandemic unemployment claims were not paid this week will not receive backdated arrears until a future unspecified date, the Government has confirmed.
As the Department of Social Protection grapples with unprecedented demand, TDs have received hundreds of queries from newly unemployed people who did not get the €350 weekly Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
The department said that, as of last Thursday, around 15,000 applications for PUP had not been processed because claimants entered an incorrect PPS or IBAN number. Some TDs have been told this figure has increased by more than 10,000 in recent days and is in addition to the 15,000 applications that were deemed ineligible.
The department is contacting those whose applications contained incorrect details, but could not say when they may receive arrears. "People who have not received a payment to date and who qualify for a payment will receive the arrears at a future date," a spokesperson said.
"We don't know what the hell is happening. We are inundated with people who applied and haven't got paid," said Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea.
Sinn Féin TD John Brady said many people had expected that two weeks of PUP would land in their accounts this week given the payment was introduced from March 13 - but they had received one week's payment or none at all.
"I was told initially all payments would be backdated. People were expecting double weeks on Tuesday and didn't get them," Mr Brady said.
The Department of Social Protection said that, as of last week, it had processed over 283,000 payments but would not clarify whether people are entitled to payments backdated to March 13. "The level of payments reflects the unprecedented demand for the department's income supports over the past two weeks," the spokesperson said.
Bríd O'Brien, from the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed, said the PUP will throw up huge challenges over the next year. "They designed it in the hope and expectation that the economy will pick up, but the longer this goes on, the bigger challenge it presents."
Meanwhile the Irish Dental Association has urged Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty to expand the pandemic payment scheme to dentists whose incomes have been hit but who are still providing emergency care.
"We cannot understand why self-employed dentists... who have lost significant income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but who do not cease trading entirely, will be penalised by receiving no Covid payment or subsidy," said chief executive Fintan Hourihan.
Elsewhere, Dublin Bus has said it wants workers to use up 10 of their annual leave days during the crisis, by taking a day each week. But unions are arguing they should use up just five days of their annual entitlement, similar to arrangements being rolled out at Irish Rail and Dublin Airport Authority.
The move by Dublin Bus follows major cuts in public transport services after passenger numbers nosedived.