OVER 33,000 people have closed their applications for the €350 per week pandemic unemployment payment because they already have a job or claim other welfare.
A senior government official confirmed that the number of people whose applications for the PUP scheme have been closed has risen from 19,000 to 33,000.
The Department of Social Protection is providing income support to over 507,000 recipients who are availing of the €350/week pandemic payment.
But Department of the Taoiseach assistant secretary Liz Canavan said a number of people are closing their claim because their employer is availing of the temporary wage subsidy scheme. "The number of people who've closed a pandemic unemployment payment claim has now increased to over 33,000," she said.
Ms Canavan said 80pc of these claims were closed because the recipient is now back in work, 5pc said they were claiming another social welfare payment, while 15pc did not give a specific reason why they were closing their claim.
Many applicants have closed their claim because their employers are now availing of the temporary wage subsidy scheme which allows businesses to claim up to 70pc of their employees' weekly pay from the Government, up to a maximum of €410 per week.
Over 40,300 employers have now registered with the Revenue-administered scheme. The tax authority has generated €155 million of payments to employers. Ms Canavan clarified today that employers are under no obligation to top-up the payment to give employees their normal salary.
Employees are not currently paying tax on income earned under the wage subsidy scheme but income tax, USC and PRSI will be recouped at a later date by Revenue, Ms Cavanan said, adding that this will be phased over the tax year. “
The main thing is not to slow down the cash getting out now, so that’s the main purpose of it,” she said.
At the daily briefing on the Government’s response to Covid-1, Ms Canavan also said An Garda Síochána and the PSNI were working together to prevent people from making non-essential cross-border journeys over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
“There is excellent ongoing cooperation between An Garda Síochána and their colleagues in the police service, Northern Ireland,” she said.
“Points of contact have been established to monitor cross border travel and to ensure that restrictions in this jurisdiction are adhered to. Key locations of concern have been identified and the guards will follow their usual approach to engage, educate, encourage and enforce as a last resort.”
Elsewhere, new laws have been signed to give mobile networks flexibility to create extra capacity for mobile phone and broadband services.
The networks have come under strain in recent weeks as more people rely on their mobile phones and home broadband to communicate with work and keep in touch with family and friends.
The Department of Communications in conjunction with the communications regulator have signed regulations to create flexibility for networks.
Ms Canavan said: “Mobile networks have coped well with the extra usage, but they currently have less headroom to accommodate further increases or potential spikes in demand.”
Ms Canavan also said that four hotels had been contracted in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Dundalk to provide self-isolation rooms to people in Direct Provision who may require them
A further 250 beds have now been added on top of the 650 beds that were announced by the Department of Justice last week to support social distancing and cocooning measures. Around 650 Direct Provision residents have been relocated in recent weeks to allow them to self-isolate.
Ms Canavan also said it was now clear that the current restrictions in place on public movement would be rolled back on a more phased basis rather than in one go. She said a senior officials group and the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 were examining how lifting the restrictions on an incremental basis would work.
"I suppose at the beginning we might have all thought that might all happen in one go, but we're more clear now it's going to happen in a much more phased way. So there's ongoing work, and there are a number of subgroups off the SOG [senior officials group] looking at a range of those issues," she said.