The State has spent a total of €11.5 billion in welfare supports in response to the Covid-19 pandemic over the course of the last year, and 88,546 people in Cork have received at least one Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) since it was introduced.
Since the introduction of the PUP, in the region of 20 million payments have been made to over 850,000 people nationally providing income support of more than €6.3 billion, according to the latest figures from the Department of Social Protection.
This week, the Department has issued weekly payments valued at €136.46 million to 456,580 people in receipt of the PUP.
The number of people receiving the PUP this week has decreased by 8,280 compared to last week.
Cork is the county with the second highest number of people who are receiving PUP this week (46,068 people) ranking behind Dublin, which has 144,683 people receiving the payment.
This week’s figures show that people from every county have closed their PUP claims.
Overall, some 12,353 people closed their PUP claims, with 10,073 of these stating that they were doing so because they were returning to work.
Dublin had the greatest number of people closing their claims to return to work (2,466), followed by Cork (1,075) and Meath (518).
The PUP scheme peaked in the first week of May 2020, when some 602,000 were in receipt of the PUP.
In the past 12 months, the Department’s webpages have been the most used across the entire public service, with more visitors than all other public service websites – including the HSE.
Meanwhile, staff have received and answered over 10 million phone calls.
Details were also released about the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which allows employers to keep their employees on the payroll and then claim a refund from the department.
Launched on March 26, the TWSS was developed in partnership with the Department of Finance and administered by the Revenue Commissioners.
During its lifetime, just under 650,000 workers employed by just under 70,000 employers were supported by the TWSS to the value of just over €2.7 billion.
The TWSS was itself refined and replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) from September 1. Since then, the EWSS has supported just under 550,000 workers employed by just under 50,000 employers to a value of €2.3 billion.
In addition to these supports, the Department developed and introduced an Enhanced Illness Benefit scheme.
Since the scheme was introduced, almost 142,000 people have been medically certified for receipt of the Enhanced Illness Benefit with approximately €88 million paid in this income support.
This figure includes 15,189 people in Cork.
In addition to core income supports, the Department put in place a range of other targeted measures during the initial stages of pandemic, including a four-week extension to the 2020 fuel allowance season.
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys paid tribute to the staff in her Department as well as those in the Revenue Commissioners and various other Government Departments.
"That sense of solidarity has been key in helping us mitigate the worst effects of the virus whilst enabling us to support our incredibly brave frontline health professionals who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic," she said.
"I am immensely proud of the efforts of my Department’s staff since last March when they mobilised quickly to introduce the PUP in a matter of days," she said.
"They and their colleagues in the Revenue Commissioners and various other Government Departments exemplified all that is good about our public service.
"I want to thank them all for their important contribution in providing essential income supports to our citizens since last March."
The Government has confirmed that the Covid-19 income supports will be maintained until at least June 30, 2021.