THERE are worries people may fall through the cracks following the cessation of the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP).
Yesterday marked the end of the PUP, which was first introduced for employees and self-employed people in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic in March 2020. Remaining recipients will transition to jobseekers’ payments if they are deemed eligible.
Speaking to The Echo, St Vincent de Paul southwest regional co-ordinator Gerry Garvey said the most important thing was that there was not a long delay in transferring people over to social welfare benefits.
“I am not sure the timing is great. A lot of these people would be living week to week so I would like to think there would be a transitionary period,” Mr Garvey said.
“I would be concerned that people would fall through the cracks and if they do, they will end up ringing us.”
Vienna Woods Hotel proprietor Michael Magner said the ending of the PUP was a “welcome” move.
“It might encourage those folks who might be concerned about coming back to work to re-evaluate their position. Most businesses have good work practices in place, and they are safe for people to return to. We are living with Covid now and that needs to be recognised as well.”
Mr Magner said the accommodation shortage was a challenge for businesses hoping to hire staff.
Reardens Group general manager John Styles said the PUP had helped them to survive.
“It was fantastic for us as we were able to survive and that is why we are still in business. Only for that help there is no way we could have survived,” he said.
Mr Styles said they were not experiencing the same level of staff shortages as last summer.
“Students have returned to fill vacancies. We are not in the same predicament we were in at the start of last summer. Six staff members are going travelling this summer. This is another challenge for us but hopefully there will be people to fall in behind them.”
Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry said an urgent debate was needed about raising social welfare rates.
“Basic social welfare rates in this country are way below the poverty line. The legacy of the PUP is the idea of a payment for someone who is out of work through no fault of their own which is above the poverty line. If the PUP is being abolished now in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, then there clearly needs to be an urgent debate about raising social welfare rates in this country.”