More than half a million Irish people signing on after 'huge shock' of coronavirus pandemic

Official figures also show that over 300,000 on pandemic income support

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

More than half a million Irish people signing on after 'huge shock' of coronavirus pandemic

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment form

More than half a million Irish people are signing on the live register and over 300,000 of these are people who are being paid some form of Covid-19 pandemic unemployment benefit by the state, according to the latest CSO figures.

The Central Statistics Office figures show that the unadjusted Live Register total stands at 205,209 for March 2020. Alongside this 283,037 people were in receipt of the coronavirus Pandemic Unemployment Payment. A further  25,104 persons benefitted from the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The CSO says a range of measures have been introduced by the Government in relation to providing income support for those whose employment has been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland. The available schemes are being administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) and the Revenue Commissioners.

Edel Flannery, Senior Statistician, CSO explains the approach taken today with regard to the publication of today’s Live Register and COVID-19 payments:

“The majority of those whose income from employment has been affected due to COVID-19 are currently being facilitated through the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment which is administered by the DEASP, while a smaller cohort are currently being facilitated through the Revenue Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme," he said.

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty emphasised that the publication of today’s Live Register figures were a stark reminder of how much has changed in the space of a few weeks and the scale of the employment challenge posed by the Covid-19 emergency.

“This it is perhaps the most unique Live Register data ever published by the CSO and reflects both the huge shock to the labour market arising from the public health measures to address the Covid pandemic and the statistical challenge faced by the CSO to accurately measure unemployment in these circumstances.

“When the last Live Register figures were published, in February, we recorded a further fall in the numbers and we were still talking about being technically at full employment. The COVID emergency has completely up-ended that narrative. The crucial challenge for the Government is that we don’t let what is a temporary health emergency become a permanent economic crisis.

“The measures we have introduced – at breakneck speed – such as the COVID Unemployment Payment, an enhanced illness benefit scheme, the extension of the fuel allowance grant and the wage subsidy scheme are providing immediate relief and have shown that this country can rise to significant challenges, that its people can, and do, support each other in times of need.

“First and foremost, this is a health emergency and our highest priority has to be the protection of public health and human life, preventing the spread of the virus and working to mitigate its impact on our people. However, the income supports we have introduced are crucial to alleviate the financial hardship that so many now face and will also play an important role in sustaining incomes and positioning the economy for what we hope will be a fast recovery.

“In particular, I would like to commend those employers who have availed of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.  Maintaining the link between employer and employee will be crucial for when we come out the other side of this, to reboot businesses as soon as possible so that people can start going back to work quickly,” she said.

The Minister stated that her Department is continuing to process more claims from income support arising from the temporary lay-offs from employment that are arising from the further public health measures announced last Friday.  She assured people who are being temporarily laid off that her Department is dealing with these income support claims and putting them into payment as quickly as possible. 

The Minister also pointed out that her Department has today published an updated information notice for employers and employees, including Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQs) and it is available here.

This document provides basic information in respect of the income supports now available from the Department together with answers to the most commonly asked questions.