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Number on pandemic unemployment payment up by more than 10,000 in past week

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The number of people receiving the Government’s pandemic unemployment payment has increased by more than 10,000 over the last week to 217,142.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said more than 19,000 people had applied for the payment over the past week.

It said this increase was partly, but not entirely, due to the impact of more stringent Covid-19 restrictions being implemented in Dublin. The measures saw pubs and restaurants close to indoor dining and delayed the reopening of pubs not serving food.

“The Government wanted to ensure that this safety net remained in place in the event that counties would face further restrictions,” Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said of the rise in claimants.

“That’s why a decision was taken to extend the pandemic unemployment payment into next year and, more importantly, keep it open to new entrants.”

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said the increase in the figures for those receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week “did not reflect the impact of Donegal moving to Level 3 last Friday”.

“It is expected that any such impact will be reflected in next week’s PUP figures,” it said in a statement.

The figures also show that some 8,690 people closed their claim for the benefit last week.

The department said the sector with the highest number of people receiving a pandemic unemployment payment this week was accommodation and food service activities, up by almost 7,000 from last week.

It said education and public administration and defence were the only sectors with a slight fall in PUP payments this week.

Ms Humphreys said: “These statistics are a reminder to us all that we cannot become complacent. We’ve come too far to let our guard down now.”

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