'Welfare supports helped compliance with coronavirus restrictions' – Regina Doherty

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WELFARE supports put in place for people that lost their jobs in the coronavirus crisis helped compliance with the restrictions on everyday life, the Dáil has been told.

ocial Protection Minister Regina Doherty made the remarks as TDs debated her Department’s response to the Covid-19 emergency.

She said that the unemployment payments will “absolutely” be extended next month but said decisions have not been taken on the “shape or the form” of the support.

Fine Gael politician Ms Doherty lost her seat in the election but continues on as minister in a caretaker capacity in the absence of a new government.

She laid out the supports her Department is providing including the €350-a-week Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), which is being claimed by 585,000 people.

Ms Doherty said the help on offer “may not be perfect but much of it is good”.

She added: “I think I’d like to just maybe point out one thing that I think is a crucial factor.

“I believe it’s very unlikely that we would have had the really, really high level of public compliance with all of the health restrictions that we introduced to tackle this virus, without the relief that was provided for by these payments.”

Sinn Féin TD John Brady said people on the PUP benefits need “certainty” they will be continued beyond June 15.

He said there has been a lot of speculation that there will be changes and “people don’t need to come to a cliff edge” people need to be assured the €350-a-week payment will continue.

Mr Brady asked: “Will that payment be extended? And how long will it be extended for?”

Ms Doherty said: “The payment was introduced to support people’s incomes as their normal income was not available to them.

“We are aware that based on the phases of the reopening of society that’s going to be a different times for different people.

“I can absolutely confirm to you that it will be extended.”

She said a decision hasn’t yet been taken on the “shape or the form”.

“It’s under active consideration and the decision will be made probably within the next number of weeks.

“As soon as the decision has been arrived. I’ll be the first person to tell everybody.”

Online Editors

Source: Irish News