The Government looks set to begin reducing the Pandemic Unemployment Payment by €50 a week from September.

It's understood that Cabinet will consider reducing the PUP by €50 from the middle of September, with a further €50 cut set for mid November before the final €50 reduction in February next year.

The Government will also discuss taking students off the PUP from possibly 7 September as they return to third level education.

This would mark the beginning of the phasing out of emergency pandemic financial support.

From July, the payment will be closed off to new entrants under plans discussed within Government this evening.

It is understood the move has been agreed in principle by the Government parties and will now go to Cabinet for approval at meeting tomorrow morning.

The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Green Party leader are meeting tonight to finalise the details of the Economic Recovery Plan, which will be published tomorrow.

The Wage Subsidy Scheme will continue during July, August and September and commercial rates will continue to be waived for these months also.

Earlier, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has said the number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for the coming week has dropped to 309,000.

Ms Humphreys said the figure is now down approximately 100,000 since the economy began to partially reopen, and said it reflected the number of people who have gone back to work.

The minister said there would be more clarity on the phasing out of PUP payments when the cabinet meets tomorrow.

She said it is not sustainable to keep payments up in the long-term, but stressed that there will be no "cliff edge" announcement.

Ms Humphreys said it was unhelpful to speculate ahead of tomorrow's decision, adding that she was conscious of how tough it has been for students who have lost their jobs and businesses that will not reopen.

She said there were a range of supports being put in place to help those people who have no jobs to return to.

The minister was speaking at the opening of the Swinford DigiWest hub in Mayo.


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Yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that it was "too soon" to start reducing the amount which people are paid, adding that a lot of sectors would only be coming back around the middle of July.

"It will have to be phased out. It is not forever, but we want to phase it out at the right time when much more of the economy is open."

Asked about reports that some hospitality staff are telling employers they will not return to work as they are better off on PUP, Mr Varadkar said there was not a lot of evidence to back that up - and that about "25,000 people a week" are coming off the payment.

He told RTÉ's This Week that if a person refuses to take their job back, they lose their entitlement to PUP.

He said there was not an obligation on employers to inform the Department of Social Welfare if a worker refuses to come back to work, but "they can do it and there is a mechanism for that".

He said they will be contacting everyone on the PUP to confirm if they are not able to return to work and "there is an obligation on them to tell the truth".

Additional reporting Teresa Mannion