There has been a further reduction in the numbers receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Social Protection, the numbers in receipt of the support dropped by 26,900 over the last week to 286,900.

At the peak of the crisis, 598,000 people were in receipt of the payment.

That represents a decline of 52% since May 5th.

In the past seven days, 19,200 people closed their claims for a Pandemic Unemployment Payment. 

The Department says some 8,800 people will be receiving their final payment tomorrow.

The PUP was introduced in mid-March at a flat rate €350 per week to provide income support to those who lost their jobs.

Earlier this month, a new rate of €203 was introduced for those whose average weekly earnings in 2019 or January and February 2020 - whichever is the higher - were less than €200.

Last week the Government announced that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment would be extended until next April, but the payment would be gradually reduced over that period based on the claimant's earnings prior to the pandemic.

From mid-September, the payment will be lowered to €300 for those who had earned over €300 per week pre-pandemic.

The rate will be reduced to €250 for those who had earned between €200 and €300 before the pandemic restrictions were introduced.

Claimants who earned less than €200 per week prior to the pandemic will continue to receive €203.

The rates of payments will be reduced further in February.

The Department of Social Protection confirmed yesterday that just over 100 Pandemic Unemployment Payments had been stopped as a result of checks carried out at airports. 

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Heather Humphreys

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has said people who are in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment should be actively seeking work, if their job has been lost permanently.

Heather Humphreys told RTÉ's News at One in the case of some sectors, like in hospitality, where a person's job is temporarily paused due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Government is not expecting such people to be looking for another job. 

She was speaking after the Department of Social Protection confirmed that 104 people have had their Pandemic Unemployment Payment stopped as a result of checks carried out at airports.  
Minister Humphreys reiterated that the public health advice is not to travel abroad except for essential reasons. 

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She said anyone who is in receipt of the PUP, and who is found to be travelling for essential reasons, will continue to receive the payment. 

The Government is "not trying to pick on anyone here", Minister Humphreys said as she highlighted that public servants, and anyone employed in the private sector, who choose to travel abroad will not be paid for the two week period of restricted movements when they return home. 

She said, "under normal circumstances" there is flexibility under social welfare legislation whereby someone in receipt of jobseekers allowance can travel abroad for two weeks, without affecting their payment.

"This is not normal circumstances," she stated. 

"We are trying to protect lives so will temporarily suspend the flexibility that they can continue to receive their unemployment payment while abroad," she added.