The number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment has risen by more than 23,000 in the last seven days, according to the latest figures from the Department of Social Protection. 

Some 228,858 people will receive the PUP this week compared to just under 206,000 a week ago.

The 11% increase coincides with the government decision to extend Level 3 restrictions beyond Dublin and Donegal to the whole of the country.

The number of under-25s claiming the payment soared by 23% over the same period - from 44,724 to 54,999.

4,931 people closed their PUP claims over the last seven days and 2,138 will receive their final payment tomorrow. 

The amount paid out this week in PUP claims is €61.4m which is up from €55.2m last week. 

The PUP figures are in addition to the 211,492 people on the Live Register as of the end of September. 

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys TD said the increase in the number of recipients reflected the seriousness of the impact of the pandemic on the economic life of the country. 

She acknowledged that the situation had been difficult for many businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, who had been impacted by Level 3 restrictions. 

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She said her priority was to ensure payments reached impacted workers quickly and this was why the Government had kept the PUP scheme open for applications. 

The sector with the highest number of PUP claimants this week is Accommodation and Food Service Activities (69,535), which rose by 18,249 over the last 7 days. 

Wholesale and Retail Trade accounts for 30,500 claims, while Administrative and Support Service activities represents 22,640 claims. 

The sectors with the greatest numbers of employees returning to work were Accommodation and Food Service Activities (489), Wholesale and Retail Trade: Repair of Motor vehicles and Motorcycles (478) and Administrative and Support Service activities (344). 

There has also been an increase in the number of people receiving Enhanced Illness Benefit.  

The number of people medically certified to receive the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit of €350 has risen by 2,375 in the last week, with increases in every county across the State and in every employment sector  

Since March, 71,641 people aged under 66 have been medically certified to receive the benefit, with 2,604 currently receiving the payment. 

The sectors with the highest number of people medically certified for receipt of a Covid-19 Illness Benefit payment are Wholesale and Retail Trade (15,205), Human Health and Social Work (14,063), and Manufacturing (9,988). 

Today's Department of Social Protection figures also show a startling 23% rise in PUP claims by under-25s in the last seven days. 

This compares to an average rise in claims among all age cohorts of 11.3% over the same period. 

The increase among 25-34 year olds was 8.8% while among 35-44 year olds it was 8.96%. 

Those aged 45-54 saw an 8% hike in the number of claims last week, while the increase for over 55s was lower at 5.5%.

These figures reinforce demands for urgent action to address youth unemployment. 

Meanwhile, the Department has said all weekly social welfare payments, which had been moved to a fortnightly schedule from the end of March, will be fully restored to being paid weekly with effect from Monday,  2 November.

Weekly social welfare payments were changed to a fortnightly schedule from 23 March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A number of payments, including the one-parent family payment, working family payment, illness benefit, jobseeker's allowance and jobseeker's benefit. were moved back to a weekly schedule in August. 

Those receiving the remaining payments, including state pension contributory, non-contributory, widow's pensions, carer's allowance and carer's benefit, will receive their last double week payment in the week commencing Monday, 19 October.