A total of €9.3bn was paid out by the State last year on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

New preliminary data from Revenue shows that the TWSS cost €2.785bn, the bill for the EWSS was €1.414bn and PUP payments totalled €5.066bn.

The supports were put in place throughout 2020 to help those who had lost their jobs suddenly as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, as well as to support employers and assist them to retain a link with their staff.

Gross pay from employers fell by €5.1bn between 2019 and 2020 to €96.234bn, although this reduction was compensated for by the payments made under the TWSS and PUP schemes.

In total, employees paid €17.075bn in income tax, €3.3bn in Universal Social Charge and €3.158bn in PRSI over the course of the year, with €8.257bn contributed by employers to PRSI.

The total paid in income tax and USC by PAYE workers was €18.87bn, down €183m on 2019.

However, €342m of PAYE debt was warehoused, bringing the total due for last year from PAYE workers to €19.21bn, an increase of €159m on a year earlier.

Overall, employee numbers in 2020 reduced by only 4% compared to 2019, due in part to the success of TWSS and EWSS in helping employers to retain employees on payroll.

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The reduction in corresponding PAYE tax receipts was only 1%, Revenue found.

The data also shows that 947,400 permanent jobs were lost last year with 834,300 created, an overall net reduction of 113,200.

The largest reductions in employee numbers occurred in the accommodation and food sector, where a 60,100 reduction in employees representing 18% was recorded, compared to 2019.

Cost of PUP and EWSS currently running at €200m a week

The cost of the PUP and EWSS is currently running at €200m a week.

In a statement to RTÉ News this afternoon, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said almost €1.1bn has been spent on the PUP this year to date, compared to a Budget allocation of €600m.

Up to last week, €600m has been spent on the EWSS out of a Budget day allocation of €1.1bn.

This means that to date, the combined expenditure on both schemes is €1.7bn out of a combined allocation of €1.8bn.

The statement goes on to say that "…as we move forward through March and quarter two, additional expenditure will need to be met by reallocating from the Contingency Funds".

The Contingency Funds include just over €2bn for a Covid-19 Contingency Reserve and €3.4bn earmarked for an economic Recovery Fund.

The statement said "…the extent of the demand on these funds in quarter two will depend on the situation with the virus and the restrictions in place".

Additional reporting: Robert Shortt