Concerns are being raised over self-employed people having their Pandemic Unemployment Payment cut - even though they are entitled to the higher rate.

Claimants who mostly earned self-employed income - but also generated some PAYE income - have reported reductions in their PUP payments in recent weeks as the Department for Social Protection is only considering their PAYE income for 2019 and 2020.

A new-two tiered payment structure for the payment was introduced earlier this month, with those who were earning less than €200 per week having their weekly payment cut from €350 to €203.

Labour TD for Dublin Bay North Aodhán Ó Ríordáin claims "thousands" of self-employed workers are impacted by the anomaly.

The issue arises as Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys seeks to draw a line under the controversy around PUP claimants who had travelled abroad.

2019 tax returns from the self-employed are not due until 31 October - with workers and opposition politicians arguing the department should instead use 2018 earnings for purposes of the PUP payments in the interim.

Those in the gig economy have been hit hardest by the move, with those in arts, media and technology - who have one small permanent gig taxed through PAYE - seeing their payment cut.

"It would appear there's another problem with the changing in the Pandemic Unemployment Payment entitlement. The Government now appear to be discriminating against thousands of self employed workers - paying them the lower rate of the PUP - even though they have earned above average earnings in a qualifying year," Mr Ó Ríordáin said on RTÉ's Drivetime.

"The Government won't allow workers combine PAYE and self-employed incomes. This disproportionately impacts workers in the arts and entertainment sectors. They have no way of getting money back in short term due to coronavirus restrictions," he said.

"There are three asks from people: they want the ability to add PAYE and self employed income together. They want to be able to qualify under the most favourable average - either 2018 and/or 2019. Also they also want a special helpline to work through these cases", he added.

Speaking to RTÉ's Drivetime, Keith Hanna outlined how his payment was cut earlier this month.

Mr Hanna has worked in the entertainment industry for the last ten years but had a part-time job as a teacher with an English language school taxed through the PAYE system.

The vast majority of Mr Hanna's income comes from his self-employed work.

"I received a reply [from the Department for Social Protection] saying that they did look at 2018's earnings - and even though I met the criteria there - they said because I had PAYE work in 2019 that I was going to be cut down to the lower rate," he explained.

"In my reply, I outlined how my PAYE work in 2019 is the same as other years - its part time and it doesn't reflect my true earnings. The vast majority of my earnings come from my self-employed work - which hasn't been processed in my tax returns in 2019. They would have been well aware of this - as they saw in 2018."

"They're basically trying to say 'you earn under €200 a week for the entire year'. When they see my 2018 earnings, they know that's not true. It's like they're pretending I was self-employed my whole life and that I just decided to give it up in 2019 which is quite ludicrous", he added.

Mr Hanna claims he was informed that even if he put through his 2019 tax returns, his PUP qualifying income would still be based on his PAYE earnings.

"I have a five-week-old baby, a two-year-old, a wife, bills, mortgage - and this is unnecessary stress and anxiety."

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin called on Minister Humphreys to "easily make a change".

Independents4Change TD Joan Collins and Fianna Fáil's Marc MacSharry are among the TDs to raise the issue through parliamentary questions in recent days.

In a statement, the Department for Social Protection urged workers to complete their 2019 tax returns and to then contact the department for a review of their earnings.

"Where a person is an employee their gross average weekly income for either 2019 or the months of January and February 2020 is used, whichever is the more favourable. If an individual has submitted their 2019 returns to Revenue and they consider that these are more beneficial, they can request a review of their PUP rate of payment from the Department.

"The Department will examine each case using the updated 2019 Revenue tax information and if the person has average earnings of €200 or more will increase their PUP payment to the higher rate of €350 per week," the statement reads.