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Laois TD demands government maintain current PUP levels

Laois TD Brian Stanley has warned that new figures published show that large numbers of people in Laois and Offaly are still depending on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

The Sinn Fein TD says these people will see their incomes plummet due to upcoming cuts planned by the government.

New figures published by the Department of Social Protection reveal that 3,908 people in the two counties are still receiving the PUP, which the government plans to cut.

This is a massive drop from May last year when 18,767 were in receipt of the payment in the two counties.

Deputy Stanley said: “It is clear that the pandemic is not over. New figures have revealed that 2088 people in Laois and 1820 people in Offaly are still receiving the PUP, as many workers are still unable to return to work as their sectors remain closed under public health restrictions.

“Despite this, the government is insisting on ploughing ahead with planned cuts to the PUP.

“The cuts to the PUP and the plan to transition people from the PUP to Jobseekers must be scrapped. These cuts are punishing people who cannot return to work and will hit young workers hardest.

“For many workers, their PUP will be slashed by €50 per week. For others, their income will plummet even further if they are transitioned to the Jobseeker’s rate.”

According to Mr Stanley, young people are going to be greatly impacted by this.

He said: “This will particularly affect workers aged 18-24, as the maximum Jobseekers they can receive is capped at €112.70 per week.

“As Jobseeker’s Allowance is means tested based on entire household income, young people living at home will receive even less.

“The government’s planned cuts are a slap in the face for those who are employed in sectors that have not yet been given a date for re-opening.

“While workers are prevented from going to work due to public health restrictions, they should continue to receive the financial supports they need.

“This government has badly let down the live entertainment sector, by failing to engage with the industry and be upfront about the sector’s future. Workers in this industry must not be punished because their sectors remain closed.

“Minister Humphreys and Minister Varadkar continue to be silent on this issue and are refusing to be upfront with workers about why they are insisting on continuing with these ill-timed cuts.

“The Government owe it to the many workers here in Laois/Offaly who are affected to be upfront about what they are doing and why.

“I am again demanding that the government urgently cancel the cuts to the PUP that they are planning to implement. Workers in Laois/Offaly and across Ireland must not be unfairly punished by this government while their sectors remain closed.

“While we are aware the PUP cannot continue forever, the best way forward is to review it quarterly, and in the meantime try to get as many workers as possible back into employment.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.