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© Julien Behal Photography Taoiseach Micheaal Martin file photo

THE PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT Payment (PUP) will be phased out as part of a €4 billion Covid-19 stimulus plan unveiled by the Government today.

The Government has announced a number of measures to help businesses reopen as restrictions ease, but confirmed the PUP will be phased out in the coming months.

Speaking at a press conference today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “The economic impact of the pandemic was swift and unprecedented. It is the most rapid and dramatic recession, recorded outside of the world wars.

“In response, a wide range of measures were put in place to try to limit damage and protect livelihoods and businesses as much as possible. They have provided both a safety net, and a bridge to this point.

“And now, we must move forward with purpose, not to simply return to the pre-pandemic situation but to move our society and our economy on, to move towards not only generating the jobs we need, but also to address urgent societal issues.”

The PUP will be extended beyond 30 June for existing claimants “in recognition that opportunities to return to work will remain impacted, in some sectors, by public health restrictions in the short term”, the Government’s plan notes.

However, it was confirmed that “given current progress in delivering vaccines and re-opening the economy, it is planned to close the scheme to new applicants from 1 July”.

The payment will be reduced to €300 from 7 September and reduced to €250 from 16 November. It will be abolished by February 2022.

The Taoiseach told reporters that the tourism sector didn’t put pressure on him to lower the PUP amount in order to get young people to go back to work in that sector. He said people want to go back to work.

The Covid wage subsidy scheme (EWSS) is to be extended from 30 June until 31 December.

The current payment rates will be maintained in July, August, and September. The Government is also broadening eligibility, Martin said at a press conference at Dublin Castle.

A new business resumption support scheme will be launched in September, the Taoiseach added, and commercial rates will be waived for a further three months.

The 9% reduced VAT rate for hospitality is to be extended until September 2022.

Another change will see about one-third of people who already pay property tax having their bill increased by around €100 every year.

It is estimated that around 3% of homeowners will see a bigger hike. Around 60% of property owners will see no increase.

More to follow…