Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has today called for a reversal of cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and immediate income supports for parents whose children are sent home from school due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

Deputy Murphy said:

“For most of those who were laid-off last Friday, this will be their second experience of Covid-19 related unemployment within a short space of time. With further reductions today in PUP rates, this will come as a double blow to workers who have found themselves without a job at short notice.

“Most of these workers will have little, if anything, in reserve, which adds to the sense of panic they are feeling right now.

“It is now really hitting home that Covid-19 will be with us for a considerable time to come, so the timing of the PUP reductions could hardly be worse. These cuts urgently need to be reconsidered and reversed.

“Another group finding themselves with little or no financial support are the parents who have been informed by a school that their child must self-isolate.

“The CMO was very upfront in advising parents there would be outbreaks in schools, and he was correct.

“Parents are not necessarily required to self-isolate if pupils are sent home from school – but their children still have to be cared for.

“Accordingly, there is an urgent need to include parents in such situations in the State’s Enhanced Illness Payment Scheme. We should not differentiate between the parent of a child diagnosed with Covid-19 and a parent of a child in a pod who is also sent home from school for 14 days.

“The reality is that not everyone can work from home and it’s simply not acceptable that a parent could be left without any income at all.

“I welcome the Taoiseach’s assurances in the Dáil today that he will consider providing income supports for parents who find themselves in this situation.

“I am also hopeful he will look favourably on a proposal from the Primary School Principals’ Network who are seeking a dedicated out-of-hours phone line with the HSE to allow them to seek and receive medical guidance.”

September 22, 2020

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