Gary Gannon, the Social Democrats spokesperson on Social Protection, has called on backbench TDs from the three Government parties to vote against measures in tonight’s Social Welfare Bill that will make it difficult for Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) recipients to return to their former employment.

Deputy Gannon said:

“The revelations over the weekend that PUP compliance checks were being carried out by Department of Social Protection inspectors at our airports have raised a number of concerns. These include issues around data protection and the questionable morality of targeting social welfare recipients.

“While I fully agree with the advice not to travel, it appears that the Government is trying to enforce this through the back door by going after people’s social welfare payments. Over 100 PUP recipients have had their payments terminated as a result of these inspections and normal rules allowing those on Jobseeker’s Benefit to take a two-week holiday have also been suspended.

“These inspections are clearly singling out social welfare recipients in trying to disincentivise foreign travel. The reality is that PUP or Jobseeker payments would not be stopped if you were going on a two-week holiday to Kerry.

“The PUP was introduced as part of a national effort to suppress the Covid-19 virus and was widely welcomed at the time by politicians on all sides. This money has been essential in sustaining businesses in local communities and has been of particular benefit to people working in the worst affected sectors, such as the arts and hospitality industries.

“Many workers who were temporarily laid off will be needed by their employers to return to their jobs as restrictions are further eased and those employees being forced to look for work now could mean real challenges for businesses reopening.

“I am appealing to TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to vote against this particular measure in tonight’s Social Welfare Bill so that the relationship between employees and employers can be maintained. If there is a realistic prospect of being able to return to your job, you should not be compelled to seek new work.”

July 28, 2020

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