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small change State owed €19m after 15,000 PUPs were wrongly paid out, new figures reveal

Despite the whopping amount still outstanding, one economist said it was 'not going to break the bank'

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Claims have also been withdrawn from about 141,000 people

Claims have also been withdrawn from about 141,000 people

Claims have also been withdrawn from about 141,000 people

A total of €19m is still owed to the State after 15,000 Pandemic Unemployment Payments were wrongly paid out, new figures revealed. 

The total value of the over payments is €29m but the figures show that only €10m of that has been repaid.

Despite the whopping amount still outstanding, one economist said it was “not going to break the bank”.

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was introduced in March 2020, when strict restrictions were first introduced.

It remains capped at €350 a week for those losing their jobs in hospitality.

Some 872,000 people have received at least one payment under the scheme – with 58,000 having their claims refused.

Claims have also been withdrawn from about 141,000 people.

UCC economist Brian Turner told Newstalk it won't have a big impact on the State's finances.

"To put it into perspective, over €9bn has been paid out in Pandemic Unemployment Payments at this stage.

"So, for €19m to remain outstanding, while it is a lot of money, it's about 0.2% of what has been paid out," he said.

"So, I wouldn’t see it as a huge concern - particularly given steps are being taken to recoup any overpayments on an ongoing basis."

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He said it is not surprising some people claimed money they weren't entitled to.

“In total, I think it is around €18bn we spent so far in all the pandemic-related supports, so €19m in the context of that, is not going to break the bank,” he said.

“I suppose, added to that, we have been able to borrow at historically low-interest rates in order to finance these supports - so I suppose that is of some comfort to the Government.”

The department says all cases of suspected fraud are investigated by its special investigation unit, which includes 21 gardaí.

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