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PAYMENT CUT Finance Minister Paschal Donhoe defends Government's decision to cut Pandemic Unemployment Payment

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Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe during a media briefing. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe during a media briefing. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe during a media briefing. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

FINANCE Minister Paschal Donohoe has defended the government's decision to cut Covid-19 unemployment payments by €50 - saying the reduction will allow them to keep the payment "going for longer. "

Despite pressure from opposition leaders the Fine Gael Minister has warned that he will not be restoring the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to €350.

He has also insisted that the scheme was cut by €50 so that Social Welfare payments could keep at this rate it until early next year.

He also promised that Budget 2021 would showcase the Government’s commitment to getting the 335,000 people participating in the scheme, back to work.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, he said: “The decision that we made to reduce the PUP by €50 to €300 allows us to keep that payment going for longer.

“We have now made a commitment that payment will continue into early of next year.

“It is still a payment where many are at least receiving the kind of income that they were before this terrible illness.

“Myself and Michael McGrath are finalsing the budget, we have a lot of work to do across the next week which we are going to complete, and you are going to see a budget that continues to support for a time of such need.

“We are stepping in, for a limited period of time, to take the place of that which otherwise would create jobs.

“What you will see in the budget on Tuesday week, is you will see a very targeted change in the level of borrowing next year to get us on the path to where we can have national finances which are safe again.

“One of the reasons we can make these kinds of changes is that we spent the last four or five years, putting in place budgets, after we got out of the bailout programme, to ensure our credit worthiness as a country was restored.

“I can assure you, I won't do anything to jeopardise that again.”

Speaking at a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar suggested a new penalty regime for breaching Covid restrictions could be considered where members of the public are fined €50 for not wearing a mask or €200 for leaving a county under lockdown.

While Minister Donohoe refused to be drawn on the potential implications of on the spot fines, he reminded the public that the gardai already have significant powers available to them.

“We do have enforcement measures already in place, we do have sanctions and fines that have been brought in that are available to the gardai to use.

“There are fines in place. The gardai have the authority to fine citizens and businesses that are breaching public health guidelines. That law is already there.

“It is up to the gardai how they can decide to use those laws, and we trust them to use their discretion.”

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