Age limit on PUP pandemic payment is discrimination says Laois councillor

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Age limit on PUP payment is discrimination says Laois councillor

Anyone in Ireland aged over 66 and working prior to being forced out of work because of Covid restrictions, is not allowed to avail of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

The Irish Government will not pay the PUP payment to anyone over 66, and a Laois councillor has slammed this as ageist and discriminatory.

Fine Gael Cllr Thomasina Connell points out that many people over 66 were working full time and had bills to pay based on that income while paying tax, but now have no income other than the state pension.

“The rules around this are extremely unfair. The PUP is for anyone employed who lost their job due to Covid, but over 66’s cannot apply.

"This is discrimination of the basis of age. It is an absolute scandal. Our older people have really suffered. They now face real financial hardship because of this exclusion. These people have paid taxes and make a massive contribution, such as taxi drivers and publicans, dance teachers, art teachers. Just like that they are written off. These people may be over 66 but they make a huge contribution to our community and to the exchequer. I call on the Minister to review this.

"Many people might say sure they have a pension, but it is means tested and if you have an income they could be down €100 a week. It is a disgrace that people are treated like this. It’s discrimination on the basis of age.

"I was told by one person that they were advised to go to the community welfare officer with their hand out. This person said ‘I’m not going begging, I’ve paid my taxes’.

"They couldn’t see this coming or they might have saved up. We were all caught on the hop," she has said.

She is calling for the limit to be removed by the Department of Social Protection, in a motion tabled to the January meeting of Laois County Council.

Cllr Aisling Moran seconded.

“I agree 100%. I know a number of self employed people well into their 70’s who had an income up to March. They have bills to pay. There is no dispensation for their age when they are paying their tax or VAT,” she said.

Cllr Moran also notes an issue for SUSI third level grant applicants.

“People are assessed on the previous year’s income for grants, so people who didn’t work in 2020 were judged on their 2019 income,” she points out. 

Cllr Noel Tuohy also agreed with the motion.

“The Minister must carry the responsibility on this, not the Department of Social Welfare,” he said. 

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is continuing until April 2021. It pays a maximum of €250 a week. 
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to employees and the self-employed who have lost their job on or after 13 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and
-You have been temporarily laid-off from work or asked to stay at home from work, and
-Your employer is not in a position to retain you on their payroll, and
-You are not in receipt of any employment income and
-Are between 18 and 66 years of age and
-You worked in the Republic of Ireland and
-You are currently living in the Republic of Ireland or
-you are living in Direct Provision and have lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and
-You must be genuinely seeking work