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Fears rise over €206m weekly cost as 591,000 people qualify for €350 payments

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Official Elizabeth Canavan urged public to ‘keep going’

Official Elizabeth Canavan urged public to ‘keep going’

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Official Elizabeth Canavan urged public to ‘keep going’

Concerns have been raised about the cost of the Government's welfare payments for those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Parliamentary Budget Office has criticised the "lack of clarity and detail" around the schemes, which are costing hundreds of millions of euro a week.

The budget watchdog said there are conflicting costings for the emergency measures, and believes they will cost far more than the €3.7bn originally forecast.

"The lack of clarity and detail provided to Dail Eireann as to the cost of the Pandemic Employment and Unemployment schemes is of concern," it said.

At a government briefing on the Covid-19 crisis, it was announced that 591,000 people will receive the €350 a week pandemic payment.

More than 347,000 employees are availing of the temporary wage subsidy scheme, which sees the state cover 70pc of their pay while their employer pays the rest.

Over €556m has been paid to employers since the scheme was introduced, while the €350 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is costing around €206m a week.

The new figures reveal the escalating cost of the national health crisis as unemployment continues to soar.

Transferred

Department of the Taoiseach assistant secretary general Elizabeth Canavan said the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue are working together to establish if there are incidents of people claiming both payments.

Ms Canavan said people should immediately end their social welfare payment if they are transferred to the employee wage subsidy scheme.

She said around 2,600 people have not received their payment because they entered an incorrect PPS or IBAN number on their application form.

The Department of Social Protection is contacting them to get the correct information.

Separately, Ms Canavan said the Government was "aware of reports on social media" of people saying they are "fed up" of the social distancing restrictions.

People were "feeling confined" in homes and neighbourhoods and getting frustrated by queuing for groceries.

"We know people's patience and resolve is waning," she said.

"We know that every day we're putting out that call for solidarity and community spirit, as well as personal and collective behavioural change.

"This is what is required of each and every one of us at each step to delay the transmission of Covid-19.

"We know that has not fallen on deaf ears so far. We have complied with the restrictions and have succeeded in reducing the spread of the infection.

"For now, we just need to keep going as best we can."