Arts sector supports during Lockdown 2.0 and beyond

With Lockdown 2.0 now in place, many would once again turn to Pandemic Unemployment Payment (if they ever stopped using them in the first place).
Source: Unsplash

Next Tuesday, the top rate of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will go back to €350 for those who were earning €400 per week or more.

People who earned between  €300 and €399.99 per week will receive €300 per week, and those who earned between €200 and €299.99 per week will receive €250, while those who earned less than €200 per week will receive the same as the primary rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit (€203 per week). 

In addition to this, in order to reduce the risk of moving from the certainty of the PUP payment to the uncertainty of trading income, self-employed people on PUP, including those who work in the arts/entertainment industry, taxi drivers and others, can earn up to €480 per month, while retaining their full PUP entitlement.

The change will be reflected in the payments made on Tuesday 27 October. It will be an automatic process, those who already receive PUP don’t need to do anything. 

PUP Criteria

Irish citizens/residents between 18 and 66 years old who have lost their job or were temporarily laid off due to the pandemic and are not in receipt of any income from an employer would qualify for PUP. 

Those who are self-employed and their trading income has ceased or reduced due to COVID-19 to the extent that they are available to take up full-time employment also qualify. 

The payment also applied for those who non-EU/EEA workers, students, people living in Direct Provision, cross border frontier workers, and part-time workers who lost their employment due to the pandemic.

Those who voluntarily left their employment or self-employment don’t qualify for PUP.

Future Changes 

There will be further changes on 1 February 2021 and on 1 April 2021. On 1 February there will remain only two rates –  €203 per week for people who earned below €300 per week, and €250 per week for people who earned over €300 per week.

From 1 April, those still receiving PUP would need to apply for either Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit for the Self-Employed.

For more information, click here.

PUP Tax Liability

Many are wondering how PUP is taxed and are worrying if they would have to pay something at the end of the year. 

While PUP is not taxed in real-time and is liable to Income Tax (IT) at the end of the year, the Revenue has explained that you can either fully or partially pay any Income Tax liability through the ‘Payments/Repayments’ facility in myAccount. Alternatively Revenue will collect the full or any remaining liability, interest free, by reducing your tax credits over four years (2022 to 2025). 

The reduction of tax credits will start in January 2022. Click here to read more about how PUP is taxed.

pink and white victorias secret textile
Source: Unsplash

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment isn’t the only support people can avail of. 

There is also the Part-Time Job Incentive scheme which is available to self-employed people who come off PUP or a jobseeker’s payment. This scheme allows a person to receive a partial jobseeker’s payment, while retaining employment income. This may be particularly suited in circumstances where a self-employed person’s income exceeds the €480 per month income threshold on PUP.

There’s also Jobseeker’s Benefit, Short-Time Work Support, and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) for employers. The EWSS rates have also been aligned with the rates of payment under PUP, up to €350 per week. 

Employees who satisfy the relevant criteria may claim casual (i.e. part-time) jobseeker’s payments or Short-Time Work Support payments for days of unemployment, even where their employer is claiming the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme for days of employment. 

Based on the assumption that the 341, 200 employees covered by EWSS in September remain in payment, the weekly incremental cost is estimated to be in the region of €38 million per week.

“Consistent with the revised health restrictions that have been announced by Government,” said Minister Donohoe, “a decision has been made to revise the pandemic supports that have been key to sustaining businesses and helping people to manage financially in the midst of this very challenging time.”

The objective of this move is to minimise the risk of migration from EWSS to PUP during enhanced level restrictions. To the maximum extent possible, the aim is to have as many as possible of the 350,000 employees currently on EWSS retain their link with their employer rather than become unemployed.

There is also the Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences (for workers who are told to self-isolate by a doctor or the HSE due to being a probable source of infection or have been diagnosed with Covid). 

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is designed to assist businesses whose trade has been significantly impacted or temporarily closed as a result of the restrictions as set out in the Government’s Living with Covid-19 Plan.

The Arts sector is one of the sectors who can avail of the CRSS. The qualifying turnover criteria for application to this scheme is now 25 per cent of the turnover for the corresponding period in 2019. This will allow more business to access this support.

Other Supports

The Arts Council Ireland, which was recently given €130 million in funding for Budget 2021, announced yesterday that they’ll be awarding €10 million of funding to 166 artists and arts organisations.

The investment includes an additional €2.5 million compared to last year’s Arts Grant Funding (AGF) programme. 

Artists and arts organisations can find the schemes that are still accepting applications and see if they qualify for funding here.

Screen Ireland announced a range of funding opportunities during the first lockdown, some of which are still currently available. You can check them out here

Other supports are also available on the Culture Ireland website (click here to get redirected).

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