Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has described the changes to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, which have led to a reassessment in many cases as “impacting negatively on recipients, including many Taxi drivers”.

Recent changes to the PUP system have led to the payments to many drivers being cut and subsequently presenting major difficulties in trying to appeal the assessment decision.

Teachta Crowe said:

“The recent changes to Pandemic Unemployment Payment, or Emergency COVID payment, reassessment is impacting negatively on many welfare recipients including a large number of Taxi drivers.

“One driver who was in touch with my constituency office had earnings of nearly €43,000 for 2018 and had up to date tax returns, but was cut in a recent assessment by the Department of Social Protection.

“Drivers say there is long delay in the appeals mechanism and that when they ring the helpline phone number, it reroutes you to an email address

“This is extremely frustrating for those caught up in this situation and I am calling on the Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys to introduce a fairer and more stream lined system for those who feel hard done by her latest changes.

“We need an appeal system where applicants can get a hearing in a timely manner. Many are saying they are currently experiencing delays of up to 4 weeks. That’s a long time to be waiting when are appealing the decision that has led to another substantial drop in your income.

“I am receiving other messages to my office that some people are waiting nice weeks on their initial application to their local Intreo office. These waiting times can be the difference between keeping a roof over your head or missing two months rent. “The PUP payment was and is a safety net for workers who have seen their incomes slashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot pull the rug from under people’s feet now, especially when lockdown is returning to some parts of the country.”