Farmers have been caught in the latest rise in COVID-19 numbers, with significantly more claiming both the unemployment and sick payment provided by the Government.

Latest figures show that the number of farmers in receipt of the COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit has increased by over 20% since the Christmas period.

Some 994 farmers and those working in agriculture now receive the €350/week payment.

The payment is available for those who test positive for the virus or who have to self-isolate and take time off work due to being a close contact of a case.

Unemployment payment

There has also been a significant rise in the number of people in the agriculture sector claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Before Christmas, roughly 3,000 people in the sector were in receipt of the payment but this has now increased to 4,716.

The PUP is paid at four graded rates based on a person’s previous weekly earnings.

The number of people receiving a PUP payment this week represents an increase of 57,928

In the case of a self-employed person, such as a farmer, who is looking to maintain their business, they can earn up to €960 over an eight-week period, while retaining their full PUP entitlement.

The Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys said that her Department had seen a “significant increase” in the number of people in receipt of the PUP in every county over the last two weeks. She added it was within everyone’s power to help bring the case numbers down.

“The number of people receiving a PUP payment this week represents an increase of 57,928 on the 277,671 people paid on Tuesday 22 December,” her Department said.

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