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Northern-based workers who received Covid-19 payments asked to return the money

Northern-based workers who received Covid-19 payments asked to return the money

Workers living in Northern Ireland who have received the new Covid-19 unemployment payment have been asked by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to return the money.

The €350 a week Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is only available to laid-off employees and self-employed workers who are resident in the State.

However, RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme heard today that some applicants who work in the Republic but live in Northern Ireland have been given the payment.

The decision could impact numerous people in this area with Dundalk Chamber of Commerce estimating recently that around 3,000 people travelled from Newry to Dundalk for work each day.

An office worker living in Co Armagh but working for 15 years in Co Monaghan told the programme she was unaware of the restrictions when she filled out the online application.

The department said it had received unprecedented numbers of applications over the last number of weeks and it was working through checks on these once they are processed.

Border workers are advised that they must claim unemployment benefits where they live, not where they work. However, there isn’t an equivalent, universal Covid payment in Northern Ireland and basic unemployment rates are between €65 and €80 a week.

The department said northern-based workers were entitled to the temporary wage subsidy scheme in which the State subsidises wages by up to 70%.

However, employers must have sufficient cash flow to pay the remainder of the salary.