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Unemployment payments soar past $32m

Payouts to more than 9,000 people left out of work by the Covid-19 pandemic have topped $32 million, the finance minister said last night.

Curtis Dickinson added that $9.2 million in unemployment benefits had been paid out to 7,780 people this week and 640 applicants were paid benefits for the first time.

He said the Government was still considering a possible extension to the 12-week programme.

Mr Dickinson added a total of 2,600 people who had been on benefits had returned to work ­— up by more than 1,200 from the previous week as the island entered the second phase of a four-stage return to normality.

He said the Government had received a response from unions representing public-sector employees on proposed concessions in the wake of the major economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Dickinson added the Government was “in the process of preparing a reply to their response”.

He said the 11-member Covid-19 Economic Advisory Committee held its second meeting on Wednesday and gave “initial feedback and comments on the impact of Covid-19 on all sectors of the economy”.

Mr Dickinson said the group was now looking at “quick win” ideas to benefit the public in the short term.

Applications can be made for eligible members of private pensions to take out up to $12,000, or 25 per cent, of their pension account balance, from Monday.

Mr Dickinson said: “Those eligible for the 25 per cent withdrawal should be 65, retired, no longer working, and have not converted their pension account balance into an annuity.”

Applications should be made to the Pension Commission on 295-8672.

The window for withdrawals will last until June 30 next year.

Finance minister Curtis Dickinson at the government briefing last night (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 29, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 29, 2020 at 8:25 am)

Unemployment payments soar past $32m

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