Financial Help for Workers in Covid Crisis : Ireland Vs UK

During the current Covid-19 crisis many people have become unemployed and probably many more will lose their jobs as the economy slows down. The Irish government has reacted quickly and introduced a range of measures to give financial aid to laid-off workers .
We have carried out a comparison of the help available in Ireland compared to the UK .(figures correct as of March 27th)


Help for Employers

The UK government will cover 80% of gross PAYE wages in the private sector, up to £2,500 a month, for those still employed but not working and who would otherwise have been laid off . (Furloughed workers).
Employers are being asked to pay workers and then claim back the 80% .

The maximum payment will be £2500 a month (£577 GB a week- about €620 Euro )

Self Employed

For self employed people – regardless of the amount of work they are doing during the crisis – the UK government will pay 80% of their average profit for 3 months up to a maximum of £2500 a month . (Not available for people with annual profit of £50k or more). Payments won’t start until June 2020

PAYE Workers

Workers who lost jobs because of COVID will not get any special treatment in the UK. They can claim Universal Credit which is means-tested and is not available to anyone with more than £16,000. It is not available to self employed

Universal Credit Amounts in England

Basic Universal Credit Weekly Rate
Single Under 25£79.10
Single 25+£94.25
Couple Both Under 25£112.75
Couple 25+£137.08
Couple 25+ 2 Children£294

Universal Credit is a complex benefit and includes components for housing costs and children. For example a couple with 2 children paying £200 a week rent would also get £132 a week towards rent.
The amount allowed for rent varies by location – but in the area we checked (West Midlands) the maximum allowed was £132 a week for a 3 bed house

These payments are reduced if someone has more than £6000 in savings. (Reduced by £1 per week for every £250 of savings you have above £6,000.) It is not paid at all if you have over £16000.

Universal Credit in the UK (including the help with rent) is capped at

  • £384.62 per week for lone parents and couples with or without children – this equates to £20,000 per year
  • £257.69 per week for single persons; this equates to £13,400 per year

All claims for Universal Credit usually require a face to face interview – but these are currently done over the phone. There is currently a 5 week wait to get money and sometimes several hours wait to get through on the phone


Help for Employers

Here in Ireland there is a wage subsidy scheme refunding up to 70% of net wages to employers with a maximum payment of €410 a week (€1777 a month). People earning between €40000 and €76000 gross will get €350 a week (€1517 a month). There will be no help for people earning over €76,000 gross a year.

Unemployment Benefits Ireland

If workers lose their job because of COVID1 – they can claim €350 a week flat rate emergency COVID-19 Unemployment Benefit .
This is a temporary payment for “the duration of the crisis” .
This includes self employed people whose “trading income has collapsed to the extent they are available to take up other full-time employment if it was offered to them.

Larger Families are advised to claim Jobseekers Benefit. Jobseekers Benefit has a basic single person rate of €203 a week. It is increased for dependants and children. An extra €134.70 a week for a dependent adult plus €34 for each child under 12 and  €37 for each child aged 12 or over.
For example: A couple with 2 children (11 and 13) would get  €408.70 a week ( €21,252 a year) . A similar family in the UK will get £294 a week but they would also get some help with rent.
In Ireland help towards housing costs can be claimed separately. (Rent Supplement) .