CHANGES TO THE way certain jobseeker’s benefit is paid – announced as part of the budget yesterday – have led to concerns that the unemployed will have no incentive to take up part-time work.
As part of public expenditure proposals announced by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin yesterday, jobseeker’s benefit for someone working part of the week will be based on a five-day week instead of a six-day week.
This will mean that from July next year for each day a person is unemployed a fifth of the normal rate of jobseekers’ benefit – currently €188 – will be paid and if a person gets two days of part-time work they will get three-fifths of the benefit that week.
The government has said this will mean a greater incentive for part-time workers on this scheme to return to full time employment. However the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has confirmed this will mean a cut of 20 per cent for part-time workers receiving these benefits.
Fianna Fáil said this is a cut back in the rate for part time workers and a “direct attack on the welfare rights of part time workers”. Spokesperson on social protection, Barry Cowen said:
“In real terms, before today’s announcement, if someone usually works part time for four days and this is reduced to three days, they would receive the other three days in welfare. Now, under the changed measures they will only get two.”
Meanwhile, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) said the change will act as a disincentive for many unemployed people.
“This decision will not facilitate unemployed people in moving from welfare to work,” said John Stewart, INOU Co-ordinator.
It is estimated the measure will save just under €6 million for the government.
The government also announced plans for a Labour Market Activation fund of €20 million which will be specifically targetted at getting the long-term unemployed back into work.
But the INOU said it was worried that the government was not going far enough in addressing the issue of unemployment in Ireland: ”The Government have missed an opportunity to invest in unemployed people’s future,” Stewart said.