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Less than €2 extra per week for unemployed parents on Gateway scheme

The application of PRSI means that a parent with two children will take home less than €5 extra if they participate in the Gateway scheme, not the €20 that has been widely flagged.

Updated 13 March, 8.25am

MANY PARENTS ON the government’s controversial Gateway scheme stand to make significantly less than the €20 extra on top of their dole payment that has been stated publicly by ministers.

The Gateway scheme involves the long-term unemployed being put on some 3,000 placements in local authorities where they will work on average 19.5 hours a week for €20 extra on top of their dole payment, subject to a minimum payment of €208 per week.

However, an adult who is married or cohabiting and has two children will take home only €4.30 extra when PRSI at 4 per cent on all income is applied to their jobseekers’ allowance combined with their Gateway top-up. While an adult in the same situation with four children will take home less than €2 extra when PRSI is applied.

In cases where a cohabiting parent on the scheme has six children they will actually take home just under 50 cent less than they would if they were not on the scheme. This is according to figures from the Department of Social Protection provided to the Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Sinn Féin has tabled a private members’ motion in the Dáil this week calling for Gateway to be scrapped. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said that likening councils to “slave sweat shops is a total insult to the reality of local authorities”.

This table, provided to Sinn Féin by the Department of Social Protection, shows how Gateway participants who are married or cohabiting and have children stand to make €5.50 or less on top of their jobseekers’ payment, and not €20:

image(Note: Column one denotes household size i.e. a man with a wife/cohabiting partner and one child. Column two is the Jobseekers Allowance payment rate, including increases for qualified adults and children that person receives before Gateway)

Department of Social Protection response

The types of projects to be worked on under Gateway include: village enhancement schemes, landscaping, working in libraries and the control of animals. Those that refuse to take part may have their social welfare cut or cut-off.

The Department of Social Protection has said that the scheme is intended to assist the personal and social development of participants by providing short-term work opportunities with the objective of “bridging the gap between unemployment and re-entering the workforce”.

In a statement this evening, the Department said that the income under the Gateway scheme “is treated in the same manner as earnings from employment for PRSI purposes and accordingly is subject to Class A PRSI”.

“Therefore participants on these schemes, similar to other private sector employees who pay Class A, can establish entitlement to the full range of short term benefits including jobseeker’s benefit, illness benefit, and maternity benefit and to long term benefits including State Pension.

“In Budget 2013 the weekly PRSI-free allowance of €127 was abolished for all Class A contributors. This measure had no impact on Class A contributors who do not pay PRSI where their earnings are less than €352 per week. For those earning in excess of €352 per week and paying PRSI at 4%, this increased the weekly PRSI charge by €5.08.

“This affected all Class A contributors who were paying 4% PRSI on their earnings. It also affected participants on the Gateway scheme whose income is treated as earnings for PRSI, in the same manner as it impacted the earnings of employees.

“Any proposal to re-introduce the PRSI-free allowance to address this issue would reduce income to the Social Insurance Fund and could only be considered in a Budgetary context.”

First published 19.57pm on 12 March

Bruton on Gateway: ‘Calling councils slave sweat shops is a total insult’

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