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New unemployment payment linked to past working history pushed out to 2023

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said today that the plans will not be included in Budget 2022.

Image: Sam Boal

A NEW INTERIM payment for unemployed people linked to previous PRSI contributions will not be introduced until 2023, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has confirmed today.

The new short-duration payment was due to be introduced when the Pandemic Unemployment Payment is eventually phased out in February 2022.

The proposal would see those who have been in long-term employment entitled to a higher payment than the current standard payment, receiving a percentage of their salary for a specific number of weeks or months when they lose their job.

Once the interim period is over, they would then receive the standard payment only.

Similar pay-related social insurance schemes are already in place in other European countries including Germany.

The Journal first reported in February that work was underway in government to map out how the new mechanism —a significant change to the current social welfare system — might work.

At the time, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar stated that there would be an opportunity to reform the current system once the PUP is wound down.

Last month, Varadkar told The Journal that he is a “strong supporter of pay-related benefits”, and that work was underway on the new system.

The Tánaiste said he would like to get back to a place where there are annual social welfare and tax packages in the Budget, but added, “that costs money”.

But speaking to reporters today at the launch of the Government’s Pathways to Work 2021-2025 strategy, Minister Humphreys said that the plans will not be included in Budget 2022.

“It will be next year before we come forward with the full proposal because there’s a bit of work to be done on this,” Humphreys said.

“So if you’re asking me if it’s for this Budget, no it won’t be. It will be worked on, though.”

Work experience

Humphreys was speaking in Dundalk today at the launch of the Government’s Pathways to Work 2021-2025 strategy alongside Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Minister of State Damien English. 

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The strategy is aimed at getting 75,000 long-term unemployed people back to work and cutting youth unemployment.

Among its main components are commitments by the Government to provide 50,000 further education and training places, deliver 10,000 apprentices and ring-fence 1,000 places on community employment and Tús programmes. 

Today, the Government has also unveiled a new voluntary work experience scheme that will see 10,000 job seekers of all ages who have been unemployed for more than six months paid €306 per week.

Those who opt in to the new Work Placement Experience Programme will be allowed to work for 30 hours per week while receiving their social welfare payment.

— Additional reporting by Hayley Halpin

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