Budget 2020: What did it deliver?
“The payment of the Christmas Bonus and the increase in the Fuel Allowance is welcome. But it should be noted that only a third of the people in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment are eligible for these supports.”
On Tuesday October 8th, 2019 Minister Pascal Donohoe published Budget 2020, a budget which he noted was without precedence given the range of challenges facing Ireland including Brexit, climate change and sustainable economic development.
The theme of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) 2020 Pre-Budget Submission (PBS) was A Budget for Unemployed People and it covered: adequate income; supportive employment services; activation programmes; access to decent employment; education and training; and community based organisations. The INOU’s Post-Budget Analysis used these headings, and compared the INOU’s asks with Budget 2020 proposals. To read the full PBA please click here https://www.inou.ie/download/pdf/inou_2020_post-budget_analysis.pdf
Though the headline employment and unemployment figures are moving in a positive direction, unemployment is still a challenging experience for many people. In particular, if people who become and remain unemployed find it difficult to find a job because of their age, address, ethnicity, family status, disability, and / or skills set. Finding a job is a job in itself, and like others jobs, most people need support to be able to do it well. In particular to secure a decent and sustainable job: a challenge that Brexit will exacerbate.
The Minister made a number of announcements about supports for businesses and certain sectors that are likely to bear the brunt of Brexit’s economic impact. The announcement of additional funding for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is welcome as planning for the employment impact of Brexit will be critical. In particular supporting people to manage the impact on their lives and how they can secure alternative and decent employment.
However, the cost of living is also likely to rise and unemployed people have not been given the wherewithal to deal with this reality as no increase will be made to Jobseeker’s payments in 2020. The payment of the Christmas Bonus and the increase in the Fuel Allowance is welcome. But it should be noted that only a third of the people in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment are eligible for these supports. This situation arises as an unemployed person must be in receipt of their payment for at least 15 months. This situation also applies to people in receipt of a Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
The rise in the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) and the Working Family Payment are welcome. For children aged 12+ the QCI will be increased by €3, and for children aged up to 12, it will be increased by €2 per week. The Working Family Payment, formerly Family Income Supplement, thresholds will be increased by €10 per week for families with 1, 2 or 3 children. It will be particularly important for anyone making the welfare to work journey that they are fully informed of the supports that are available. These supports include the Back to Work Family Dividend, which facilitates people to hold on to the QCI, on a sliding scale, for up to two years.
Some welcome movement was finally made on the reduced Jobseeker’s Allowance payment for people aged under 26. Anyone aged 25 who satisfies the means test should receive the full rate. Anyone aged 18-24 who satisfies the means test and is living independently, in receipt of HAP, RAS or Rent Supplement should receive the full rate of €203.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection announced an additional €2.5 million for specific activation and training supports for groups most distant from the labour market; and an additional €2m for Community Employment for training purposes.
The Department of Rural and Community Development announced an additional €1.5m to be used across the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme and Community Services Programme to fund some new organisations and to provide targeted supports for disadvantaged communities. This Department also announced an additional €1.2m to support the implementation of measures in the “Strategy for Community and Voluntary Sector development in Ireland” and €300,000 to support the delivery of the “National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland”. A brief description of both of these policies was included in the last e-bulletin and are available at https://www.inou.ie/newsandupdates/newsletter/2019/09/12/key-policy-publications/