Minister fails to meet ‘commitments on social inclusion’ by giving a €10 increase

3 Dec 2003

While the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed acknowledges that the €10 increase in unemployment payments is above inflation, it is concerned that the Government has not gone far enough to meet its NAPS commitments on income adequacy.

‘It is difficult to see how the Government can reach its target of €150 in 2002 terms by 2007, in time by only giving a €10 increase in this years Budget’, said Eric Conroy, General Secretary INOU. In its pre-budget submission the INOU called for the lowest social welfare rates to be increased by €15.60 to guarantee the attainment of this target in time.

The true value of this €10 increase for unemployed people will be seriously undervalued when it is taken in the context of the ‘savage 16’ cuts announced by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs at the Estimates and the ongoing cuts in CE and JI plus the recent increases in travel fares, rising costs of living etc.

The Minister placed emphasis on maintaining competitiveness and job growth yet did little to eliminate the unemployment traps that exist which can act as a disincentive to people to take up low paid employment. Although the national minimum wage will increase in February 2004, only 90% of minimum wage earners were taken out of the tax net. While the income thresholds for the retention of secondary benefits remains unchanged since 1994.