CE Participants and Low Paid Workers Hit by Changes to Unemployment Benefit

18 May 2004

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed has learnt that some claimants for unemployment benefit (UB) will only receive a reduced rate of payment due to changes announced in the Budget. This is adversely affecting single Community Employment (CE) participants and those in low-paid part time employment despite them having paid full rate PRSI.

Following the change, employees must now earn an average weekly wage of €150 to qualify for the full rate of unemployment benefit. Previously this threshold was €88.88. However, given that the current relevant tax year for assessment of claiming UB is 2002 it transpires that many single CE participants and part-time workers who now qualify to claim UB fall below this threshold and are receiving reduced rates of payment.

‘This measure is particularly affecting low paid workers at a time when they need financial assistance from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) to which they paid into, to help them re-enter the labour market’, said June Tinsley, Policy Officer INOU. ‘These individuals have either just left their Community Employment scheme or have been made redundant. Given that women constitute the majority of part-time employees they are particularly vulnerable to experiencing poverty as a result of this decreased payment.’

‘Given that an exchequer surplus of €272m was recorded in the first quarter of 2004, it is unacceptable that those who pay into the SIF can not claim their full entitlement’, she added.