So what’s in the Budget for Unemployed People?

16 Oct 2013

It came as no surprise, as it was well leaked that the maximum Jobseekers Allowance payment for any young person coming on the Live Register age 24 and under will be €100 from January 2014. The INOU strongly believes that the way to ensure that young unemployed people do not drift into long-term unemployment is not to cut their income supports but to offer good quality activation measures that support them to access employment. Of course key to this is the creation of sufficient jobs. Will the proposed Youth Guarantee deliver on all of this? While the €14m announced in the Budget for this initiative is a welcome start, it is a long way off what is required to secure a sustainable future for young unemployed people here in Ireland.

Within the Youth Guarantee the role of the dual education system in other European countries is noted and has a positive impact on youth unemployment in these countries. In many respects Ireland apprenticeship system is as close as the country gets to a dual education system. To that end it seems extraordinary that FAS apprentices will now be asked to pay a pro-rata Student Contribution for the time they spend in Institutes of Technology: currently this figure is €540 for each ten week period spent in the IOTs.

Again it strikes the INOU as counterproductive that given the focus on addressing long-term unemployment in Pathways to Work 2013, that the €20 bonus for people who are long-term unemployed who participate in a FAS, VTOS or Youthreach programme has been abolished. To participate in any initiative costs money and it is important that as the State expects unemployed people to take-up offers of education and training that good supports are put in place to underpin such engagement.

At present, and it’s been cited as a well kept secret by some including employers, a person who had been long-term unemployed who takes up work could maintain their medical card for the first three years. This has been changed in today’s Budget whereby it is a GP Visit only card that people could maintain. At a time when there is so much emphasis on activation the Government are making the welfare to work journey harder for many unemployed people.    

On the positive side the Start Your Own Business Scheme looks interesting and could offer real hope to unemployed construction workers however it would be important that potential participants could also avail of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. Similarly, a key INOU priority was to ensure that social welfare payments were not cut and these payments were maintained for those 26 and over.