Press Release: Sharing in the Recovery

2 Jul 2015

SHARING IN THE RECOVERY: BUDGET 2016

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed will be attending the Department of Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum on Friday 3rd July, 2015.  The Pre-Budget submission the INOU sent into the Department built on the theme of this year’s Annual Delegate Conference: Sharing in the Recovery.

The headline economic statistics may be moving in the right direction, but it is evident through the INOU’s engagement with its members, affiliates, unemployed people and other social welfare recipients, that a lot of people have yet to see this improvement in their lives. At the ADC, at our recent Discussion Forums held recently in Wexford and Tipperary, there was a strong sense that the job recovery is urban not rural; while members living in less well-off urban areas have noted job losses and difficulties in accessing the jobs that are available.

According to the Household Finance and Consumption Survey 2013 (CSO) unemployed households make-up 12.8% of all households but only have 3.9% of all net wealth. While the Survey for Income and Living Conditions 2013 (CSO) showed a deterioration in all the poverty rates for unemployed people:

  • The at-risk-of poverty rate was 36.7% for unemployed people in comparison to a national figure of 15.2%;
  • The deprivation rate was 54.9% for unemployed people in comparison to a national figure of 30.5%; and,
  • The consistent poverty rate was 23.9% for unemployed people in comparison to the national rate of 8.2%.

Given these statistics the INOU is urging the Government to start restoring social welfare rates to pre-crisis levels with an €8 increase in Budget 2016, which would bring the maximum Jobseekers rates up to €196 per week. The organisation also believes it is time to end the inequitable Jobseekers Allowance age segregation, whereby 18-24 years who meet the means-test criteria only get a maximum payment of €100 and 25 year olds a maximum payment of €144. The INOU is also calling on the Government to increase Rent Supplement to realistic levels, it is clear that market levels have way outstripped RS levels.

Access to timely and accurate information is an issue that is raised regularly by unemployed people and others who are trying to ascertain their rights and entitlements and what supports, if any, are available to help them make the journey from welfare to work. To address these issues the INOU is calling on the Government to create a person-centred service; invest in their frontline staff; resource the pro-active provision of information to claimants including information on the appeals process; and promote their employment service. To future proof these developments it will be important to build in a strong equality and social inclusion focus into service delivery.

An important part of the national employment service, under the control of the Department of Social Protection, should be supporting unemployed people to access a decent job. To that end it is critical that the Department ensure employment programmes are a stepping stone to such a job and that they provide follow-up employment services to programme participants.

As part of improving their employment services, DSP must promote their ‘fast-track system’ which facilitates unemployed people to take-up short-term working or education / training opportunities (up to 12 weeks) without having to close their claims.

The INOU is also calling on the Government to:

  • Increase the earnings disregard to €30 per day, in effect bring Jobseekers income disregard up to the levels set for the One Parent Family Payment.
  • Revamp the Part-time Jobs Incentive Scheme, which would facilitate unemployed people to take up part-time work, the only work which may be available in their area.
  • Revamp the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance to make it more supportive and accessible to a wider range of unemployed people, as for many unemployed people self-employment is an important route into employment.     

 

To read the full submission please click here