Has Budget 2017 delivered for unemployed people?

11 Oct 2016

Press Release: 11th October 2016

Has Budget 2017 delivered for unemployed people?

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed Pre-Budget Submission was entitled ‘Building a Just Society’. In the Submission, the organisation noted the Government’s acknowledgement that “We accept that the economic recovery remains incomplete and fragile. Many people have yet to feel the benefit of the upturn in the economy. Many families are still struggling financially. Many communities - both rural and urban - have inadequate services and infrastructure.”

Key asks for the INOU were an increase in Jobseekers payments and the end to age segregation for young people on a Jobseekers Allowance payment. It is welcome that Jobseekers payments will be increased by €5 per week, though it would be even more welcome if it commenced from January next year, the traditional starting point for such changes. This is the first increase to these payments since Budget 2009: at that stage the maximum adult payment was €204.30.

However, the supplementary Budget 2009 was the budget that introduced a reduced Jobseekers Allowance rate for young people of €100, initially those aged 18 and 19 years. In subsequent Budgets this was extended out until it applied to people aged 18-24, while people aged 25 could only receive a maximum payment of €144. It must be remembered that JA is a means-tested payment, and that people do not receive €100 unless they fully meet the criteria. So, we are talking about young people who themselves or whose family have few other means. It is disappointing that nothing was done in this Budget to address this inequality, and unacceptable that the €5 increase other people of working age will enjoy will be ‘proportional’ for “JA recipients who are aged under 26 years of age and other recipients on reduced rates”.


Another key ask was the full restoration of the Christmas Bonus and the change in eligibility criteria for unemployed people from 15 months to 12 months a Jobseekers payment, which was sought as this is the time period when people become long-term unemployed and the 15 months relates back to a time when Jobseekers Benefit payments lasted for up to 15months. Though an 85% restoration is a move in the right direction, 100% would have been particularly welcome at a time of year that can be so expensive for unemployed people. It is also disappointing that the eligibility criteria were not changed, cutting the duration a person could be on Jobseekers Benefit was one of the earliest austerity measures taken and has left some unemployed people without access to supports and services.