INOU PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION PRESS RELEASE: July 19th 2018

19 Jul 2018

INOU PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION PRESS RELEASE: July 19th 2018

 

On Friday July 20th, 2018 the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed will attend the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum in Dublin Castle.

In his speech at the National Economic Dialogue, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, T.D. noted that the Government’s economic policy is based around six principles including reforming public services; raising living standards; and, achieving full employment with better jobs. An Taoiseach went on to note that We are approaching full employment, so our emphasis now is on good jobs, jobs that pay the bills, jobs that allow people to aspire to home ownership, create security, more family friendly work and access to pensions so they can plan for the future.”  

The INOU very much welcomes the emphasis on good jobs. However, unless targeted efforts are made to address labour market exclusion, a lot of people will struggle to access a decent and sustainable job. To that end it was disappointing that under the fifth principle, where An Taoiseach promisingly noted “we want to raise living standards for all our citizens in a sustainable way”, there was no mention of the people who are dependent on Social Welfare supports and their struggle to make ends meet.

In our 2019 Pre-Budget submission, the INOU is seeking to have these issues resolved meaningfully. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum presents an opportunity to discuss them further and seek inclusive solutions.

Public services must strive and be supported to meet the needs of the people whom they serve. Equality and social inclusion must be at the heart of these services and supports. These principles are also critical to building a strong, sustainable and resilient economy; and vital if the society, which the economy must serve, is to be one where all people feel they have an active part to play and their voices will be heard, regardless of their socio-economic status.  

Key Asks

At the INOU’s Annual Delegate Conference (ADC) in May the issue of income adequacy was well discussed and the Conference called “on the Government to benchmark all Social Welfare rates at a level which is sufficient to lift people above the poverty line and provide them with a Minimum Essential Standard of Living, which will be particularly important as Brexit could have a serious impact on people who are less well-off.” To make progress on this issue, the INOU is calling for a €6 increase in Social Welfare payments.

The General Branch, the mechanism through which unemployed people participate in the running of the INOU, presented a motion to the Conference which called “on the Government to increase the Christmas Bonus to 100% of normal weekly payments for customers.” This is a small measure that could have a big impact on people’s lives at a particularly expensive time of the year.

The INOU is concerned that Brexit and changing nature of work, in particular digitalisation, could have a detrimental effect on people more distant from the labour market, and reduce their capacity to secure and maintain economic independence. It will be critically important to map out the potential impacts and ascertain how best to address these developments so that they do not exacerbate social and economic exclusion.

To that end the INOU is calling on the Government to resource the provision of good career and employment guidance to support unemployed people to make informed choices. And in particular to ensure that individuals and communities most disadvantaged in the labour market are pro-actively provided with tailor made supports that will address their marginalisation.

Given the wide range of learning needs evident amongst the unemployed it is important that the correct supports are in place and people are supported to make the most appropriate choice for themselves, including locally based adult and community based education courses. Of particular concern to the INOU is the inadequacy of supports to assist unemployed people to participate in education and training, some supports were cut during the crisis and others have remained unchanged for years, and this issue must be addressed.

So in Budget 2019 the INOU calls on the Government to:

  • Benchmark all Social Welfare rates at a level which is sufficient to both lift people above the poverty line and provide them with a Minimum Essential Standard of Living.
  • To make progress on this issue, increase Social Welfare rates by €6.
  • Increase the Christmas Bonus to 100% of normal weekly payments for Social Welfare recipients.
  • Introduce an hours-based Social Welfare system and re-design the earnings disregard accordingly.
  • Increase the top-up payment on employment programmes by €7.50 to better support participants costs of engagement.
  • Increase the Income disregard for Jobseekers Allowance (JA) to €25 per day.
  • Increase the Capital disregard for JA from €20,000 to €30,000 and the next €10,000 to €15,000 for the two subsequent assessments.
  • Bring the capital disregard for Supplementary Welfare Allowance into line with other working age payments.
  • Resource the provision of good career and employment guidance to support unemployed people to make informed choices.
  • Ensure that individuals and communities most disadvantaged in the labour market are pro-actively provided with tailor made supports that will address their marginalisation.
  • Run an information campaign on the full range of Back to Work supports e.g. the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme; SWA Payment Pending Wages; Enterprise and Education Allowances; Family Dividend.
  • Support people to address the initial costs of taking up employment.
  • Support people to manage the impact of unemployment on their health and well-being.
  • Support frontline staff to deliver a person-centred service with good guidance and information on the best options.
  • Incorporate a strong equality and social inclusion focus, especially for older unemployed people.
  • Plan for the employment impacts of Brexit: the job losses and gains and ensure the people affected gain access to decent employment.
  • Similarly plan for the increased digitalisation of work.
  • Run an information campaign on the Working Family Payment (WFP), formerly known as the Family Income Supplement (FIS).
  • Change the criteria on WFP from 19 hours a week or 38 hours a fortnight to 15 hours a week or 60 hours a month to support people in precarious employment.
  • Automate access to WFP and streamline this access to minimise the time gap between the individual taking up employment and gaining access to this support.
  • Actively support the roll-out of the Living Wage.
  • Resource the provision of good advice and guidance to support unemployed people to access appropriate education and training.
  • In particular the learning needs of unemployed people whose skills levels are below QQI Level 4.
  • Support unemployed people to address the costs of participating in education and training.
  • Acknowledge and support the role of alternative and community based education in meeting the needs of unemployed people.
  • Resource the development and maintenance of independent community based organisations and their work with people experiencing social and economic exclusion.

 

To read the full Pre-Budget Submission please click here https://www.inou.ie/download/pdf/inou_pbs_2019.pdf