INOU Budget 2020 Press Release

8 Oct 2019

Budget 2020: what did it deliver?

Today Minister Pascal Donohoe published Budget 2020, a budget which he noted was without precedence given the range of challenges facing Ireland including Brexit, climate change and sustainable economic development. 

The theme of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) 2020 Pre-Budget Submission was A Budget for Unemployed People and it covered: adequate income; supportive employment services; activation programmes; access to decent employment; education and training; and community based organisations.

Under these headings the INOU called 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; and adjust related supports so that people do not lose this increase through, for example, an increase in their differential rent.
  • Introduce a work-friendly Social Welfare system for Jobseekers reflective of changing work practices, based on hours worked rather than days worked, with a re-designed earnings disregard to support jobseekers returning to / taking up employment.
  • Build on the welcome Working Family Payment information campaign and promote 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.
  • Open up access to employment programmes for unemployed people signing on for credits.
  • Increase the top-up payment on employment programmes by €7.50 to better support participants costs of engagement.
  • Plan for the full impact of Brexit on the labour market and ensure unemployed people and vulnerable workers gain access to decent employment.
  • Increase the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance to three years, and pay 50% of the participant’s social welfare payment in the third year.
  • Acknowledge the cost of participation in education and training and support adult learners to meet these costs to facilitate their participation.
  • Resource the development and maintenance of independent community based organisations and their work with people experiencing social and economic exclusion.

 

The INOU has only started to analyse this year’s Budget and it can take time to sift through the various documents and statements by other Ministers and Departments to see what else, if anything, has changed. Later on in the week the INOU will publish its fuller analysis of Budget 2020 and whether or not it delivered for unemployed people.

However, it is very disappointing that no increase will be made to Jobseeker’s payments. The payment of the Christmas Bonus and the increase in the Fuel Allowance is welcome. But it should be noted that only a third of the people in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment are eligible for these supports. This situation arises because, unlike other welfare supports, an unemployed person must be in receipt of their payment for at least 15 months. This situation also applies to people in receipt of a Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

The rise in the Qualified Child Increase and the Working Family Payment are welcome. But it will be particularly important for anyone making the welfare to work journey that they are fully informed of the supports that are available including the Back to Work Family Dividend, which facilitates people to hold on to the Qualified Child Increase for up to two years.

On the issue of Brexit the Minister made a number of announcements about supports for businesses and certain sectors that are likely to bear the brunt of Brexit’s economic impact. The announcement of additional funding for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is welcome as planning for the employment impact of Brexit will be critical, and in particular supporting people to manage the impact on their lives and how they can secure alternative and decent employment.