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Unions ‘disappointed’ at new jobseeker’s payment top rate

Ahead of a Dáil debate on a new pay-related Jobseeker’s Benefit, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is calling on the Government not to undermine its own efforts to improve income security for workers.

The change is designed to ensure that people with a strong work history receive enhanced benefits if they lose their job.

Under the proposals, jobseekers who lose their job would receive at least 60% of their previous income – up to a cap of €450 per week – for the first three months and 55% of previous earnings in the next three months, with €375 the maximum being paid.

Those out of work for nine months would receive at 50% of the previous earnings, capped at €300.

Unions welcomed the move but expressed concerns over the top rate of payment.

“We are deeply disappointed that the maximum payment cap has remained at €450 since it was first proposed by the Department of Social Protection back in February 2022,” ICTU said in a statement.

“Since then, welfare rates have increased by 5.5% and, given inflation and an upcoming general election, they can be reasonably expected to increase by at least the same amount in Budget 2025.

“At a minimum, the maximum payment cap should be amended to €475 in 2024 and €500 from January 2025,” ICTU said.

Ireland is one of only four European Union members states – along with Greece, Malta and Poland – to make the same payment to all unemployed workers.

Across the rest of the EU, contributory social welfare payments are related to pay.

“The new pay-related Jobseeker’s Benefit, when it comes into force later this year, will allow unemployed workers to continue to pay their mortgage and other bills so as to maintain their normal living standards in the short-term while looking for a new job,” ICTU said.

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