File pic: The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys with, on left, Deputy Damien English and, on right, former councillor Frank McDermott.

Changes to benefits system will see higher payments to recently-unemployed

Ireland has moved a step closer to having a pay-related benefit system intended to ensure that people with a strong work history receive enhanced benefits if they lose their employment.

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, yesterday, Tuesday, announced that the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2024 has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and will now be presented to the president for signing.

The new Pay-Related Benefit will be available to new, fully unemployed people who have a strong and recent attachment to the labour market, and who are available for and genuinely seeking employment.

Commenting on the Bill’s passing, Minister Humphreys said:

“At the moment, when a person who has worked hard for twenty years suddenly loses their job, they receive the same rate of unemployment payment as somebody who might never have worked. That’s not fair.

“We need to reward the people who have worked hard; paid their dues; and contributed to the economy through their PRSI contributions. That’s what Pay Related Benefit is about.

“This is about supporting workers who lose their employment by ensuring they don’t suffer a cliff-edge drop in income.

“The reality is people enter into financial commitments which are commensurate with their income. When I worked in the Credit Union sector, I saw it first hand; people who had good jobs, who worked hard, and then all of a sudden when they lost their job, they had a cliff-edge drop in income and they weren’t able to meet the mortgage payment. It put families under huge stress. Pay Related Benefit is about giving those people a safety net.”

Key features of the new Pay-Related Benefit scheme include:

oThe weekly rate of payment for people who have at least 5 years’ paid PRSI contributions will be set at 60% of previous earnings, subject to a maximum of €450 for the first 3 months.

oAfter that, the rate will reduce to 55% of earnings, subject to a maximum of €375 for the following 3 months.

oA further 3 months will be paid at the rate of 50%, up to a maximum €300 payment.

oFor people who have between 2 and 5 years’ paid contributions, the rate will be set at 50% of previous earnings subject to a maximum for €300 per week and 6 month’s duration.

oThe scheme will be available to persons who become fully unemployed after the commencement of the scheme.

oThe Minister will bring forward a commencement order for the introduction of Pay Related Benefit later this year once the necessary IT systems have been developed.

oPeople who lose their job before that date will be remain entitled to the existing Jobseeker’s Benefit.