Department denies welfare system has work disincentives

Spokesman says three-quarters of those claiming jobseekers’ allowance receive a personal payment of just €188 a week

Claims that the welfare system contains large scale disincentives to work have been disputed by the Department of Social Protection.

A spokesman for the department says almost three-quarters of those claiming jobseekers’ allowance receive a personal payment of €188 a week with no additional benefits.

Responding to a report from the Citizens Information Board, which highlighted some of the disincentives to work, the department pointed to the large proportion of jobless who received just the basic payment. "For that reason there is a massive incentive to work."

He said the department had been working to remove welfare traps and he pointed to the planned move from rent supplement to a new housing assistance payment (HAP).


The spokesman added that rent supplement was designed to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means were insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who did not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

"However, over time it has become a significant disincentive to work as it is not payable where a person or their spouse/partner is in full-time employment, subject to limited exceptions. Under HAP recipients will be able to take up full-time employment, subject to the conditions of the scheme."

The department administers over 70 schemes and services, and made 87 million scheme payments last year.

The spokesman said the department recognised that a changing labour market has resulted in a move away from the more traditional work patterns, with an increase in the number of persons employed for less than a full week.

He said this was an important policy issue for the department but any changes to the current criteria could have significant cost implications and require careful consideration.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times