As recent figures confirmed that the Live Register fell by 3,300 last month, independent MEP Nessa Childers has called for the expansion of social protection to include the country’s ‘forgotten workers’.
“Naturally the Government will use December’s shorter dole queues as further evidence that Ireland’s is bouncing back, however, the figures never reflect those who have been left behind, the skilled and educated self-employed workforce that is simply not entitled to claim the likes of Job Seeker’s Benefit or disability pay,” she said.
In Ireland, self-employed people pay Class S PRSI – a category which only covers limited social welfare payments and excludes almost all short-term allowances, including Jobseeker’s Benefit, and illness and disability grants.
“In my capacity as an MEP, I’ve met numerous constituents that are in a real predicament: they were previously self-employed but now more recently find that the work has dried up. And instead of being entitled to the standard State financial support that other citizens of this country can automatically claim, they say they are left with practically nothing.
“Understandably, often these workers then feel they have no choice but to emigrate,” she said.
Ms Childers also said she will be putting pressure on the relevant European Parliament bodies to convey to her what plans are in place to further secure jobs in Ireland, so that self-employed workers can have better career opportunities.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed today that 402,800 people were on the Live Register last month – a low not achieved since May 2009. December was the 18th consecutive month where a Live Register decrease was observed. The standardised unemployment rate now stands at 12.4 per cent.