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May, 2010

A major change to the social welfare system will allow job-seekers to continue to receive full benefits while working in the private sector – if they also carry out community work. The Minister For Social Protection, Eamon O Cuiv, is to roll out a new “hybrid” social welfare scheme where people who do 19.5 hours community work a week will be able to take up jobs.
O Cuiv plans to launch a pilot version of the scheme, involving an initial 3,000 participants , by the end of the summer and he hopes to extend it after a Government review. The Sunday Business Post reported that unemployed people who qualify for job-seekers allowance will be allowed to divide their week between the community work and their jobs in the private sector.
The Minister said he thought the development would suit the skills of former self-employed and under-employed workers in the construction sector while also dealing with fraudulent social welfare claims. The money to fund the measures would come from fraud elimination and a move by those illegally claiming dole onto official schemes.
The Business Post also reported that a €36 million PRSI incentive scheme designed to boost employment is a “high priority” for Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe. The Government announced details of the plan – aimed at providing an incentive for companies to take on new staff – in last December’s budget. It still hasn’t come into force but the Government sees it as a key incentive to encourage employers to create jobs.
Under the proposals, employers who hire someone who has been unemployed for six months or more will not have to pay PRSI for the worker for one year. The scheme effectively saves employers eight to ten per cent of the cost of each new job.

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