Man earned just 22 cent an hour after tax on community employment scheme - claim
Burton insists employee is working for €422.20 social welfare and allowances
Independent TD John Halligan: said the man was taxed €15.70 on the €20 he earned for participating in the Tús community employment scheme in Waterford, which was an “exploitation of workers. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
A man employed on a State- sponsored community employment scheme earned just 22 cent an hour for the 19.5 hours a week he worked, the Dáil was told.
Independent TD John Halligan said the man was taxed €15.70 on the €20 he earned for participating in the Tús community employment scheme in Waterford, which was an “exploitation of workers”.
But Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the man was paid social welfare of €422.20 a week and was probably entitled to a fuel allowance of €20 a week for six months, along with the back-to- school clothing and footwear allowances for his three children and a medical card.
She said PRSI was charged on income above €352 a week at 4 per cent. Ms Burton insisted it was not tax, “it’s a social insurance contribution”.
She rejected Mr Halligan’s contention that the man was not “being paid significant amounts of money in terms of his family circumstances”. In return the individual was acquiring “very valuable social welfare and pension rights” and would ultimately have a contributory pension.
The Tús scheme is for those out of work for at least 12 months and non-participation can mean a cut in social welfare payments for those selected.
But Mr Halligan said the Minister was missing the point. He said a person on a Tús scheme was on a social welfare payment. She was “asking such a person to work 19.5 hours for €20”.
Ms Burton contradicted him, however, and said “No. They are earning €422”. She said, however, she would talk to the Minister for Finance “because he sets the PRSI rates”.
The Waterford TD said the additional €20 paid on top of their social welfare income should be excluded from tax and PRSI.
He added that it was surely “common sense” that if someone was being asked to work on a Tús scheme, “we should leave them alone irrespective of their social welfare income and allowances for dependent adults and children”.
“After all the income is very low anyway for anyone on social welfare with children who gets an additional €20 on the Tús scheme.”