Report debunks idea non-nationals receive disproportionate welfare payments

In respect of means-tested jobseeker’s allowance, foreign nationals accounted for 17.5 per cent of those who receive payments

 The details are revealed in the ‘Migrant Access to Social Security and Healthcare: Policies and Practice in Ireland’ report which is published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) today. Photograph: AP

The details are revealed in the ‘Migrant Access to Social Security and Healthcare: Policies and Practice in Ireland’ report which is published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) today. Photograph: AP

Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 06:00

A report on social security payments has said there is no evidence to suggest a disproportionate number of foreign nationals are in receipt of benefits.

The details are revealed in the Migrant Access to Social Security and Healthcare: Policies and Practice in Ireland report which is published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) today.

“Despite concerns expressed in several quarters, there is no consistent pattern of overrepresentation of migrants among social welfare recipients in Ireland, ” said the report’s author Emma Quinn.

“Interpreting the number of migrants who access social welfare can be difficult: migrants are a diverse group and like Irish nationals, may need to access different social welfare supports for a variety of reasons.”

Ms Quinn said policy existed to ensure those in receipt of social welfare had a connection to Ireland, but this was often difficult to implement as it kept evolving. In relation to contributory jobseeker’s benefit, the study found people from outside Ireland accounted for 14.7 per cent of recipients, less than the 15.4 per cent of the workforce they constitute.

In respect of means-tested jobseeker’s allowance, foreign nationals accounted for 17.5 per cent of those who receive payments.

Child benefit

Foreign nationals are over-represented among child benefit recipients, at 20.7 per cent of recipients compared to their 13.4 per cent share of population, which is possibly related to their young age group. They are under-represented in terms of State pension recipients.

Access to non-contributory payments in Ireland is based on a system called the habitual residence condition (HRC), designed to “test whether or not an applicant’s ‘centre of interest’ is in Ireland”.

Not defined in law, this status requires a discretionary consideration by officials in the Department of Social Protection.