Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (244)

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

336 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her attention has been drawn to an anomaly for participants in FÁS schemes who go back on unemployment assistance and lose €20 per week because their FÁS earnings amounted to €149.20 per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3274/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

I understand the Deputy is referring to the rate of unemployment benefit payable to a person following participation on a community employment programme. Since 1996, community employment participants pay class A contributions on their community employment earnings. Workers who are unemployed following completion of a community employment scheme may therefore qualify or re-qualify for unemployment benefit by virtue of having paid class A PRSI contributions. Alternatively, where a person was in receipt of long-term unemployment assistance prior to commencing community employment and returns to the live register after any period on community employment he or she retains entitlement to long-term unemployment assistance including secondary benefits such as fuel allowance.

From January 2004, unemployment benefit is paid at the full personal rate of €134.80 where a person's reckonable weekly earnings are €150 or more. If the reckonable weekly earnings are less than €150, the personal and qualified adult rates of payment are paid at reduced rates. A person who does not qualify for unemployment benefit, or is entitled to it at a reduced rate, may instead qualify for unemployment assistance, subject to a means assessment. The maximum personal rate of unemployment assistance payable is the same as full rate unemployment benefit, weekly €134.80.