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.