ROGUE building firms are encouraging workers to claim jobseekers' allowance to top up tax-free cash payments which are kept off the books, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has claimed.
Outlining the massive scale of the black economy, CIF president Philip Crampton urged the Government to crack down on people who are working in construction while drawing the dole.
Appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs yesterday, Mr Crampton said tax-compliant firms are losing tenders because they are being undercut by the rogues.
Anecdotal evidence suggested people are claiming jobseekers' allowance while not declaring they are working.
Mr Crampton said: "These workers might receive a cash payment for the work they carry out for the construction company while at the same time receiving the full jobseekers' allowance. The work is kept off the books."
He also warned that some companies were cutting corners on health and safety to reduce their costs.
The CIF's nationwide survey of construction firms found, among other things:
* 85pc of companies had encountered an increased number of black economy operations in the previous 12 months.
* 52pc of companies believed they had lost more than five jobs to black economy operations.
* Just under a quarter of companies were aware of public contracts being awarded to black economy operators.
* 98.5pc of companies believed black economy operators paid their workers with cash outside of the tax system.
* 74pc believed the Revenue Commissioners should be responsible for ensuring regulations to combat the black economy are enforced.