Monday 14 October 2019

Rogue builders asking workers to claim dole as well – report

Treacy Hogan

ROGUE construction companies are encouraging workers to claim jobseekers allowance to top up tax-free cash payments ‘kept off the books,” the Construction Industry Federation ( CIF ) claimed today.

And more than three quarters of all construction companies had come across black economy workers during the past three months, a new survey has found.

Outlining the massive scale of the black economy, CIF leaders urged the government to clamp down on people who are working in construction while drawing the dole,.

Appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs today, the CIF said tax compliant contractors are losing tenders because they are being undercut by rogue operators.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that certain construction operatives are claiming Jobseekers Allowance while still securing work on the side, which they were not declaring.

“The Jobseekers Allowance payment provides a subsidy to the construction operative.  “

“As they are topping up their income through other means it provides them with a greater margin for the project which enables them to offer a lower tender when they are competing for work.”

The CIF said it has also been suggested that some construction companies “are encouraging workers they use to make use of the Jobseekers Allowance payments.”

“  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 payment.  The work is kept off the books.”

Industry chiefs also warned that some construction operators were cutting corners on health and safety to reduce their costs.

“ By not observing the proper health and safety regulations the likelihood for accidents, injuries and even fatalities greatly increases.”

The CIF also released the findings of a nationwide survey of construction companies.

It found:

- 76pc of construction companies had come across black economy operations in the previous 3 months.

- 85pc had also encountered an increased number of black economy operations in the previous 12 months.

-  Almost 20pc of companies believed that black economy activity in the construction sector has grown by more than 100pc since the downturn began.

- 52 pc of companies believed they have lost more than five jobs to black economy operations in the previous 12 months.

-  Just under one in four construction companies indicated an awareness of public contracts being awarded to black economy operations.

-  98.5pc of companies believed black economy operators pay their workers with cash outside of the tax system.

-  Almost one in two construction companies have come across clients who have experienced problems with black economy operators or the work they have carried out.

- 39pc had been asked to repair work carried out by a black economy construction operative.

- 56pc believed that the materials used by black economy operators are lower in quality.

- 93pc believed the Government needs to take stronger action to regulate black economy operators in the construction industry.

- 74pc believed the Revenue Commissioners should be responsible for ensuring regulations to combat the black economy are

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