Hundreds claim dole while living outside Ireland
Majority registered as looking for work in Poland
NEARLY 500 people living outside of Ireland, including 319 people living in Poland, are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance from the Irish State, according to new figures released by the Department of Social Protection.
It comes as the Government steps up its campaign to change EU rules that mean Ireland had to pay more than €15m in child benefit last year to parents living in Ireland who claim for non-resident children.
The Department of Social Protection is paying child benefit to the parents of 7,814 children living in other EU states.
The EU rules are designed to co-ordinate the social-security systems of the various Member States so that people and their families are not disadvantaged when they move within the EU.
In a statement to the Sunday Independent, the Department of Social Protection confirmed that lobbying to change the rules had already begun.
"The Government intends to raise the issue of child benefit in respect of non-resident children at EU level, and seeks to have the entitlement modified to reflect the cost of living where a child is resident," a spokeswoman said. Last year it cost €15.4m in child benefit payments to families of non-resident children. It is estimated that 80 per cent of this figure is in respect of children living in Poland.
In 2005 the figure was a little more than €700,000, but rose to more than €20m in 2008, at the height of the migration of foreign workers into Ireland.
In Poland the basic rate of child benefit is €11 per month. That means that Ireland must top up this payment to the full Irish child benefit rate of €140 per month for a first and second child.
The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has initiated informal contacts with a number of other Member States to establish their views on the issue, and will then formally approach the commission to try and change the rules, the Sunday Independent has learnt.
A commitment to seek a change in the rules at EU level was included in the Programme for Government.
There are also currently 499 people receiving Jobseeker's Benefit living abroad registered as seeking work in another EU Member State. The rate for Jobseeker's Benefit starts at €196 a week.
Under EU regulations, a person who is getting Jobseeker's Benefit in Ireland, which is based on a person's PRSI contributions, can transfer their claim to another EU/EEA Member State for up to 13 weeks in order to look for work in that country. These provisions do not apply to persons receiving the means-tested Jobseeker's Allowance.
People who are transferring Jobseeker's Benefit to another EU/EEA State must apply to their Social Welfare Local Office in Ireland in advance to obtain the necessary documents to provide to the social-security organisation in the Member State to which they are travelling. The payment is suspended pending receipt of the necessary documentation.
Applicants must register as a person seeking work with the employment services of the Member State to which they go to seek work, within seven days.
After they register, the agency in the Member State to which they have travelled informs the Department of Social Protection that the person has registered and is adhering to control procedures within that Member State, and the payment starts again.
According to the figures, the largest number of applicants receiving the allowance outside Ireland are in Poland, which last week had 319 jobseekers claiming the benefit from the Irish state.