The controversial JobBridge scheme, brought in in 2011 as an initiative to help the unemployed get work experience, will be wound down from this Friday, Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar has announced.
The minister said that those on the scheme currently would be able to finish their internship but that a new scheme will take place of the scheme going forward. The new employment scheme will be introduced for jobseekers in late 2017.
The new scheme will likely have employers making some form of contribution for being included in the scheme which will reduce the possibility of exploitation of the scheme and the new scheme will see jobseekers earning at least the minimum wage.
Some jobseekers on the JobBridge scheme were felt to have been exploited by some companies and that along with the small top-up payment of just €52 per week, led to heavy criticism from the beginning by certain groups and political parties.
A report launched by Indecon International Research Economists found that the scheme had been successful in helping people return to the job market. Over 10,500 interns who had gone through the JobBridge scheme took part in a survey for the report. In total, 64.2% of people who had gone through the scheme were now employed. In terms of intern satisfaction, the responses varied under different aspects. However, over half of those surveyed were dissatisfied with the value of the JobBridge top up payment, and three out of 10 didn’t believe the scheme met their expectations.
As part of Budget 2017, a new €35m Single Affordable Child Care Subsidy Scheme will be introduced in September 2017. It is designed to provide parental means-tested subsidies, towards the cost of childcare for children aged six months to 15 years and universal subsidies of up to €80 a month or €900 a year for all children aged between six months and three years. This scheme will replace the existing subsidy schemes – including the Community Childcare Subvention Programme, After-School Child Care Scheme and the Childcare Education and Training Support Programme. As a result, all families, no matter what their income levels, will be entitled to as much as €900 a year, if the child is in 40 hours per week of childcare. The payment will apply on a pro-rata basis of a State subsidy of 50 cent an hour of childcare and will be paid directly to the childcare provider. International research confirms that access to high quality and affordable childcare is particularly important and beneficial for children from lower income families.
In addition to the childcare package, €86m extra has been provided in respect of the full year costs of the extended Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE), the free pre-school scheme, and the roll out of the Access and Inclusion Model, or AIM, to enable children with disabilities to participate in pre-school education.
No changes have been made to SRCOPs, tax credits or PRSI classes. Emergency basis will also remain unchanged.
USC (Universal Social Charge: No changes were made to the USC exemption threshold of €13,000. The 1%, 3% and 5.5% rates have been reduced by 0.5% to 0.5%, 2.5% and 5% respectively. There has been no change to the 8% rate of USC. In addition the Rate 2 COP has been increased from €18,668 to €18,772.
Medical card holders and individuals aged 70 years and over whose aggregate income does not exceed €60,000 will pay a maximum rate of 2.5%. The rate of 8% USC will continue to apply under the Emergency Basis.
The National Minimum Wage will increase from €9.15 gross per working hour to €9.25 gross per working hour.
• Workers under age 18 will be entitled to €6.48 (currently €6.41) per working hour.
• Workers in the first year of employment over the age of 18 will be entitled to €7.40 (currently €7.32) per working hour. Workers in the second year of employment over the age of 18 will be entitled to €8.33 (currently €8.24) per working hour.
Minimum wage for trainees:
Employee aged over 18, in structured training during working hours:
• 1st one third of course will increase to €6.94 (currently €6.86),
• 2nd third of course will increase to €7.40 (currently €7.32) 3rd part of course €8.33 (currently €8.24).
PRD (Pension Related Deduction)
Budget 2017 did not make any change to the rates and thresholds for PRD.
However, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015 provides for the following changes:
• From 1st January 2017, the exemption threshold will increase from €26,083 to €28,750. 10% PRD will apply to earnings between €28,750 and €60,000, and 10.5% PRD will apply to any earnings in excess of €60,000.
There were no changes to PRSI.