Taoiseach and Minister Burton launch Benefit of Work Ready Reckoner in new Ballyfermot Intreo Centre


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Key tool will help jobseekers assess difference between work and welfare income

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. and the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., today (Thursday, 12th December, 2013) launched the latest important support for jobseekers as part of the Government’s continuing reform of the social protection system to help people back to work.

The Benefit of Work Ready Reckoner will highlight the difference for jobseekers between potential income from work and the welfare payments they currently receive.  It will help jobseekers assess the benefits of taking up work opportunities as the economy recovers and 1,200 new jobs a week are created.

The Taoiseach and Minister launched the Ready Reckoner at the new Intreo Centre in Ballyfermot, continuing the rollout of such Centres across the country to replace old-style social welfare offices. Intreo Centres are "one-stop shops" which offer jobseekers income and employment supports in the one place for the first time.

Uncertainty about whether a particular job will pay enough can sometimes be a factor for persons determining whether to accept an offer of work. The Ready Reckoner is a tool which gives an indication of the difference between a person’s potential in-work income and their current welfare payments based on information provided by the person.

The Ready Reckoner will calculate weekly take-home pay based on standard tax credits for certain categories of people and it will help those people to determine their financial position if they accept an offer of work. The Ready Reckoner will be available at www.welfare.ie and in all Intreo Centres.

The Taoiseach said: "I am happy to be here to open the 17th Intreo office in Ballyfermot. These offices are the front line in the Government's fight against long-term unemployment and bring a totally new approach to how we provide State supports for jobseekers. Instead of being cast adrift by the State, unemployed people are provided with group engagements, one-on-one interviews, skills and experience assessments, training and work placements - all conducted here in Intreo offices.  

"This is all part of our new vision for our welfare and employment services. There will be no let-up in the Government’s reform programme after Ireland officially exits the bailout this weekend. As we make further changes to the welfare system in the coming months and years, it is absolutely essential that work always pays and we are reinforcing that message here today. We are determined to meet our top priority of getting Ireland working again."

Minister Burton said: "Since coming to office, I have focused on transforming the Department from a passive benefits provider to an active and engaged employment service through the Pathways to Work strategy. That work is paying off – the Live Register has fallen below 400,000 and will reduce further next year. But there remains a long way to go and that is why it is crucial we offer every practical support to jobseekers.

"I expect the Ready Reckoner to be of significant practical help to jobseekers. It will help those unsure of the potential benefits of taking up a job offer to see the difference between work and welfare income."

The majority of people on the Live Register have a strong financial incentive to work, as they are either single or may have a spouse or partner who is working, and so receive a maximum personal payment of €188 a week and no additional welfare benefits.

In the case of families concerned about the loss of additional welfare benefits should a work offer be taken up, Family Income Supplement (FIS) is available. FIS is a weekly tax-free top-up payment for employees on low pay with children.

Minister Burton said: "In 2014, the Department will spend over €280 million on FIS, up from €224 million last year. At present, more than 40,000 working families with more than 90,000 children benefit from the scheme. FIS is there because all the evidence shows that families are better off in work, and this helps them to continue in work and build towards financial independence."

The Taoiseach and Minister welcomed the new Intreo Centre, which will cater for jobseekers in the Ballyfermot, Palmerstown and Chapelizod areas. Intreo is a key element of the Pathways to Work strategy. There are now 17 Intreo Centres across the country and the full Intreo service will be delivered to all of the Department’s 63 offices nationwide by the end of 2014.

Minister Burton said: "Jobseekers coming to Ballyfermot Intreo Centre will avail of an active and engaged employment service, helping jobseekers to find work, training or education. I also want to urge employers in Dublin 10 and 20 to use the services that the Department provides for them. One of these supports is JobsPlus, which helps to meet the wage costs of employers who recruit people who have been on the Live Register for 12 months or more and which has helped create over 1,000 new full-time jobs since its launch in July."


Note for Editor

Benefit of Work Ready Reckoner - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Ready Reckoner?

The Ready Reckoner is a tool that gives an indication of the difference between your potential in-work and your current out-of-work payments based on information provided by you. This tool does not take into account other allowances you may receive.

 

2. What does it do?

The Ready Reckoner will:

  • Calculate your weekly take home pay (net pay) based on standard tax credits for the following relationship statuses:
    • Single Person
    • Married Person or Civil Partner
    • Widowed Person or Surviving Civil Partner qualifying for One Parent Family
    • Widowed Person or Surviving Civil Partner without dependent children
    • One Parent Family
    • PAYE
    • Home Carer
  • Calculate your weekly take home pay (net pay) based on standard PRSI and Universal Social Charge rates
  • Calculate Family Income Supplement (the top up payment which working families on low pay with children may qualify for) if it applies
  • Compare your weekly take home pay (net pay) plus any Family Income Supplement entitlement you may have with your existing Jobseeker payments
  • Display a bar chart showing the results

3. What does it not do?

The Ready Reckoner will not:

  • Take your personal circumstances into account
  • Take all tax, income and expenses into account
  • Calculate for two income households
  • Calculate for any social welfare payment other than your Jobseeker’s Payment
  • Include any in-work income supports that you may qualify for
  • Take account of potential work associated costs such as travel or childcare
  • Take Child Benefit into account as it will not be affected if you take up full time employment
  • Apply to those Jobseekers who
    • May be exploring self-employment as a possible option
    • Are considering taking up casual or part-time employment
    • Are moving from casual or part-time to full-time employment

4. Why is it called a Ready Reckoner and not a calculator?

It is called a Ready Reckoner because it just gives a rough guide to what you would earn in employment without taking into account all of your individual circumstances.

5. How do I use it?

You must first agree to the disclaimer. Once you have agreed to the disclaimer you need to provide the following five pieces of information

  • Your estimated Gross Weekly Wage
    For gross weekly wage you should enter the appropriate amount (there is a link to sample salaries to help you convert your annual salary or hourly rate to a weekly rate). The minimum amount for full-time work is 30 hours a week which at minimum wage is €259.50. The minimum wage at 40 hours a week is €346.00.
  • Relationship Status
    The Relationship Status is a drop down menu for you to choose from and is required to help calculate the relevant standard tax credits.
  • The number of dependent children (if any)
    You should enter in the appropriate number of dependent children (this is used by the calculator to calculate any entitlement to Family Income Supplement)
  • Current weekly Jobseeker’s payment
    You should enter what you currently get as a Jobseeker’s payment (e.g. €188 for a single individual, no children, or €372.40 for an individual claimant with a dependent adult and two dependent children). You should include your weekly fuel allowance in your welfare payment amount. You should not include any other payments.
  • Current weekly Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement
    You should enter the amount you receive for either Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement. If you receive nothing you should leave it at 0.

When all the information is entered, press calculate. The Ready Reckoner will present you with a snapshot of your Employment amount in comparison to your current Welfare amount based on information provided by you.

6. When should I use the Ready Reckoner?

The Ready Reckoner has been developed to help you work out the benefit of working and to calculate the amount of FIS you may be entitled to based on the information you provide. It is available to use at any time on www.welfare.ie.

7. What is Family Income Supplement?

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment for families at work on low pay. The Ready Reckoner site includes a link with details of the Family Income Supplement.

8. What is the Relationship Status on the Ready Reckoner used for?

The Relationship Status on the Ready Reckoner is used to help calculate the appropriate standard tax credits. Further details about standard tax credits are available on the Revenue Commissioners website.

9. Is Mortgage Interest Supplement still available?

Mortgage Interest Supplement will be closed to new applicants from 1 January 2014. If you are receiving Mortgage Interest Supplement at that time, you may retain it when you return to work.  Details are available on the www.welfare.ie site.

10. Does the Ready Reckoner take into account other costs of returning to work such as travel and childcare?

No. The Ready Reckoner cannot cater for individual circumstances and therefore will not reflect costs such as travel or childcare.

11. When the Ready Reckoner presents the 'Employment’ amount in comparison to the 'Welfare’ amount will I still need to factor in other costs such as rent or mortgage?

Yes, the indicative 'Employment’ amount shown by the Ready Reckoner takes into account tax but no other weekly cost. You will need to take away the cost of rent/mortgage, the cost of travel, the cost of childcare, etc. to get an estimate of what you would have at the end of a week.

12. Can a couple with separate Jobseeker claims use the Ready Reckoner?

No. While the tool will be available to everyone it will only calculate based on a single Jobseeker’s payment (including dependent adults or children). If a couple with separate Jobseeker’s payments use the Ready Reckoner, the amount calculated for standard tax credits and FIS will probably be inaccurate. In such cases the Jobseeker should discuss the matter with their Case Officer at their local DSP office or Intreo centre.

13. If my partner gets work at minimum wage and we are not eligible for FIS can I apply for a Jobseeker payment in my own right?

Yes, if you are available for and seeking work you are entitled to apply for a Jobseeker payment.

14. Are there any plans to expand the Ready Reckoner so that those unemployed looking for casual/part-time work or those in casual/part-time work looking for full-time employment will be able to use it?

Not at this time. The Department will monitor the use of the Ready Reckoner before further development is considered.

15. Where can I find more information on Rent Supplement and Mortgage Interest Supplement?

The Ready Reckoner site includes links with details on the eligibility criteria under which those who return to work keep their Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement. Further details about Mortgage Interest Supplement are available on www.welfare.ie

16. What should I do if the Ready Reckoner has indicated that I would be better off on welfare rather than in employment?

It is required that a Jobseeker takes up a reasonable offer of employment rather than stay on a Jobseeker’s payment. A Jobseeker’s payment is meant to provide some financial assistance while you are seeking employment not to act as a barrier to taking up work. If you do not take up a reasonable offer of employment this may have an impact on your Jobseeker's payment.

17. Will the Department of Social Protection be able to advise me about tax and tax credits?

No. Queries about tax and tax credits should be addressed to the Revenue Commissioners or via the Revenue Commissioners website. The Citizen's Information site also provides a short guide to tax credits. The reason tax is included in the Ready Reckoner is to more accurately estimate your net weekly wage when in employment.

18. Does the Ready Reckoner also work on browsers that are not Internet Explorer?

Yes. The Ready Reckoner works on Firefox and Chrome. It also works on smart phones and tablets.

19. Is the Ready Reckoner available as an app?

The Ready Reckoner is not available as an app to download.

 

ENDS

Last modified:12/12/2013
 

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