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Delivering a Work-led Recovery with Budget 2022

Budget 2022 needs to prepare Irish society for the inevitable social and public policy challenges that are likely to appear as the pandemic subsides. Among the most visible of these will be challenges associated with work, unemployment and job creation.

As we highlighted in our recent Employment Monitor (May 2021) CSO data demonstrates that 21% of people whose employment was affected by Covid-19 do not expect to return to the same job after the pandemic. In the absence of other employment opportunities, this suggests the potential for a transfer of these individuals from these schemes to jobseekers payments. A large increase in unemployment numbers seems inevitable; with rates of between 12% and 16% of the labour force possible. Furthermore, the pandemic is also likely to reveal a large youth unemployment problem.

Budget 2022 needs to allocate resources to address these challenges and minimise the scale of the increase in unemployment and the growth of long-term unemployment. Specifically, we believe the Budget should:

· resource the upskilling of those who are unemployed and at risk of becoming unemployed through integrating training and labour market programmes.

· adopt policies to address the worrying issue of youth unemployment. In particular, these should include education and literacy initiatives as well as retraining schemes.

· expand the age profile for apprenticeships and training programmes to include older workers who may need to re-skill.

· recognise the challenges of long-term unemployment and of precarious employment and adopt targeted policies to address these.

· resource policies to address the obstacles that face women as they return to the labour market.

Supporting a Universal Basic Income (UBI) Pilot

Social Justice Ireland has a long history of advocating for a system of Universal Basic Income to be implemented in Ireland. We therefore welcomed the inclusion in the Programme for Government of a commitment to examine Basic Income and run a pilot in Ireland during the lifetime of the current Government.

In May 2021 we hosted a seminar, and published a document, outlining a proposal for a UBI pilot to be applied to artists and arts workers. The proposal builds on a recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Task Force Report and detailed a four year pilot paid at the current rate of jobseekers benefit. The proposal also outlined a timeline for the development, introduction and evaluation of the pilot. The document, and presentations from the launch event, are available on our website.

While there are limited cost implications associated with the pilot we have proposed, Budget 2022 should commit to introducing this pilot and funding the evaluation process to accompany it. Ultimately, there are important lesson to learn from this UBI pilot which can inform longer term developments in this area.

Read the full text of our Budget Choices 2022 Policy Briefing - Delivering a Fair Recovery - HERE.

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