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Low Pay

While we welcome the fall in the proportion of employees earning the minimum wage or lower, the fact is that despite very welcome increases in the NMW in the last few years, it remains about 18 per cent below the living wage. It is long past time that government set a five-year timeframe to close the gap between the National Minimum Wage and the living wage, and implement a system of Refundable Tax Credits in Budget 2020 to help mitigate the issue of in-work poverty.

As long as the National Minimum Wage (NMW) lags so far behind the Living Wage, hundreds of thousands of Irish workers will be forced to do without certain essentials so they can make ends meet. Social Justice Ireland would like to see government commit to a timeframe over which the NMW would move towards the rate of the Living Wage.

Specific interventions are required to tackle the problem of in-work poverty. Until Government makes tax credits refundable, it will not have an efficient mechanism by which it can address the issue of the working poor.

Government should stop subsidising the Accommodation and Food Services sector and instead should incentivise the kind of jobs that allow workers to achieve a decent standard of living.

If people in employment can’t be guaranteed a life free from poverty then there is something seriously wrong. The failure to make tax-credits refundable is no longer acceptable. It would make Ireland’s tax system fairer, address part of the working poor problem, and improve the living standards of around a quarter of a million people in Ireland at an affordable cost.

As part of Social Justice Ireland's recent submission to the Low Pay Commission, we advocated for the introduction of Refundable Tax Credits as a means to tackle the issue of Low Pay in the Irish economy.