4,000 public servants forced to apply for income supplement

One in 10 of the workers in full-time employment who are forced to boost their earnings with family income supplement payments are state employees.

There are currently 41,000 families in receipt of the supplement of whom almost 4,000 are public servants.

The Department of Social Protection describes the scheme as an “in-work income support for employees on low earnings who have families and who otherwise might be at risk of financial poverty”.

The department said €229.6m will be spent on the scheme this year with €282m budgeted for 2014.

To qualify for an FIS payment, a person must be engaged in full-time employment working a minimum of 19 hours per week.

The numbers claiming the payment have risen by 60% in only the last four years as the effects of the recession have seen pay levels decrease, or people have lost their jobs and taken on new, lower paid roles. In 2009, the number of claimants was 25,963 — 2,951 of them public servants.

While the CSO has put average weekly earnings in the public sector at €928.76 compared to €623.17 in the private sector, public service unions have pointed out that there are many among their numbers who are earning significantly less than the average.

Eoin Ronayne of the Civil Public and Services Union, which represents low paid civil servants, said a bizarre situation had emerged where staff in social welfare offices were dealing with applications for FIS when they themselves were dependent on the payments as well.

Bernard Harbor of Impact trade union said the figures provided by the department show the number who are paid FIS — not the number who are eligible —meaning they may therefore underestimate the situation.

“These figures show a 32% increase in the number of public servants claiming FIS since 2008 and, once again, they expose the myth of the high-paid public servant,” he said. All public servants had experienced at least two pay cuts since 2009.


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