A new report published today indicates that migrants are not disproportionately receiving social welfare payments.
Research by the ESRI (Economic Social and Research Institute) and the European Migration Network said there was “no evidence of systematic over-representation” when it came to receiving benefits, and in some instances migrants were “under-represented”.
For contributory Jobseekers Benefit, 14.7% of recipients were not Irish, compared with the 15.4% share of the labour force.
For the means-tested Jobseekers Allowance, 17.5% of recipients were migrants, an over-representation compared with the labour force, but there were also differences within this group.
Migrants from the EU15-28 countries were more likely to get be Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit, relative to their proportion in the labour force, while non-EU nationals were under-represented among recipients of both Jobseeker payments.
The greatest level of over-representation was among Child Benefit recipients, where migrants account for 20.7% of those getting the payment, compared with a 13.4% share of the population aged 15 and over.
When it comes to the State Pension, it is the complete reverse, with 1.9% of recipients born outside of Ireland, while representing 13.4% of the population aged 15 and over.
The report found that the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) was the biggest obstacle to accessing social security payments.
Since its introduction in 2004 it has leaned on a two-year rule to establish if an applicant’s “centre of interest” is in Ireland.
However, the term “habitually resident” is not defined in law and those behind the report said Deciding Officers in the Department of Social Protection can exercise “considerable discretion,” with criticism that the criteria is “too subjective.”
Emma Quinn, National Programme Coordinator with the EMN and one of the authors of the report, said: “Despite concerns expressed in several quarters, there is no consistent pattern of over-representation of migrants among social welfare recipients in Ireland.” However, she said implementation of the current policy is “challenging,” primarily because it is still evolving.
Full report at www.esri.ie
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