While many are opting to leave Ireland in hopes of finding work abroad, those who remain at home are facing a problem - to remain unemployed and receive benefits, or to find a job and forfeit such benefits?
One Dublin mother describes her experience of getting a job as “the worst thing that’s ever happened to us” in a column she wrote anonymously for TheJournal.ie.
The woman said she is in a committed relationship, though still unwed, with her partner, whom she shares a newborn child with. Her partner has to pay court-ordered child support to children from a previous relationship.
“Getting a job is the worst thing that’s ever happened to us,” the woman concludes. “If I gave up work tomorrow I would get it all – rent allowance and social welfare. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Prior her to getting a job - one that forces her to travel 65 miles each way and pay tolls along the journey which of course, takes away from the modest wages she now makes - she illustrates how she and her family were more comfortable by living off the unemployed benefits and maternity benefits while she was unemployed.
Desperate to find work, she, her partner and their child moved closer to where the jobs are, forcing them to pay a doubled rent.
“Finally and thankfully I got a fulltime job last month, delighted!,” she recalls. “Finally some light at the end of the tunnel, right? Wrong.”
“We did the right thing and told the social welfare I had secured a job...Within a week of me getting a job, my partner got a letter to say that we were being assessed – and in the meantime of the assessment his jobseeker’s benefit was being stopped.”
“There was no pre-warning – that was in the first week in April and I was not due to be paid until the last week in April.”
Panicked about not receiving any income for the most of April, the woman reached out to welfare offices to see if there could be anyway to alleviate the situation. She writes of the run-around she faced when she tried to get help from the welfare offices, and recalls how she received different answers in different places.
Having been abruptly cut off from their government benefits, her partner went into arrears with his child payment, thus creating even more bills for the couple to face together.
“I feel I am being encouraged not to work,” writes the woman.
The woman further takes up issue with the fact that since she was forthcoming in saying her and her partner are unmarried, they are facing more complications. “There are so many people out there that are living together and claiming single parents’ allowance and their rent allowance while the people who are upfront and honest are the ones that are being discriminated against and punished for not being married.”
“I know the argument that they are trying to protect the institution of marriage – but I belong to a family unit too and it is almost like we are being encouraged to break up.”