No over-representation of migrants on welfare, ESRI finds

Thursday 17 July 2014 10.02
Migrants from the latest EU accession countries in Eastern Europe are over-represented among Jobseeker's Allowance and Jobseeker's Benefit recipients
Migrants from the latest EU accession countries in Eastern Europe are over-represented among Jobseeker's Allowance and Jobseeker's Benefit recipients

A new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute has found that there is no evidence of a systematic over-representation of migrants in receipt of social welfare in Ireland.

ESRI Programme Coordinator of the European Migration Network Emma Quinn said that the findings offer a complex and nuanced view of migrants in receipt of benefits in Ireland.

Some groups, such as migrants from the latest EU accession countries in Eastern Europe, are over-represented among Jobseeker's Allowance and Jobseeker's Benefit recipients.

However, others, such as non-EU nationals, are under-represented.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Quinn said the fact that some migrants from Eastern Europe were hit particularly by the recession may explain why they are slightly over-represented in the findings.

In terms of the contributory Jobseeker's Benefit, non-Irish nationals are under-represented, accounting for 14.7% of recipients, compared to their 15.4% share of the labour force.

However, they are over-represented in terms of means-tested Jobseeker's Allowance, accounting for 17.5% of recipients.

Non-Irish nationals are also over-represented among Child Benefit recipients, at 20.7% of recipients compared, which Ms Quinn said could be explained by their young age profile.

Similarly they are under-represented in terms of State pension recipients.

Access to most non-contributory payments in Ireland depends on applicants meeting a Habitual Residence Condition (HRC), and the research also examined this condition.

The term "habitually resident" is not defined in law, and assessment of the condition requires a discretionary consideration by deciding officers in the Department of Social Protection.

Ms Quinn said that this can be challenging to implement and it can be hard to make the process consistent for everyone.

On the plus side, however, Ms Quinn explained that it did allow for a degree of flexibility, and for individual circumstances to be taken into account when dealing with claims.