Yes – you are right to do a double take. Surprisingly for anyone (yes my cousin in NYC I am talking to you 🙂 ) reading this outside Ireland – there is a generous welfare system here. Yet it depends on which side of the welfare fence you are speaking from.
I was on the corporate viewpoint for 13 years – having been brain washed by successive US companies. So I never really gave it any pause for thought – only to live in fear of ever being on ‘social welfare’. However now that me and 15% of the population of Ireland are on the ‘dole’ I am now experiencing it first hand.
First lets ‘crunch some numbers’ – can you believe I used to speak like that….never? If you have paid your PRSI (National Insurance contributions to our closest neighbours) and you should qualify for Job Seekers Benefit. Its €188.00 for an adult, €124 for a qualifying adult (say spouse doesn’t have the PRSI/NI paid) plus for two kids its €59.40. In total €371.40 for two adults and two children.
Also you can get your rent paid up to a total of €850 a month.
So I am pleasantly surprised. I imagined I would be living on €100 a week and walking because we couldn’t afford petrol or living on mash and beans.
Now it doesn’t seem so bad. I am someone who was a high earner for the last 13 years in corporate sales. So when I sat down and added up how much tax I paid since I moved to Dublin in 1998 – I came to the very rapid conclusion that I was due a financial dig-out from the government.
I am still trying to get over the guilt of ‘accepting’ the dole. I have given myself a series of serious ‘talking-to’s’that last for 2-3 days and then I need to have a chat with myself again.
So I keep trying to get used to accepting that it is okay to be unemployed for a while. Sometimes late in the evening, I ask himself if we are going to be unemployed forever. He reassured me we wont and I sigh with relief. I have told myself, he has told me – all I need to do now is believe it.