Gateway is a local authority labour activation scheme that provides short-term work and training opportunities for long-term unemployed people who have been on the Live Register for over 2 years. The work opportunities are to benefit the local area. Gateway is managed by city and county councils (collectively known as local authorities) for the Department of Social Protection, which has overall responsibility for the scheme.
Unemployed people who are eligible to participate in the scheme are selected and contacted by the Department of Social Protection – see 'Selection process' below. Gateway is currently closed to new participants.
Type of project
The work carried out by Gateway participants is mainly outdoor work but can be in any area of local authority activity. The work can be either in new projects or in projects that local authorities no longer have the resources to continue. Types of project eligible for the scheme include:
- Village enhancement schemes
- Tourism ambassadors
- Control of animals
- New projects - brown field site remediation
Allocation of places
The places on the scheme are allocated to local authorities in urban and rural areas. The allocation is based on the availability of suitable placements in each local authority.
To be eligible to participate in the Gateway scheme you must:
- Have been continuously unemployed for at least 24 months and "signing on" on a full-time basis; and
- Have been receiving a jobseeker's payment (Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance) from the Department of Social Protection for at least 24 months; or
- Be currently receiving Jobseeker's Allowance.
Unemployed people who are eligible for the scheme will be identified and contacted by their Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office and offered the opportunity to participate in the scheme.
If they agree to participate in the Gateway scheme they will be referred to their local authority where they will be recruited for a suitable placement when it becomes available.
As there only limited places available on the scheme, not all eligible unemployed people will be contacted.
Participants on Gateway can take up other part-time employment provided it does not interfere with the work and times of their Gateway work placement. If participants are offered full-time alternative work they may terminate their Gateway contract.
Refusal of work placement
Under the National Employment Action Plan someone getting Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) is required to take up work opportunities such as the offer of a Gateway work placement. If they refuse a work opportunity without good reason, they may have their social welfare payment reduced or terminated. If, following a refusal of a placement, someone’s payment is reduced or terminated they may appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.
Participants will work for 19 ½ hours a week and the placement lasts 22 months. They receive the same statutory annual leave and public holiday entitlement as other employees.
When the placement finishes, they should sign on again with their Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. They cannot participate in the Gateway scheme again for 3 years.
The minimum weekly payment for participants (based on 19.5 hours worked) is €220.50 from March 2018.
If the actual Jobseeker’s Allowance (including dependants) you were getting was €198 a week or less, then you will get the minimum Gateway weekly rate of €220.50 (that is €198 plus €22.50). If your actual weekly Jobseeker’s Allowance (including dependants) was €198.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €22.50.
Additional income: If you have any additional income, for example, from part-time work, it will not affect your Gateway payment. However, the rules on change of circumstances that apply to Jobseeker’s Allowance also apply to the Gateway payment. In order to avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should inform your local authority and your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. One example of a change in your circumstances would be if your dependant got a job. Their income would be assessed as means and your Gateway payment might be reduced. It cannot be reduced below the minimum rate of €220.50.
Participants will retain any extra benefits and their medical card provided they are still eligible.
Spouse or partner and Gateway:
If you get a place on a Gateway scheme and your spouse or partner is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JA), Disability Allowance (DA) or Farm Assist in their own right, they can claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult with their JA, DA or Farm Assist. Your income from the Gateway scheme (as a single person) is then assessed as insurable employment against their payment.
If you are on a Gateway scheme and your spouse or partner gets a place on a Gateway scheme, you will each get a single rate of the Gateway payment together with half of the Increases for a Qualified Child for any dependent children.
Tax and PRSI
The Gateway payment is taxable but the amount payable depends on individual circumstances.
Class A PRSI contributions will be paid for all participants. Those earning more than €352 a week will pay a PRSI contribution.
Participants on the Gateway scheme are exempt from the Universal Social Charge.
The work placements are identified and provided by local authorities. The local authorities must provide good quality work opportunities that are of benefit to the community. Each local authority provides a list of work opportunities to the Department of Social Protection. The Department then randomly selects a list of eligible candidates from the Live Register in each region and sends it to the local authority. Generally the number of eligible candidates selected by the Department is double the number of work placements proposed by the local authority and they will then go through the local authority’s recruitment process. If a candidate is selected for a Gateway placement, they must undergo Garda vetting before they can start work.
There is more detailed information about Gateway in this list of frequently asked questions on welfare.ie.
How to apply
There is no application process for unemployed people who are eligible for this scheme. Potential participants will be randomly selected and contacted by their Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
Local authorities interested in providing Gateway work placement opportunities should contact the Department of Social Protection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Gateway is currently closed to new participants.