SOCIAL PROTECTION MINISTER Joan Burton has said that if young unemployed people fail to apply or accept some additional opportunities on the JobBridge national internship scheme they could face a cut in their dole payment.
Launching the government’s plans to implement the EU-wide Youth Guarantee Scheme today, Burton said that some “additional targeted places” on the JobBridge scheme are to be opened up for young people who are “very far from the economy and hard to reach”.
She said that although she would be surprised if young people who get an “interesting opportunity via JobBridge specifically tailored towards them” refuse that offer, the Department “will certainly look at that and the sanctions option remains a possibility”.
The government expects take-up of internships on the JobBridge scheme, which offers six months work for an extra €50 on top of social welfare, by under 25s to exceed 3,000 this year.
The sanctions would involve young unemployed having their weekly payment reduced from €100 to €75 and for those earning €144 to have their payment cut to €111.
The government’s Pathways to Work document, launched today, outlines how it intends to implement the Youth Guarantee which is a commitment to ensuring a ‘good quality’ offer of employment, education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of a young person becoming unemployed or leaving further education.
The document includes details of penalties for a person who refuses the offer of assistance or fails to engage with the Intreo employment and welfare services.
The document states that given that work experience, training and education are being prioritised for young people they will be “expected to demonstrate a higher level of engagement and commitment with the public employment services”.
If young people fail to attend meetings, accept training or work placements, accept a course place, apply or accept an opportunity on the national internship scheme (JobBridge) or fail to register their CV on recommended job sites they will face cuts in their dole payments.
Speaking at the launch today, Burton insisted that the number of people who have sanctions applied to their welfare payments are relatively rare.
“At the end of the year, out of some 400,000 people on the Live Register, just under 400,000 people on the Live Register, I think 3,000 people were sanctioned,” she said. “So it’s relatively rare but it is, if you like, something that we reserve.”
She said that her department generally finds that “people are extraordinarily anxious at every different age to actually get back into work or education”
“We do though use sanctions in the fairly limited number of cases where people simply fail to engage,” she said.