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Joan denies an unemployed man was told to apply for 200-300 jobs a week

The Tánaiste said it was deemed that the man was ‘not genuinely seeking work’.

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Image: Leah Farrell

THE TÁNAISTE HAS denied that a person receiving jobseeker’s allowance was told to apply for 200-300 jobs per week.

United Left TD Joan Collins raised the issue in the Dáil last week.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton denied that this had taken place.

“In the case of the person concerned, a determination was made by a deciding officer that he was not genuinely seeking work in accordance with statutory criteria.

“Determinations in respect of jobseeker’s allowance claims often require detailed interviews with customers. A number of such interviews were held with the person concerned but no requirement to apply for an excessive number of positions was advanced in respect of this case.

“It is a fundamental qualifying condition of the scheme that a person must be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work,” Burton said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection said it does not comment on individual cases, adding:

“There is no specific figure prescribed on the number of jobs a person on jobseeker’s allowance is required to apply for per week. Each case is determined on its own merits having regard to the person’s age, education, place of residence, qualifications, previous occupation, family circumstances and other relevant information.”

Reduced rate for younger people 

Speaking separately about the reduced rates of jobseeker’s allowance available to people under the age of 26, Burton said there are no plans to raise this.

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Jobseeker’s allowance is means-tested and the maximum rate for people aged 26 years or over is €188. The rate for people aged 25 is €144 per week, while the personal rate for people aged 18-24 is €100 per week.

Reduced rates for those under 26 years of age is a targeted measure aimed at protecting young people from welfare dependency. If a young person does not improve their skills, it will be much more difficult for them to avail of job opportunities as the economy recovers and they are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed from a young age.

“If a jobseeker in receipt of the reduced jobseeker’s allowance rate participates in an education or training programme they will receive a higher weekly payment of €160,” Burton said.

She added that any change to the reduced rates of jobseeker’s allowance for people under 26 “would involve a significant cost and as such is a matter for government to consider in a budgetary context”.

A department spokesperson said the cost of increasing the €100 and €144 rates of jobseeker’s allowance for under 26s to the maximum personal rate of €188 would cost €149 million in 2016.

Read: Young man takes on social welfare for ‘age discrimination’ over reduced dole

Read: Willie O’Dea told us about his radical plan to abolish all social welfare

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Órla Ryan

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