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Jobseekers have benefits cut for not accepting work or training offers

The Department of Social Protection recently introduced a measure to allow payments to be reduced by up to €44 a week for those refusing to take up job interviews, training, or employment offers.

Social Welfare Local Office Bishop Square queue, Dublin
Social Welfare Local Office Bishop Square queue, Dublin
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

MORE THAN 1,200 people receiving job seekers benefit have had their payments cut since last April for not accepting work or training offers.

Last April, the Department of Social Protection introduced a measure to allow job seekers payments to be reduced by up to €44 a week for those refusing to take up job interviews, training, or employment offers. The highest rate of job seeker allowance is €188 per week.

A total of 1,275  have so far had their payments reduced.

The Department has said that people in receipt of job seekers payment had to prove they were actively looking for work. Under a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Troika and the Irish Government, the Department of Social Protection vowed to take steps to “strengthen activation and training policies to help jobseekers get back to work”.

A payment can be reduced if a person:

  • Refuses an appropriate offer of training by an officer of the Department of Social Protection
  • Declines an intervention under the Employment Action Plan (EAP) or does not attend EAP meetings

The Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed told RTÉ that penalising those who are unemployed should be a “last resort” and highlighted the need for quality education for those out of work.

Ireland’s unemployment rate is now 14.8 per cent, with the number of long-term unemployed in the country reaching 200,000 last month.

The INOU has calling for more investment into frontline staff, as many job seekers have said they are getting mixed messages, misinformation and delays from their local social welfare offices.

Read: ‘Investment needed’ in frontline social welfare staff>

Read: 437 jobseekers had payments cut for refusing employment help>

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