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More than 2,400 penalties for jobseekers who refuse work or education

The figure for 2013 is already well ahead of the corresponding number of sanctions last year.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated 22:16

SO FAR THIS year, the Department of Social Protection has imposed 2,403 penalty rates on jobseekers who have failed to engage with offers of employment or education.

The figure highlights a significant crackdown by local authorities on social welfare claimants.

According to Minister Joan Burton, the corresponding number of sanctions for the whole of last year was just 1,455.

Strengthened sanctions were introduced in July 2013 to provide for a disqualification from jobseekers’ payments for up to nine weeks if the beneficiary continues to fail to engage even after 21 days of penalty rates.

Responding to a parliamentary question, Burton said a claimant may be disallowed if there is a failure to “meet the conditions of the scheme, including the requirement to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work”.

“A range of sanctions in the form of payment rate reductions can also be applied to clients who fail, without good cause, to co-operate with the Department’s activation measures, including offers of education or training,” she continued.

Reduced rates, which were introduced in April 2011 allow for a penalty of up to €44 per week to be applied to an individual’s payment where they refuse to take up a suitable education, training or development opportunity, which is considered appropriate to the person’s circumstances.

First published at 14:29.

Read: Budget deficit for 2012 still inside Troika target despite revisions

More: Graduates face tough recruitment process for jobs in Gilmore’s department

Related: “Employers have to become part of the solution”- Joan Burton

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