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'There are lots of jobs available': Leo defends lower jobseekers' payments to young people

Young jobseekers will get an increase of €2.70 to their payment per week next year.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 8.36pm

AN IRISH YOUTH advocacy organisation has hit out at the Government over smaller increases to unemployment benefits for young adults in this year’s Budget.

However, the move has been defended by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar who claims there are enough employment and training options for those under the age of 24.

He told reporters this evening that the government wants to incentivise these men and women to return to work or education.

It was announced this afternoon by Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe that the jobseeker’s allowance was set to rise by €5 for people beginning in March of next year.

Speaking today, Donohoe said that in order “to ensure that the benefits of our economic recovery are felt by all” there would be an increase of €5 across all social welfare payments:

All weekly social welfare payments– including the carer’s allowance, disability allowance and jobseeker’s benefit and allowance – will rise by €5 per week, in line with the increase in the State pension.

However, what he did not mention was that this did not apply to young people.

Under the new increases people aged 18 to 24 who are in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance will get an extra €2.70 per week (from €100 to €102.70).

People aged 25 years of age will get an extra €3.80 per week (€144 to €147.80).

Meanwhile, those aged 26 and over will get the touted €5 increase (from €188 to €193).

download (37) The increases to jobseeker's benefit in this year's budget. Source: Paul Murphy TD

The National Youth Council of Ireland has storngly criticised the Government on this measure, calling it “mean-spirited” and “miserly”.

“We’re very disappointed with this measure,” said James Doorley, deputy director with the organisation.

“It’s miserly, it’s mean-spirited and its further discrimination on young people.

Young people are already trying to survive on €100 euro a week… This creates further gaps in support for the young and old.

Doorley said that the NYCI has called repeatedly for increases to the social welfare payments for young people, which were cut dramatically in recent years.

We’ve called for the rates to be increased before,” he said.

“If you’re giving €5 to everyone you think they would at least keep people at the same level.

It comes across as very strange decision… We’re not talking about tens of millions here we’re talking about a very small amount.

Opposition TDs have also storngly criticised the measure, with AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy calling the payment “measly”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this afternoon, Murphy said the Government had “doubled down” on its “discrimination” against young people.

It’s quite incredible, young people are already being discriminated against,” said Murphy.

Now they’ve doubled down on that… I think they feel they can get away with treating people like this.

When asked about the criticism tonight, Varadkar said young people are being encouraged to take up employment, education or training.

He said there are “more and more opportunities available… that’s what we want people to do”.

He added that increasing the rate in the same manner as other jobseekers would have “sent out the wrong message”.

“There are lots of jobs available in our economy,” he said, adding there are a lot more jobs available now than there were four or five years ago.

“I want them to take them up.”

He said the best thing to do was to have a proportional increase.

With reporting by Christina Finn

Read: What Budget 2017 means for someone earning around €30,000

Read: While we’re all looking at the Budget, Donald Trump is having a go at his own party 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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