herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Charlie Flanagan backs Labour's dole hike proposal for young people

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan TD
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan TD

A SENIOR Fine Gael politician has lent his support to a proposal to increase the dole for young people.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said such a move “could well be on the agenda” as the Coalition aims to spread the recovery to “people’s pockets”.

Mr Flanagan was reacting to a Herald report that the Department of Social Protection is looking to restore the full dole to those aged under 26 – two years after the welfare payment was cut by around €40.

Tanaiste Joan Burton defended the decision at the time, stating that she wanted to make the social welfare safety net “like a trampoline that’s there to lift you up and not just to support you”.

But it’s now emerged the Department of Social Protection has drawn up plans that would see increases to the payment.

Labour’s proposal was yesterday met with support by Fine Gael minister Charlie Flanagan.

“Over the past number of years, changes that protected front-line services in social welfare and changes that protected the basic rates of income tax were objectives of the Government,” Mr Flanagan told the Herald.

“If we are now in a position, in October, to see the benefits of our economic recovery spread to people’s pockets, then I think this is something that could well be on the agenda,” he added.

Labour’s junior minister Aodhan O Riordain said it is important to adopt measures that boost the confidence of young people.

“We have been highlighting different age groups and sections of society who are more in danger of staying in long-term unemployment, and more in danger of having a life dependent on social protection and we want to guard against that,” he said.

“So anything that we can do in the Budget to ensure that young people have things that can validate their skills, that make them feel … that they are getting job ready.”

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