herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tough new dole rules as €700m a year 'is wasted'

THOUSANDS of jobless face the prospect of having their dole payments slashed or cut off entirely.

The Cabinet will attempt to stem criticism of its jobs plan by making it mandatory for unemployed people to turn up at training courses and interviews.

The radical new plan to make jobseekers work for their social welfare is being considered by the Government as part of a desperate bid to deliver on job creation.

The new rules come as it was revealed that a staggering €700m a year is wasted on failed job creation programmes.

A new plan set to be considered by the Cabinet in the coming weeks will introduce a much tougher training regime for the country's 439,000 jobless.

The plan recommends that jobseekers should have their dole payments slashed or cut off entirely if they refuse to turn up for job placements or interviews. It also proposes to introduce more intensive training courses and force jobseekers to take up a job or placement within 12 months.



Training

The new measures have emerged after an internal Government report found that more than half of the €1.2bn spent on job training each year is being squandered on ineffective plans.

The report was particularly critical of the €360m a year Community Employment (CE) scheme, as well as the back-to-education scheme and the Youthreach programme.

Ministers are coming under intense pressure to devise a plan that will cut the jobless figures -- with both Fine Gael and Labour making strong pre-election pledges on the area.

The internal report from the Department of Public Expenditure claims that the CE schemes -- which includes drug rehabilitation projects and after school clubs -- do not help people get a job.

It states that dole payments should be "conditional" on people agreeing to the new system, adding that the pace of reforms "should be accelerated".

The 'Pathway to Works' plan has been devised by the Departments of Education and Social Protection and is due to be signed off by Cabinet soon.

A computerised profiling system will be rolled out to offer those out of work the relevant training programmes.

The Economic and Social Research Institute, which supports the report, said that CE schemes are not effective.

ESRI professor Philip O'Connell said: "Community employment is really not an active labour market policy at all. It does good work, it keeps lots of essential services alive, but it does not help you get a job.

"You have got to get people engaged and willing to do it as much as anything else. Getting people to go back to school is a big ask. You need to think about how to support them."

hnews@herald.ie

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