22,000 on dole fail to attend mandatory interviews
ALMOST 22,000 people on the dole failed to attend their compulsory FAS interview last year, it has emerged.
The Government's main welfare-to-work measure is the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP) -- under which, those on the Live Register for three months are referred to FAS for interview, with a view to a job placement or training.
Between January and November last year, 65,000 people were interviewed, but another 21,600 failed to turn up.
Failure to attend can result in continued entitlement to receipt of the jobseeker's allowance and jobseeker's benefit being reviewed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. But the department was unable to provide a breakdown of the consequences for the 21,600 non-attendees.
A spokeswoman for FAS said it had put forward a number of suggestions to the department in relation to improving attendance rates. "These are currently being explored," she said.
Some of the 21,600 non-attendees are currently being looked at and may be referred again for interviews, according to FAS. The 21,600 figure also includes people who may have left the Live Register in the weeks leading up to their interview or shortly afterwards.
Last night, the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed (INOU) said there were a "variety of reasons" why people on the dole failed to attend interviews, but added that no research had been conducted.
Head of policy Brid O'Brien said some people might have been on FAS courses in the past and may have felt that what was on offer wasn't suitable for them. Others might already have been on a training or education programme or in employment.
"There are a variety of reasons to why people don't show up for interview. Nobody can give you a definitive answer because so many statistics are not cross-referenced," Ms O'Brien said.
"It's very odd that nobody has every properly drilled down to see exactly what are the figures telling us or not telling us -- because there is quite an extraordinary drop-off between those referred and those who turn up, and those who progress on to something. The figure gets smaller and smaller as you go down that line."
According to the department, those who fail to attend interviews or decline offers of employment or training are referred back to their local social welfare offices.
People who are unable to avail of the opportunities provided by FAS for valid reasons, continue to receive payment.
In a written reply to a Dail question last week, Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin said an analysis of initial interviews, in May 2009, showed that approximately 17pc of clients were called back for one or more subsequent interviews with their case officer, and 14pc actually attended at least one such interview.