ALMOST 3,000 jobseekers had their weekly payments cut or suspended this year for refusing to engage in training or employment opportunities, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Departmental staff have the power to reduce payments to jobseekers who refuse to engage or fail to attend meetings.
And those who consistently ignore training and work offers may see their payments suspended for up to nine weeks under measures introduced by the Government.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has insisted that those in receipt of welfare payments must co-operate with Intreo, the department's employment service.
She said that some 2,953 recipients were penalised in 2013. This figure represents almost double the number of those sanctioned last year (1,455) and compares to just 352 penalties in 2011.
Ms Burton indicated that suspending a payment for nine weeks pushes people to respond to Intreo services.
"We find that a lot of people actually do in fact respond, eventually they get the message."