8,000 have welfare pay slashed over their failure to look for work
Almost 8,000 young people have seen their social welfare payments slashed because of their failure to seek job or education opportunities, new figures reveal.
The Department of Social Protection has applied penalties to 7,873 jobseekers aged between 18 and 25 over the past two and a half years.
And the figures show that 2016 is on course to see record figures of welfare payments being cut.
Between January and the end of June,there were a total of 2,253 cases whereby penalties were applied.
This compares to 2,409 cases in 2014 and 3,211 cases in 2015.
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar said there are various reasons why penalties are applied, including when jobseekers fail to comply with their responsibilities "without good reason".
"Legislation provides that sanctions in the form of reduced payments may be imposed where recipients of jobseeker payments fail, without good cause, to comply with activation measures," Mr Varadkar said.
"Activation measures include the requirement to attend group or individual meetings, and/or avail of suitable education, training or development opportunities, or specified employment programmes, which are considered appropriate to a person's circumstances," he said.
Around 13,750 people aged 25 or under were affected by the cuts in their jobseekers' payments as part of Budget 2014.
People aged from 22 to 24 had their dole cut from €144 a week to €100, while those who reached 25 received €144 instead of the maximum payment of €188.
There were a number of exceptions for those who took part in a Back to Education programme or the JobBridge internship scheme.