Doubts over plan to pay parents to get back to work
There has been a mixed reaction to Government plans to pay unemployed parents coming off the dole several thousand euro to ease their passage back to work.
The proposal, being brought forward by Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, pictured below, is part of a drive to eliminate welfare traps, where people feel better off staying out of work.
Under the plan, parents returning to work would continue to be paid €29.80 a week per child for up to a year on top of their salary.
The payments are regarded as a safeguard against poverty for low-income families.
Under the proposal, a parent of six children, returning to work, could be paid more than €9,000 a year, or €173.40 a week, should the payments remain in place for 12 months.
A parent of four children would receive €6,200 over the year, while a parent with two children would receive €3,099.
The proposal has been agreed in principle between Fine Gael and Labour, but Government sources were keen to stress last night that many details remain to be worked out.
Fianna Fail's Social Protection spokesman, Willie O'Dea, said the proposal was a crude instrument which will not tackle the problem of getting people back to work. "This simply delays the 'cliff' dilemma of the parent losing the money [suddenly]. It should be a graduated system, where there is a reduction of the amounts paid as the months go by.
"All this would do is encourage the parent to drop back on to the dole again after 12 months," he told the Irish Independent.
However, Brid O'Brien, of the National Organisation of the Unemployed, said any initiative which will help make the transition back to work as smooth as possible is welcome.
"The vast majority of people who are unemployed want to work. This is welcome, but I would support calls to graduate any reductions in the payments," she said.
Ms Burton's department said the number of welfare traps remaining in the system is very small.
The additional jobseekers' payments, known as qualified child increments, are included in the weekly amounts given to recipients. They are paid for children under the age of 18 and can in some cases be paid for children up to 22 years of age.
"It is important to stress that this will not affect the rate of Child Benefit paid to recipients - there is no question of a reduction to Child Benefit," the department of Social Protection said.