Senior Fine Gael Minister backs proposal to increase dole for under 26s
A SENIOR Fine Gael politician has lent his support to a proposal to increase the dole for young people.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said such a move “could well be on the agenda” as the Coalition aims to spread the recovery to “peoples’ pockets”.
Mr Flanagan was reacting to an Independent.ie report that the Department of Social Protection is looking to restore the full dole to those aged under 26 – two years after the welfare payment was cut by around €40.
Tánaiste Joan Burton defended the decision at the time, stating that she wanted to make the social welfare safety net "like a trampoline that's there to lift you up and not just to support you".
But it’s now emerged the Department of Social Protection has drawn up plans which would see increases for this sector.
The proposals, which have not been brought to Cabinet or the Economic Management Council (EMC) are understood to have been sent to the Department of Finance for consideration.
Labour’s proposal was today met with support by Fine Gael minister Charlie Flanagan.
“I believe it is important that we have a balanced budget. Over the past number of years, changes that protected front line services in social welfare and changes that protected the basic rates of income tax were objectives of the Government,” Mr Flanagan told independent.ie.
“If we are now in a position, in October, to see the benefits of our economic recovery spread to peoples’ pockets, then I think this is something that could well be on the agenda,” he added.
Speaking earlier, Labour’s junior Minister Aodhan O'Riordain said it is important to adopt measures that boost the confidence of young people.
“We have been highlighting different age groups and sections of society who are more in danger of staying in long-term unemployment, and more in danger of having a life dependent on social protection and we want to guard against that,” he said.
“And that is a lot of what we have been trying to do for the last while has been based around that.
“So anything that we can do in the Budget to ensure that young people have things that can validate their skills, that make them feel … they have somewhere to go, that they are training and that they are upskilling and that they are getting job ready.
“Anything we can do in that regard is going to be welcome.”
The National Youth Council of Ireland also backed the proposal to restore the full dole for under 26s.