Thursday 18 December 2014

Under-25s who snub JobBridge offers face dole cuts

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 29/01/2014 | 02:30

Joan Burton Minister for Social Protection
Joan Burton Minister for Social Protection

YOUNG people who turn down offers through the controversial JobBridge scheme face cuts to their dole payments for the first time.

Those aged under 25 will also be forced to upload their CVs to dedicated jobs websites or face the prospect of penalties.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has confirmed that a tougher approach is being taken with jobseekers who refuse to accept work or training opportunities.

Those who fail to apply for or turn down placements through the JobBridge scheme face being penalised in what is a further crackdown on apathy among young people.

Ms Burton confirmed to the Irish Independent that, for the first time, young people will have to accept JobBridge opportunities or face a cut of up to €33 in their welfare payments.

PENALTIES

Previously, such a cut only applied to people who failed to accept offers on other department-led initiatives, such as the Pathways to Work scheme.

In a report unveiled yesterday, Ms Burton detailed the five reasons for which penalties are being applied.

These include:

* The non-attendance at meetings with welfare officials.

* Failure to accept a legitimate training or employment offer.

* Failure to attend an accepted training or education course.

* Failure to apply for or accept an opportunity via JobBridge – a new requirement.

* Failure to register CV details on recommended jobs websites – a new requirement.

According to Ms Burton, the new requirements will only trigger sanctions in "extreme cases".

"I would be surprised, if young people in that category, if they get an interesting opportunity via JobBridge – specifically tailored towards them – that they would refuse that. We will certainly look at that, and the sanction as an option remains a possibility," she said.

"We find people are extraordinarily anxious at every different age to actually get back into work or education. We do, however, use sanctions in the fairly limited number of cases where people simply fail to engage."

According to the government report, the dole will be slashed by up to €33 depending on the size of the weekly payment.

JobBridge offers nine-month internships to unemployed people who get an additional €50 a week from the State on top of their welfare payments.

Ms Burton has been forced to defend the scheme, which has been described by Socialist MEP Paul Murphy as "scambridge".

Meanwhile, Ms Burton has given details of the Government's plan to implement the EU-wide Youth Guarantee.

The plan pledges that all young people under the age of 25 will be offered a job, training or education place within four months of being made unemployed. It explains that young people will be invited to register with their local Intreo office where their profile will be built.

A Personal Progression Plan will be agreed between the young person and their case officer during an interview process. The plan states that the young person will then be given support in finding suitable work experience and training opportunities.

Irish Independent

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