Sunday 15 December 2019

Jobs scheme hits target two years early of getting 2,500 off dole

There is no recovery while unemployment is still in double digits
There is no recovery while unemployment is still in double digits

Niall O'Connor

A GOVERNMENT-LED jobs scheme has taken more than 2,500 long-term unemployed people off the live register in the past 12 months – two years ahead of schedule.

Joan Burton's JobsPlus programme has engaged 1,811 employers nationwide since its launch in July, figures released to the Irish Independent have revealed.

The Department of Social Protection has claimed that the core target to take 2,500 individuals off the dole queue by 2016 has now been exceeded.

Around 60pc of the participants of the scheme had been out of work for over 24 months at the time of their recruitment, a spokesperson confirmed.

Ms Burton has come under fire from members of the Opposition over the level of success achieved with her department's back-to-work schemes.

The much-heralded Pathways to Work scheme, known as Gateway, is far off from delivering the 3,000 jobs previously promised by Ms Burton.

And her department's JobPath scheme, designed to get 100,000 off the live register, has also hit a snag due to a shortage of welfare officials to process applications.

However, the figures relating to JobsPlus show the scheme has gone down well with employers.

By the end of May, JobsPlus concluded agreements with 2,385 long-term unemployed people.

"In excess of 2,500 employees will be supported when June data becomes available in the coming days," the department said.

JobsPlus provides a direct monthly financial incentive to employers who recruit employees from those who are long term on the live register.

It provides employers with two levels of payment:

* €7,500 over two years, where a jobseeker who is 12-24 months on the live register is recruited.

* €10,000 for each person recruited who has been unemployed for more than 24 months.

The subsidy is paid in monthly instalments over a two-year period, provided the employment is maintained. After being declared the new Labour leader last week, Ms Burton pledged to place a relentless focus on getting people back to work.

"My job now is not just to lead the renewal of the party but to ask the people of Ireland to have trust in the Labour Party," she said.

"I'm very conscious that rooted in the history of the party, right from the time of Connolly and Larkin, has been to be striving for progressive policies and for making Ireland a better place for all its people, not just the comfortable and better off," she added.

Irish Independent

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