Bailout progress under fire from EU
THE bailout supervisors in the EU have lambasted the Government for the lack of progress in pushing through vital reforms, particularly to help the unemployed get back to work.
In a strongly worded criticism of the coalition's implementation of major reforms, the European Commission also singles out the delays in changes to legal services, creation of a credit register, introduction of water charges and cutting the cost of drugs.
The spring 2013 review of the bailout programme by the European Commission lists a range of areas where the Government is failing to provide supports for unemployed people to get back to work:
* The Government is not doing enough to "meaningfully engage" with jobseekers.
* The target for opening "one-stop-shop" facilities to help the unemployed is going to be missed.
* Only 300 case workers are available for over 400,000 people on the live register, with the figure to increase to 600 this year and 800 next year.
* "Rapid decisions" on outsourcing activation services are needed.
* Special attention has to be dedicated to re-skilling, up-skilling and training, in particular for the long-term unemployed and young people. "Fast action is also requir- ed to reform employment support schemes to increase their effectiveness," the report says.
The report says that in response to the sharp increase in overall unemployment, the Government has focused on putting in place activation policies, reforming vocational education and training and seeking to foster job creation.
"Progress has not been sufficiently fast in light of the urgency and scale of the situation, however, and more needs to be done on these three fronts," it says.
"Delays have also been experienced in some other priority areas for structural reforms, including regard the legal services and water sectors," the report says.
However, the report says that the Government's compliance with the conditions of the bailout programme "remains generally strong".