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ESRI refuses to reveal data that 'contradicts' Tol's claims

THE Economic and Social Research Institute was last night refusing to release new calculations which, they say, contradict claims that 44pc of families would be better off on the dole.

The think-tank claimed that Prof Richard Tol, the author of the original paper, has now revised his figures downwards.

But this was last night flatly denied by the academic who said he was standing by his conclusion that four out of 10 families would be better off on the dole than working.

The ESRI this week withdrew the controversial working paper. It then said it had reworked the paper and the new conclusion was that just 10pc of people would get more money on welfare.

In a statement, it claimed Prof Tol has revised his figures and arrived at the new 10pc figure.

"We are aware that Professor Tol is now in possession of a revised draft of the paper which indicates that the percentage of people with children who would be better off on social welfare than working is not 44pc but less than 10," the institute said.

But last night Prof Tol, who is now professor of economics at the University of Sussex, denied he has revised the data, saying: "'I did not revise the paper.

"Not content with censoring my work, is the ESRI now trying to put words in my mouth?"

He continued to stand over his conclusions.

Asked repeatedly yesterday for any figures, calculations or data to contradict Prof Tol's original conclusion that 44pc of families would make more money on the dole, the ESRI was unable to do so.

It kept referring this newspaper to Prof Tol.

"We are aware that Prof Tol is in possession of revised analysis. Prof Tol, who is the lead author, may be able to advise you when he plans to release a revised version of the paper."

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According to the original ESRI paper, once the costs of transport to work, lunches and other expenses are factored in, it costs parents almost €10,000 a year just to get to work.

The withdrawn research, which has stirred up the debate about the welfare system, found that work-related expenses are so high that over four out of 10 working families would be better off on welfare.

It costs a worker €7,000 a year, if there are no children, to cover expenses like lunches and commuting.

The Department of Social Protection said that the numbers of people on the Live Register getting the maximum welfare benefits is small.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has been dragged into the controversy.

Ms Burton was challenged by Prof Tol to come up with factual findings to contradict his conclusions. But her department was unable to do so.

Ms Burton has denied interfering in any way to force the politically sensitive paper to be withdrawn. But her spokesman questioned some of the assumptions about the cost of going to work, without producing any calculations of the cost of taking up a job.

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