Wednesday 21 February 2018

Four-year low for numbers on dole, and still dropping

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has acknowledged that rent supplement is a welfare trap
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has acknowledged that rent supplement is a welfare trap
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

DOLE queues are expected to shorten further in the run up to Christmas, as the numbers signing on dropped below 400,000 for the first time in more than four years.

The number of people on the Live Register has now fallen for the 16th successive month, prompting the Government to say there is now a clear pattern of a "sustained long-term reduction" in the jobless figure.

Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the numbers on the Live Register now stand at 396,512 – the first time since May 2009 that the figure fell below 400,000.

The unemployment rate now stands at 13.2pc – down from 13.3pc in September, and down from 14.3 in October 2012.

Welcoming the figures, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said that while there are still far too many people on the Live Register, the country is "moving decisively in the right direction".

"There are now 396,512 people on the Live Register, 23,000 fewer than this time last year and almost 34,000 fewer than in October 2011.

"This is a very welcome turnaround considering that the register was firmly on an upward trajectory towards 500,000 when this Government took office." She predicted the number of people returning to work will increase in the months ahead.

And Ms Burton promised that unemployed people taking up seasonal work over the festive period won't have to apply for the dole as a new claimant when that work finishes.

"Coming up to Christmas, it is especially important that those undertaking seasonal work do not have any concerns about their Jobseeker's payment being restored, if and when that work ends.

"Where a person who is getting Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance takes up temporary work or avails of a short-term training course for up to eight weeks, the department will temporarily suspend their claim so that it can be reinstated without delay when the work or training finishes," she added.

John Stewart, co-ordinator for The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, said that as we enter the busy pre-Christmas retail season, it is critical that the minister's department informs unemployed people of the fast-track system to allow them take up short-term work without breaking their Jobseeker's claim.

Business group ISME said the "modest" reduction in the jobless figure was welcome, however, it pointed out that the long-term unemployed still account for 46pc of those signing on.

OVERHAUL

The group called for a "total overhaul" of the social welfare system.

Dublin Socialist MEP Paul Murphy said "forced emigration" and not job creation was responsible for the figures.

"Now that Joan Burton has slashed the dole to €100 a week for young people, I'd expect that we will see the emigration rate shoot up again, while they celebrate a drop in the number of people signing on.

"Her solution to youth unemployment amounts to forced emigration."

Irish Independent

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