JobBridge pay rate could rise, says Joan Burton
SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton has signalled hikes in the state payments made to thousands of young people taking part in the controversial JobBridge programme.
The Labour politician claimed this week that despite strong criticism of the initiative, 60pc of participants have gone on to get further work.
A total 28,000 young people have taken part in nine-month work placements which provide for an additional €50 per week on top of the dole.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Burton said that she would like to see increases in the extra payments made to job seekers who participant in JobBridge and other department led work schemes.
"If resources permitted, it's one of the areas I would certainly like to address," she said adding that the government "just haven't as yet had that leeway".
Ms Burton has been forced to defend the programme in the past, branded "scambridge" by Socialist MEP Paul Murphy.
It was revealed earlier this year that those who turn down offers through JobBridge will face a range of new penalties.
These are applied to those who fail to attend meetings with welfare officials, fail to turn up at designated training or education courses, as well as those who do not accept a legitimate training or employment offer.
But her comments about potentially raising the payments will provide hope to thousands.
Ms Burton, who has already insisted that there can be no further budget cuts in the departments of Social Protection and Education, said that further efforts are being made to assist young people into work.
She said: "For all of the negativity that there is sometimes towards people who find themselves unemployed, there's a huge amount of interest and we're trying to create networks and circles, particularly with the cooperation of employers, to get people back to work."
She was speaking during a canvass for Labour's candidate in the Dublin West by-election, Loraine Mulligan.
Mrs Burton refused to be drawn on whether she is considering increasing child benefit but said that this area, like all areas, is "being examined".