Friday 24 November 2017

Jobseekers must declare cars in welfare shake-up

Michael Brennan and Marese McDonagh

UNEMPLOYED people will have to declare if they own a car or motorbike for the first time as part of a radical shake-up of the social welfare system.

It is designed to ensure that social welfare staff know if they have the transport to get to job interviews or training courses. This has been a big problem in rural areas.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has introduced the regulation to build up the computer "profiling system" for newly unemployed people.

From now on, they will also be asked to supply details of their previous wages, social welfare claims over the past five years, their education level, their ability to speak English and the state of their health.

A spokeswoman for Ms Burton said the new requirement was not designed to catch people out.

Opportunities

"The aim is to help people get training and job opportunities. It can come down to such things as transport," she said.

It came as further details were released about the new "one-stop shop" service for jobseekers, which will see them assessed quickly for training and job opportunities. For the first time, they will have to sign a "social contract" before they can get their dole payments.

Ms Burton said her department was "moving in a new direction" where helping people find work would be a priority.

Under the contract, newly unemployed people will have to co-operate with social welfare staff to develop a "personal progression plan" to help them secure training or employment.

They will also have to attend all scheduled meetings. People who fail to live up to the contract will have their payments reduced and ultimately cut off.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Department of Social Protection would no longer be simply about paying out money but would focus on helping people who were out of work to exploit their skills.

He was speaking at the launch of the new integrated "one-stop shop" service for jobseekers, known as Intreo, at Sligo's social welfare office.

It will be available at 10 locations by the end of the year. The service will be available nationwide by the end of 2014.

Mr Kenny also revealed that unemployed people who got part-time work this Christmas would no longer be required to endure the "torture and hardship" of waiting up to six weeks to have their payments restored.

He said that under the improved system, they would enjoy a "seamless transfer" if they availed of a seasonal job.

Irish Independent

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