Wednesday 21 February 2018

Charlie Flanagan lends support to proposals to increase dole for U-26s

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan

Niall O'Connor and Emma Jane Hade

A senior Fine Gael politician has lent his support to a proposal to increase the dole for young people.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said such a move "could well be on the agenda" as the Coalition aims to spread the recovery to "people's pockets".

Mr Flanagan was reacting to a report that the Department of Social Protection is looking to restore the full dole to those aged under 26 - two years after the welfare payment was cut by about €40.

"I believe it is important that we have a balanced Budget. Over the past number of years, changes that protected front-line services in social welfare and changes that protected the basic rates of income tax were objectives of the Government," Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent.

"If we are now in a position, in October, to see the benefits of our economic recovery spread to people's pockets, then I think this is something that could well be on the agenda."

Speaking earlier, Labour's junior Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it was important to adopt measures in the Budget that boosted the confidence of young people.

"We have been highlighting different age groups and sections of society who are more in danger of staying in long-term unemployment, and more in danger of having a life dependent on social protection and we want to guard against that," he said.

"And a lot of what we have been trying to do for the last while has been based around that."

A spokewoman for the minister added:

"Specific budget discussions are not underway yet and accordingly, Minister Flanagan did not equivocally rule out the proposal put to him.  There will be considerable debate between now and the Budget on priorities and spending decisions.

"Fine Gael’s general policy on social welfare reform is based on the principle of making work pay and incentivising people to return to work in line with our belief that work is the best way to lift people out of poverty."

Irish Independent

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