Wednesday 13 December 2017

Varadkar's warning to work-shy: 'Don't expect State to bail you out'

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Anne-Marie Walsh

The Social Protection Minister has warned that unemployed people who will not take jobs should not expect taxpayers to fund them.

Leo Varadkar said it should not be considered a success when somebody spent three years on a Community Employment scheme and made no progress, or moved from a course to a scheme to welfare.

He addressed the subject of 'course and scheme fatigue' at a Pobal conference called Creating an Inclusive Labour Market at the Helix in Dublin City University yesterday.

'I know people who go off to Florida every year yet they're on the dole' - readers on Leo Varadkar's 'work-shy' comments 

Responding to questions from people working with the unemployed, he said the quality of life and impact of State interventions should be considered and it might be possible to extend the Tús community work placement scheme.

"Bear in mind, and I know it may not be popular to say this, but I think it does need to be said, all of this is paid for by taxpayers, who go out and work every day," he said.

"[They] maybe aren't in their dream job, maybe aren't in a regular job but go out and work every day, earn money for their families and themselves and pay taxes.

"And they've a right to raise questions if somebody was saying: 'I'm not going to take a job because it's not suited to me or I don't like it, it's not the job I want. By the way, in the meantime you should pay for me'.

"We can't have that. That's not fair on the people who are working. That's not fair on taxpayers."

There was an awkward silence after Mr Varadkar made his comments, although some of the audience, which included members of jobs clubs, poverty groups and groups for the homeless and disabled, nodded in agreement. A spokesperson for the minister said the main point he was making was to help and encourage people back to work.

As part of the department's 'activation' process to encourage jobseekers to take up jobs or training opportunities, those who refuse offers or do not attend meetings can have their payments cut by up to €44 a week. Strengthened sanctions since 2013 mean payments can be stopped for up to nine weeks where a jobseeker who had a penalty imposed for 21 days refuses to engage.

Dee Keogh of Kerry Jobs Club said there were 45-year-old men who were skilled but course-weary. She said they did not want computer courses, but "real work".

Irish Independent

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