State insists it will have full employment by 2020
THE Government insists it can get the country back to full employment – which technically means just 5pc of people will be out of work – within the next seven years.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore made the claim at the launch of the Government's 'Pathways to Work' scheme, which aims to get people back to work.
He said the Coalition must now put as much energy into job creation as it has into bringing down the deficit and stabilising the economy, with the aim of reaching full employment by 2020.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted the latest plan is not simply a rehash of old ideas, and said it is focusing on the long-term unemployed.
Mr Kenny said there will be new measures to get people off the dole, claiming: "Nothing is for nothing."
Mr Kenny also said the Government wanted to "get people off their couches – which is where they don't want to be" and avoid situations where there is a "DNA" of welfare in some families.
He also said there must be a change in culture from one where "everything is for nothing" and the unemployed are seen as "a discarded list of people who withdraw free money".
The latest plan aims to get 75,000 long-term unemployed into work by 2015 and 20,000 over the next year.
The State also wants to steer the Department of Social Protection away from just handing out welfare payments and toward actively getting people back to work, through measures such as the new network of 'Intreo' offices.
People calling at the new offices will be given an interview, during which they would be shown what they would take home after tax, and including family income supplement if appropriate, if they went back to work. This will be called a 'Better off in Work' statement.
The plans also include reforms of the social welfare system to ensure someone who comes off the dole to take a job doesn't immediately lose benefits like rent supplement, which would in effect mean a tapering off of some benefits once someone takes up work.
A Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) will also be introduced to replace rent supplements for those with long-term needs.
Reduced welfare payments have also been brought in over the last two years for people who do not take available work and 1,442 people have had their payments docked – with a maximum reduction of €44 per week for the dole – so far this year.
This is already up on the 1,435 from last year and the 372 in 2011, when the scheme was introduced in April of that year.
At the plan's launch, Mr Kenny was also asked about the troika saying 'Pathways to Work' is a move in the right direction, while adding more resources are needed to get the long-term unemployed back to work.
Mr Gilmore said the Government has already had to follow targets set down by the troika.
"We are now at a stage where we need, as a country, to set a target for ourselves and I believe that that target should be the target of full employment," he said.
"We need to replace the Holy Grail we have been following for some time, getting our deficit down to under 3pc by 2015, which we do and which we are committed to doing and which we are committed to completing, but we now need to move on from that target to getting the level of unemployment down to 5pc, which is the technical level of full employment, by 2020."