Sunday 18 February 2018

Life on social welfare shouldn't be too comfortable

"You see, the genuine hardship here is strictly for minimum-wage suckers living on sliced pan and pasta and still forking out taxes to pay for those who don’t need to get out of bed"

Lorraine Courtney

TV3 showed a new documentary last night that followed four TDs trying to experience life on the dole. Each week, the show follows one TD who is paired up with people in their constituency who are dependent on social welfare payments. During the time they spend together, each TD gets to experience what it's like to try to make ends meet, plan a budget for the week, try to pay bills and keep food on the table, deal with below-standard housing and attempt to cut through the bureaucracy to access Government assistance. But life on the dole shouldn't ever be comfortable, right?

We still have a significant problem of unemployment. And barriers to taking up work - such as our poor public transport infrastructure, limited access to affordable childcare, education disadvantage and the continuing lack of jobs in many areas - continue to exist. But it is next to impossible to persuade people to come off the dole to take regular employment if it doesn't pay substantially more than the sum of their benefits.

The long-term jobless - at least some of whom are terminally work-shy - have managed to take refuge from any questions about their lifestyles over the past few years, due to political correctness and lack of jobs. It might sound tough, but why should hard-working taxpayers have to work even harder to keep others in their idleness? The long-term unemployment rate in Ireland averaged 4pc from 1992 until 2014. Depending on the cohort, only six to 13 people out of every 100 people emerge from long-term unemployment without intervention. The proportion of people on the live register for more than three years is the fastest increasing grouping.

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