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A simple, clever plan to get people back to work

UNACCEPTABLY high unemployment statistics have continued to haunt this Government, despite some well-hyped job initiatives in the past few years.

One of the pillars of the Government's first initiative was JobBridge, which has been dogged by controversy, with complaints that companies were exploiting it for cheap temporary labour.

And earlier this year we had the Succeed in Ireland initiative, designed to provide direct financial incentives to people worldwide to create employment in Ireland.

But both schemes were up against it in an environment of continuous belt-tightening.

Yesterday the Government decided to try again, this time with a scheme that appears to be more user-friendly.

Basically, for every €4 an employer pays an employee coming off the dole, the Government will give back €1. The plan is aimed at getting those unemployed for a year back into the workforce.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has come up with the proposal after employers complained existing schemes were too complicated.

And complicated they were. The new scheme will be more lucrative for employers and, crucially, easier to operate.

It has not yet been decided whether this will be a straight cash grant, or a PRSI refund.

In any case, hiring a worker on a salary of €25,000 – with a PRSI bill of another €2,500 – the Government would give back €5,000 to the employer.

And this scheme seems to be fireproofed from the sort of exploitation charges that have dogged JobBridge.

So a simple, clever and potentially effective scheme.

Let's hope it gets people working.

Irish Independent