Saturday 24 March 2018

Controversy raises questions for think-tank

The ESRI's withdrawal of a paper that claimed that up to 44pc of unemployed families would be better off on the dole than at work raises far more questions than it answers. While the ESRI states that the paper had been withdrawn after it discovered that the analysis on which it was based required "major revision", the timing, coming so soon after the Department of Social Protection had strongly rejected its findings, was unfortunate to say the least.

With more than 436,000 on the live register and the annual social welfare budget running at more than €20bn, the issue of whether or not some of the unemployed are better off on the dole than at work is a highly controversial one.

First things first: Most of those on the live register are genuinely looking for work. Since the recession first struck almost five years ago 170,000 construction jobs and up to 50,000 retail jobs have disappeared. Clearly most of the increase in the number of people signing on reflects a real rise in joblessness rather than people choosing to sign on because it is in their financial interest to do so.

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