| 8.3°C Dublin

Burton slashes dole for jobless who won't work

THE jobless face cuts to their dole if they refuse to take up work or training offers under a new crackdown.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is to introduce new rules where people on unemployment benefits will face financial penalties for the first time if they consistently refuse to take up offers of training, education, or course placements.

But the plan has sparked an angry response from representatives of the jobless.

The targeting of dole recipients refusing to work forms part of the EU/IMF bailout, which has pledged to save €750m this year alone in welfare payouts.

Ms Burton has vowed to change a culture of young people drifting into a life on the dole.

"There are some people unfortunately who, if they slip into unemployment, it becomes almost a way of life and that's not good enough... if somebody fails to engage and they show no signs of being interested in co-operating, then they may face some sanctions," she said.

"If people are given reasonable options, they really will have an obligation to consider those options very seriously.

"We can't have a situation where somebody at a very young age could almost drift into a life on welfare payments," she said.


"It's not good for them, it's not good for their children and it's certainly not good for Irish society and I want to change it."

The minister, in a separate interview, also mentioned Ireland's growing black economy and cited it as one of the reasons for deciding to introduce new rules on unemployment benefits.

Part of the major reform of the social welfare system would be to offer meaningful options and alternatives to those who are out of work, she said.

"If they are offered a series of options and show no signs of taking up the offers, then their payments should be penalised," the minister said.

If a parallel black economy went back to the level of the 1980s, Government efforts to recover the economy would be undermined, she said.

However, Brid O'Brien -- head of policy at the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed -- said: "When there's so little work, to be threatening somebody makes no sense.

"She doesn't have the courses or the jobs to be offering people. This is the third minister for social welfare who had made this speech."

The European Commission bailout mission chief in Ireland said earlier this month that a "phasing out" of welfare payments as an incentive for people to return to work was being considered as part of the EU/IMF bailout deal.