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Sign contract or lose dole, jobless told

Tough new regulations will require the unemployed to sign a contract in return for getting welfare, while job seekers will have to declare if they own a vehicle.

The moves are part of a plan by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton designed to shake up the social welfare system.

Under the scheme, job seekers will have to co-operate with social welfare staff to develop a "personal progression plan" and they will be required to attend all arranged meetings.

Those unwilling to take part in the new scheme face the risk of sanctions and the potential reduction or cancellation of their payments.

The contractual measures are part of the Government's new unemployment support service, Intreo, which was launched yesterday and will see the service for jobseekers united under one umbrella.

It replaces the three previously separated services from Fas, the Department of Social Welfare and the Community Welfare Service.

In another new development, those currently out of work will be forced to declare whether they own a car or motorbike for the first time.

The move is designed to inform social welfare staff whether job seekers have the transport to get to interviews or training courses, which has caused problems in rural areas.

A spokeswoman for Ms Burton has said that the new regulation was not designed to catch people out but added that the Social Protection Minister is hoping that the measure will build up the computer "profiling system" for newly unemployed people.

"The aim is to help people get training and job opportunities. It can come down to such things as transport," said the minister's spokeswoman.