Daly welcomes easing of jobseekers’ payment restrictions on older people

Speaking following the publication today (Wednesday) of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2013, which gives effect to a number of social welfare measures announced in Budget 2014, Fine Gael Cork South West Deputy, Jim Daly, said the provision which allows those aged 62 and older who are unemployed to engage on a voluntary basis with the Department’s activation measures without risk of penalties being imposed is a welcome one.

“A new arrangement has been included in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2013 for older jobseekers, which takes account of the contribution they have made to society by not applying compulsory engagement criteria to them during the period they are signing on.

“All other claimants in receipt of a jobseekers’ payment must engage with the Department of Social Protection’s activation process, which offers training or education, or face penalty rates which will see their weekly payments reduced. Such criteria will not, however, apply to those over the age of 62, who while being offered all the supports that the Department has available, are being given the choice as to whether or not they engage with the process.

“In addition to this, these older citizens will only have to sign on with their local office once a year and will have their payments made directly into their bank accounts for convenience.

“The activation-related sanctions which are set out in law mean that those who do not engage with the efforts being made to find them a job or a suitable education or training place, could have their payments reduced or even suspended. This will incentivise people to get involved in the possibilities their future holds and not to look on welfare as a way of life.

“A further measure which aims to make welfare a less attractive option is the provision of the higher rate of €160 for all jobseekers aged 18-25 years who participate in the Back to Education Allowance scheme.

“€1.08 billion is being spent next year on labour activation, training and education places to help get our people off the dole and to help then to upskill and retrain for the opportunities that present themselves. I am delighted that while all of the Department’s supports will be at the disposal of those aged 62 and over, I welcome the fact that they can be availed of at their discretion.”