JobsPlus scheme claimed to have potential for 2,500 positions
Scheme offers cash incentives to employers to take on new staff who are long-term unemployed
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the scheme meant the State will pay €1 in €4 of the cost of hiring somebody long-term unemployed from the live register. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
The Government has launched a new jobs scheme which it claims could create as many as 2,500 positions for longer-term unemployed people over three years.
The scheme, entitled JobsPlus, was launched in Waterford this afternoon by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton.
The scheme offers cash incentives to employers to take on new staff, with a bias in monetary reward for those willing to take on a person who has been unemployed for more than two years.
An employer who takes on a person who has been unemployed for 12 months will be paid a total of €7,500 over two years and this incentive payment will rise to €10,000 if a person is recruited who has been on the dole for two years or more.
The scheme, which will be run on a pilot basis initially, will have a budget of €21.5 million for its three-year duration.
Ms Burton said that effectively it meant the State will pay €1 in €4 of the cost of hiring somebody long-term unemployed from the live register.
The scheme replaces two existing schemes, where employers were given PRSI exemptions and also tax-side incentives to take on jobs. Ms Burton said the rationale behind replacing the schemes stemmed from views expressed by employers that the old schemes “were too complicated and involved too much red tape”.
The four senior Ministers told a press conference that the main feature of the new scheme was its simplicity. Prospective employers will register on a website, jobsplus.ie, and once they have recruited a person unemployed for a year or more, or two years or more, they will be paid the incentive payment monthly over a period of two years. The new employee must work a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Ms Burton said the Department of Social Protection will monitor the net number of employees in companies to ensure the scheme is not abused for displacement purposes, a criticism that has been levelled in relation to a minority of cases in the internship scheme JobsBridge.
However, the net number of jobs incentivised by the new scheme is less in the pilot stage than those provided by two scheme it was replacing. Figures supplied by the Department of Social Protection showed there were over 3,000 take-ups of the two schemes between 2010 and 2012, compared to the 2,500 promised over three years for the new scheme.
The Taoiseach responded to this by saying that it represented only a start and this scheme would provide far more jobs than the previous one once it was fully operational.
He conceded that 2,000 jobs a month being created was comparatively low but argued the Government was moving in the right direction. He said the Government was still convinced it could achieve the overall target of its Jobs Action Plan of creating 100,000 new jobs by 2016.
Mr Gilmore said at the heart of the Government’s plan was getting people back to work. He said this initiative was one component of a “joined-up approach that is a national endeavour”.
He, Mr Kenny, Ms Burton and Mr Bruton all referred to the transition of the social welfare system from a passive one where people received dole payments to a proactive and “energised” one where through initiatives like Pathways to Work and Intreo offices people had new incentives and motivations to return to work.
The launch took place in the offices of Eistech, the Waterford outsourced contact centre that has grown out of the ashes of Talk Talk. The company now employs 550 people and will employ 700 by the end of the year, and will also avail of the new JobsPlus scheme.