Minister defends decision to cut welfare payment for under-25s

Giving significant welfare payments at 18 not best way to help young people into work, says Joan Burton

 Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton: “Work, training and education supports are much more beneficial in the long term to young jobseekers.” Photograph: Frank Miller

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton: “Work, training and education supports are much more beneficial in the long term to young jobseekers.” Photograph: Frank Miller

Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 01:01


Giving significant welfare payments to people when they just turn 18 is not the best way to help young people into work, according to Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

Speaking on the introduction of the Social Welfare Bill in the Seanad yesterday, the Minister defended the budget decision to reduce welfare payments from people under 25 who are not in training programmes.

Qualify
She said that most EU states required a young person to have made some social insurance contributions before they could qualify for unemployment benefit but Ireland was one of the few that provided a non-insurance based payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance.

“I’m ensuring that this continues, because of the difficult economic climate and the recognition that not everybody can walk into a job at 18 years of age. However, it is also true to say that payment of a significant amount of welfare support upon turning 18 is not the best way of helping young jobseekers in to work. Work, training and education supports are much more beneficial in the long-term to young jobseekers.

“That is why I am making the changes relating to Jobseeker’s Allowance for young people – to ensure a greater emphasis on those work, training and education supports. This will ensure that young people are always better off in education, employment or training than claiming.”

Ms Burton said it was worth noting that the amounts paid to young jobseekers in Ireland would still exceed those in several member states, including the UK. In the UK, jobseekers who are 24 or younger get €67 per week.

The Minister said that when negotiations on next year’s budget began her department was initially expected to make new spending reductions of €440 million but this had been ultimately reduced to €226 million.

Savings
“An additional €30 million in savings will be made through more fraud and control measures in 2014, while €34 million will be saved through better management of expenditure and lower than expected demand on some schemes, bringing the department’s cumulative adjustment to €290 million.

“Even with this lower adjustment, the department continues to play its role in the necessary deficit reduction programme as Ireland prepares to exit the bailout,” she said.