'High-risk' unemployed to be targeted by Burton plan


PEOPLE WHO have a high risk of remaining unemployed over the long-term will receive priority treatment for intensive support under the Government’s new “labour-activation” measures.

However, they will also lose a part or all of their dole if they continuously fail to accept all reasonable offers of training and support.

The measures will form a core part of Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton’s Pathways to Work, which will bring the State’s welfare and employment services together for the first time, under the auspices of a single Government Department.

The new policy, which is also a requirement of the State’s bailout programme, will be launched next Wednesday.

Internal notes prepared by the department have asserted the old “one-size-fits-all” approach to job activation and job seeking had not succeeded in delivering the appropriate targeted services required by unemployed people.

Under the plan, a new body, the National Employment and Entitlement Service, will offer a higher level of personalised support and also promises more face-to-face interviews with jobseekers.

“Those on the live register who are identified as being most at risk of long-term unemployment will receive priority treatment for more intensive support. This will ensure active case management with scarce resources targeted at people most in need of assistance,” it states.

And in a major step change, following intensive discussions with the troika, there will be penalties for those who consistently fail to avail of reasonable offers of appropriate interventions.

To identify that group most at risk, the department will use a profiling system, which will assess each client under 24 different headings.

Breda O’Brien, policy director of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, said the new service would assess people but that the supports offered to those with a higher probability of re-entering employment would be minimal. She told RTÉ that job creation has been minimal.

“The Government has to seriously address this issue. It cannot be threatening people to have their social welfare cut if there is no job there.”