The Government has launched a new jobs scheme which it claims could create up to 2,500 positions for longer-term unemployed people over three years.
The scheme, JobsPlus, was launched in Waterford yesterday 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. An employer who takes on a person who has been unemployed for 12 months will be paid €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 would pay €1 in every €4 of the cost of hiring someone from the Live Register.
The scheme replaces two existing schemes, where employers were given PRSI exemptions and also tax-side incentives to take on employees. Ms Burton said the decision to replace the schemes stemmed from views expressed by employers that the old schemes "were too complicated and involved too much red tape".
The four 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 two years.
The new employee must work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Ms Burton said the Department of Social Protection would monitor the net number of employees in companies to ensure the scheme is not abused for displacement purposes, a criticism that has been levelled at 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 the two schemes it is replacing. Figures supplied by the Department of Social Protection show there were more than 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.
It was also disclosed that the previous schemes were worth more to employers. The Taoiseach responded to this by claiming this scheme would provide far more jobs than the previous ones once it was fully operational, arguing that its simplicity would make it more attractive.
He said the Government was moving in the right direction in taking the jobless figures on a downward trajectory.
He added that he remained convinced the Government could achieve the overall target in its Jobs Action Plan of creating 100,000 net new jobs by 2016.
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.