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Long-term unemployed to be given new ‘progression’ plan or have payments cut

People signed up to personal progression plans would have to meet Intreo employment advisers every two weeks

About 50,000 people on the live register are to be signed up to “personal progression” plans that could result in their payments being cut if they don’t engage.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is expected to bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday about a “Pathways to Work” strategy that is focused on bringing long-term unemployed people back into the workforce.

The Minister is expected to tell Cabinet that her Department aims to achieve this goal through further education, training and work placement schemes.

As part of this, people signed up to the personal progression plans will be required to have fortnightly meetings with employment advisers from the Department of Social Protection’s Intreo service.

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People who fail to engage with these supports or who are not making a genuine attempt to find a job will see their payments reduced. Ms Humphreys will tell Cabinet that already this year 3,000 people have had their social welfare payments reduced due to a failure to engage with the Intreo service.

She will also tell Cabinet that the long-term unemployment rate in Ireland is now at a record low of 1.1 per cent.

Separately, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will bring a memo on vacancy and dereliction to Cabinet that will outline how more than 5,400 residential properties could be brought back into use through the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The third round of URDF was announced last year and was targeted at addressing long-term vacancy and dereliction across cities and towns.

Cabinet will be told that 1,224 vacant and derelict properties have been approved under the scheme and that the estimated residential yield from these properties is some 5,406 homes. A budget of €142.5 million is allocated across the 31 local authorities under the third call.

The fund covers the purchase price of properties and any minor works required to make the property more suitable for sale. The acquired properties are then offered for private sale from the local authority to those who, in return, will commit to bringing the property back into residential use.

Separately, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is expected to update Cabinet on the implementation of the action plan for mother-and-baby-home survivors.

More than 10,000 people have received information through the Birth Information and Tracing Act.

First payments have begun to issue to survivors as part of the recently opened redress scheme.

Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke is due to bring a memo to Government about reducing the carbon in cement and concrete. He will amend the public procurement guidelines in order to support lower-carbon construction.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will seek Government approval for the renewal of provisions of the Offences Against the State Act for another year.

Under these laws, certain serious organised crime offences are tried in the Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise.

It is understood that the Minister will tell Cabinet that there “remains a real and persistent threat from terrorist activity, including from so- called ‘dissident’ republican paramilitary groups which remain active in the State”.

She will also tell Ministers that there remains a “substantial threat” from serious organised crime in the State.

A Government-appointed review group last year recommended the abolition of the Offences Against the State Acts but recommended that the most controversial aspect of the legislation, the non-jury Special Criminal Court, be retained, albeit with significant reforms.

Ms McEntee will tell Cabinet that a “substantive response” is being prepared to the recommendations.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath will seek approval for the Motor Insurance Insolvency Compensation Bill 2024, which will allow drivers to travel freely across the EU with similar levels of compulsory insurance.

The Bill transposes an EU directive that will see the Government set up bodies to compensate injured parties in a timely manner, in the event an insurance company becomes insolvent.

Minister for Further Education Patrick O’Donovan will tell Cabinet of plans to expedite a legal change to ensure that the duration of student accommodation contracts reflects the academic year, traditionally September to May annually, unless a student initiates a request for an extended 51-week contract.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times