The Government has confirmed that social welfare claimants who fail to take up work or education opportunities will have their dole cut off for over two months.
The strict measure, which is designed to incentivise people to work, will come into effect next month.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton is making the change, which will see the unemployed face harsher penalties if they fail to participate in work schemes.
Her office confirmed the measure yesterday and said it would take effect from Jul 1.
The department has already reduced dole payments for 2,841 welfare claimants, where individuals refused offers of training, education or work.
The maximum that claimants can have their dole reduced by is €44 per week.
Under the stricter rules, claimants who have had their dole reduced, but who still refuse to take up training or education opportunities, will see payments suspended.
A department statement read: “If a person has seen their payment reduced as a result of a penalty rate, but still refuses to engage with the Department’s services, deciding officers will be enabled to impose a further sanction — suspending their jobseeker’s payment for up to nine weeks.”
However, under the terms of the new Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, claimants can have their payments reinstated once they agree to take up work-related opportunities. The extended penalties will also see people who drop out of employment schemes face cuts to their dole.
Decisions on whether or not to apply a penalty rate or a disqualification of up to nine weeks will be made by a deciding officer. The penalties or suspension of payments however can be appealed to the social welfare appeals office, Ms Burton’s department explained.
Ms Burton discussed her bill in the Dáil last week but did not raise the issue of disqualifying dole claimants. It is expected that the harsher penalties will be introduced into the legislation when it is further discussed in the Oireachtas later this month.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
More in this section