Welfare cuts ‘driving young to debt’

Thousands of young unemployed people are being driven into debt and unable to move out of their family homes because of cuts to their social welfare payments, a poll suggests.

The National Youth Council of Ireland is calling for the reversal of cuts to jobseeker’s and training allowances for young people in this week’s budget. Its survey found almost two of every five who receive jobseeker’s allowance were struggling to make ends meet as a result of cuts to the payment for those under 26, but the figure was as high as 54% among recipients in Dublin. The last cut took effect in January, meaning the payment for 23- and 24-year-olds fell from €144 to €100 a week, and the means-tested allowance was cut from €188 to €144 a week for 25-year-old recipients.

Among the 97 people who receive Jobseekers’ Allowance, 25% said they could not afford to move out of their parents’ home because of the cuts. It was nearly half among those living in Munster.

NYCI said the welfare cuts were partly justified as an incentive to take up education, training or work experience, but that argument was undermined by cuts to welfare payments and training allowances for under-25s. The training allowance for those who are on VTOS, training centre programmes, and other training was cut from €188 to €160 a week.

Among jobseeker’s allowance recipients, just over one in 10 were in debt since the recent cuts. The rate was one in six for young women.

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