Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has today called upon Minister Joan Burton to introduce employment supports for unemployed people who are currently seeking work and are, for varying reasons, not eligible for welfare.
Speaking at the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“I am increasingly being approached by people who need to get into employment and who need some support in order to do so but who are excluded from the Department’s various activation supports and government initiatives because they are essentially not recognised as being unemployed.
“They are a diverse group of people but the common thread that runs across them is that they do not qualify for a jobseekers payment in their own right. This payment is the gateway to supports varying from assistance with job search and interview coaching right through to more formal education and training. This leaves them, in effect, on their own with no support.
“They are the hidden unemployed.
“Some of the people I’m talking about include:
“A formerly self-employed man from Cork who makes the point that many of these who are now excluded from supports actually paid Class A PRSI for many years before becoming self-employed but because eligibility for jobseekers benefit only looks back so far find themselves excluded often in contrast to much more recent entrants to the labour market with smaller total contribution records. The Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare acknowledged the education and training deficit amongst this group and recommended the extension of some job activation measures.
“A working man from Dublin who lives with his girlfriend who is unemployed. She was refused JSA on the basis of his means yet he is not in a position to avail of her tax credits and allowances. So one arm of the state treats them as a single unit whereas the other treats them as entirely separate entities.
“We need to start recognising this wider and diverse grouping of unemployed people and start extending supports to them as finance allows.
“We can no longer ignore the needs of the hidden unemployed and I am calling on Minister Burton to immediately begin addressing this issue.”