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Labour Minister’s u-turn will further impoverish struggling families – Ó Snodaigh

26 April, 2011 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Responding to reports that Labour Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is to introduce new rules where people on unemployment benefits will face financial penalties if they fail to take up offers of training or education, Sinn Féin Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh accused the Labour Party of engaging in yet another u-turn which will further impoverish struggling families.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The Labour Party is committing yet another u-turn as Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is lauding the introduction of measures that she herself voted against one year ago.

“The Bill which provided for the reduction of job seekers payments was opposed at the time by both my own and the current government parties.

“The Labour Party's then spokesperson Roisín Shorthall agreed with my objections and stated that the proposed system whereby a job seekers payment can be cut or withdrawn if they fail to take up what is deemed by an official to be a 'reasonable offer' is "wide open to abuse".

“Our objections focused on the fact that the cost of participation in education and training was ignored by the proposal. For example a job seeker with young children may have no choice but to turn down a number of educational opportunities because they cannot afford the cost of childcare that would be required to attend. It would be outrageous to further impoverish such a family by reducing their social welfare payment.

“The Minister is making this proposal without a cursory glance as to how this might affect job seekers, in particular families who are already trying to cope with rising costs and government cuts. The reality is that there are few supports available.

“If this Government is serious about getting people off the dole and into work they must first and foremost create the jobs. All the requisite supports to participate in education and training must also be brought on stream.

“People do not want to be on the dole. They want to work. Punishing unemployed people for the sins of the banks is not acceptable and I am urging the Labour Party to stop this flawed proposal in its tracks.”

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