No place for private, for-profit companies in our Social Protection system - Mitchell
Sinn Féin Deputy Spokesperson for Social Protection Denise Mitchell TD has called for a full review by the Government into the JobPath employment activation scheme amid increasing critical reports of the scheme from both jobseekers and employees.
The Dublin Bay North TD also called an end to the outsourcing of the State’s welfare system to private, for-profit companies.
Speaking to reporters at Leinster House, Deputy Mitchell said:
“A few weeks ago, we launched the ‘JobPath Exposed’ campaign after receiving a large volume of complaints about this Government scheme. Since then we have been contacted by many more jobseekers and employees who outlined their criticisms of JobPath.
“Many jobseekers say they feel they receive practically no benefits whatsoever, they are required to travel huge distances for a cursory 15-minute meeting, they have serious concerns about the possession of their data by private companies and they say they have been subjected to threats of having their welfare payments cut for non-engagement.
“We do not believe Social Protection should be outsourced to private for-profit companies. It is very clear from the reports we have received that these companies simply do not have the best interests of jobseekers at heart,” she said.
“We have also heard from employees delivering the scheme who described the treatment of jobseekers as ‘insulting’.
“These staff say the constant pressure to reach quotas of meetings per-week means it is not possible to engage with jobseekers in any meaningful way. For example, one employee described how jobseekers with no computer skills are simply left sitting in front of computer monitors with almost no help.
“In recent weeks myself and my colleague John Brady TD met with the new Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and we outlined to her our serious concerns about the treatment of jobseekers on this scheme.
“We believe the contracts with these private companies need to end and that a review of the scheme needs to be conducted.
“Job activation schemes should have the best interests of jobseekers at their core, and all supports and training should be supplied to get those people back into employment. It is clear this scheme does neither.”