Groups urge some cuts to be overturned
on 17/10/2013 00:00:00
In the budget, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin announced that the €100 reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance would be extended to all those up to age 22, while for new entrants from January, it will extend to age 24. The reduced rate of €144 will apply to those reaching 25 from January.
The INOU said there was already a two-tier situation in operation and that the changes made this "more stark".
Brid O'Brien of INOU confirmed that, with a JobBridge payment of €50 a week, if two people were on the same JobBridge course, but one is 24 and the other 26, the 24-year-old would receive €150 while the 26-year-old would receive €238. A 25-year-old would receive €194.
"It's so contrary to what they claim they are doing [to encourage youth employment], it's extraordinary," Ms O'Brien said.
"When they introduced [JobBridge] for 18- and 19-year-olds in 2009 the rationale was to encourage them to get back into education and training, but when you extend it to hit young people coming out of college, who are already educated, that rationale doesn't stand up at all."
The INOU had asked for the reintroduction of the back to work allowance and also expressed concerns at some other aspects of the budget - one being a proposal by the Department of Education that apprentices going to ITs for the academic section of their training would be expected to cover the €540 per block fee, the other the abolition of the €20 top-up given to the long-term unemployed on going back to education and training. The INOU also criticised the retention of the medical card by the long-term unemployed for three years on returning to work, instead switching it to the GP card.
Meanwhile, the Irish Hospice Foundation called on the Government to reverse its decision to scrap the bereavement grant.
Orla Keegan of the foundation said the move would affect the elderly's "psychological well-being".
She said the cut "raises serious ethical questions about the type of society [the Government] is creating and specifically how it treats its citizens at one of the most vulnerable period of their lives".