Social Justice Ireland believes the Government’s ‘Jobs Initiative’ is far too small to make any impact of substance on Ireland’s record level of long-term unemployment. The proposals contained within the Jobs Initiative are welcome as far as they go but there will be no major reduction in the numbers long-term unemployed for the foreseeable future without far more radical action being taken aimed directly at reducing the numbers long-term unemployed.
Social Justice Ireland notes that the total value of new spending and cuts in VAT, PRSI and air travel tax is €470m in 2011. However, only €29m of this is allocated to labour activation measures. This means that long-term unemployed people will receive little benefit from this Initiative. Government must move swiftly to address the situation where for the first time in Ireland’s history, over half of those unemployed are in fact long-term unemployed. More radical initiatives are urgently required.
Initiatives focused on improving job creation and protecting jobs that already exist are very welcome and necessary but they should not be allowed create an illusion that Ireland’s unemployment crisis will be resolved in the period immediately ahead. The transition from near full employment to high unemployment has been a significant and shameful story in the current recession.
Action is urgently required to change this situation. The Jobs Initiative is a first step but a very long road stretches out ahead.
Social Justice Ireland has presented proposals to Government which would create 100,000 part-time jobs for long-term unemployed people over a three-year period.
This programme was successfully piloted in six different parts of the country during Ireland’s last period of major unemployment (1994-98). It was mainstreamed in 1997 by Government. The Minister responsible for that mainstreaming was Mr Richard Bruton and his Minister of State was Pat Rabbitte TD.
The proposed Part-Time Job Opportunities programme:
Would create 100,000 part-time jobs for unemployed people;
Paid at the going hourly rate for the job;
Participants working the number of hours required to earn the equivalent of their social welfare payment and a small top-up;
Up to a maximum of 19.5 hours a week.
Access would be on a voluntary basis only;
Jobs would be created in the public sector and the community and voluntary sector;
Participants would be remunerated principally through the reallocation of social welfare payments.
Working on these jobs participants would be allowed to take up other paid employment in their spare time without incurring loss of benefits and would be liable to tax in the normal way if their income was sufficient to bring them into the tax net.
We strongly urge Government to take initiatives along the lines of this proposal which would have the scale to make a major difference to the lives of one of Ireland’s most vulnerable groups i.e. the long-term unemployed.
The Irish Government published a Jobs Initiative on May 10, 2011. This initiative honoured a commitment contained in the Programme for Government.
The Policy Briefing on Work Jobs and Unemployment can be downloaded here