A Government proposal to cut the dole for jobseekers after 9 months instead of 12 months makes no sense and represents a slight of hand by the Government, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD.

Deputy O’Dea was responding to reports this week that people on jobseekers’ allowance would move to a means-tested version after 9 months rather than 12 months, which is currently the case. It was due to be discussed at cabinet today.

“What will effectively happen is people will have their benefits cut earlier because it will be means-tested. This is an underhanded way of cutting the jobseekers benefit and the Government need to be up front about this,” said Deputy O’Dea.

“The reasoning behind the measure is that it is supposed to encourage people back into the workforce. This is insulting to people’s intelligence. The simple question I would pose is, where are the jobs?

“The Live Register figures for last month revealed that 33,000 new people joined it. That’s an average of 4,870 men and 3,447 women joining the Live Register every single week in October.

“The latest figures also inform us that just a fraction of those who are currently out of work are receiving support from the State to re-train, up-skill and get back to employment. Last month there were 434,200 people on the Live Register but only 73,449 people in employment activation programmes.

“All we have seen in response from this Government is re-announcements and self-congratulatory spin on its ‘Action Plan for Jobs’, which has so far failed to deliver.

“The plan to cut the amount of time before jobseekers benefit is means-tested is nothing more than cutting social welfare through the back door and a real slight of hand by the Government, people will see it for what it really is.”