Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs & Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD has revealed that the use of sanctions against social welfare recipients has soared since penalty rates were first introduced in 2011.
The information was supplied to Deputy O’Dea on foot of a Parliamentary Question.
Deputy O’Dea explained, “Sanctions against social welfare recipients for non-compliance or non-engagement in activation measures was first introduced in 2011. In the first year (2011), a total of 353 people were subject to sanctions and it has increased significantly year on year since then.
“In 2018 12,380 people were subject to sanctions and to date in 2019 5,821 people have been penalised. Given that the unemployment rate is falling, you would expect the number of sanctions being applied to also decrease, but this does not seem to be the case.
“While there is no doubt that penalties should be applied to those who repeatedly refuse to engage with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, it is imperative that consideration and leeway is given to those who are genuinely unable to take up work, be it for mental health or physical health reasons. Furthermore, the threat of sanction should not be used to coerce people into wholly unsuitable employment.
“Given the significant increase in the use of sanctions I would like Minister Doherty to conduct a review of the practice and provide further details on their application. Our social welfare system needs to be humane and we must ensure that sanctions are being used only when necessary and where appropriate”, Deputy O’Dea concluded.