Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has condemned the Government’s latest insult to young people by slashing Jobseeker’s Allowance for new applicants under the age of 25 and current recipients under 22 to €100.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the EU, with 30.4% of 15 to 24 year olds out of work compared to an average of 22.9% across the EU. Half of young people in active employment are also underemployed.
Deputy O’Dea expressed his disbelief at the Government’s policy which cuts a core social welfare rate, encourages emigration by slashing income support and refuses to implement proper labour activation measures.
Deputy O’Dea stated: “This Government seems to have given up on young people. They are slashing young people’s income support, which makes it extremely difficult for our young people to live in this country. They have also failed miserably to implement labour activation measures that work. The obvious discrimination is galling and shows how little faith Fine Gael and Labour have in the next generation.
“At present, there is only one social welfare case officer for every 800 people on the dole. The OECD, the European Commission and the IMF have all criticised the utter failure of this Government to implement effective labour activation measures to ensure that those who can work, will work.
“Ireland once had the largest youth cohorts in the OECD at 16% of the population. This figure stood at 12% in 2012. Emigration has been a central reason for this dramatic decline. This Government is using emigration as a policy tool to reduce unemployment numbers. This budget measure may well reduce unemployment numbers further but it will also reduce the number of young people who plan their future in Ireland.
“Half of all young people in active employment are also underemployed showing that jobs simply are not there for the younger generation. In September, 408,670 remained on the live register. This is despite the Taoiseach’s assertion that 92% of the Government’s much vaulted goals in the Action Plan for Jobs were completed last year. No new jobs have yet been created through the NewEra project; the project which Fine Gael promised would create over 105,000 jobs.”