Tuesday, 5 February 2019
JobPath Programme: Motion [Private Members]
Prior to Christmas, I raised this exact issue with the Taoiseach on Leaders' Questions. Based on 2015 and 2016 figures, I revealed that JobPath increased the chances of gaining full-time employment by only 2% for unemployed people. This was based on the Department's figures. It surely is a great return on the money invested in it. Figures for part-time work are better but this means that work for these people is often in seasonal, precarious and low-wage employment. So low are these wages that the State regularly steps in to subsidise the income through the family income supplement, part-time jobseeker's benefit and jobseeker's allowance. This is very common in Donegal.
JobPath is a reflection of where Ireland's welfare policy is going. Instead of social welfare being seen as a right it is now seen as a transaction and the entitlement to welfare has been replaced by a quasi-contract called the record of mutual commitments. Those who do not engage with the service are sanctioned. Those aged under 26 suffer twice due to cuts made to jobseeker's payments for younger people.
Fine Gael is actively undermining the social welfare system to justify outsourcing social services to private companies. The private sector, in turn, further undermines the social welfare system. Social welfare services, such as the local employment service, adult guidance services, community employment, the rural social scheme, Tús and job clubs have been in decline since Fine Gael came to power. Despite this, recently commissioned research by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has revealed that local employment schemes successfully achieve full-time employment placement for 28.8% of those referred to them annually. The local employment scheme model is better value for money, costing €2,544 per full-time employment placement compared with €3,718 per person under JobPath's payment by results model.
These figures defy any Government justification for the existence of JobPath and prove that adequately resourced employment schemes within community settings work for recipients. JobPath should be shut down and the money reinvested into State services. Ireland must move away from encroaching privatisation of social service provision and re-establish the notion of social welfare as an entitlement and a right, not a transaction. Unfortunately, we need to get rid of this Fine Gael Government and its Fianna Fáil supporters for that to happen.