Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has criticised Minister Regina Doherty for her Department’s overuse of threats to sanction jobseekers’ payments for lack of compliance, in this case with an event she was holding.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Brady said:
“This is yet another case of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection threatening jobseekers with sanctions for lack of compliance. It now seems sanctions also extend to those who fail to show up at events being held by Minister Doherty.
“Last month, ahead of a strike by Community Employment Supervisors for their right to a pension, letters from the Minister’s Department threatened that funding to CE schemes would be reviewed having regard to industrial action. In this letter, the Department also sought the names of Supervisors who were withdrawing their labour.
“Almost a month to the day, we have another letter issued by the Department threatening jobseekers who fail to attend the Minister’s ‘Community Employment and Tús Information Event’ with sanctions to their jobseekers payment.
“It would appear that the Department are so used to attaching these threats of sanctions when communicating with jobseekers that they are now putting them on all letters, regardless of the subject concerned.
“Research has shown that sanctions are not effective. Britain’s most extensive study of welfare conditionality carried out over five years and published last year described the policy of docking benefits as punishment for failure to engage or follow jobcentre rules as ‘disastrous’. The research concluded that ‘benefit sanctions do little to enhance people’s motivation to prepare for, seek or enter paid work. They routinely trigger profoundly negative personal, financial, health and behavioural outcomes.’
“I am calling on Minister Doherty to review her Department’s use of sanctions for those who depend on our social protection system. I would also ask that she reviews the way in which her Department communicates with jobseekers.”