Reduced rates for younger jobseeker’s allowance recipients were first introduced in 2009. Budget 2014 further extended the reduced rates to recipients under 26 years of age.
This is a targeted measure aimed at preventing young people from drifting into welfare dependency. To guard against the development of welfare dependency, it is necessary to provide young jobseekers with a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training or to take up employment. If a young jobseeker in receipt of the reduced jobseeker’s allowance rate participates on an education or training programme, he or she will receive a higher weekly payment of €160. Young jobseekers who lose work and have an insurance record of paying PRSI receive jobseeker's benefit at the same rate as others.
Youth unemployment rose rapidly in the recession to over 30% in 2012. According to the Quarterly National Household Survey for quarter 1 of 2016, which was published yesterday, youth unemployment has fallen by almost half since then and now stands at 16.9%.
The Youth Guarantee sets a medium-term objective of ensuring that all young people receive an offer of employment within four months of becoming unemployed. The main plank of the guarantee is assistance to young people in finding and securing sustainable jobs through earlier and enhanced engagement processes. My Department also offers a range of supports and services aimed at assisting individuals who are exiting homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. Last year my Department made available 2,500 rent deposits and rent in advance payments at a cost of almost €1.5 million, of which almost 590 payments, equating to €315,000, were made to persons aged under 26 years. That was to ensure they could get accommodation. At the end of 2015 there were approximately 4,900 rent supplement recipients under 26, representing approximately 8% of total recipients receiving support under the scheme.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
These payments, including exceptional needs payments, can be made at the discretion of the officers administering the supplementary welfare allowance scheme on a case-by-case basis and subject to the individual’s specific needs. This range of supplementary supports is available to all individuals, including those who are under 26 years of age, with the aim of assisting these individuals in securing and retaining their own accommodation.