I move amendment No. 1:
In page 6, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:
“Poverty impact assessment of reduced jobseeker rates for 18-24 year olds
5. The Minister shall carry out a poverty impact assessment of maintaining reduced rates of jobseeker payments for young jobseekers aged 18-24 years and that the assessment shall be presented to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection within 3 months of the enactment of this Act.”.
I have been pushing for a poverty impact assessment for several years. Indeed, I tabled an amendment last year on the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2018, at which time the Minister stated that there was no need for such an amendment in light of the work to which her Department had committed.
The Minister stated:
We are ready, practically, for the finalisation of our report that was committed to under the Pathways to Work programme 2016-2020, which will examine exactly what the Deputy is looking for today. I have no problem committing to that as the report is very nearly ready to be published. I am very happy, Chairman, that this committee be the first place that we have a conversation about it. I do not need to recommit in legislation to something that is already practically completed.
The amendment was not successful last year and many members took the decision, based on the Minister's contribution, that trust could be placed in her that the report would be forthcoming. Unfortunately, another year has passed and the discrimination against our young jobseekers continues. Unfortunately, I am tabling this amendment again because the report is not here with us. She has spoken about making changes in the Bill, which are welcome but they do not go far enough. Only approximately 300 young people living independently will benefit from the changes put forward by her.
We need a full poverty impact assessment. Has she seen a draft of this report, the preparation of which seems to be going on forever? Has she read the report or where is it? If I could be given a date categorically now, there would be no need for this amendment. Unfortunately, if we do not have that, I must press the amendment.