Government smashed target for reducing long-term unemployment in 2016 by 34% - Varadkar

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New figures show Government smashed target for reducing long-term unemployment in 2016 by 34% - Varadkar

  • Over 26,000 long term unemployed secured employment last year
  • Initial target to find work for 20,000 long-term unemployed was exceeded by 34%
  • Long-term unemployed on live register falls faster (18%) than overall unemployment (13%)
  • Long-term unemployment rate of 4.2% is less than half peak level of 9.5% (2012) but more needs to be done

Sunday, 29 January, 2017:  Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has welcomed new figures showing significant progress in tackling long-term unemployment in 2016, with the Government exceeding its own target to help 20,000 people back into employment by an additional 6,000 people.

The figures are being published by the Department of Social Protection as part of its final PathWays to Work update for 2016.

“Long-term unemployment is usually the most difficult issue to tackle in joblessness, so it’s particularly significant that we exceeded our targets in 2016 by 34%.  Long-term unemployment fell by 18% during 2016, faster than the overall fall in unemployment of 13%.  And the long-term unemployment rate of 4.2% is now less than half its peak level of 9.5% from 2012,” Minister Varadkar said.

“These figures show that the tailored approach taken by the Government is working.  These range from one-to-one advice, support and mentoring through the Intreo and Jobpath services, employment activation schemes like Community Employment, subsidies paid to employers to take on people who are long-term unemployed like JobsPlus, or set up their own business like the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance.

“In the year ahead I will make every effort to continue reducing long-term unemployment with a new set of targets.  My goal is to bring long-term unemployment to below 2.5% over the lifetime of this Government.  That’s why we intend to help at least another 20,000 people on welfare to find work in 2017.  I am determined to make more changes for the better this year to ensure that the benefits of economic recovery are felt by every individual, household and region in the country through reduced unemployment, higher living standards and enhanced social protection.”

In previous economic recoveries, the long-term unemployed jobseekers tended to be left behind, with long-term unemployment levels remaining high. That’s why reducing long-term unemployment is a priority in the Government’s PathWays to Work strategy.

The Minister has set out new objectives for 2017 to build on this progress:

  • Help another 20,000 people move from welfare into work;
  • Develop a Working Family Payment to make work more attractive for families currently on welfare;
  • Implement an Action Plan for Jobless Families to zero in on long-term unemployment;
  • Launch a new work experience programme to replace the JobBridge scheme that was closed in 2016;
  • Recalibrate labour activation schemes like CE and TÚS to focus on those farthest from the labour market;
  • Intensify our engagement with employers and boost the take up of JobPlus, and the Wage Subsidy Scheme for employees with disabilities;
  • Promote and make access to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance easier;
  • Work with other Government departments to overcome the barriers to work including the cost of childcare, transport, education and housing;
  • Increase the number of employers participating in the Department’s long-term unemployment and youth activation charter to over 600.


Further information
The Government’s actions taken as part of Pathways to Work are helping to make sure that this time around long-term unemployed people benefit from the economic recovery.

  • The JobsPlus recruitment subsidy continues to encourage employers to recruit people who were long term unemployed – the number of employee registrations doubled during 2016 and there are now c. 5,400 people benefiting from this subsidy, about 66% of who were more than two years unemployed. Over 90% of people are retained in employment when the subsidy expires.
  • The Department now has 62 Intreo offices in place across the country and has doubled the number of Case Workers to around 550. These Case Workers develop an agreed Personal Progression Plan which looks at educational or employment supports, and how to return to work. Jobseekers furthest from the labour market and those under 25 years of age are engaged with most frequently.   Over 70,000 long-term unemployed people also have access to the support and advice of a case officer via the new JobPath service to help them prepare for, pursue and secure employment.  The first set of performance data is very encouraging indicating that 25% of people using the service have secured and sustained full-time employment.  In addition independent research indicates very high levels of satisfaction with the service by clients.
  • The take-up of new and existing back-to-work incentives has increased. For example the number of people benefiting from the Family Income Supplement has increased by over 1,600 during 2016 while over 13,000 families are now benefiting from the Back to Work Family Dividend – an increase of about 30% year-on-year. In addition over 17,000 households have moved onto the new Housing Assistance Payment. This replaces Rent Supplement for persons with long term housing needs and enables unemployed people to retain housing support when they return to work.
  • Over 400 employers have now signed up to the Department’s long term unemployment and youth activation charter. Signatories to this charter agree to work with the Department to offer employment opportunities to young unemployed people and people who are long term unemployed.
Last modified:29/01/2017