Deputy Martin Kenny
Speaking in the Dáil today on the Social Welfare Bill, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal, Martin Kenny, said the JobPath system is reminiscent of the Ken Loach film ‘I, Daniel Blake’.
Deputy Kenny said: “There are people in my area who have finished up on Community Employment Schemes which suited them down to the ground. They then receive the dreaded letter from JobPath, a system run by Seetec, a British company contracted by the Department of Social Protection, and find that they are barred from going on any other scheme.
“I have three examples of people in my constituency who have come to me frustrated and angry about JobPath. One of them is a woman in her 60s, who has spent the last decade or more looking after elderly parents and is in poor health herself. Having been refused disability, she is now forced onto Jobseekers’ and is being harassed to attend training programmes on how to write CVs and how to conduct herself at interviews.
“For the two year duration of the JobPath programme, she is barred from taking a place on any other training scheme or Community Employment Scheme, which would be more appropriate. This woman lives 30 miles from the Seetec office and does not drive," explained Deputy Kenny.
He cited another example of a man in his 50s. The man has a small farm of land and in receipt of Farm Assist.
"He was hoping to get onto a Community Employment Scheme which would suit him and his lifestyle and provide a service to the local community. He is now barred from this possibility and is painfully aware of the futility of participating in a course for jobs which do not exist in this locality," said Deputy Kenny.
“The third example is a woman who as on a Tús scheme, helping out in the local Tidy Towns project, planting in housing estates and other such activity. She was very happy, making a constructive contribution to her community and looking forward to beginning a Community Employment Scheme. She received the letter from JobPath and now is tied to a commitment to attend the Seetec offices two mornings a week for two years. She has to provide evidence of jobs applied for and evidence of active job seeking."
Deputy Kenny said these scenarios illustrate the ludicrous nature of this JobPath programme "which in a machine-like manner takes no account of the reality of the circumstances of its victims."
“Last night, I saw the film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ which depicted how a man in Britain was driven to die in despair having been harassed by such a system and I appeal to the Minister for Social Protection to take heed of the message contained in it. Is the point of JobPath to find work for people or is it to harass them into a situation where they no longer have the heart to try to claim social welfare?”.