Portlaoise woman living on €70 a week

Slashes to the Jobseeker allowance are leaving young people trying to live independently unable to cope with one young Portlaoise woman is trying to get by on €70 a week, after she pays her council rent of €30.

Slashes to the Jobseeker allowance are leaving young people trying to live independently unable to cope with one young Portlaoise woman is trying to get by on €70 a week, after she pays her council rent of €30.

Following new figures which reveal that 870 new people signed on the live registers accross Laois Offaly this month, the plight of those out of work was highlighted this week by a young Portlaoise woman.

“I’m not coping at all. I’m not really able to afford heating. I mostly use the stove but it has no back boiler. My ma helps me out whenever she can, but she has her own bills to pay,” the 20 year old told the Leinster Express.

Having moved out of home three months ago, she has had no luck finding a job.

“There is no work, there is nothing out there for me. I went to FÁS and there was nothing there. I will have to move back out and that will be another house vacant. I don’t want to move back home, I’m an independent girl. I know other people my age that are getting the full allowance,” she said.

In the last Budget, the Jobseekers Allowance was cut for people aged under 25 from €188 weekly to €144 weekly, but for young people aged from 18 to 21, it was cut to €100, even for those who have no choice but to live away from home.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley has put down a Dáil question to the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton on the issue.

“I have requested that she review the rates of Jobseekers Allowance to cater for those genuine cases in independent accommodation. While I accept that these amounts may be sufficient for many young people who reside at home, the cuts do not take into account those who have to pay for their own accommodation.

“I’m aware of one case where a young person was in emergency homeless accommodation, who has no home to return to, yet cannot move on to independent living because he receives just €100 per week. This situation is clearly not acceptable and the Jobseekers Allowance payments should be structured to take this cohort of people into account. Young people who are living alone and have no other option are being put in an extremely difficult situation.” he said.

Meanwhile, following the release of the latest jobless figures from the Central Statistics Office, Deputy Stanley, also called on the IDA to make a concerted effort to attract inward investment to stimulate job creation.

“An extra 870 people joined the dole queues in Laois and Offaly in June bringing the total in both counties to 18,682. It would appear that all the much heralded Government initiatives are having little or no impact,” he said.

Deputy Stanley said he and four Sinn Féin Councillors would meet the IDA to review their plans for this region “to see how these appalling statistics can be addressed”. He said he was also in contact with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment over incentives for small businesses.” ENDS