A NEW dole office opened in Portlaoise this week to meet the demand on its service caused by the ever increasing number of people signing on in Laois.
Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office revealed that a figure greater than 10 percent of the county’s growing population are signing on at the three social welfare offices. There are now 8,951 people signing on in Laois, an increase of almost 500 people since the start of the year.
The number of people claiming unemployment benefit declined over the first five months of the year to 8,347, before jumping back to 8,678 in June. A total of 4,391 people are now signing on in the Portlaoise office alone, with 3,383 people signing on in Portarlington. The number in Rathdowney is 1,177.
The latest increase in the number of people unemployed in the county comes as the new Social Welfare office opened in Church Street, Portlaoise on Monday morning.
The old office on Railway Street had long since become too small for the large number of people signing on in, and people would begin queuing to sign on from as early as 8.30am. In the past councillors described the queues as “demoralising” and “undignified.”
Sinn Fein TD, Brian Stanley welcomed the opening of the new office.
“The provision of this larger office is long overdue and will be welcomed by over four thousand people who sign on in the Portlaoise offices. The new and much larger facility provides better office facilities and a level of privacy for unemployed people who, through no fault of their own, are in the dole queue. It should also end the humiliating practice of having to queue up along the street,” he said.
While welcoming the relocation of the office in Portlaoise and said he would continue to campaign for a better office in Portarlington. He emphasised that jobs must be prioritised.
“What must continue to be a priority is job creation to reduce the numbers of people having to sign on at social welfare offices,” he said.