Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, to investigate why the number of social welfare recipients who have had their payments cut or reduced on foot of recommendations by Turas Nua has now exceeded 10.5 thousand. Deputy McGrath was speaking after information supplied to him in Parliamentary Reply indicated that 6,019 people had their rates cut in 2017, while 4,447 reductions were made in 2018. So far this year a total of 89 payment penalties have been applied:
“Almost everyone, with the exception of the Minister, acknowledges that there are profound problems with how Turas Nua and indeed Seetec operate their business model.
Time and time again it has been put to the Minister that Turas Nua in particular is having a devastating impact on the capacity of CE Schemes to find people to keep them going. This is having a devastating impact on rural community and voluntary projects.
Those who were previously available for such work and who enjoyed it, are now being hounded by Turas Nua to engage in alternative forms of employment or face severe financial penalties; this is totally unacceptable.
I have had qualified teachers come to me at their wits end because of the aggravation and time wasting they have experienced from Turas Nua. This is not a useful way to spend public money.
Last month the Minister was defeated by a majority of Dáil members who called for the abolition of the Jobpath Programme and specifically the model operated by Turas Nua.
When I put the question to her about how she was going to respect that vote; she indicated to me and the other members present that the Motion was meaningless and would not be acted upon.
This is the kind of dismissive and arrogant attitude that people are experiencing when they are forced to sign contracts with a private company, which Turas Nua is, or face ongoing and indeterminate penalties.
We now know, following this PQ reply, that a for profit company like Turas Nua have recommended that thousands of those on the lowest incomes in the State have their payments slashed.
I want an immediate and thorough investigation on why the numbers are so high; because from what I and many other TD’s are hearing, engaging with Turas Nua is enormously stressful and needs to be abolished,” concluded Deputy McGrath.