Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that he welcomes confirmation from The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that referrals to the Jobpath programme will cease at the end of this year. Deputy McGrath was speaking after The Times-Ireland Edition reported that a run-off period “during which employment support will continue, but no additional clients will be referred to JobPath” is to come into effect. It has also been confirmed with the Department that the initial contracts with Seetec and Turas Nua included an option to extend the referral period for another two years, but this is not expected to happen:
“I think there are a significant number of people out there will breathe a sigh of relief about this latest development.
Many of us have been calling on Regina Doherty, to get rid of this coercive and patronising programme for years.
There have been serious problems with referrals to Turas Nua in particular.
Only in March I asked Minister 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.
Information supplied to me in a 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 Minister Doherty, have acknowledged that there were profound problems with how Turas Nua and indeed Seetec operate their business model.
Time and time again it was put to the Minister that Turas Nua in particular was having a devastating impact on the capacity of CE Schemes to find people to keep them going.
Those who were previously available for such work and who enjoyed it, were 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.
In February 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.
It now appears she has thought better of that,” concluded Deputy McGrath.