Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

PQ No. 36 – 17th October – Social Welfare Policy

To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons who have turned downed reasonable offer of education, training or employment in each of the years since she began her tenure as Social Protection Minister; the possible sanctions available on foot of such refusals.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Seán Kyne.


A jobseeker claim may be disallowed where the customer fails to meet the conditions of the scheme, including the requirement to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work.  A range of sanctions in the form of payment rate reductions can also be applied to clients who fail, without good cause, to co-operate with the Department’s activation measures, including offers of education or training.

Reduced payment rates (Penalty Rates) for jobseekers, which were introduced in April 2011 allow for a penalty of up to €44 per week to be applied to an individual’s jobseeker payment where there is a failure to engage with activation measures.

Strengthened sanctions were introduced in July 2013 to provide for a disqualification from payment for a period of up to 9 weeks, in circumstances where a customer who has had a Penalty Rate imposed for 21 days, continues to fail to engage.

Sanctions may also be applied if a client, without good cause, refuses or fails to take up a suitable education, training or development opportunity, or a specified employment programme, which is considered appropriate to the person’s circumstances.

In the period May to December 2011, 352 penalty rates were applied.  From January to December, 2012, 1,455 penalty rates were applied bring the overall total to 1,807. To end September 2013, 2,403 penalty rates were applied bring the overall number applied to 4,210 since their introduction.