Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Nothing is free, warns Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned depending on social welfare is 'no route out of poverty'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that nothing is free in Ireland and pledged to stamp out what he claimed was unemployment DNA running through some households.

As he outlined the Government's new 50-point plan to move 75,000 long-term unemployed people back to work by 2015, he warned that depending on social welfare is no route out of poverty.

"We can't have a situation where there is a perception, an understanding or an acceptance that everything is for nothing in this world," Mr Kenny said. "Everybody is expected to make some contribution some way or other."

Separate from the Pathways to Work scheme, the Taoiseach revealed that the Action for Jobs plan had failed to reach its latest targets.

Mr Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton will publish the plan's second progress report for 2013 on Friday, outlining its results for the second quarter.

"The Action Plan for Jobs, overseen by the Minister for Jobs and my own department - a number have not been implemented because of presidency pressures," Mr Kenny said.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore said he wanted to see full employment by 2020. He said he recognised that was an ambitious target but the Government must reach far to achieve big.

Mr Kenny suggested the long-term unemployed should "get off the couch" and get back to work. But he insisted he was referring to those who are genuinely frustrated and want to find a job. "There's a great frustration and that leads to cynicism and being locked into a rut, and I don't want to see people in that situation," Mr Kenny said.

He said the targets set in Pathways to Work will be achieved with greater engagement from jobseekers and co-ordination from the 43 one-stop shops for employment that will be rolled out. "We want to engage with people who want to work, who are willing to work, who don't want to sit on the couch," he added.

Pathways to Work 2013 is designed to deliver more places on employment and training schemes, a set of more attractive recruitment incentives for employers and more interplay between welfare payments, tax and in-work payments to reduce so-called welfare traps.

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