Endless Spin Cheats Us All

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From top: Independent TD Paul Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Earlier today.

During Leaders’ Questions in the Dail.

Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy recalled the “Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All” campaign previously launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Readers will recall how at the launch of the campaign, Mr Varadkar – then Minister for Social Protection and not leader of Fine Gael – stated a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection saved taxpayers more than €500million in 2016.

The campaign was later referred to as a ‘mistake’ by the Secretary General of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection John McKeon.

Mr Murphy also spoke about JobPath.

He said since the ’employment activation programme’ was introduced in July 2015, €84million has been paid to two companies Seetec and Turas Nua.

Following on from this, Mr Varadkar spoke about welfare fraud and criticised the “hard left”, again.

Paul Murphy: “‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ you said, Taoiseach, in a campaign now universally recognised as being based on false figures which your own department questioned. You cynically used public money to enhance your appeal to Fine Gael members.

That campaign may now be largely forgotten but the agenda behind it remains. It was more than just a dog whistle campaign for votes. It was part of an ideological assault on social welfare…”

“140,000 unemployed people have been turned into opportunities for profit for private companies. In the process without significant debate the provision of social welfare has been partially privatised. I’ve spoken to a number of people who’ve been through JobPath, they say they’re not given any real training, they’re just supervised while looking for jobs on a computer meaning that it’s pointless travel for many, they describe it as demeaning, as patronising, as infantalising.

“And what hangs over all of their interactions with private companies is the threat of having their social welfare cut by more than €40, leaving people to try to survive on €150, or less, a week.

Since JobPath has been introduced, the number of people who have had these so-called penalty rates applied has increased from 5,000 in 2015 to 16,000 last year. That is in one year alone. Some 6,500 JobPath participants have had their dole cut.

“On the other hand, €84 million of public money has been paid to just two companies, SeeTec and Turas Nua. They get money each time someone signs a personal progression plan and they get paid job sustainment fees.

Both SeeTec and Working Links, which is one of two companies behind Turas Nua, have been accused of fraud in the operation of similar schemes in Britain. Last October in the Dáil, Deputy Catherine Murphy raised a very serious case of fraud by SeeTec in Ireland.

All of that has been justified up until now on the false basis that the system works and gets people into employment. That has now been completely exposed by the Government’s own figures which came out three weeks ago. Only 18% of those who engage in JobPath end up in full-time employment.

“Some €84 million has been given to these private companies to get people jobs which they would have got themselves. Will the Taoiseach now read the writing on the wall for JobPath? Will he agree that the scheme needs to be scrapped and that instead of handing money over to private companies, he should invest in proper education and training and in real jobs for unemployed people?”

Leo Varadkar: “Welfare fraud is very real. And it is a real problem in this country and in every western society. Even if we take the lowest estimate of the scale of welfare fraud in this country, it is about €40 million a year. That is a lot of money in my view. Let us not forget that people who engage in welfare fraud are not the poor and vulnerable. They are people who are pretending to be poor and vulnerable. They are people who are working and claiming.

“They are people who are working, not paying their taxes on that work, and also claiming welfare at the same time. I do not believe that is defensible or acceptable. There are people who are pretending to have a disability they do not have or pretending to care for someone for whom they are not caring.

People are claiming to be somebody they are not to claim pensions for people who are long dead. It really disappoints me to hear left-wing politicians in this country constantly defending fraudsters as though they are entitled to the benefits that they are stealing. They are not — to prevent and crack down on welfare fraud in any way we can.

One only needs to look at the court reports every other day to see the detail of some of those cases and what people have been doing to defraud our system. The reason we cracked down on welfare fraud is not ideological. The reason is that fraud is wrong, whether it is tax fraud or welfare fraud, and we act against it.

“In doing so, we ensure that the welfare budget is protected for those who are entitled to it, including our pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, the unemployed, lone parents, blind people, widows and others. As a result we have been able to increase in two budgets in a row the State pension, payments to carers, payments to people with disabilities and payments to people who are unemployed. It is Government policy to crack down on welfare fraud in order to protect the welfare budget for those who need and deserve it, particularly pensioners, the disabled, carers and people who are unemployed.

I am very disappointed to hear politicians on the left continuously equivocating on this issue and not condemning welfare fraud. I note that the Deputy did not do so on this occasion. Tackling unemployment is one of the areas in which everyone acknowledges we have seen a real turnaround in recent years.

“Unemployment peaked at 15% and is now down at approximately 6%. Long-term unemployment is down to 3%. That is not just because of a recovering economy. Unlike many recoveries, we saw unemployment fall rapidly once our recovery started. That is not the norm in recoveries. There is usually a lag. The reason unemployment fell very rapidly in Ireland once the recovery started is the kind of active policies in which the Government engaged both on the enterprise and welfare sides.

Had we listened to the Deputy and had we pursued the policies which he advocated, which have been attempted in Greece, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and other countries, not only would we have mass unemployment, but we would have a mass refugee exodus from this country similar to the current exodus from Venezuela to Colombia.”

Murphy: “It is like Deputy Enda Kenny is back. The Taoiseach managed not to answer the question at all. Instead he attacked something which I did not say and then went on an ideological attack about Venezuela. I think he might have even referenced Colombia and Greece.

Varadkar: “Colombia is where the refugees are.”

Murphy:Let us go back to the question. The question is on the Government’s JobPath scheme, which has failed in its stated aim of getting jobs for people. That is what the facts now demonstrate. Only 18% of participants get jobs, which is no higher than the rate for people who do not have access to JobPath. These companies have been accused of fraud in Britain. What is the Taoiseach doing to make sure that they are not engaged in fraud here? To deal with the curveball which the Taoiseach has thrown, which is that he will stand over and double down on his rhetoric about welfare fraud, the Taoiseach gave the figure of €40 million two minutes ago, but his advertising campaign said €500 million. Which is it? Who is engaged in fraud here?

Mattie McGrath: “It is the spin machine.”

Murphy: “The Taoiseach is engaged in fraud against unemployed people and is using public money to demonise them in order to drive precarious employment. He is continuing in that same Thatcherite vein here. Will he please answer the question asked in respect of JobPath?”

Varadkar: “I said that even the lowest estimate is €40 million. I note the Deputy has not refuted that.”

Eoin Ó Broin: “What is the actual figure?”

Varadkar:The figure of €500 million was what it said on the tin, that is fraud and control. Fraud and control. They are two different things.”

Pearse Doherty:It was the Department’s Brexit bus.”

(Interruptions)

Varadkar: “On the whole issue of JobPath, we must look at the counterfactual analysis. People who are long-term unemployed can be referred down a number of different routes. They can have assistance through the Intreo service provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; they can be assisted through JobPath, which is outsourced to two companies; or they can be referred to bodies such as local employment schemes, for example. It is interesting to compare counterfactually how people perform under those different headings. There is a complaints procedure in place. If participants feel that they are not getting a proper service from JobPath, they can make a complaint directly to the company. If they are not satisfied with the response, they can go to the Department and make a complaint through its procedures.”

McGrath: “They would be wasting their time.”

Varadkar: “It is important to note how the companies are paid. They get a registration fee per client referred to them but after that they only get paid if the person gets a full-time job and sustains it. The incentive is there for the companies not just to get people into any old job, but to get them into full-time jobs which they can sustain for more than 13 weeks. The longer the person keeps that job, the more the company gets paid. Its strength is in its results. Unemployment is now falling below 6% and long-term unemployment is now below 3%.

Murphy: “The Government’s own figures dispute that.”

Varadkar:Where would we be today if the policies of the hard left had been followed in this country?”

Murphy: “We would not have vulture funds dealing with public banks.”

Varadkar:There would be mass unemployment and mass emigration.”

Previously: Populist Chancer Cheats Us All

33 thoughts on “Endless Spin Cheats Us All

  1. Chris

    Independent TD? Since when? Thought he was Solidarity!
    Otherwise that gold plated SCU is really paying dividends for Darth Varadkar here. :rolleyes

    1. Sami

      He isn’t, it’s just a product of lazy editorial standards. You can figure out something as simple as political affiliation with google – so it’s either being lazy or an intentional decision to hide Solidarity’s name… The latter is a bit too conspirational for Broadsheet I think.

  2. Boj

    Nice zinger there from Pearse! It could almost be followed by a Cooper style “ah thank you very much”.

    1. ahjayzis

      Leo could quit his job tomorrow and be rich, yes RICH – for the rest of his life. Because he makes the rules and the rules say we will pay him five nurses salaries every year until he dies.

      They expense their houses, cars, petrol, lunches, pints.

      That’s freeloading. That’s who’s mugging you. You’re such a useful idiot for them.

      1. anne

        Ah he’s worth it though.. He’s up early and out the door to go look like a plonker with his posters about the cheats.

  3. Zaccone

    Whatever about the morality of JobPath, the sheer waste of it is shocking. Both those oft a left-wing persuasion (ie in favour of more unemployment supports) and right-wing (in favour of trying to cut government spending) should be able to agree on the fact that its clearly just not a good investment of government funds, based on the now measurable outcomes.

    I believe FF are planning on doing away with it, or have made noises saying things along those lines at least. So its days are hopefully numbered at least.

    1. Andrew

      “I believe FF are planning on doing away with it, or have made noises saying things along those lines at least. So its days are hopefully numbered at least.”

      yeah, thank goodness for Fianna Faíl

    2. ahjayzis

      The side of FF/FG who are in opposition always opposes what the side of it does in government. Please stop falling for it. When they get in it’ll musical pensions with the same outcomes.

    3. Zaccone

      We’ll see. The current FG lot are on the extreme right-wing even for historical averages of FF & FG. Varadkar is probably closer to Thatcher in politics than Teresa May is. FF, while not being great, at least will be even slightly more to the center.

      Plus lets be fair here, FF can still be right about the need to do away with JobPath even if they’re awful as a party in general. It doesn’t matter who abolishes JobPath, its just important someone does.

  4. scottser

    ‘they can be assisted through JobPath, which is outsourced to two companies; or they can be referred to bodies such as local employment schemes, for example’

    this is factually incorrect. the minute you sign on you are referred to jobpath whether you are job ready or not. the department states that job seekers are chosen on a ‘random’ basis (whtever that means). if that fails then maybe you might get referred to a scheme you should have been on to get you ready like intreo or an LES funded scheme.

    1. Westbrit

      “the minute you sign on you are referred to jobpath whether you are job ready or not”

      If you’re signing on you’re declaring that you’re available for and actively looking for employment. If you’re not “job ready” you shouldn’t be signing on for job seekers.

      1. scottser

        You are mistaking compliance with fitness. All jobseekers are sent to jobpath whether it is the correct decision or not, all because seetec can make a profit and employers can avail of cheap labour.
        But hey, don’t question anything if that’s your thing, just don’t complain when you get handed shite when you need solutions

        1. BobbyJ

          That’s incorrect. Not all jobseekers are referred to JobPath companies. Referrals are based on your PEX score (Probability of Exit). The higher your score the less likely you will be referred to a JobPath company.

          Intreo (in-house DEASP service) like to keep the clients ‘who are closest to the labour market-high PEX score’ for themselves and farm out the clients ‘most distant from the labour market-low PEX score’ to the JobPath companies.

          BTW, I’m completely against the JobPath service and believe the money paid to same should have been invested in the current Intreo model and the expansion of the LES throughout the country but it is important that people know how the system works.

          1. scottser

            While your explanation rings true, why do the deasp state that jobpath referrals are done on a.random basis?

          2. scottser

            Actually now that I read your post again it makes a lot of sense and reinforces my original point.Those furthest from readiness for work are sent to jobpath when other interventions are more appropriate such as a jobs club or preparatory course.

  5. Joe Small

    “Some €84 million has been given to these private companies to get people jobs which they would have got themselves”
    I’m not sure how Paul Murphy came to this conclusion. The programme targets the long term unemployed who have the greatest difficulty getting jobs. I don’t see the inherent evil in a government using private companies to try get the long-term unemployed back to work.

      1. Joe Small

        Facebook is blocked where I work, but in any case policy isn’t set by anecdotal Facebook posts. People who have been successfully placed in work are far less likely to go online and passionately express their views. A Facebook link tells me nothing useful.

        1. some old queen

          You obviously don’t see the irony in giving out about dole scroungers while sitting on BS in work time so.

          1. Rob_G

            You are the only person to mention ‘dole scroungers’. I don’t think the fact of acknowledging that the longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to get a job is the same as thinking people are ‘dole scroungers’.

          2. some old queen

            If you honestly think that these outfits are doing anything positive to assist people into employment then you very mistaken. Here is a common sense question. What are these companies doing that existing services could not do?

            And yes I am pretty sure I know enough about long term unemployment to last a lifetime, tnx anyways.

  6. david

    Maybe we need to talk about the massive lets call it fraud committed by the financial services area banking and those who partook on the 200 odd billion of property deals on distressed property caused by the bust which added to the 250 billion debt
    But where has that money gone because most of the debt is still not paid and now called national debt
    Then the dissapearence of our gold reserves discovered in a audit before we joined the euro
    Half seems of of disappeared

    1. Cian

      Half of out gold it was transferred to the ECB in January 1999.
      Or was it a different half that disappeared?

      1. david

        Some is in the bank of England but the secretive nature of the central bank is not revealing much even after 3 requests by FOI
        But now our currency is not based on gold reserves audits will rarely happen where did that money go
        In 1997 a massive dip was recorded in 2011 another
        As well as that 200 billion of distressed Irish property was snapped up by vulture funds yet none went to pay the national debt which was over that
        So the other question is where did that 200 billion go?

  7. Truth in the News

    There is mass unemployment and emigration and the proper name for Jobpath is “Jobfake”
    There is also an issue of the rates of pay paid to those forced on to these daft schemes….are
    the outfits running the programme paid similar hourly rates as to those they force on the schemes.

  8. frank o'shea

    Turas Nua is a wholly evil entity and all responsible for putting such an evil in place of duty of care ought best be dropped from a very great hight into the deepest pit available.

Comments are closed.