Monday, June 17, 2013

Change to jobseekers system recognises importance of part-time fire-fighters

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed a provision contained in the Social Welfare Bill which will give greater certainty to part-time fire-fighters by removing restrictions on their access to jobseekers benefit and jobseekers allowance.

“Up until now, part-time fire-fighters have faced uncertainty, and often find it difficult to access jobseekers payments, due to the system that has been in place. Since the early 1970s, the social welfare system has essentially subsidised the cost of providing a part-time fire service, by allowing the fire-fighters involved to claim the dole.

“However, this approach wasn ’t underpinned by legislation, and as a result, individual fire-fighters could encounter difficulties in particular due to what is known as the ‘proximity clause’. A requirement for part-time fire-fighters to live near their station means they could be refused jobseekers allowance if they turned down a job because it would take them too far away from their station.

“The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has recognised the challenges this can pose, and as a result a provision has been included in the Social Welfare Bill 2013 to recognise the good work of fire-fighters by ensuring they can access dole payments.

“Part-time fire-fighters provide an extremely valuable service in communities across the country, and it is only right that their role is recognised and supported. I am glad that the Government is taking a pragmatic view of this situation, and I hope this small change can give part-time fire-fighters greater certainty.”

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