Youth groups call on Senators to reject Social Welfare Bill

A letter published in the Irish Times last week has called upon Senators to reject Section 9 of the Social Welfare Bill 2013 that focuses on amendments to the Jobseekser’s Allowance.The letter was signed by Joe O’Connor, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI); Ronan Burtenshaw, We’re Not Leaving; Clara Fischer, Equality Budgeting Campaign; Dan O’Neill, Young Workers Network; Ciaran Garrett, Chair of Labour Youth; Ian Power, Executive Director of; Mary Cunningham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland & Patrick Burke, CEO of Youth Work Ireland.The aforementioned youth groups are appealing to Senators on this matter due to the effects such a bill could have on the quality of living for under 26s in Ireland.According to a recent Vincentian Partnership estimation, it will cost a single adult €184 a week to live next year. Despite that fact, the recently announced cuts to social welfare payments mean that unemployed young adults will only be afforded a little over a half of this living cost; €100 per week.Since this budgetary announcement, student groups have been vocal in expressing the adverse effects this cut may have and are calling now for the government to place huge emphasis on the promised youth guarantee.The USI and the We’re Not Leaving youth group held a demonstration outside Leinster House in recent weeks in order to protest the planned cuts.The demonstration was in response to comments made by government ministers that young jobseekers should not be “at home watching a flat-screen television seven days a week.”The protesters staged a mock living situation of both young jobseekers on the bare minimum, and government officials living a life of luxury. When commenting on the protest, USI president Joe O’Connor said that the situation highlighted “just how separated our decision makers are from this reality.”A compensatory factor of Budget 2013 for young jobseekers was the announcement that €14 million would be allocated to the youth guarantee. It promises to give a job, work experience or apprenticeship to anyone between the ages of 18 and 24 who has been out of work for more than four months,The organisers of this protest  are now calling on the government to get behind this promise and ensure that young jobseekers are supported in their search for work. O’Connor has said, “The government needs to concentrate its efforts on the youth guarantee and creating job opportunities across various sectors.”The general consensus among the members of the youth groups involved is that the youth of today are being punished for something they are not responsible for. Ronan Burtenshaw of youth group We’re Not Leaving said, “It’s time that young people were seen as the valuable part of this society that they are, and not just cannon fodder for a crisis they did not create.”The groups urged the Seanad to vote no to this cut, but the motion passed at the end of last week.