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Too much dough in dole – IMF

August 2, 2012

By Staff Reporter

Those in the dole queues would take issue with the assertion but social welfare benefits in Ireland are too high and need to be revised so as to encourage people back to work, this according to the International Monetary Fund.

The organization is of the view that Irish dole payments are high by international standards and responsible for “low exit rates” from the Live Register, the Republic’s index for measuring unemployment.

The Washington, D.C.-based body said that certain welfare payments should be means-tested to avoid long-term unemployment.

The IMF is one of the three bodies overseeing Ireland’s €85 billion bailout. It has suggested that Irish people out of work should be willing to take jobs regardless of suitability.

“It is also important to ensure that jobseekers are willing and able to fill jobs when they become available,” it said.

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The Irish Times reported that IMF Ireland mission chief, Craig Beaumont, had suggested that eligibility for child benefits should also be narrowed, targeting only families that are “relatively less well-off.”

He described child benefits as an expensive part of the social welfare budget and additionally suggested limiting the number of medical cards issued.

Beaumont, according to the Times, pointed out that as people are living longer, government will be forced to hand out more and more of the cards.

“The cost of those medical cards will keep on rising. One way you can contain that is to look to some means-testing on eligibility,” Beaumont said.

The report noted that automatic entitlement to a medical card on reaching the age of 70 was ended on January 1, 2009.

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