Jobseekers Allowance acting as poverty trap

10th July, 2009

The rules governing the Jobseekers Allowance- which entitles a jobseeker to return to full-time education in order to equip themselves with the necessary training and qualifications to find a job- should immediately be changed to allow those seeking a Masters Degree to qualify for the payment.

The Department of Social Welfare is adequately support people on to improve their education during the period they are out of work and would prefer them to do nothing rather than a study for a master’s degree.

At the moment, the Jobseekers Allowance is paid to those social welfare recipients who seek a primary degree or who partake in a postgraduate course that leads to a higher diploma qualification or a graduate diploma in education, primary or secondary teaching. For some unknown reason, those seeking a Masters Degree are barred from receipt of the payment.

It makes absolutely no sense that those claiming Job Seekers are supported by Government if taking a Higher Diploma but receive no support whatsoever if they wish to undertake a Masters Degree. That this system has not been reviewed since 2003 is particularly concerning given how the world has changed since then

This is simply a poverty trap and leaves those who need such a qualification on the dole. It is particularly crazy because many such Masters courses are the equivalent of a Higher Diploma for which the allowance is payable. The State should be supporting and encouraging people to up-skill but instead are rewarding people for not furthering their education

While nobody doubts the scarcity of resources at the moment, to pay people to do nothing rather than to engage in meaningful education seems to be bad policy. You do not need a degree to see that.