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Jobless Households and the Quality of Supportive Services

In Ireland, the percentage of people living in households where no-one is working or where there is only marginal attachment to the labour force is higher than in most other European countries. These ‘low work intensity’ households experience much higher poverty rates and there is a long-lasting negative impact on the children growing up in them. There are also significant costs to the State from the income transfers necessary to support the households. As a result, this issue has been a policy concern in Ireland for some time, as acknowledged in the Programme for a Partnership Government in 2016, and in the country-specific recommendations from the European Council on Ireland’s 2017 National Reform Programme.

NESC began work looking at this issue in 2014, publishing its study on Jobless Households: An Exploration of the Issues, Report No.137 .  This provided an overview of the reasons why households are jobless, and examined the existing Irish data.  Following on from this, NESC has undertaken a qualitative study to examine in depth the role of services in meeting the needs of jobless households. 92 interviews were undertaken in a disadvantaged suburb of Dublin, with 33 households, 16 local service providers, and 11 local employers interviewed in 2016. Interviews were carried out in 2017 with 11 regional managers, 12 national decision makers in Government departments and agencies, and 9 national stakeholders. A working group chaired by Professor Tony Fahey was set up in early 2018, with participants nominated by NESC council members, to draw out the main conclusions from the study.

 The following reports outline the results of the research, and suggest improvements to support people in low work intensity households to move into education, training and/or employment:

1)      Moving from Welfare to Work: Low work intensity households and the quality of supportive services .  This report,  approved by the Government on 19 June 2018, summarises the findings, and the key issues and messages, arising from the research;

2)      Low Work Intensity Households and the Quality of Supportive Services – Detailed Research Report .  This longer report outlines the findings of the research in greater detail, and will be useful to those with an interest in particular aspects of the findings.

In addition, an executive summary of the report can be downloaded here.

A powerpoint presentation summarising the key findings of the research is available here.

The NESC press release can be downloaded here.

The researchers and report authors, Dr Helen Johnston and Dr Anne-Marie McGauran, are hugely indebted to the individuals who agreed to be interviewed for this research, who contributed their experiences and views, and on whom the research is based.  We also thank the working group and Professor Tony Fahey for their work on drawing out the main conclusions from the research.


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