The number of jobseekers who have had their payments reduced in the first nine months of this year for failing to engage with education or employment offers is 65% higher than for the whole of 2012.

Figures supplied by the Department of Social Protection show 2,403 people had penalty rates applied to their jobseeker's payments compared to 1,455 for 2012.

Penalty rates have been applied to 4,210 recipients since their introduction two years ago.

In a parliamentary question, Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne asked the Minister for Social Protection for a statement on the number of people who had turned down reasonable offers of education, training or employment in each of the years since she took up her portfolio.

Reduced payment rates or penalty rates for jobseekers were introduced in 2011.

They allow for a penalty for up to €44 per week to be applied to individual's payments where there is a failure to engage with employment or education activation measures.

These penalties were increased in July of this year and include payment disqualification periods of up to nine weeks where a jobseeker has a penalty rate imposed for 21 days and continues not to engage.

Minister Joan Burton said jobseeker claims may be disallowed where the individual fails to meet the conditions of the scheme, including the requirement to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work.