SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- The Illinois Department of Employment Security has struggled to help residents resolve fraudulent claims or receive unemployment payments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
IDES closed doors to local offices early into the pandemic and haven’t opened them since. Illinois residents quickly turned to their local lawmakers for answers. Over a year later, they argue nothing has changed.
House Republicans came together demanding that IDES do something regarding the lack of effort and timeliness when responding to unemployment claims. Rep. Amy Elik (R-Alton) argued that direct contact with IDES is the most effective way to handle all emergency cases.
Elik said the closure has left Illinois citizens on the verge of losing their cars, homes, and the ability to take care of their families.
“So, enough is enough,” said Elik. “No more excuses from IDES. Open your offices throughout the state, and please get back to work for the people of the state of Illinois.”
Elik also stressed it’s clear that there’s been no accountability by the administration or IDES Director Kristin Richards. She said it’s unacceptable and the department has failed Illinois residents.
Governor JB Pritzker has said previously that the state is trying to reopen IDES offices. However, a specific date has not been announced.
“We need to drastically change”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) argued if other state agency buildings like the Secretary of States office have re-opened, then IDES should as well.
“People are not being served properly,” said Sosnowski. “The offices need to be open immediately.”
Other Republicans were also concerned with small businesses who are struggling to hire new employees. Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-St. Charles) said it’s time to encourage Illinoisans to get back to work.
“We need to drastically change the way we handle unemployment benefits,” said Ugaste. “We need to insist that those who are receiving unemployment benefits start looking for work.”
Ugaste also said he has seen help wanted signs in business windows throughout his district. He explained if there are job openings, Illinois needs to make sure its residents are going out and filling those positions.