SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – The Illinois Department of Employment Security has struggled to help residents resolve fraudulent claims or receive unemployment benefits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
IDES closed the doors of local offices at the start of the pandemic and has not opened them since. Illinois residents quickly turned to their local lawmakers for answers. Over a year later, they argue that nothing has changed.
House Republicans have gathered to call on IDES to do something about the lack of effort and timeliness in responding to jobless claims. Representative Amy Elik (R-Alton) argued that direct contact with IDES is the most effective way to deal with all emergencies.
Elik said the shutdown left Illinois citizens on the verge of losing their cars, homes and the ability to care for their families.
âSo that’s enough, it’s enough,â Elik said. “No more excuses from IDE. Open your offices statewide, and please get back to work for the people of the state of Illinois.”
Elik also pointed out that it was clear that there was no accountability on the part of the administration or IDE director Kristin Richards. She said it was unacceptable and that the department had let Illinois residents down.
Governor JB Pritzker has previously said the state is trying to reopen IDES offices. However, no specific date has been announced.
“We must change radically”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) argued that if other state agency buildings like the Secretary of States’ office reopened, then IDES should do so as well.
âPeople are not being served properly,â Sosnowski said. “The offices must be opened immediately.”
Other Republicans were also concerned about small businesses struggling to hire new employees. Representative Dan Ugaste (R-St. Charles) said it was time to encourage the Illinois to return to work.
“We need to radically change the way we manage unemployment benefits,” Ugaste said. “We must insist that those who receive unemployment benefits start looking for work.”
Ugaste also said he saw signs seeking help in the windows of businesses in his neighborhood. He explained that if there are any job openings, Illinois needs to make sure its residents come out and fill those positions.