Written Answers. - Employment Support Services.

Question:

145 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if the lack of affordable child care is cited on a regular basis as a reason by persons on the live register who are found not to be genuinely seeking work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20493/00]

Social welfare legislation provides that a person must satisfy the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work in order to be entitled to unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance. In applying the legislation, any relevant facts must be considered by the deciding officer. Any circumstances which may affect a person's availability to take up suitable work are relevant, including family circumstances. It is not possible to state the number of cases disallowed in which the child care issue was relevant.

The Government has highlighted child care as a priority area for investment in the national development plan, with some £250 million being provided under the equal opportunities child care programme, 2000-06, to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform over the next seven years. The focus of this funding is to increase the number of child care facilities and places as well as to provide affordable child care services to parents, particularly women, in disadvantaged areas who wish to avail of employment, training or employment opportunities.

Under this programme, my Department has received an annual allocation of £5 million to support the provision of out-of-school hours child care services in disadvantaged communities. This will be achieved through projects funded under my Department's community development support programmes and by other local initiatives which apply a self-help, community development approach in tackling issues of poverty and disadvantage.