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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Vol. 805 No. 2

Priority Questions

Departmental Bodies Expenditure

Willie O'Dea


1. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason two contracts, with a total value of €98,892 (details supplied) were granted by her Department without the necessity to submit a tender in March 2013. [26007/13]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the information campaign undertaken by the Citizens Information Board, CIB, regarding the Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service. This service offers a dedicated helpline, website and financial advice which is available to borrowers from independent accountants, the cost of which is being borne by the lenders via the Irish Banking Federation. Supporting people in difficulty with their mortgages is a key priority for Government. In this regard, and in the context of the establishment of the personal insolvency service, the Cabinet committee on mortgage arrears strongly endorsed the recommendation of the interdepartmental working group to have a very comprehensive information campaign to promote awareness of the Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service which includes the helpline, website and accountancy advice. In this regard, the working group had proposed that the CIB, which has major expertise for the provision of information and had already established the helpline and the website, would be the most appropriate body to undertake this important campaign. The CIB made a decision on that basis to proceed with a single tender contract. It was further agreed that the costs should be borne by the lending institutions - the banks - and this was successfully negotiated with the Irish Banking Federation. Therefore, this campaign involves no cost for the Exchequer as it is fully funded by the lending institutions.

The total value of the work commissioned amounted to €80,400. This was based on standard rates for work of this nature and the costs were divided between the designers of the campaign - just over €15,000 - and their media partner who organised the media time - €65,000. Since the campaign was run, I am pleased to see that there has been an increase in the numbers of people accessing the helpline and the website. The campaign consisted of a two-week radio campaign involving local and national radio, a series of newspaper advertisements in national media over a three-week period and an online display advertising campaign which ran for four weeks. Since July 2012, the Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service helpline has received over 5,000 calls and there have been over 100,000 visits to the website.

I understand the purpose of the campaign and appreciate the fact that the Exchequer was not out of pocket, certainly regarding the larger contract to which I refer. However, I have here a list of the Citizens Information Board, CIB, contracts issued for one month, March 2013. There was a contract for Downey Cleaning Services in the amount of €7,901, and five people were contacted to tender for that. A contract was given to Northside Community Law Centre for training in an amount of €3,930, and three quotations were sought for that. There was a contract for Performance Management and Development System, PMDS, training - €5,200 - and, again, three quotations were sought for that. A contract was awarded to Reads for photocopying the Citizens Information Services employer and staff handbook, which was for an amount of only €2,240, but five quotes were sought for it.

It seems a little strange, to say the least, that the majority in value of the contracts issued by this organisation, under the aegis of the Minister's Department, for the month of March went out without any tender. What criteria are used to select a person to offer a contract like this to without the necessity of tendering?

The CIB is an independent agency and the chief executive officer is the Accounting Officer for the board and is responsible for ensuring all public moneys are expended in a proper manner. The CIB was requested to do this by the interdepartmental group, the group working on mortgages, because of the desire to get people who are indebted with mortgage debt to be in contact with their lenders, and to offer those people an advisory service. The dedicated helpline was established last year and it has been updated for all the changes in the law. The accounting advice is provided by the various members of accounting bodies throughout the country. The decision and request by the interdepartmental group, which included the Department of Finance and representation from the Central Bank, was that an information campaign should be launched. The CIB was asked to do this and it proceeded with a single tender on grounds of urgency. As I said, the cost was divided between the designers of the campaign and the media partner, which organised the media time.

I recognise the necessity of what was done but I am concerned with what yardstick or criteria were used to select that particular contractor. Perhaps the Minister would outline the criteria generally used by agencies under the aegis of the Department which give out contracts like this without inviting tenders.

What yardstick was used, or what criteria, to select that particular contractor? Perhaps the Minister might outline what criteria are generally used by agencies under the aegis of her Department to give out contracts of this kind without inviting tenders. I realise the Minister does not have the information with her but I ask her to furnish me with a list of contracts issued in the past 18 months by her Department and the agencies under its aegis, giving a breakdown of which required tenders and which were granted without the necessity to tender.

If I understood the Deputy's question, he is looking for a list of all tenders issued by the Department of Social Protection in the past 18 months.

No, I referred to all contracts issued by the Department and its agencies, with a breakdown as to those-----

I do not have that information to hand but will certainly request it for the Deputy. As a former Minister, the Deputy is aware that in situations of urgency provisions are made for single tenders. Given that few issues are more urgent than assisting people in trouble with their mortgages and getting information to them, that was the context in which the Citizens Information Board, CIB, was requested to carry out this work and, because it was asked to do so on an urgent basis, it went with the single tender.

The board of the CIB is the Accounting Officer. I will approach the board and the chief executive in order to get the further information the Deputy requires. I would not have access to, or would not look in detail at every tender and event that happened in the CIB. It has a board, a chief executive and staff. As the Deputy is probably aware, there is a considerable expenditure of public money between the CIB and MABS to provide services for people in terms of information and, especially in the current climate, to provide information on indebtedness.

Family Income Supplement Data

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


2. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans regarding the future of family income supplement and its income limits. [26027/13]

The family income supplement, or FIS payment, is designed to provide income for employees on low earnings who have families. The FIS payment preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might only be marginally better off than if he or she was unemployed and claiming other social welfare payments. Some people may believe that taking up employment might only offer a marginal improvement to their income.

The Revised Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure on FIS of nearly €230 million in 2013. There are currently just over 40,440 families benefiting from the FIS scheme. Given that we have discussed this issue on previous occasions, I am happy to inform the Deputy that the processing of all FIS applications, both new and renewed, made to my Department are fully up to date and all backlogs have been eliminated. I have informed the Deputy about all the changes in IT we were implementing.

To qualify for payment, a person must be engaged in full-time, insurable employment, which is expected to last for at least three months, and must be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight, or 19 hours per week. Furthermore, the average family income must be below an income threshold, which varies according to the number of qualifying children in the family.

A comprehensive and easy to understand information booklet and application form are available on the Department’s website. In this regard it should be noted that since 16 January 2013, the date on which the new departmental website was launched, the FIS pages have received almost 40,000 page views, which indicates the strong interest in the scheme.

FIS income thresholds have been maintained at the same level since 2010. Prior to this, FIS income thresholds had risen broadly in line with equivalent social welfare rates so as to maintain their value relative to unemployment payments. A change in FIS income thresholds would have financial implications which would have to be considered in the context of the budget. There are no plans to do so currently. More generally, I recognise that creating jobs and tackling poverty are the key challenges. In this context, FIS plays an important role.

I welcome the news that the backlog has virtually gone and that FIS applications are on track. It is a useful scheme because increasing numbers of people who are in reduced employment because of the downturn and whose overtime and hours have been cut are now finding themselves to be a working poverty group in Irish society. Is there any indication why so many are not applying? There is an indication that quite a number of those who would be able to avail of this service do not do so although it appears the website may address some of the issues. If there was full application by those who are caught in this circumstance, the Minister's budget of €230 million would need to increase.

The Minister stated there was no such intention at present but I presume that, in line with all budgetary decisions, during the coming month her Department will be looking at all areas of social welfare and social protection payments. Given the poverty that exists in this area I encourage the Minister to look at the thresholds to ensure that more people could qualify. It concerns not only those who are marginally better off in work - some people are actually worse off working but would still prefer to avail of opportunities to work in the hope that work will pay in the future.

My view, which I have given to the Deputy on a number of occasions, is that people are always better off in work. They may start back on a relatively low income but very often, having worked for a period, they get increases. It is better for those people and their families that they should work.

The Deputy is right to state that the number of people interested in family income supplement at present is climbing. I hope the improvements in the website contribute to that. If one goes back to 2007, before the collapse, there were 37,000 people receiving FIS. By the end of 2011 there were 51,000 and the figure is on the increase. We have already received a significant number of new applications and applications for renewal to date this year.

Why is the scheme not better known? To the end of April this year we had received 7,500 new applications and 10,700 renewal applications. These are strong figures and indicate that further increase is likely by the end of this year. I suspect FIS is not better known because for those people who work with large employers there tends to be a knowledge within HR departments. Perhaps with smaller employers people may be reluctant to give details of their personal circumstances to their employers or those employers may be reluctant to take part in the scheme. The Department has set up an employer relations division to go out and knock on employers' doors and talk to them about the fantastic people who are on the live register. I have spoken at several meetings with employers, perhaps 2,500 since last October, when we started this very intensive process. In early July we are launching Jobs Plus, an employers further assistance in terms of PRSI. One of the points I will bring to the attention of employers is the availability of this very important assistance to families on low income, in particular those with children.

I welcome any move that further highlights this area and cannot see why employers would object in any way, given that their employees might be a little happier if they had an additional income.

I refer to the advisory group on tax and social welfare proposals. If its proposals, which relate to child income supports etc., went ahead the families who are in receipt of FIS would be much worse off.

I understand the families in receipt of FIS would be much worse off because the thresholds for the second tier of child benefit mean they would lose part of their child benefits. The thresholds do not match. Can the Minister comment on that issue?

The advisory group is examining the issue of in-work supports for families with children. Although the group's report is often referred to solely in the context of child benefit, it actually considered all payments made to families with children. The total amount paid in benefits is almost €3 billion, of which child benefit is €2 billion. One of the reasons the group is considering in-work supports is precisely to find out why more people do not avail of them and whether changes can be introduced to make it easier for both employee and employer to make use of the scheme.

In regard to advertising, the Department's website has received approximately 6 million hits since its revamp. We intend to place information on the FIS scheme on the website's revolving banner in order to draw attention to it. I agree with the Deputy that it is an excellent scheme which offers a significant boost in income for families with children. It is well known to a significant number of public service employees, such as those who work on a part-time basis in the HSE, but in other workplaces it does not seem to attract the number of applications one would expect.

Housing Assistance Payments Implementation

Catherine Murphy


3. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm that adequate budgeting has been transferred away or is planned to be transferred away from her Department to accommodate the forthcoming transfer of the new housing assistance payment scheme; if adequate precautions have been taken to ensure a smooth staffing transfer; if she will detail these precautions; if rent caps under the new housing assistance payment scheme will be adjusted or modified in advance of the transfer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26010/13]

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support for eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have access to accommodation from any other source. There are approximately 86,000 recipients of rent supplement, of whom approximately 54,000 have been in receipt of the supplement for over 18 months. The Government has provided over €403 million for the scheme in 2013. This approval was based on details of the scheme being developed further and implementation being informed by an economic assessment.

In March 2012 the Government approved in principle the transfer of responsibility for the provision of rental assistance to persons with a long-term housing need from my Department to housing authorities using a new housing assistance payment, HAP. This approval was based on details of the scheme being developed further and implementation being informed by an economic assessment. Officials in my Department are working closely with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to assist with the necessary work required to initiate HAP including the completion of the economic assessment. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has advised that it plans to carry out a detailed business planning exercise which will further inform the Government as to the level of resources required. Details of the necessary budget required for HAP, including that which will be transferred from my Department, will be identified following the completion of these exercises.

There are no plans to transfer staff from my Department to housing authorities in order to administer the scheme and policy on differential rents under HAP is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. Each local authority operates differential rent schemes and different IT systems. This is one of the issues that must be addressed if we are to have a smooth transfer.

I am standing in for Deputy Catherine Murphy. I take it that the timing of the transfer has not been decided, given that the business plan is still being prepared by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Would the Minister be amenable to the transfer of staff? This will place a larger administrative burden on local authorities, which are already suffering disproportionately from the recruitment embargo. Does she envisage that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will permit differential caps within and across counties?

The most recent social welfare legislation amended the Social Welfare Acts to provide for a mandatory capacity in respect of allowing people offered new tenancies or places on the RAS to sign on to the household budgeting system operated through post offices because local authorities want to be assured they will receive rent contributions from tenants. I understand local authorities around the country have different levels of accumulated arrears from various types of tenants. This is an issue for local authorities. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is interested in having my Department introduce a provision to deduct rents at source on behalf of local authorities but that would require considerable modification of our IT systems. I am open to the suggestion but, given that 66 separate differential rent schemes and at least the same number of IT systems are in place, the introduction of a deduction scheme via social welfare benefits would require significant streamlining in the way rents are charged. That is a major project but the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is currently preparing a business case for it.

In regard to staffing resources, is the Department of Social Protection concerned about whether local authorities have the capacity to manage the rent supplement scheme?

We have not had any discussions in this regard. We have already taken on a significant amount of additional work, including community welfare officers from the HSE and employment staff from FÁS, but we have also taken responsibility for driving the pathways to work process, which essentially involves a complete transformation of my Department. People who come to social welfare offices are not only getting income supports but are also being helped back to work through a wide variety of schemes, such as community employment, Tús and the rural social scheme. If I am honest, I must acknowledge that the staff of my Department have their hands full but we are prepared to co-operate in respect of expertise and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is interested in having us facilitate its work, perhaps in a couple of years' time, on rental arrangements that may assist with staffing issues.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

Willie O'Dea


4. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress that has been made, if any, in completing and publishing a strategy to tackle for poverty. [26008/13]

The Government and I, as Minister for Social Protection, are committed to reducing and eliminating poverty, as set out in the programme for Government. We are determined to ensure the most vulnerable are enabled to benefit from economic recovery through activation programmes and services and, ultimately, being able to return to work. The existing strategy for addressing poverty is the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016, or NAP inclusion for short. A key element of this plan is the setting of a national social target for poverty reduction. This target, which was revised by the Government following a comprehensive review in 2012, is to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and 2% or less by 2020. In this regard, the Department recently published the social inclusion monitor which reports on progress towards achieving the national social target for poverty reduction.

Also of importance was that the data highlighted that social transfers continued to perform strongly in 2011 in reducing the at risk of poverty rate by 24 percentage points from 40% to 16%. This equates to a poverty reduction effect of Irish social welfare payment levels of 60%. While the figure decreased slightly on the 2010 figure of 62%, it is far in excess of the European Union norm of 35%. In terms of the key targets, in 2011 the consistent poverty rate was 6.9% which, according to the Central Statistics Office, "is not a statistically significant change on the 2010 figure of 6.3 per cent".

One of my priorities is to target policies and resources at the groups which carry the greatest burden and risk of poverty, namely, jobless households and children. This is reflected in the commitment to set sub-targets for these groups.

I made the Department aware of a typographical error in the question, which was intended to specifically refer to food poverty, an issue on which I propose to focus for a moment. Food poverty has been defined by safefood Ireland as not being able to afford a meat or vegetarian equivalent meal every other day, being unable to afford a weekly roast dinner or vegetarian equivalent at least once a week or missing a meal in the previous fortnight owing to money reasons. According to the most recent figures available to safefood, one in ten people was experiencing food poverty in 2010. This is a stark statistic in a so-called wealthy country.

The Labour Party, of which the Minister is a member, published a policy document on food poverty in 2009-10 in which it estimated that one in five people was experiencing food poverty. All of us are aware that the position has deteriorated markedly since 2010, as shown by the quadrupling of the number of calls made to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has the findings of studies carried out by the Irish League of Credit Unions and others which showed that almost 50% of the population must borrow money to pay basic bills. I expect the figure of one in ten will have increased significantly. Is the Government concerned about food poverty and does it have any specific proposals to address this aspect of poverty?

As the Deputy will recall from his time in government, the previous Government abolished the Combat Poverty Agency. The social inclusion division of my Department performs a role similar to that performed by the former agency. I have asked the division, which has great expertise in measuring poverty and examining what constitutes being less well-off, to examine this issue. I am pleased Deputy O'Dea acknowledged that I and my party are highly concerned about poverty.

Food poverty is one element of the poverty experience and has been defined as the inability to have an adequate and nutritious diet for reasons of affordability or accessibility. The emphasis on the issue of nutrition is critical as it raises the need for education on the use of food, diet and so forth. Households experiencing food poverty consume less nutritionally balanced diets and suffer from higher rates of diet related chronic diseases.

Sometimes people associate food poverty with a lack of food or low incomes when in many cases it is caused by the absence of a nutritious diet. While this may be related to income, it may also be because people do not have sufficient skills or knowledge in the area of nutritious food. We have a number of programmes in place for this reason. I am pleased to note that, notwithstanding the tight budgetary position in 2013, my Department spent €35 million last year on school meals, notably on the development of breakfast clubs and hot school meals. I prioritised this budget and increased it this year by €2 million to provide nutritious hot food to children as they start their school day. This is a positive social development in our education system.

The Minister did not answer my question as to whether she has a specific strategy, within a defined timeframe, to address food poverty. I referred to the document produced by the Labour Party prior to the general election which states that current Government policy does not address the issue of food poverty. Given that there has not been any change in policy, I must presume the current Government's policy is not addressing the issue either. The Labour Party document contained a number of specific proposals, including the introduction of a nutrition strategy for everybody in Ireland; measures to nutrition proof all relevant Government policies; extending the provision of free meals of a nutritional standard to every primary and secondary school child; and the introduction of a food and health action plan. Which of these proposals have been implemented in the past two and a half years?

I am not sure if the Deputy heard me when I stated that I prioritised the expansion of the school meals programme to ensure children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and in DEIS schools, would secure greater access to the programme. This positive social development is taking place in the context of a difficult budgetary position. As I also indicated, the social inclusion division of my Department has been leading the development of policy in this area at my request as a Labour Party Minister. I am not aware that the Governments of which the Deputy was a member paid much attention to this issue.

When will the Minister produce proposals to deal with food poverty?

A 2012 paper on public policy proposed that there be an official measure of food poverty, which is inextricably linked to issues of finance, education, transport, literacy, culture, planning and retailing. As such, a solution requires a multisectoral approach across all relevant Departments. Food poverty is not an isolated issue that results in poor dietary intake but one aspect of wider social exclusion, which takes into account factors such as income, education and knowledge about nutrition. Some people spend a relatively large proportion of their income on poor quality food. All schools encourage children to bring nutritious packed lunches to school. I am supporting the school meals initiative, which provides hot food, and the programme is expanding at this time of great economic difficulty and pressure on budgets. I am delighted to be in a position to support it.

National Internship Scheme Administration

Joe Higgins


5. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Social Protection following the Indecon report into the JobBridge scheme, which revealed that an estimated 240 of the 7,300 companies surveyed are availing of the scheme to displace paid jobs and only 15 companies have since been banned from participating in the scheme, the measures she is putting in place to identify and exclude other companies engaged in this practice. [26240/13]

The aim of JobBridge is to assist individuals to bridge the gap between unemployment and the world of work. The scheme has made very significant progress since it came into operation in July 2011, with 17,609 internship placements having commenced to date. There are currently 6,104 participants on the scheme and 2,218 vacancies available on the JobBridge website. The independent evaluation conducted by Indecon economic consultants, which I published recently, found that 61% of interns who completed placements secured employment within five months. These progression outcomes are exceptionally positive and compare very favourably with European averages in this area. The report does not state that 240 of the 7,300 companies surveyed are availing of the JobBridge scheme to displace paid jobs. The number of companies surveyed was 3,021 and the report finds that displacement only occurs in only a very small number of cases – just 3% of the overall number of placements within the organisations responding to the survey.

The Department takes breaches of the JobBridge scheme very seriously, and 17 companies have been disqualified from participating in the scheme due to breaches of the terms and conditions relating to it. This action was taken by the Department following detailed investigations. While 17 companies have been disqualified, more than 7,500 host organisations have commenced internships and, therefore, the overwhelming majority of companies are abiding by the terms and conditions of the scheme. To protect interns and ensure the integrity of the JobBridge scheme, a variety of control measures and criteria are in place. These are designed to ensure an internship does not displace an existing position, that it provides appropriate training and development experience and that suitable mentoring and support is given to the intern.

To ensure both the host organisation and intern are abiding by the rules of the scheme, we monitor progress on an ongoing basis. This involves the regular review of monthly compliance reports and random monitoring site visits to facilitate discussions with both interns and host organisations. We have carried out in excess of 2,000 monitoring visits to date and 98% of these have been of a satisfactory nature. Where non-compliance is discovered, remedial action is taken.

To provide an accurate assessment, one would be obliged to state that many of the 61% who secured employment were in jobs which had nothing to do with their internships. Only one in five secured employment with the companies with which they did their internships. Of course, a large number of people did not complete their internships in the first instance. Indecon's survey reveals that 3% of the 7,300 companies involved in the scheme admitted they were displacing workers. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that in the region of 220 - which is a quite considerable number - are abusing the scheme. There are probably many more firms which do not admit to doing so.

Is the Minister aware that the extension of the scheme to small enterprises in the craft and design sector has people talking about free labour being available? I received a communication from an honest jeweller who wants to take on a worker on a part-time basis at €10 per hour and who states that proceeding with an internship in this regard would be a complete lie because the job involves low-skilled manufacturing work which can be learned in a week. I am of the view that large numbers of interns are going to be taken on in this sector and this will create huge problems for honest employers. In addition, those taken on as interns in the sector are going to be abused. This will happen on the Minister's watch.

As I travel throughout Ireland, I continually meet individuals, employers and organisations who attest to the fact that the intern scheme has been a positive experience for those on both sides. Those who employ people often inform me that they never previously appreciated the sheer calibre and quality of many individuals who, unfortunately, are currently without employment. JobBridge is designed to give such individuals an opportunity to obtain work experience which will allow them to get onto the ladder of employment. If the Deputy has read the Indecon report, he will know that one of the reasons people leave JobBridge is because in many instances they work for a relatively short period of their internships in their host organisations and are then offered further employment. Many firms have identified the calibre of the people on internships and have taken them on as a result. Approximately 40% of internships are with public or publicly funded organisations. As a result of the embargo on recruitment, it is not possible for many of those organisations to take people on. However, such is the calibre, experience and quality of many of those on internships, they tend to move on - as the Indecon report shows - to further employment. This is due to the fact that they have either developed networks or are in contact with people who recognise that they are individuals of skill and talent who merit being employed by firms with vacancies. JobBridge has been a very positive experience for many people.

There is widespread anecdotal evidence - from people who participated on this scheme and those who have examined some of the so-called internships on offer - that JobBridge is being highly abused as a means of procuring cheap labour. Furthermore, 29% of the employers surveyed said that, even if they had not taken on interns, it was highly or fairly likely that they would have taken on employees in any event. I put it to the Minister that what is needed is not trickery with figures to massage the tragic situation relating to unemployment but rather real measures and investment aimed at creating jobs. The Minister made a name for herself three weeks ago when she declared that austerity has reached its limits. However, she has done nothing practical or concrete in the context of putting the consequences of that conclusion into effect. An hour and a half ago, she voted to cut the salaries and alter the working conditions of low and middle income workers and take more money out of the domestic economy. I put it to her, therefore, that legitimate measures relating to and real investment in emergency job creation in the areas of infrastructure and services are required, not this excuse for a scheme, in order to dent the massively high unemployment figures in a genuine way.

I was very happy to co-author an article in yesterday's edition of The Guardian in which I repeated what I said in my address to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, namely, that Europe must take action to reflate member states' economies and get people back to work. I am a practical person and during my entire time in politics, what I have been interested in is young people. I worked for a long period in third level education and I am of the view that it is terrible to see wonderfully qualified young people from Donegal to Dublin to Cork emerging from college into a very tight jobs market. These individuals have qualifications but they do not have work experience. Internships are meant to allow them to obtain such experience. I am aware that the Deputy has grave difficulties with this concept but in other countries where it operates extremely well, it allows people to obtain a degree of experience in order that they might subsequently find work. People are doing so across all job and placement schemes. In the context of community employment, of which I believe the Deputy is on record as being broadly in favour, one must always be very careful with regard to the issue of displacement.

Indecon is an independent consultancy company which, I understand, attracts very strong and positive recommendations. It carried out a survey and interviewed people in real time at my request. I did not want to wait five years to discover the position. I wanted to be able to give people such as the Deputy, who are obviously thoughtful about schemes of this nature, the actual figures involved. Those figures are not mine, they are those presented by independent consultants. I suggest that they offer food for thought as to how we can assist people in their 20s and 30s who have emerged from college and who cannot find jobs in this particularly tight employment market.