Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (117, 118, 119, 120, 121)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

233 Mr. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will implement a promise given by her Government to mainstream the jobs of workers employed under the various FÁS schemes for the Irish Wheelchair Association and other service providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1942/04]

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Paul Connaughton

Question:

234 Mr. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will implement a promise given by her Government to mainstream the jobs of workers employed under the various FÁS schemes for the Irish Wheelchair Association and other service providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1963/04]

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Michael Ring

Question:

242 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the promises made to mainstream community employment positions, under the programme for Government, will be honoured; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1430/04]

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Seán Crowe

Question:

244 Mr. Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of places on community employment schemes that have been cut since she was appointed. [1624/04]

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Paul Connaughton

Question:

245 Mr. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reasons the commitment given in the programme for Government concerning the mainstreaming of community employment positions in 2003 has not been delivered in so far as the Irish Wheelchair Association are concerned, particularly in the Western Health Board area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1661/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 233, 234, 242, 244 and 245 together.

In accordance with the Government's decision in 1999 to restructure community employment, participation levels have gradually been reduced in line with a strategic shift in policy in favour of training and other more appropriate supports.

Year-end participation levels on community employment for the last seven years are as follows:

Year

Year-end places

1997

39,039

1998

39,520

1999

36,579

2000

33,549

2001

30,809

2002

24,991

2003

19,848 (provisional)

As provided for in the PPF, consideration has been given to the mainstreaming of certain essential services provided through community employment. In this regard, approximately 4,500 community employment places in schools have been mainstreamed over the past number of years. This involved the appropriate degree of funding being transferred to the Department of Education and Science for the provision of relevant services in schools. In addition, in the region of 2,300 places have peen provided on the social economy programme.

Detailed discussions took place during 2002 involving the Department of Health and Children, health boards, FÁS and sponsor groups, including the Irish Wheelchair Association, with regard to the possible mainstreaming of health sector places. However, due to the amount of additional funding required by the Department of Health and Children to mainstream these positions, and having regard to other major demands on the health budget, it was not possible to proceed with mainstreaming.

The total funding allocation for employment schemes in 2004 has been fixed at €351 million, which will support up to 25,000 places across the three employment schemes, community employment, job initiative and social economy. FÁS is being given some flexibility in the management of this financial allocation to maximise progression to the labour market while at the same time facilitating the support of community services. This allocation, €351 million, is similar to the budgeted amount provided in 2003. Accordingly, there will be no reduction in the total level of provision for the three schemes or in the combined participation levels in 2004.