Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (117)

Finian McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection not to cut community employment programmes (details supplied) and not to end allowances for child dependent and income maintenance. [4312/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Social Protection)

Community Employment schemes provide a very important and valued contribution to social employment, training and progression for unemployed people. Furthermore, many Community Employment schemes provide vital community services right across the country. There are currently 1,143 CE schemes in operation nationally with 23,300 participants. I have protected the number of places on CE so that the most vulnerable in our society can continue to avail of Community Employment and provide value services to their communities. There are no reductions in the number of CE places for 2012.

Following on from changes to the materials grant for Community Employment schemes announced in Budget 2012, I have directed that an initial review of the financial resources of all schemes this is now ongoing and will be completed in March 2012. It is also being carried out in the context that there are community and voluntary sponsoring organisations that receive funding from a multiplicity of state agencies. Alternative sources of support will be examined, particularly with reference to funding from other state agencies to avoid duplication. The review will also seek to establish if income is generated by scheme activity and the potential for utilisation of these funds to cover project costs.

The outcomes of this review will provide a clear picture of the core funding required for each scheme. This will assist my Department in ensuring a fair distribution of the funding available for these schemes. I have given assurances to community and voluntary organisations that no Community Employment Scheme will close pending the completion of this review.

Those personscurrently engaged on a Community Employment (CE) programme and in receipt of any of the following social welfare payments will retain their concurrent payments until they have either exhausted their eligibility to participate on the scheme, they leave the scheme voluntarily or if they are still present on the scheme at the final cut-off date for receipt of the concurrent payment in December 2014.

One Parent Family Payment

Deserted Wife's Benefit

Widow(er)'s Pension

Illness Benefit

Disability Allowance

Invalidity Pension

Blind Pension

Persons in receipt of One Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit and Widow(er)'s Pension will no longer retain the CE-funded child dependant allowance. They will retain the child dependant allowance on their original social welfare payment. The net reduction in combined income to a person currently on CEand in receipt of One Parent Family Payment (OPFP) is as follows:

No. of Children

1 child

€22.30 per week

2 children

€37.10 per week

3 children

€51.90 per week

4 children

€66.70 per week

5 children

€81.50 per week

6 children

€97.30 per week

The reason the difference is less than the basic €29.80 child dependant rate is due to the retained OPFP being reassessed upwards due to less Community Employment (CE) income being means-assessed against it. The reduced €130 income disregard has also been taken into account in these calculations.

New participants to CE will only receive the equivalent of what they received on the original social welfare payment plus the €20 CE participation bonus, all paid under their CE allowances. Given the exigency of the current budgetary situation facing my Department, I cannot reinstate the budgets to 2011 levels.