The number of places available on CE has remained constant at 23,300 including supervisors. The financial review of CE Schemes has now been completed. The Department of Social Protection have contacted schemes to advise them of their revised material and training allocations.
The materials and training CE Budget has been increased by €9.5m from the original budget of approximately €11.0m following transfer from savings identified elsewhere in the DSP budget. The new CE materials and training budget is thus €20.5m.
Under the revised arrangements, schemes will no longer be given universal amounts of financial support but will instead be provided with a specific level of support aimed at meeting the particular costs of CE Schemes, having regard to the overall level of funding available for CE nationally. To date, significant savings have already been made to the overheads of CE projects in terms of annual insurance costs and audit fees.
In addition to the training allocation for schemes, CE participants may also access a number of Springboard, VEC and FÁS courses free of charge. Details of the CE Financial review are due to be made available in the coming weeks.
In addition, there is a separate Labour Market Activation Schemes policy review nearing completion. This review will inform the Department's strategic approach in relation to labour market activation including the CE and TUS programme into the future.
This review will be of interest and importance to all the stakeholders involved and, accordingly, the Minister for Social Protection will ensure that stakeholders will be able to respond to it findings ahead of a consultation she will hold with stakeholders in the autumn.
The Department is committed to supporting the CE Programme and the valuable contribution it is making to the provision of services to individuals and communities across Ireland.