Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (101)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

101. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of participants of the community employment schemes that are on the scheme for more than two years; if it is intended to transfer these participants to the Tús scheme in view of its lower cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56114/12]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups, (including persons with a disability and lone parents on One Family Payment allowance) with an opportunity to engage in quality work experience and training opportunities within their communities on a fixed term basis. CE combines employment and training interventions while at the same time supporting the provision of social services to local communities.

Depending on the length of time an applicant is unemployed the duration on CE is one year up to three years with the option of a further year extension for persons who are over 3 years in receipt of a welfare payment.

There are currently 7,966 participants on CE who have been on the programme for 2 or more and these represent approximately one-third of 23,300 places on CE. The Tús programme has a budget of 5,000 places in 2012. There are differences between CE and Tús in terms of the profile of participants coming onto the programme, duration and programme content. The range of profiles of new entrants is broader on CE and includes people with a disability, lone parents as well as people on the Live Register. Participation on Tús is confined to people on the Live Register. AS CE is an Active Labour Market Programme which prepares participants for entry to employment there is little added value in terms of offering a further year on Tús. This is particularly in the context of high unemployment and demand for activation places to meet the Department’s commitments under Pathways to Work.

However, there has been a recent change to CE which allows Tús participants under certain circumstances to enter CE. This particularly applies to Tús participants who are in need of training and where further supports are necessary for progression. Following the recent budget announcements, an additional 2,000 places will be allocated to CE and 2,500 to Tús during 2013.

Earlier this year, a financial review of individual CE schemes was undertaken by local staff in this Department. This was a very valuable exercise and substantial savings have already been achieved in the operational costs of the programme. These savings will continue to be achieved in 2013. CE costs are now comparable with Tús costs. The broad policy direction for CE in 2013 is based on the main action points coming from the CE Financial Review which has been recently published. These focus on the provision of training qualifications and other support services to participants, quality work experience and progression into employment. As both programmes are now under this Department there is greater potential to maximise the outcomes and achieve economies between these programmes and the other Employment Schemes in this Department.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 100.