The Government, as part of the Budget package for 2013. announced a number of initiatives focused on providing work opportunities for those currently unemployed. The key elements of this package are to add an additional 2,500 places to JobBridge; 2,000 places on community employment; 2,500 to Tús – the community work placement initiative - and the development of a new initiative with local authorities to provide 3,000 opportunities in 2013. Development work on this new initiative has commenced with local authorities and I hope to be in a position to agree a number of pilot projects to inform the design of this important initiative in the coming weeks. The focus of this new scheme will be on those on the live register for 24 months or more.
People with disabilities and on related disability payment schemes from the Department of Social Protection are eligible to apply for a number of schemes, the details of which are available on the Department’s website – www.welfare.ie. In addition, there are also a number of practical supports and allowances available to employers to proactively assist the participation of people with a disability in the workforce. Funding can be provided to employers who wish to retain an employee who has acquired an impairment or illness and to employ a person with a disability. The Department also funds the EmployAbility service nationwide, which is designed to enable jobseekers with a disability to secure open labour market employment with assistance of tailored individual supports provided by job coaches. Given the opportunities that currently exist, I have no plans to consider opening up more schemes to those on disability payments.