I propose to take Questions Nos. 311, 323, 327, 337 and 338 together.
TÚS, the community work placement initiative introduced during 2011, was initially set up to provide up to 5,000 short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. As part of the 2013 budget package for the Department of Social Protection, the number of places on Tús is being extended by 2,500 so that the total places approved will increase from 5,000 to 7,500. To date 8,178 people have completed or are currently on work placements. This figure includes supervisory/team leader positions. As a relatively new initiative, Tús continues to be monitored and developed and to date has proven to be effective in meeting its objectives.
A person cannot apply to participate on Tús. All selection is undertaken by random processes conducted at local level by the Department of Social Protection. The selection is focused on those on the live register for a year or more and in receipt of a jobseekers’ payment. I consider the current selection process effective and I have no proposals to alter these arrangements. Eligibility for supervisory/team leader positions on Tús is the same for participants, i.e. it is confined to those on the Live Register for at least 12 months and in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance at the time of application. A person on a community employment scheme does not meet the criteria as they are not in receipt of a jobseekers payment. Tús is focused on those on the Live Register for a year or more and have more limited job or work placement opportunities.