Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (126)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

126. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the ongoing difficulties experienced by CASPr due to the changes made in 2012 in entitlement rates for community employment participants; if she has looked into solutions for community employment schemes like CASPr that are having difficulties recruiting persons to participate and the way she will offset the negative impact the reduction in numbers of community employment participants is having on their ability to provide vital community services; her views on whether this type of scheme needs different criteria; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29511/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Over the last number of years, a number of changes have been made to community employment to improve cost efficiency and programme effectiveness. The change process is ongoing and the Department is committed to the maintaining and improving the programme. The overall number of places available under community employment has been increased by 2,000 to 25,300 (including supervisors) in 2013 with a budget of circa €352 million. The composition of participant numbers has changed in recent years with a decline in One Parent Family Clients and an increase in take-up by persons on Jobseeker's Allowance. The change in participation composition has proved challenging for some sponsors and the Department is working with these sponsors to assist them in filling the places already assigned to them. The number of approved places on the Community After Schools Project has remained at 39 for the last three project years. The Local Intreo Office has undertaken a special initiative to ensure eligible persons for community employment are made aware of the opportunities on community employment. It is anticipated that this initiative will help raise the demand for community employment in the area. The Department continues its commitment to getting people back to work as set out in the Programme for Government and the Pathways to Work documents. This additional allocation includes a priority being given to applicants who are referred to a community employment drugs rehabilitation places, child care and social care. The take-up of community employment places will be closely monitored. The Department is committed to reforming community employment to ensure value for money, progression of the job seeker and support for community services.