Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (112)

Colm Keaveney


112. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the importance of increasing participation in employment for persons with a disability, if she will consider opening up all labour activation programmes to persons on some disability payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24111/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

This Government recognises the importance of increasing participation in employment for persons with a disability and is committed to removing any barriers that remain which prevent those persons with disabilities from participating activation programmes and employment.A wide range of activation programmes are available to persons with disabilities which cover both mainstream and specialised supports. In terms of mainstream provision, people with a disability can access all activation programmes – for example, SOLAS training courses, Community Employment schemes and JobBridge. For those previously receiving a social welfare payment, they will either retain that payment or move to a training allowance or temporary employment payment, depending on their individual circumstances.

In addition to access to its mainstream provision, Solas also funds customised training for people with disabilities provided by a range of Specialist Training Providers. The Department of Social Protection also provides a wide range of income and work-related supports specifically for people with disabilities. Work-related supports include:

- the EmployAbility service (formerly the Supported Employment Programme) which facilitates the integration of people with disabilities into paid employment in the open labour market; and

- a number of other supports specifically for employers (the Wage Subsidy Scheme - which pays an employer a subsidy for employing a person with a disability; the Work Equipment Adaptation Grant, the Employee Retention Grant, and the Disability Awareness Scheme).

In addition, the Department launched the Disability Activation Project (DACT) at the end of 2012. DACT is based in the Borders, Midland and Western (BMW) region and covers four specific strands associated with the employment of people with disabilities. DACT will provide invaluable guidance as to how best to further develop effective activation measures generally for people with disabilities into the future.

Furthermore, the Department also funds the WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) project, the objective of which is to bring graduates and employers together to promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities.

In short, the Department, in co-operation with the Department of Education and Skills, is committed to supporting people with disabilities to participate more fully in employment and to become more self-sufficient by providing supports that address barriers they may encounter in finding and sustaining work employment.