Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (91)

Willie O'Dea


91. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that have been put on the Gateway initiative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24105/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

As the Deputy is aware, Gateway is a work placement initiative delivered by county, county and city, and city councils. While over 2,500 positions have been identified for Gateway by councils so far, progress on recruitment has been slower than anticipated. By week ending 13th June, a total of 270 jobseekers will be actively working on Gateway across 16 councils. For the Deputy’s information, these include the Limerick Council, which has been one of the leaders in providing opportunities in this regard. An additional 469 jobseekers are currently awaiting the completion of contracts to commence work. The councils have been tasked with starting this cohort within the next few weeks. I expect placements to accelerate thereafter, with the aim of the councils employing 3,000 jobseekers by the end of the year. Responsibility for the recruitment of jobseekers and identifying work opportunities rests with individual councils. Similar to Tús, participants are selected by the Department from those persons in receipt of a jobseekers allowance payment for 24 months or more. Jobseekers are informed when they have been selected and, once they agree to participate, their contact details are passed to the relevant council for recruitment.

To further support the recruitment process, the Department has recently put arrangements in place for jobseekers meeting the criteria to apply to the Department or councils for participation on Gateway and for Departmental case officers to nominate suitable candidates for recruitment. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has also sanctioned 150 acting-up allowances for existing local authority staff to support the supervision of Gateway. Additionally, that Department has provided €2 million to offset the costs of health and safety, training for specified tasks and personal protective equipment.

I believe that there are considerable personal and wider social benefits to jobseekers from engaging in worthwhile work in their community. Gateway is modelled on successful schemes such as community employment, Tús and the rural social scheme with the same level of pay and similar conditions of employment.

The ambition of the Government is that Gateway will build on these positive initiatives using the quality working environment, resources and opportunities available to county and city councils enabling the long-term unemployed to make a positive contribution to their communities whilst up-skilling themselves for future prospective employment.

Question No. 92 answered with Question No. 89.