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Community Services Programme

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 26 January 2016

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Questions (82, 117)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

82. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will link the funding provided to groups under the community services programme with the minimum wage so that all such groups will receive increased funding to take account of the increase in the minimum wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2754/16]

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Dominic Hannigan

Question:

117. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the reason the community services grant administered by Pobal will not fund the increase in the minimum wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3156/16]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 117 together.

The community services programme (CSP) is one of a number of programmes and schemes operated by the Department. It provides financial support to community companies that provide revenue generating services of a social inclusion nature. Many of these companies are also funded from other sources and generate revenue from the public use of their facilities and services. The CSP provides a contribution to the wage costs of the companies on the basis that the services are not fully self-financing or the cost of provision would be prohibitive on users. The Department does not set the wage rate but requires the payment of appropriate wage rates, consistent with local norms.

At December 2015, 398 companies employing some 2,800 employees were directly supported by the CSP. The Department estimates that, at the end of 2015, some 60% of these employees were being paid above the level of the minimum wage, in keeping with the social inclusion and social benefit objectives of the programme. The Department is committed to working with the remaining companies to achieve the objective of paying a reasonable wage. The Deputy should note that the CSP accounts for less than a third of the resources generated by these companies.

Contracts of up to three years duration are provided for under the CSP. Arrangements whereby individual companies will be able to access additional financial resources to compensate for the welcome increase in the minimum wage are being put in place. Submissions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis with the annual funding commitment being adjusted accordingly, where it is found to be warranted. An advance of 25% of the contract value for 2016 has been, or is in the course of being, paid to companies currently in the programme. This ensures that immediate cash-flow requirements are supported.

Overall, I am satisfied that the level of resources available to the CSP in 2016 at just over €45m will be adequate to meet the on-going funding needs of the programme. I have no plans to change the current arrangements whereby the level of resources to support services is determined on a case by case basis, based on individual company and service circumstances.

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