Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (708)

Pearse Doherty


708. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by a number of community and voluntary organisations responsible for the implementation of the community work placement scheme Tús in relation to plans to reduce the number of placements available in future in view of reduced unemployment figures and the changing jobs market; if consideration will be given to proposals to maintain the number of placement places available in regions in which demand for the scheme remains consistent and in which the local labour market has remained relatively unchanged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10123/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Tús is one of a range of supports provided by my Department to cater for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. It provides part-time temporary work in local communities, as a stepping-stone back to employment. However, it is important to note that these placements are not full-time sustainable jobs and are designed to break the cycle of unemployment and maintain work readiness, thereby improving a person’s opportunities of returning to the labour market or getting a job for the first time. The scheme commenced operation in 2011 as a response to the high level of unemployment and the large numbers on the Live Register at that time. There are 47 Local Development Companies (LDCs), as well as Údarás na Gaeltachta, involved in the delivery of the Tús programme - known as Implementing bodies (IBs).

The Deputy will appreciate that the reduction in the unemployment rate is a factor in recruitment to all programmes. Long-term unemployment is expected to fall further this year in line with the continuing forecasted fall in overall unemployment.

The Deputy will appreciate that given the welcome improvements in the labour market in recent years with reducing numbers of long-term unemployed on the Live Register, which is the target cohort for Tús, it is proving difficult to fill the number of places available nationwide. However, changes were introduced recently to the selection criteria for Tús which should broaden the availability of Tús to a greater number of people on the live register. This includes an increase in the percentage of assisted referrals from 20% to 30%, as well as permitting someone who has had a break of up to 30 days on the Live Register in the past 12 months to be considered eligible for Tús selection.

In the five years since the end of December 2012, there has been a 48% fall in the numbers on the Live Register who are more than 1 year unemployed. In this context the Department is currently engaging with the Irish Local Development Network – the representative body for the IBs.

The Department keeps all aspects of its activation programmes under review to ensure the best outcomes for participants and communities.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.