Thursday, 27 June 2019

Questions (257)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

257. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the time limit for participants of community employment schemes who have mental health difficulties and find their participation in community employment schemes beneficial to managing their mental health; if she will amend the requirements for continuing on a scheme beyond the requisite referral from her Department in addition to being on the live register for over a year with a limit of six years total for participation in a scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27442/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to supporting people with a disability to participate more fully in society and to become more self-sufficient. This is achieved through a number of supports that address barriers that they may face, including the Community Employment (CE) scheme.

CE is an active labour market programme with an aim to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. It helps participants to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine.

All CE participants are subject to a participation limit. In general the lifetime participation limit is six years in total, however persons qualifying for CE via a disability-related payment can qualify for one further year giving them an overall lifetime participation limit of seven years. These limits are necessary to ensure places are available to other eligible social welfare recipients.

It is also worth noting that the participant's secondary benefits are also protected during his or her engagement on CE with individual circumstances taken into account in determining continuing eligibility.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how social inclusion schemes might best be organised into the future including which Department should hold lead responsibility for sponsoring CE schemes focused on social Inclusion. The deliberations of the group may also inform any further consideration to review eligibility criteria along with participation limits.