Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (760)

Bríd Smith


760. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of extending the workplace adaptation grant to those that are blind and vision impaired for a second year on community employment schemes. [29278/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department provides a range of grants and supports to assist both jobseekers with disabilities and employers to take appropriate measures to enable either a potential employee or existing employee with disabilities to obtain or retain employment.  These include the:

- Disability Awareness Support Scheme (DASS)

- Reasonable Accommodation Fund (RAF), which encompasses:-

- Employee Retention Grant

- Workplace Equipment / Adaptation Grant

- Personal Reader Grant

- Job Interview Interpreter Grant

 The purpose of the Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant (WEAG) is to increase the job opportunities for people with a disability by supporting any additional costs, related to the disability, incurred by private sector employers employing or retaining an employee with a disability or self-employed people with a disability.

The general principles of the scheme are that it:

- applies only to the additional costs of adapting workplace equipment or of the provision of equipment arising from the individual’s disability.  It should not be used to provide support usually provided by employers or supports required under legislation for employees who do not have a disability;

- is a contribution towards the cost of an adaptation or of equipment up to a current limit of €6,350.  It can also be used to upgrade adaptive equipment which may have been funded previously.  Application in excess of this sum will be considered on an individual basis up to a maximum of €9,523 if specialist training for the assistive technology is required;

- is not intended to meet the usual costs of setting up and running a business either for an employer or a self-employed person;

- will be treated as a grant; and

- may be used in part for training in the use of the grant-aided equipment.

 Those eligible for receipt include:-

- Any person with a disability who is about to take up employment with a private sector employer, change job as a result of re-deployment or promotion, or become self-employed, and who requires assistive technology or an adaptation to the workplace in order to undertake the duties required.

- Any person employed by a private sector employer who acquires a disability whilst in employment, whose employer is participating in the Employee Retention Grant Scheme (ERGS), and who requires assistive technology or an adaptation to the workplace in order to retain his/her employment.

- Any person with a disability who is employed by a private sector employer, whose condition deteriorates so that he/she requires new assistive technology or a further adaptation to the workplace in order to retain his/her employment.

The Community Employment (CE) scheme provides part-time employment and training opportunities in local communities for people in receipt of a long term Social Welfare payment as a stepping stone back to employment.  It is important to note that community employment, does not, nor is it intended to, provide full-time sustainable employment.  As CE projects are funded by the exchequer, participation on a CE scheme is not currently considered as private sector employment for the purpose of eligibility for WEAG.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.