Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (545, 547, 549, 550)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

545. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons who have been referred to JobPath each year since it was established; the number referred for a second, third, fourth, fifth time and, if applicable, more than five times, in tabular form. [37987/20]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

547. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons who have had employment sourced for them through JobPath; and the number whose employment was sustained for 13, 26, 39 and 52 weeks, respectively. [37989/20]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

549. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of times JobPath providers have reported jobseekers to her Department for non-engagement with the scheme since it was established. [37992/20]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

550. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of penalties that have been applied to jobseekers' rates for non-engagement with JobPath since it was established. [37993/20]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 545, 547, 549 and 550 together.

Internationally, and in Ireland, research consistently indicates that the provision of a personal advisory/case management service to unemployed jobseekers is an effective method of supporting jobseekers to secure and sustain employment.

In Ireland, this personal advisor/case management service is provided directly by the Department's own staff and also by staff employed in contracted service providers - including the Local Employment Service (LES) and JobPath providers.

In general, the Department's own case officers engage with people who are short term unemployed while those who are more distant from the labour market, including long term unemployed people, are served by the LES and JobPath.

My Department selects clients for the JobPath service from among the cohort of long-term unemployed people by means of a stratified random selection process. Protocols for selection preclude the selection of anyone who has already completed 52 weeks with the JobPath service within the previous four months. If, however, at the end of this period the jobseeker has not engaged in other activation supports and services they then become eligible for selection for further referral to a JobPath case officer/personal advisor.

Jobseekers referred for a subsequent period of engagement will start working with a Personal Advisor, who will review their development during their previous engagements with the service and together they will prepare a new personal progression plan to build on that progress. The actions and tasks agreed will be based on their previous engagements, with particular focus on addressing any barriers that may be identified as blocking the person from moving into full-time suitable employment.

I have recently instructed my officials to ensure that no new clients should serve more than two complete engagements with JobPath and practical arrangements are currently being put in place to ensure that this is the case.

The Department uses the measure of completion of engagements with JobPath as a more accurate metric as opposed to referrals, as customers can be referred on a number of occasions without actually engaging with the service. The reasons for this can typically be a change of circumstance between referral and engagement (e.g. a person may find employment before they start their engagement period with JobPath or they may transfer to another welfare scheme). To date 133,574 clients have completed one full engagement with JobPath, 33,256 clients have completed two full engagements with the JobPath service and 1,325 people have completed a third engagement period. This information has been summarised in Table 2.

JobPath provides a case management based employment advice and counselling service to long term unemployed jobseekers which aids jobseekers in finding employment. As part of this process, JobPath in common with other contracted providers such as the LES and indeed the Department's own Intreo staff, may identify suitable job opportunities and refer jobseekers to these job opportunities. Equally, the jobseeker may, during the period of engagement, identify their own opportunities. This would also be case in respect of engagements with the LES or the Department's own staff.

Between July 2015 and October 2020, some 283,826 jobseekers had commenced their engagement period with the JobPath service. These engagements are set out in Table 1.

In the same period, 64,632 jobseekers had commenced employment during their engagement period with JobPath. Of these, 40,876 have sustained employment for 13 weeks, 32,811 have sustained employment for 26 weeks, 26,992 have sustained employment for 39 weeks and 22,581 continued to be employed after twelve months.

It should be noted that many clients who are currently engaged with JobPath are still in the first phase of the service. They have not yet had sufficient time with the service to have gained employment nor sustain that employment for up to 52 weeks. The measure of performance will improve as more clients complete their engagement with the service and have a chance to reach 52 weeks in employment. In addition, employment progression rates need to be compared with the 'counterfactual' of what would have happened if a person did not avail of the of the JobPath service. For this reason, I would refer the Deputy to the econcometric evaluation of the service published on the Department's website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/0939ba-working-paper-evaluation-of-jobpath-outcomes-for-q1-2016-participant/. This indicates that employment/earnings outcomes for people who engaged with JobPath are 37% improved compared to control groups who did not engage with the service. The Department will continue to monitor this performance and will, in addition, commission studies of other employment advisory services, including the LES, over the next 12 months.

JobPath providers do not apply, nor do they recommend the application of, a penalty rate of payment. Their role is to simply advise the Department if a jobseeker has failed to attend activation meetings. The application of penalty rates is entirely a matter for Departmental staff.

The legislation underpinning the application of reduced rates of payment was provided for in the Social Welfare Act 2010. All decisions on the application of reduced rates of payment are made by officials from my Department and the circumstances of each case are taken into account prior to a decision being made.

Due to the on going economic impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic penalty rates have not been applied to payments since March 2020. Of those who were engaged with JobPath in February, 430 people or 0.7% had a reduced rate applied to their claim. This figure is consistent with the overall level of reduced rates applied across all Jobseekers. It should be pointed out that several factors may be considered in applying penalty rates and it is not possible to state in which instances the sole context may have been non-engagement with JobPath.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Table 1:

JobPath Engagements (PPP agreed) by year (as of end October 2020)

Referral Year

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

End Oct 2020

Total

Total Engagements

6,588

65,452

74,860

60,817

50,341

25,768

283,826

Table 2:

JobPath clients with Multiple completed engagements (as of end October 2020)

Number of Jobseekers who have completed at least one full engagement with JobPath

168,155

Of which have completed One Full Engagement only

133,574

Of which have completed Two Full Engagements

33,256

Of which have completed Three Full Engagements

1,325