I propose to take Questions Nos. 1110 and 1119 together.
Similar correspondence was forwarded to my Department and I can confirm that a response has issued directly to the person concerned.
As part of the July stimulus, the Government committed to increase resources dedicated to the delivery of employment services both within the Department’s own Intreo service, and, in addition, to expand the coverage of the Local Employment Services to areas not currently covered by existing providers.
My Department has already increased its own complement of employment service staff and now intends to issue a Request for Tender (RFT) to expand local employment services into some geographical areas where a Local Employment Service does not currently exist. The forthcoming RFT will primarily focus on the quality of services to be provided, while expanding the capacity of the Public Employment Service (PES). This RFT, which is required to comply with EU procurement rules, will have no impact on the contracts of existing providers in other areas and it is expected that the tender will prove attractive to local community-based organisations, including the Local Development Companies.
Separately, current contracts for all contracted PES provision expire at the end of 2021 and my Department is therefore developing RFTs to ensure that renewed services are procured in a manner that is compatible with EU and national procurement rules and in keeping with best practices.
I am aware of the valuable work that continues to be performed by Local Employment Services. Future procurement process will give due recognition to the ability to deliver high quality, locally-based services, when that ability is demonstrated in the tender.