Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Questions (472)

Joe Carey


472. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of the interdepartmental review of community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43412/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Community Employment (CE) scheme is a labour market initiative that provides work experience and training opportunities to help long-term unemployed people and other vulnerable groups to enter the workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment. It also tackles issues of social inclusion and provides valuable services to local communities across the country.

In 2019, the Government established an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how the Community Employment social inclusion strand should be best organised in the future. I take it that this is the review to which the Deputy is referring. The Group included representatives from the Departments of Social Protection; Public Expenditure and Reform; Agriculture, Food and Marine; Rural and Community Development; Children and Youth Affairs; Justice and Equality; Health; Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Housing Planning and Local Government.

The Group undertook a consultative process with a number of key stakeholders and community and voluntary organisations; all submissions received were considered as part of the review process.

The final IDG report was provided to my Department for consideration at the start of 2020. Shortly after, the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on the immediate priorities for employment support schemes such as Community Employment. With the re-opening of the economy and the phasing out of public health restrictions, these schemes are now returning to normal services levels, albeit in a changed labour market context. In this context my Department intends to progress the IDG Report in the near future.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.