I propose to take Questions Nos. 424, 434 and 435 together.
My Department contracts with 24 contractors for the provision of an Employability service across the State. The decision of the Board of Employability West to cease operations and not to accept the Department’s offer of a contact for the provision of services in 2022 was disappointing but entirely a decision of the Board.
Officials in my Department have actively sought a transfer of Employability West caseload to other neighbouring contractors. However, regrettably the neighbouring contractors have declined the offer of expanding their services into the area of operations of the Employability West and taking on the existing caseload.
My Department has a range of provisions for Jobseekers in place in the Dublin West area delivered through my Department’s Intreo service, which will continue to be in position to provide dedicated assistance in seeking and gaining sustained employment for all jobseekers.
In addition, my Department provides specific support for graduate jobseekers with disabilities through AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability), a contracted service provider. They deliver the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) and ‘Get Ahead’ Programmes on behalf of the Department that provides paid work experience and other supports for graduates with disabilities who want to enter or re-enter the job market.
Schemes and supports that are available through local Intreo Centres that jobseekers/employees with disabilities or their employers may be eligible to participate in or avail of include the Rural Social Scheme, the Community Employment Scheme and the Wage Subsidy Scheme for people with disabilities and the Reasonable Accommodation Fund Grants.
My Department regularly reviews its supports and payments schemes to ensure that it continues to meet its objectives. A comprehensive set of income and employment supports is in place for those experiencing illness and disability, based on a person’s medical condition and either their social insurance contributions or means testing.
Officials in my Department will shortly be writing to persons currently in receipt of services from Employability West to offer support and a review of the services available to them through their local Intreo Centre.