That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963, for Employment and Emergency Schemes (including Relief of Distress).
Vol. 197 No. 6
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963, for Employment and Emergency Schemes (including Relief of Distress).
The Vote for Employment and Emergency Schemes makes provision for the annual programme of employment schemes to give work to men in receipt of unemployment assistance in urban and rural areas, including towns with a population of 200 and over; and for other services not directly concerned with U.A. recipients, such as bog development schemes, rural improvements schemes, and miscellaneous schemes including minor marine works and archaeological excavations. The Vote also makes provision for the salaries, travelling and other incidental expenses of the staff of the Special Employment Schemes Office, who are responsible for the administration of the Vote.
I find that the practice over a number of years in dealing with this Vote has been to give general details of the work done in the preceding financial year, and I propose to do the same. The gross estimate figure for the year 1962/63 shows an increase of £8,830 over last year's figure but, in view of the anticipated increase of £6,000 in the Appropriations-in-Aid subhead, the nett increase is only £2,830. There is a reduction of £27,000 in the provision for urban employment schemes, and this has enabled me to increase the provision for rural improvements schemes from £200,000 to £225,000 and the miscellaneous schemes subhead from £15,000 to £17,000. I will refer to these changes again later on.
Last year, my predecessor made available to Deputies a tabular statement giving particulars of the expenditure under the various subheads of the Vote for four years 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59 and 1959-60, the estimated expenditure for 1960-61, as well as the provision proposed for these services in 1961-62. There are a number of new Deputies in the House, and I am, therefore, bringing these particulars up to date in the new tabular statement which I have made available to Deputies. These figures include payments from the National Development Fund in addition to the Vote up to and including the financial year 1960-61— when the last of the Fund money available to the Special Employment Schemes Office was expended—the expenditure, all Vote expenditure, for 1961-62, and the provision for 1962-63. The expenditure last year was something more than 98 per cent. of the money available, compared with 95½ per cent. in 1960-61 and 97 per cent. in 1959-60.
Before commenting on the different subheads of the Vote, I think it appropriate to make some general observations on the unemployment figures. Grants for urban, rural and minor employment schemes are related to the number of U.A. recipients in each area. A geographical census is taken annually by the Special Employment Schemes Office in the third week of January of the number of U.A. men as well as the number of men in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit in each of the 60 urban areas, 477 non-urbanised towns with a population of 200 and over, and the 2,874 rural electoral divisions in the country. This period of the year has been selected as it approximates the peak period of unemployment. The census includes, in addition to the men drawing U.A. or U.I.B. in that week, men who formerly drew such payments but who were working on schemes financed from the Vote during that particular week.
The census figures for week ended Saturday, the 20th January, 1962, give an over-all reduction of 8.3 per cent. compared with 1961. The reduction was greatest in the urban areas—a reduction of 9.6 per cent. For towns with a population of 200 and over, there was a reduction of 8½ per cent. The rural areas figures showed a reduction of 7¾ per cent. There is a general pattern, therefore, as will be seen, of reductions throughout the country. Comparing 1962 figures with 1957, the over-all U.A. figures showed a reduction of 35 per cent. or more than one-third.
The figures I have just given relate to U.A. men only. Including men in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit in addition to U.A. men, the reduction in the combined figures was 5.3 per cent. compared with the 8.3 per cent. reduction for U.A. alone. The overall reduction was general in the different areas, being 5.3 per cent. in urban areas, 5.1 per cent. in rural areas and 7.6 per cent. in towns with a population of 200 and over. Comparing 1962 with 1957, the reduction in U.A. and U.I.B. combined was 37.6 per cent.
I propose now to turn to the individual subheads of the Vote. Subheads A and B provide for salaries, travelling and office expenses of the Special Employment Schemes Office, i.e., the administrative subheads. The figure for Subhead B for travelling and incidental expenses is the same as last year's. The increase of £8,830 in the salaries subhead is mainly due to what has become generally known at the eighth round increase, which in a full year would amount to approximately £10,000. Ordinary increments as the staff become a year older account for a further £1,900 but some savings have been made in reduced staff numbers.
There is a reduction of £27,000 in the proposed provision for urban employment schemes. The schemes provide for works in the four County Borough areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, the Borough of Dún Laoghaire, and the 55 other urban districts. The grants are administered through the Department of Local Government, and are conditional on the local authorities submitting suitable work schemes for approval by the Special Employment Schemes Office and making contributions towards their cost. The local contributions vary in the different urban areas. Including local contributions, the total cost of the works authorised last year was £273,905. Against the provision of £227,000, the State grant expenditure last year was £228,845. Employment Schemes in urban areas are ordinarily concentrated in the winter period, but the Dublin schemes are proceeded with the whole year round, each U.A. man getting a 12 weeks' spell of employment.
The Dublin Corporation were notified on 26th July, 1961 that a State grant of £110,000 was available for new works costing £137,500, subject to a contribution of £27,500. Schemes to absorb the full amount, £137,500 gross, were duly approved during the year, of which £69,400 was for road works and £68,100 for amenity schemes. The road schemes were spread over different parts of the city, of which about £21,000 was allocated to the Ballyfermot, Drimnagh and Crumlin areas, £8,400 in Dublin South-Central, £13,000 in Baldoyle, £7,100 in Finglas, £9,500 in Artane, £8,500 in Larkhill (Whitehall), and £2,000 in the Fairview area. The amenity schemes included concrete terracing and a paddling pool at the Bull Wall, £6,250; £50,250 for the culverting of the Wad River between Beaumont Road and Malahide Road, £2,000 for the reconditioning of the Santry River adjacent to the Coolock housing scheme, and £9,600 for further work on St. Anne's Estate park in Raheny in respect of footpaths, carriageways and the clearing of scrub, etc., in the estate.
Among the works actually carried out in the last financial year was a scheme for the reconstruction of the carriageway at Fairview between Annesley Bridge and Merville Avenue, near Fairview School. This scheme was estimated to cost £22,445; and as explained by my predecessor in his introductory statement last year—Column 136, Dáil Debates of 14th June, 1961— it was done by contract instead of by the usual method of direct labour. It was, in fact, an experiment to ascertain whether it was possible to employ U.A. labour on these employment schemes in Dublin under the contract system. With modern methods of road construction, nearly all the work was done by the contractor's skilled operators using machinery, and the proportion of other labour for which work could be found was relatively very small. In the result, we must accept the position that it is not possible to utilise the contract system in the employment of U.A. labour on these Dublin employment schemes.
The average number of men employed weekly on these schemes in Dublin in the last year was 90, of whom 55 were U.A. recipients. The blunt fact which has to be faced is that, as the years go by, works with a reasonably high labour content on which unskilled U.A. men can be employed become scarcer and scarcer in the Dublin county borough area. The unskilled labour content in the residue now available in the city, even when done by direct labour, in many cases does not exceed 25 per cent. of the total cost. As I have already said, half the works sanctioned last year were road works. Up to recent years, Dublin city got a grant of £90,000 from the Road Fund towards the reconstruction of city roads. In the year just past, this grant has been increased fourfold to £400,000 and a similar figure has, I understand, been made available for the new year, 1962-63. The amount of money which could be allocated to the Dublin Corporation and the other borough areas from the reduced provision of £200,000 for the current year is necessarily less than last year's but Dublin Deputies will be glad to know that £92,000 has been allocated, which, with the Corporation contribution of one-fifth, will make £115,000 available for new work schemes. The allocation was notified on 4th August, 1962, and road schemes amounting to £45,880 have been approved up to the end of October, 1962.
The Cork Corporation were notified on 26th July, 1961, of their grant of £19,700 for new schemes, subject to a local contribution of £3,940. Schemes to absorb the full allocation were duly approved, of which £16,310 was for road works at St. Mary's Road, French's Quay and Proby's Quay; £2,050 was for sundry footpaths; and the remaining £5,330 made provision for an open-space at Iona Park and the widening of the Ferry Walk at Mardyke. The State grant expenditure in Cork last year amounted to £23,557 so that some arrears of payment have been overtaken. The allocation for the current year—£17,500 State grant; £3,500 local contribution, £21,000 total—was notified to the Cork Corporation on the 4th August, 1962, and schemes to absorb this sum are awaited.
The Limerick allocation amounted to £18,500, conditional on a local contribution of £3,700. Road works sanctioned amounted to £17,350, including works at Garryowen, £3,000; Carey's Road and Rossbrien, £8,900; O'Curry Street, the widening of the Lansdowne Circle and the laying of footpaths in various parts of the city, £5,450; and the remaining £4,850 was in respect of amenity schemes, including a wall at Ballinacurra, £1,650; the balance, £3,200, being in respect of a second pitch at Shelbourne Park, the levelling of the area at Janesboro' and the extension of the wall at Corbally. The allocation for the current year— £14,000 State grant and £2,800 local contribution, £16,800 total, was notified on 4th August, 1962, and schemes to absorb this sum are awaited.
The allocation for Waterford was £8,500 and, with the local contribution of £1,420, it made £9,920 available for expenditure. The entire allocation was devoted to footpaths in various parts of the city. The allocation for the current year—£7,500 State grant and £1,250 local contribution, £8,750 total—was notified on 4th August, 1962, and schemes to absorb this sum are awaited. The Dún Laoghaire allocation of £5,000, with the local contribution of £1,250 made £6,250 available. The works included footpaths, further development work at Dunedin Park and the balance, £3,700, was intended for work on the Sandycove foreshore. Work on this last scheme has been held up by some of the affected parties so that the actual expenditure last year in Dún Laoghaire, including works carried forward from the previous year, amounted to about £3,750 representing a State grant of £3,020. The allocation for the current year, viz., £4,000 State grant, £1,000 local contribution, £5,000 total, was notified on 4th August, 1962, and schemes to absorb this sum are awaited.
The allocations for the remaining 55 other urban districts, amounting to £65,300, with a local contribution of £9,095 made £74,395 available for expenditure. The amounts of the grants varied between £250 in towns with less than 6 U.A., such as Bundoran, Castlebar, Carrickmacross and Templemore (where with a local contribution of not more than £40 the amount would provide for only a few weeks' work for the U.A. men about Christmas time) to as high as £5,000 in Dundalk, £4,700 in Drogheda, £4,300 in Tralee, £3,900 in Galway, £3,800 in Wexford, £2,850 in Kilkenny, £2,300 in Clonmel and £1,850 in Bray in the larger urban areas. In urban areas other than Dublin, the maximum number of weeks' employment which may be given to an individual U.A. recipient is 8 weeks. In Dublin, as already stated, 12 weeks are allowed to each U.A. man.
The full State allocation of £65,300 was duly absorbed, and the approved works included £40,000 for road works and £11,000 for footpaths. The remaining £14,300 was utilised for various types of amenity schemes, such as footpaths in recreation centres and cemeteries, the surfacing of market yards, a sea wall at Dungarvan, public parks at Ceanannus Mór and Monaghan, an open space at Tralee, as well as car parks, the clearance of derelict sites, conversion of dumping grounds into open spaces, playing fields in Mallow and Youghal, and also the construction of a promenade in Wexford.
The allocation for the 55 other urban districts in the current year is £60,000, which, with the local contribution of £8,325, will make £68,325 available for new works. The various local urban councils were notified of the amounts of these allocations on the 4th August, 1962. As I said earlier, there was a reduction of about 10 per cent. in the number of U.A. recipients in all urban areas, including county boroughs, in 1962 compared with 1961, the figures being 6,712 in 1961 and 6,066 in 1962. Deputies will realise from the details of works given by me in the various areas that the bulk of the expenditure in these urban areas has been on road improvement works. I have already referred to the substantial increase in the Road Fund allocation for Dublin from £90,000 annually up cations for the other borough areas to 1960 to £400,000 now. The allohave also been substantially increased from the same source, the figures for Cork and Limerick having each gone up from £15,000 in 1960 to £37,500 in 1962. Waterford went up from £5,000 to £12,750 and Dún Laoghaire from £25,000 to £62,250. Having regard to these very substantial increases from alternative sources which will necessarily give substantial employment, the small over-all reduction of £27,000 does not require any further comment from me. The distribution of the £200,000 available has been related to the number of U.A. recipients in the different urban areas.
The provision in the next subhead, Rural Employment Schemes, is £35,000, the same as in the last five years. These works are confined to non-urbanised towns with a population of 200 and over, of which there are 477. The grants in these cases are made available to the county councils concerned, who are required to contribute one-quarter of the cost, so that a total of £46,665 is available for expenditure on these schemes. In 1961, there were 3,965 unemployed in these 477 town areas, and grants were given for 130 towns where 3,024 of the 3,965 unemployed were concentrated. Grants were given in every town which had ten or more unemployed resident therein. No grants were given for the other 347 towns in which 941 unemployed were resident. The schemes were almost exclusively carried out during the Christmas period, and as £35,000 only was available for distribution the allocation in 107 of the 130 small towns was between £200 and £300. The following four towns got £500 each: Kilkee, Cork South City Suburbs, Balbriggan and Tuam. Two towns, Mountmellick and Granard, got £450 each, and six town areas got £400 each, viz., Dublin South City and Dún Laoghaire Suburbs, Rathmore in County Kerry, Newcastle and Abbeyfeale in County Limerick and Mullingar in County Westmeath.
The various county councils were notified on the 19th July, 1961 of the amounts of the grants and the town areas to which they were applicable. The approved works consisted mainly of footpaths in the towns and environs, which absorbed £31,500 approximately of the £46,665 available for expenditure. Minor road works, including the easing of bends in the immediate vicinity of towns absorbed £12,150; and the remaining £3,000 approximately provided for various amenity schemes such as the improvement of the fair green in Cootehill, a bathing place in Loughrea, the improvement of an open space in Clifden, the clearance of derelict sites and parking places in some seaside towns in Mayo —Keel, Dooagh, etc.
The £35,000 State grant available this year has been allocated to 125 towns where 2,872 of the total of 3,665 unemployed in these non-urbanised towns with a population of 200 or over are concentrated and no grants are proposed for the other 352 towns with 793 unemployed. Grants are being made available for every town area with nine or more unemployed resident therein. As £35,000 only is available most of the individual allocations are between £200 and £300 and the various county councils, who are required to contribute 25 per cent. of the cost of the works proposed, were notified of the allocations on the 4th August last. Grants are related as far as possible to the unemployment position and larger grants were made available for the more important towns, e.g., £500 for Ballyshannon, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Edenderry and Gorey; £550 for Newcastle, Granard, Mullingar and Tuam; £600 for Balbriggan, Mountmellick and Dún Laoghaire suburbs, and £650 for Kilkee, Cork South City suburbs and Dublin South City suburbs.
Minor Employment Schemes (Subhead E) are primarily intended to give employment to persons in receipt of unemployment assistance in rural areas, and are carried out only in the winter period, from November to March. The works consist of the repair and reconstruction of non-county or accommodation roads to farmers' houses, lands and bogs. They are done only in the parts of the twelve counties of Cavan, Clare, Cork West, Donegal, West Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo in which there are substantial numbers of men in receipt of unemployment assistance. The unit of distribution is the district electoral division, and this unit was selected as its boundaries are locally known and being approximately nine square miles in area on average, a work selected in any part of it is invariably within walking distance of the homes of the Unemployment Assistance men for whom it is intended to cater. Last year grants were given in 368 of the 2,874 electoral division areas in the country.
There were 16,992 Unemployment Assistance in the total of 2,874 electoral divisions in the rural parts of the country according to the January, 1961,census, and 13,993, or 82 per cent., of these were concentrated in the 368 electoral divisions for which grants were given last year. The other 3,000 Unemployment Assistance were scattered among the remaining 2,506 electoral divisions in which no allocations were made. As the schemes are carried out only in the winter period, road works only are carried out as minor employment schemes. Drainage works could not be economically undertaken during the winter period and, accordingly, the only scheme under which land drainage can be undertaken by the Special Employment Schemes Office is the contributory rural improvements scheme. In all, 922 road schemes were sanctioned in these 368 electoral divisions, at a nett cost of £130,600, or an average of approximately £140 per scheme. These figures do not include overheads, and the actual expenditure including overheads amounted to £136,150. It is estimated that 16,464 families were served by these works to their houses, lands and bogs. The distribution of the funds was mainly related to the numbers of unemployment assistance recipients in the different electoral division areas, but approximately £10,000 of the total was distributed as extra turf grants related to the turf production in the areas in question.
The number of unemployment assistance recipients in rural areas has fallen from 16,992 in January, 1961, to 15,675 in January, 1962, a reduction of about 8 per cent. This year, £10,000 of the £130,000 available has again been earmarked for extra bog road grants in the areas in which there are substantial numbers of unemployment assistance recipients. Grants have been allocated this year to 354 electoral divisions in which 13,116 of the total number of 15,675 unemployment assistance recipients are resident and no minor employment schemes grants will be given to the other 2,520 electoral divisions in which the remaining 2,559 unemployment assistance recipients are scattered. Copies of the lists, which were issued on the last day of October, have already been sent to the Deputies. The Employment Period Order expired this year on the 6th November and the works will be put in hands as soon as possible thereafter—a short period necessarily being given for the Unemployment Assistance Register to fill up.
The provision for Subhead F— development works in bogs used by landholders and other private producers—is £160,000, the same as in each of the last five years. This subhead is not related to the unemployment position at all, and it makes provision for drainage works in bogs in all parts of the country which are carried out in the summer and autumn periods, as well as for bog road works which are financed from this subhead only in those parts of the country in which minor employment schemes grants are not authorised. Bog road works in areas in which there are large numbers of unemployment assistance recipients are sanctioned as minor employment schemes; and as will be seen from the expenditure on minor employment schemes already referred to, a small amount, approximately £6,150, was, in fact, diverted from the bog development subhead for bog roads in minor employment scheme areas, increasing the expenditure to approximately £136,150 and reducing the £160,000 in the bog development subhead proportionately. Under the bog development subhead, 1,312 schemes, costing £137,355 were approved last year. Some 34,300 families in all were facilitated by these works — 13,000 approximately by drainage works and 21,300 by road works. The total expenditure on this subhead last year amounted to approximately £150,000.
The principal turf counties are: Galway, Mayo, Clare, Roscommon, Kerry, Offaly, Kildare, Westmeath, Sligo, Laoighis, Leitrim, Longford, Cavan, Tipperary North and Donegal, and the bulk of the bog development allocations goes to these counties almost in the order I have indicated. There is practically no turf at all in the six counties of Carlow, Dublin, Kilkenny, Louth, Waterford and Wexford and there are relatively few areas in most of the other six counties of Cork, Limerick, Meath, Monaghan, Tipperary South and Wicklow. Although these bog development schemes are not primarily intended to give employment in rural areas, priority, in recruiting the gangs of workers, is given to unemployment assistance recipients or to persons in receipt of unemployment benefit in the areas concerned. With the exception of a few roads and drains in privately owned bogs in which the rent income from annual lettings is substantial, and where, in consequence, it is not unreasonable to expect these bog owners to make a contribution, all grants under the bog development subhead are full-cost grants.
As Deputies are, no doubt, aware, we have many more applications for Bog Development Schemes than the funds made available to the Special Employment Schemes Office would enable us to sanction. In considering the main summer drainage programme last year, some 3,200 reports were before the Special Employment Schemes Office for examination, representing an expenditure of approximately £336,500, of which 670 schemes, representing an expenditure of £60,750, were selected for sanction in the main programme. The position was the same this year. Three thousand and sixty schemes, representing an expenditure of £310,000, were available for examination, of which 700 schemes, costing approximately £70,000, were sanctioned last June. In the main winter programme last year, 3,135 road schemes, representing an expenditure of £534,000, were examined of which 598 cases were selected for sanction, representing an expenditure of £69,800.
The available funds are distributed having regard to the amount of turf produced in the different bogs, the number of families served and the cost of the relevant development works. For example, in the case of a bog where, say, only five families operate, producing their domestic supplies of less than 100 tons per annum, there is no prospect at all of a full-cost grant being given. If these five families were producing turf for sale and the total annual production was in the region of 500 tons, we could probably afford to give a full-cost grant. In cases where the development works are too costly to permit of a full-cost grant being given under Bog Development Schemes, the beneficiaries have the alternative Rural Improvements Scheme available to them, provided they are prepared to pay the appropriate and necessary contribution. The winter list of road works for the current year is in course of preparation and will be issued before the end of the month.
The Rural Improvements Scheme makes provision for grants towards the cost of carrying out works to benefit the lands of two or more farmers, such as small drainage schemes, bridges, and the repair or reconstruction of non-county accommodation roads to farmers' houses, lands and bogs. It is a contributory scheme and it applies to all parts of the country. It is the only scheme under which land drainage can be undertaken by the Special Employment Schemes Office, and it is also the only scheme under which road repairs can be undertaken to the houses and lands of farmers in the 2,500 electoral division areas where there are few or no unemployment assistance recipients.
Road schemes can, and are, also done in the other 368 unemployment assistance electoral division areas under the Rural Improvements Scheme, if the benefiting farmers are prepared to make the necessary contribution towards the cost. In unemployment assistance areas, the amounts of the grants under Minor Employment Schemes are in many cases limited, being related to the number of unemployment assistance recipients residing in the electoral division in which the work is situated. There are, therefore, many accommodation roads in these unemployment assistance areas which have little prospect of ever being selected for full-cost grants. Under the Rural. Improvements Scheme, a better standard job is, in fact, done, subject to the farmers making up the necessary contribution; and, as the land valuations of farmers in these areas are usually below £15, the beneficiaries are asked to contribute at most only 15 per cent. of the cost. If the average land valuation is below £7, they are asked to pay only 10 per cent. of the cost, and it is against that background that the Rural Improvements Scheme is operated in the 368 electoral divisions which also qualify for Minor Employment Scheme grants.
The Rural Improvements Scheme has been in operation by the Special Employment Schemes Office since 1943. For the first seven years up to 1950, the contribution was on a flat rate of 25 per cent., the State grant being 75 per cent., with more favourable terms for link and other roads used by persons other than those whose houses and lands were directly served thereby. A sliding scale was introduced in 1950, varying the contributions from as low as 5 per cent. in the case of farmers whose average land valuation was less than £6, to 25 per cent. contribution in the case of farmers with an average valuation of £18 and over, and this scale was in operation until 1957. The Government of the day was not, however, prepared to continue to finance this scheme on this generous basis.
The issue of new offers of grants was stopped in August, 1956. The receipt of new applications was suspended in September, 1956 and, in fact, a provision of £150,000 only was made for the scheme in the original estimate for 1957-58. When additional funds were made available for this scheme later on that year, a revised scale of contributions was introduced in July, with a minimum contribution of 10 per cent. for farmers with an average land valuation of below £6, ranging upwards to 25 per cent. contribution for farmers with an average land valuation of between £15 and £18; 30 per cent., £18 to £25; 35 per cent., £25 to £50; 40 per cent., £50 to £100; and 50 per cent., or half the cost, in the case of farmers with an average land valuation of £100 and over. That revised scale was in operation from July, 1957, to June, 1961.
As announced by my predecessor in his Estimate statement at Column 145 of the Dáil Debates of 14th June, 1961, the terms of the 1957 scale were again revised with effect as from the 1st June, 1961. The new scale which has been in operation since that date provides that the minimum contribution will, in future, be 10 per cent. of the cost for farmers with an average land valuation of below £7; 12½ per cent. for valuations of between £7 and £10; 15 per cent. between £10 and £15; 20 per cent. between £15 and £25; 25 per cent. between £25 and £50; 33? per cent. between £50 and £100; and 50 per cent. in the case of farmers with an average valuation of £100 and over. A special scale of 90 per cent. State grant with 10 per cent. contribution is usually available in the case of bog schemes—road or drainage—which cannot be done on a full-cost grant basis under the bog development subhead.
For the convenience of Deputies, I have circulated a statement giving particulars of the various scales in operation since the scheme was first started in 1943. As explained last year, the July, 1957, scale was found to be too restrictive; and it was, therefore, decided to give the more favourable terms which have been in operation since June, 1961. Under the new terms, 748 schemes to absorb the full allocation were sanctioned last year, of which 217 schemes, costing £38,218, were drainage works and 531 schemes, costing £161,776, were road works. The farmers' contribution was 13.8 per cent. towards the drainage works and 15.7 per cent. towards road works, the State providing the other 86.2 per cent. and 84.3 per cent. of the cost respectively.