Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 3 Dec 1998

Vol. 497 No. 7

Written Answers - Community Employment Schemes.


43 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the Government supports a proposal contained within a recent report to her Department that all local authorities should be exempt from providing community employment schemes within their administrative area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24521/98]

Ruairí Quinn


47 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on whether the reduction in the places on community employment, as provided for in the 1999 Book of Estimates, is in keeping with the commitment to increase places on community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26109/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 47 together.

In its examination of the utilisation of community employment by statutory bodies the Deloitte & Touche review found linkages to the open labour market to be weak with few of the participants finding employment subsequently. For that reason the report recommended the gradual phasing out of community employment places in the statutory sector with the onus for delivery of the relevant service resting with the appropriate Government Department or statutory body. This was one of a number of recommendations in the review and already in the P2000 process some discussion has taken place with the social partners on the recommendations overall.

With regard to community employment in statutory bodies, I will obviously wish to discuss the issue with the relevant Ministers before making proposals for change. I will do this shortly. In any event I would wish to discuss the phasing in of any changes with the social partners. That said, the Government is acting to refine our active labour market programmes and attune them more to the principle of employability in the interest both of jobseekers and employers.

The 1999 Estimate for community employment in my Department's Vote provided for 37,500 places during the year as compared with an activity of 40,000 places in 1998 and was agreed with the Department of Finance against a background of dynamic jobs growth, falling unemployment, including a sharp fall in long-term unemployment, labour shortages in some sectors and claims by employers that they cannot fill vacancies.

The CSO Quarterly National Household Survey published earlier on this week confirms this picture, indicating that employment has grown by 95,000 in the year to May 1998, the highest rise ever recorded, and that the unemployment rate has fallen from 10.3 per cent to 7.8 per cent, over two thirds of this drop being accounted for by persons who are long-term unemployed. The long-term unemployment rate now stands at 3.9 per cent, having fallen from 9 per cent in 1994. This is the context in which the Government has responded to fulfill the commitment at paragraph 4.24 of P2000 that the range of labour market integration measures will be reviewed to ensure that priority is given to those most disadvantaged. The objective will be to meet their needs through a greater choice of full or part-time options. As resources permit, there will be an increase of 10,000 places, with particular provision for those unemployed for more than five years.
The Government has met this commitment and more. In programmes run under the aegis of my Department alone there is provision for an additional 10,000 places next year, delivering on the key objectives of tackling disadvantage, flexibility, and particular focus on the long-term unemployed. The key point is that these places are in targeted programmes focused at particular groups among the long-term unemployed and socially excluded and are closely linked to the labour market.
Community employment is still a very substantial programme. Between the integration option, the rate for the job option and job initiative there is provision for more than 40,000 places during 1999. Putting this in context the Quarterly National Household Survey shows a figure of 63,000 persons as long-term unemployed. For every three persons who are long-term unemployed there is a provision of almost two places on community employment, not to mention other opportunities under the aegis of my Department, the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and the Department of Education and Science. The Government has a very substantial social inclusion package in the 1999 budget and it is our aim to continue with that momentum consistent with the need to match labour market instruments with ongoing developments in the labour market.