Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ceisteanna (236)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

236. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills in respect to the decision to cut the SOLAS training allowance of €31.80 per week that assists persons with disabilities to cover the additional costs of accessing training course, if he will examine the effect of this cut on participation rates on training courses, including any drop off in attendance from trainees due to affordability issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20941/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The payment of an additional training allowance of €31.80 per week for the long term unemployed was introduced during a period of high employment levels as an incentive for the long term unemployed to participate in FÁS (now SOLAS) training courses. The payment of this allowance was later extended to those persons in receipt of social welfare disability payments to introduce equality of treatment for all participants in training.

The payment was reduced from €31.80 per week to €20 per week as part of Budget 2011. In the present economic situation this incentive is no longer considered appropriate and as part of Budget 2014 it was decided to cease this payment for all SOLAS participants commencing courses after 1st January 2014. This change does not apply to persons who commenced a course prior to January 2014 who will continue to receive the long term unemployed bonus payment for the duration of their course. As travel supports continue to be available to participants on SOLAS training courses, I am confident that these supports will assist persons with disabilities in participating on these courses and I do not see the need to further examine the effect of this change.

This is a decision taken in the context of the overall savings this Department had to find for 2014 and future years. It was taken against a difficult budgetary background and there is no scope to re-visit it.