Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (2730)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

2730. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of employers that accessed the wage subsidy scheme over the past three years; the amount of funding provided to the scheme; the locations the scheme has been accessed by employers by area; the number of disabled persons that accessed the scheme; the estimated cost of increasing funding to the scheme by 10%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32874/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) is an employment support to private sector employers, the objective of which is to encourage employers to employ people with disabilities and thereby increase the numbers of people with disabilities participating in the open labour market. The scheme provides financial incentives to private sector employers to hire people with a disability for between 21 and 39 subsidised hours per week under a contract of employment. The basic rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour giving a total annual subsidy available of €10,748 per annum based on a 39 hour week.

Financial Supports for Employers Availing of WSS

The financial supports for employers are structured under three separate strands and companies could benefit under one strand or under two or three strands simultaneously, as the case may be, depending on the number of people with a disability employed, as below.

Strand I is a general subsidy for any perceived productivity shortfall in excess of 20% for a person with a disability, in comparison to a colleague without a disability. The subsidy is based on the number of hours worked.

Strand II subsidy is payable when an employer employs three or more people with disabilities who are supported by a WSS Strand I payment. Strand II is intended to cover the additional supervisory, management and other work based costs relating to such employees. This top-up payment is a percentage of the Strand I subsidy and is based on the overall number of employees with a disability employed under Strand I. It ranges from an additional 10% of wage subsidy for 3 to 6 employees with a disability to a maximum of 50% of wage subsidy for 23+ employees with a disability.

Strand III subsidy enables employers who employ 30 or more workers with a disability on the Wage Subsidy Scheme to be eligible for a grant of up to €30,000 per year towards the expense of employing an Employment Assistance Officer to support these employees.

The information requested for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June) is set out in Tabular Form below.

Table 1 sets out WSS employer numbers for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June).

Table 2 sets out the funding provided to the scheme for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June).

Table 3 shows the number of WSS employers at end of June 2019, broken down by County. This breakdown is only available for 2019 as the scheme has moved from a paper based system to a central IT platform. This has enabled the provision of more informative data regarding the use of the subsidy and will allow the Department to review same with a view to increasing its effectiveness and efficiency.

Table 4 sets out WSS participant numbers for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June).

Table 5 shows the estimated cost of increasing funding to the scheme by 10%, based on current active numbers. It should be noted that as the WSS is a demand-led scheme, it is not possible to provide a reliable estimate without significant additional information on other likely effects of such a change, for example an increase in demand.

Any changes to the scheme would have to be considered in a Budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the issue for the deputy.

Table 1: WSS employers

2017 (end year)

2018 (end year)

2019 (to end June)

WSS Employers

1,489

1,537

1,671

Table 2: WSS Expenditure

2017

2018

2019 (to end June)

Wage Subsidy Scheme

€19.3 million

€21.2 million

€10.1 million

Table 3: WSS Employer Engagement per County

County

Employer Engagement/County

CO CARLOW

42

CO CAVAN

82

CO CLARE

48

CO CORK

194

CO DERRY*

1

CO DONEGAL

91

CO DUBLIN

152

CO GALWAY

116

CO KERRY

73

CO KILDARE

49

CO KILKENNY

26

CO LAOIS

20

CO LEITRIM

21

CO LIMERICK

43

CO LONGFORD

41

CO LOUTH

93

CO MAYO

37

CO MEATH

47

CO MONAGHAN

95

CO OFFALY

32

CO ROSCOMMON

33

CO SLIGO

24

CO TIPPERARY

61

CO WATERFORD

48

CO WESTMEATH

52

CO WEXFORD

85

CO WICKLOW

65

Grand Total

1671

Table 4: WSS participants

2017 (end year)

2018 (end year)

2019 (to end June)

WSS Participants

2,475

2,633

2,722

*Derry: Irish registered employer operating in Derry where the (Donegal) participant is employed.

Table 5: Estimated costs of increasing WSS scheme funding by 10%

Annual Forecast based on Current Numbers Contracted Hours @ €5.30 Rate

Current Strand 1

€24,696,791.60

Current Strand 2

€2,232,828.52

Total

€26,929,620.12

8 Active EAO's @ 30K PA

€240,000.00

-

Annual Forecast based on Current Numbers Contracted Hours & 10% Increase @ €5.83 Rate

10% Increase Strand 1

€27,166,470.76

10% Increase Strand 2

€2,456,111.37

Total

€29,622,582.13

8 Active EAO's @ 33K PA

€264,000.00

Estimated Additional Total Increase Strand 1&2

€2,692,962.01

Estimated Additional Total Increase Strand 3

€24,000.00

Additional Estimated Cost

€2,716,962