Tús commenced operation in 2011 as a response to the high level of unemployment and the large numbers on the Live Register.
It is a community work placement initiative which aims to provide short-term work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. The duration of the Tús contract is a maximum of 12 months and this ensures that as many people as possible, who are unemployed for over 12 months, are able to benefit from the initiative.
It is recognised by Government that Tús is a positive initiative that enables the long-term unemployed to make a contribution to their communities whilst up-skilling themselves for prospective future employment.
If a person is interested in pursuing a work placement with training and development opportunities, it is open to them to apply for a placement on a Community Employment (CE) scheme. CE participants between 21 and 55 years are entitled to one year on the programme. This can be extended by up to 2 more years if they are engaged in a recognised training or education award that is helping them progress towards employment. All CE participants age 55 and over can avail of 3 consecutive years on a CE scheme. The overall limit of participation on CE is 6 years from 1st January 2007 (7 years if on a disability payment).
Participants aged 62 and over are allowed to participate on a continuous basis up to the State Pension age on the CE Service Support Stream (SSS). These places are subject to limitation and criteria.
My Department will continue to review its activation programmes to ensure the best outcomes for participants. The Government is very mindful of the large number of work programme places involved in service delivery and other valuable services to individuals and communities across Ireland.
I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy.