The aim of Community Employment (CE) is to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. It also helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine.
CE schemes are typically sponsored by groups (known as sponsors) wishing to benefit the local community. Sponsors receive annual contracts from my Department which fund the employment of both CE participants and supervisors, and funding towards training and material costs. Grant aid is provided by the Department to cover these costs on a per capita basis.
The Department continues to support the objectives of the national drugs strategy “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery” 2017-2025 with focused services for the labour market re-integration of people recovering from substance misuse. Primary amongst these is the CE Programme with an allocation of 1,000 dedicated ring-fenced drug rehabilitation places.
The CE Drug Rehabilitation Programme Framework was implemented in January 2016 and involves a multi-agency approach to rehabilitation and is designed to meet the challenging needs of individuals in recovery and to ensure effective and sustainable outcomes. This integrated service response is based on interventions from a wide range of voluntary and community based addiction services and includes statutory engagement through the HSE and Local Education and Training Boards (LETB’s). The engagement of Local and Regional Alcohol and Drug Task Forces is also a feature of the scheme activities.
Currently, there are 47 dedicated drug rehabilitation CE schemes nationally. A total of 1008 participants are placed in drug rehabilitation places on CE (910 in the dedicated ring-fenced drug rehabilitation schemes and 98 in the drug rehabilitation placements in CE mainstream schemes). The estimated cost of the dedicated schemes is in the region of €20m.
Bagenalstown FRC sponsors the Lá Nua drug rehabilitation scheme. The scheme has been in operation since January 2015 and has approval for 15 participants and 2 Supervisors. Participant and Supervisor costs in the 12 months to 2 August 2019 amounted to €196,429. Additional amounts of €8847 and €4455 were paid in respect of material and training costs.
The weekly materials grant payable in respect of each participant on the Lá Nua scheme was €14.90 in the year to 2 August 2019. However, this was subsequently increased to €20 per participant per week from August 2019 as a result of an additional €2 million in CE materials which was provided for in the 2019 Budget. The full year cost of this increase for the Lá Nua CE scheme is €3,978. An additional training grant of €500 per participant is available to the scheme, both for accredited and non-accredited training.
The materials funding available to Lá Nua CE scheme represents the maximum funding possible and I am advised that this is at the upper range of materials grant paid to schemes, even among dedicated drugs schemes which generally receive funding above the levels paid to other schemes.