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For Oral Answer on : 20/02/2024
Question Number(s): 81 Question Reference(s): 7805/24
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
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QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Social Protection her plans to expand and develop the community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


The aim of the Community Employment (CE) programme is to enhance the employability of disadvantaged and long-term unemployed people by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their local communities on a temporary fixed term basis.

In addition to providing valuable occupational experience and training as a stepping-stone to employment for people who are unemployed, schemes such as CE also provide important and, in many cases essential, services to their local communities.

Given the strong labour market performance the number of unemployed people dependent on social welfare payments continues to fall.  While this is very welcome, it also means that the number of candidates available for CE is reduced thereby creating a challenging recruitment environment.  However, working together with CE sponsors, scheme changes have been made to increase participation which will help schemes continue to support their local communities.

Minister Heather Humphreys and I have announced a number of reforms and enhancements to CE since December 2021, including a provision to allow CE participants who reach 60 years of age to remain until they reach state pension age and introducing flexibilities to the CE candidate referral process to allow direct recruitment to fill 30% of places subject to certain conditions.  

In addition, changes have been introduced to the eligibility criteria extending CE to the adult dependents of those in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance and a further extension is now planned to extend eligibility to customers who are signing on the live register for credits only.  

I can assure the Deputy that the eligibility criteria, the duration timelines for participation and the referral process for CE continues to be kept under active review by my Department.

I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy.