For Oral Answer on : 24/10/2023
Question Number(s): 110 Question Reference(s): 46449/23
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she has carried out, or intends to carry out, any evaluation of the wage subsidy scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Wage Subsidy Scheme is an employment support to private sector employers, the objective of which is to encourage employment of people with disabilities in the open labour market.
There are currently 1,507 employers on the scheme in respect of some 2,432 participant employees. Estimated expenditure on the Wage Subsidy Scheme in 2023 is €24 million.
To claim a subsidy under the scheme, the private sector employer must offer employment to a person with a disability for at least 21 hours per week and up to 39 hours per week. The contract of employment must be for a minimum of 6 months and the employee should be subject to and have the same conditions of employment as any of the employer’s other employees.
The Programme for Government commits to fine-tuning and expanding targeted employment schemes, such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, to help more people with disabilities stay in the workforce.
As part of Budget 2022, I increased the rate of the Wage Subsidy Scheme paid to employers, from €5.30 to €6.30 per hour. This gives a total annual subsidy available of €12,776 based on a 39-hour week.
My department is currently undertaking a review of the Scheme, as part of its commitments under the Comprehensive Employment Strategy. As part of this review a public consultation exercise was recently undertaken which invited people with disabilities, employers and the general public to share their views on the Scheme.
My officials are currently compiling the analysis from the consultation and working on completing the report and I expect the final report over the coming months. In the meantime, in anticipation of recommendations in the review, I have made provision in Budget 2024 to decrease the minimum hours from 21 to 15.
I trust that this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.