Wednesday, 6 April 2016
Department of Education and Skills
Education and Training Provision
715. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 496 of 10 November 2015 concerning the LATI European Globalisation Adjustment Fund programme why she stated "I am not currently in a position to indicate the level of EGF Programme expenditure", given that only five days earlier on 5 November 2015 she produced a spreadsheet detailing a full breakdown of the estimated final expenditure for this programme obtained by this Deputy through freedom of information in March 2016; and if she was aware of this information and consented to it being withheld from Dáil Éireann Deputies, or if she believes that this information was withheld from him, and that without his knowledge the information provided to Dáil Éireann in the parliamentary question was not accurate. [6095/16]
716. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to provide the latest available spreadsheets for all of the open European Globalisation Adjustment Fund programmes detailing the estimated final expenditure; her views on the issue of significant potential underspends for each programme; to provide details on her contacts with those State agencies whose projected underspend according to these spreadsheets is likely to be above 50% of the funds allocated. [6096/16]
717. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to initiate an urgent review of the current European Globalisation Adjustment Fund programmes on the reasons for the very significant projected underspends; if she will involve all stakeholders in this review, including elected Members, and produce recommendations designed to address the causes of the current underspend to ensure that future programmes do not continue to underspend allocated European Union funds. [6097/16]
718. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to ensure the maximum possible spend for the three open European Globalisation Adjustment Fund programmes and the additional measures she is asking the responsible State agencies to undertake to ensure that the projected 63% underspend in the Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland programme is significantly reduced before the closure of the programme in September 2016. [6098/16]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 715 to 718, inclusive, together.
The information referred to by the Deputy is an internal working document in which my officials attempted to estimate expenditure on the LTAI EGF Programme. Being tentative in nature, this estimate is not sufficiently robust for use as a final estimated expenditure figure. As I noted in my reply, it is difficult to accurately forecast final expenditure on this programme as it will run until next September and public beneficiary bodies generally fund the cost of EGF measures from national budgets and subsequently submit expenditure declarations/claims during and following completion of the programme. I did however, indicate that take-up of EGF support measures was less than anticipated. Lower take-up will result in lower than expected expenditure.
The 3rd implementation report on the programme, published on the dedicated website www.egf.ie, recorded 352 participants in EGF programme measures by mid-December 2015, including 215 former workers and 137 young people under 25 years who are not in employment, education or training (NEETS). Compared with the targets of assisting 250 former workers and 200 young people, these figures suggest a reach of 86% and 68% respectively. In terms of the former workers, the report notes the evidence of the improving national economic climate in the re-integration into employment of 65% of the LTAI workforce as at December 2015. While a positive development, a high re-integration rate will reduce the need to call on EGF supports.
As the Deputy may be aware the Andersen Ireland EGF programme closes next month. The published implementation reports on that programme indicate a reach of 96% of former workers and 95% of young unemployed people. The re-integration into employment rate for Andersen former workers at October 2015 was 69%.
The PWAI EGF programme is at an earlier stage of implementation and will run until June 2017.
While I am arranging for details of my Department's internal working estimates to be forwarded to the Deputy as requested, I would similarly caution that the figures are tentative and liable to change.
Efforts will continue until the end of all current EGF programmes to maximise the supports provided to programme beneficiaries. Each programme has a consultative forum in place, with an independent chairperson, worker and NEET representatives as well as the relevant State bodies and service providers. These structures facilitate programme implementation to be monitored and the proposal of new measures within the relevant EGF programmes. Increased emphasis is being placed on supporting NEET persons within the current EGF programmes, with ongoing engagement with both mainstream public and private service providers, the Department of Social Protection and various community and voluntary organisations. In this context a number of new tailored programmes are currently being developed for NEET persons.
The EGF process in Ireland was comprehensively reviewed by the Department in 2012 including a public consultation element. A survey of those eligible under the current EGF programmes is being commissioned by the SOLAS National EGF Coordination Unit. The results of these surveys will be examined prior to considering the need for a further review of the programmes.
There are a range of support measures available to eligible beneficiaries under the approved EGF programmes. Ultimately the take-up of supports is dependent on a large measure of personal choice by, and the personal circumstances of, hundreds of individuals across a two year timeframe. Where the take-up of EGF measures turns out to be less than initially estimated two years previously, including where different, sometimes less costly or shorter term measures are availed of by individual beneficiaries, this impacts on final expenditure. Therefore, a range of factors, including the prevailing national, regional or local economic and employment situations, dictate final expenditure on any EGF programme.
This situation is not unique to Ireland with the majority of EU Member States returning co-funding balances at programme end. For example, the average EGF budget implementation rate for all 73 EGF programmes encompassed by the European Commission's ex-post evaluation report 2007 – 2013, which was published in August 2015, stood at 55%, with the lowest being only 3%, whereas the average rate for the first seven completed Irish EGF programmes was 60%.