Friday, 7 September 2018
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Community Employment Schemes Eligibility
1225. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the period of time that participants over 50 years of age can remain on community employment and Tús schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35873/18]
The aim of the Community Employment (CE) programme is to enhance the employability of disadvantaged and unemployed people by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. The programme helps break the cycle of unemployment and improve a person’s chances of returning to the labour market. Participation on CE is intended to be for a temporary fixed term. These placements are not full-time sustainable jobs. There are participation limits in place to ensure that as many unemployed people as possible are able to benefit from the scheme.
A number of new conditions were introduced on CE in July 2017 to further support progression and broaden access to CE to a wider range of people. In general all CE placements for new entrants aged between 21 and 55 years will be for 1 year - however CE participants, working towards a major award, can seek to extend participation by up to two years to enable them to reach the required standard of qualification. In addition, those over 55 years of age can remain on CE for three years.
An overall lifetime limit of 6 years will apply to all CE participants. A person may re-qualify for CE after 12 months of being in receipt of a qualifying payment, provided they have not reached their 6 year limit. Persons in receipt of a qualifying disability-linked social welfare payment will be eligible for an overall lifetime limit of 7 years.
Participants over age 62 are allowed to participate on a continuous basis up to the State Pension age, subject to satisfactory performance on the scheme and to annual approval by the Department. The places allocated for these participants within each individual CE scheme are subject to a limitation criteria.
On the other hand, Tús 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, which is a maximum of 12 months, was set to reflect a number of inter-related elements which ensures the following:
(a) that the number of placements available are open to those on the live register,
(b) that weaknesses identified in other work programmes resulting from longer duration placements are not replicated in Tús, and
(c) to ensure that Tús fits in with the objectives set out in the Government’s activation policies in Pathways to Work.
This approach ensures that as many people as possible who are unemployed for over 12 months are able to benefit from the initiative. The existing 12 months duration on the scheme is deemed to be adequate to meet the programme’s objectives.
There are currently no plans to extend the duration of placement beyond twelve months for any Tús participant, regardless of their age.