Tuesday, 17 November 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Community Employment Schemes
583. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons (details supplied) on a community employment scheme can complete their six-year term which is due to expire in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36815/20]
The Community Employment (CE) programme is a community centred labour market initiative established for the purposes of social inclusion and activation, to help long-term unemployed people and other vulnerable groups to enter the workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment. These positions are filled on a temporary, fixed term basis.
A number of new conditions were introduced to the CE Scheme in July 2017 to further support progression to employment, broaden CE access to a wider range of people and to standardise the conditions relating to the length of time a CE participant can remain on a CE scheme.
In general CE placements for new entrants aged between 21 and 55 years are for one year. CE participants who are working towards a Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) major award can seek to extend their participation on CE by up to two years to enable them to reach the required standard of qualification. CE participants aged 55 years or older can remain on CE for three years and do not have to work towards a QQI major award.
In either scenario, a maximum of three consecutive year’s participation is permissible. A person may re-qualify for CE after a 12 month break once they satisfy the qualifying conditions. An overall lifetime limit of six years applies to all CE participants (seven years for those on a disability payment).
Prior to 2017, there were two available options for participating on CE. Both options commenced with one year of participation with the possibility of either one or two more years, depending on the option taken. Both options were subject to qualification criteria and neither required the CE participant to undertake any training resulting in the achievement of a major award.
When the new conditions and qualifying criteria were introduced in 2017 a saver clause was provided for the existing clients:
‘Participants who commenced on CE prior to 3rd July 2017 will be entitled to remain under their existing CE eligibility rules, where this is to their advantage. If it is more advantageous to the person, the current criteria can be applied.’
The saver clause allowed participants who commenced under one of the options to continue on CE for a maximum of 3 consecutive years with or without working towards a QQI major award, whichever was more advantageous.
The 2017 saver clause does not allow those affected to continue to participate on CE for six years consecutively. The same continuous limitation of three years continues to apply to all CE participants both pre and post 2017. Participation on CE was never intended to be long-term and the maximum continued participation on CE is three years.
The eligibility criteria of all CE participants are reviewed annually as CE projects are funded under annual contracts. Three participants on the Kildysart Coolmeen Cranny CLG Scheme have exceeded three continuous years participation on the scheme and the new scheme is due to commence on 25th January 2021.
Officials from my Department will review the participation limits for these three participants and will actively work with Kildysart Coolmeen Cranny CLG to secure eligible candidates for the CE scheme. Referrals will be made where CE is considered by the Department’s Case Officers to be a suitable activation measure for the jobseeker.
I trust this clarifies the position.