Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
418. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will review the Tús scheme to allow persons who have been participating on the scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic to extend the time they can remain on it by the same time they missed out due to restrictions, if they so choose, in order that they can benefit from the experience gained on this work placement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44277/20]
425. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the Tús scheme will be reviewed to allow persons who have been participating on the scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic to extend the time they can remain on the scheme by the same time they missed out due to restrictions, if they so choose, in order to benefit from the experience gained on work placement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44283/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 418 and 425 together.
Tús is a community work placement initiative that commenced operation in 2011 as a response to high levels of unemployment, providing short-term work opportunities for those who have been unemployed for more than a year, in community work placements. The duration of each Tús contract is 12 months.
During the first phase of public health restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, my Department continued to provide funding for Tús and introduced a number of contingency measures to support this scheme and participants. These included the extension of employment contracts for those Tús participants who were due to finish during this emergency period, enabling Tús schemes to continue to deliver a range of services to the community. When Level 5 restrictions were introduced in October 2020, the Department again continued to fund the Tús schemes and extended contracts for those Tús participants who were due to finish up over the Level-5 restrictions period.
In keeping with the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol, centralised recruitment of Tús participants recommenced in July, 2020 and continued until the introduction of the Level-5 restrictions last October. Local recruitment and self-referrals have continued throughout the period including the recent level 5 restriction period. Department officials have continued to liaise with Tús Implementing Bodies in filling active placements where it is safe to do so, in compliance with public health restrictions.
The priority for my Department is to ensure that all employment and activation programmes have the best outcomes for participants. Places on these work programmes will continue to be available to support those who are long term unemployed and furthest removed from the labour market, while sustaining this scheme's role as an active labour market activation programme.
The Tús programme remains an important employment and activation programme for my Department, providing valuable opportunities for Tús participants and supporting the delivery of essential local community services throughout the country. The scheme is a key support and one that complements the range of employment support services and activation programmes delivered by the Department.
There are no plans to extend participant duration on Tús at present, beyond the contingency support measures introduced during COVID 19 public health restrictions, as outlined previously.