Written answers

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Eligibility

Photo of Claire KerraneClaire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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149. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration has been given to providing flexibility regarding the rules requiring eligible participants to be in receipt of a social welfare payment in relation to the community employment, rural social scheme and Tús schemes, given the difficulties in securing participant numbers and the importance of these schemes for local communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11678/23]

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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The Department of Social Protections operates a number of employment support schemes for long term unemployed persons which also assist communities across the country in the provision of vital services.

Community Employment (CE) and Tús are employment activation measures designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis. The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is an income support initiative that provides part-time employment opportunities in community and voluntary organisations for farmers or fishermen who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who are underemployed in their primary occupation.

Employment support programmes such as CE and Tús, were designed to assist those furthest from the labour market, and it is important that they continue to be available for those who would benefit most from these programmes.

I fully understand that these schemes, in addition to providing valuable occupational experience and training as a stepping-stone to employment for people who are unemployed, schemes such as CE and Tús also provide important and, in many cases essential, services to their local communities.

Minister Heather Humphreys and I have announced a number of reforms and enhancements to CE since December 2021, including a provision to allow CE & RSS participants who reach 60 years of age to remain until they reach state pension age, updating the baseline year for CE which opens the scheme to a cohort of people who had previously exceeded their time on CE, introducing flexibilities to the CE candidate referral process to allow direct recruitment to fill 30% of places subject to conditions to ensure that places do not go unfilled when there are candidates available from the Live Register and the removal of the six year cap for RSS participants.

More recently, the CE general eligibility of 12 months on the live register has been reduced to 9 months for those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

I believe that with the introduction of these changes, an increase in participation on CE, Tús and RSS will be achieved. The reforms to the schemes assist sponsoring organisations to promote these schemes locally and to identify the wider range of eligibility candidates for CE, Tús and RSS in their locality.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.


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