Changes to the Community Employment (CE) programme, including lowering the qualification age to 21 and allowing participants to go on a second scheme is a sensible and progressive step, Longford/Westmeath Independent Alliance TD, Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran has said.
The news, announced by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, reflects the impact of an increasing number of people at work and the continued reduction in Live Register numbers.
Deputy Moran said the news that people may no longer be forced off schemes after three years is a sensible approach. “This is good news because a lot of talented people have been unable to continue on schemes which is a loss both to themselves and also to the communities in which they were working in.”
Deputy Moran said the CE scheme, along with similar schemes such as Tús and Gateway, helps the unemployed and other disadvantaged people get back to work by offering part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities.
“Reducing the entry age to 21, and allowing people who have 'timed out' to have another chance to take part on a scheme is a sensible and positive move that will be warmly welcomed in rural communities and by the participants themselves,” said Deputy Moran.
Deputy Moran said that the changes will also see a greater emphasis on social inclusion and community projects aside from the traditional purpose of helping get people back into the workforce.
He also welcomed Minister Varadkar’s commitment to maintain the overall numbers on employment programmes at 32,000 during 2017. There are currently 25,300 participating in the CE scheme.