Written Answers. - Back to Work Scheme.

Wednesday, 13 December 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 528 No. 2

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  193.  Mr. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan   asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if he has issued instructions to the effect that mothers in receipt of social welfare payment should return to the work force as a priority and notwithstanding other circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30063/00]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The back to work [643] scheme was introduced in 1993 with the aim of encouraging long-term unemployed and lone parents to take up employment. The scheme provides a financial incentive to lone-parents and long-term unemployed persons to return to the active labour force. Participation in the scheme is voluntary and no compulsion is brought to bear on mothers or other social welfare recipients to engage in it. I have not issued any instructions that mothers on social welfare payments should return to work.

Under this programme, participants are guaranteed a weekly payment for three to four years which is not affected by any other income from employment or self-employment.

Many mothers have been helped to return to the labour force under the back to work scheme. For example, there are just under 1,000 mothers currently in receipt of the back to work allowance who were formerly recipients of the one-parent family payment.

The back to work allowance has enabled this group of mothers to voluntarily return to the workforce while retaining the financial cushion of a portion of their previous social welfare payment. Many of those who came to the Scheme from the Live Register are also mothers.

In Budget 2001 provision has been made for the development of a new programme which will provide an integrated guidance, mediation, counselling and referral service to lone parents. The objective will be to get the person “job ready” for either employment or self-employment. I am confident that many lone parents will avail of this opportunity.

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