Tuesday, 11 March 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
209. Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people working under the community employment schemes in the health sector at the start of the years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003; the number of these places that are currently ring-fenced; the total cost of these places to the Exchequer in 2003; her further plans to safeguard and to expand the services being delivered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6697/03]
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Fahey): In accordance with the Government's decision in 1999 to restructure community employment (CE), participation levels are gradually being reduced reflecting the significant reduction in the numbers of the long-term unemployed, and the shift in emphasis away from work experience programmes to training, from which there is a greater level of progression to employment.
CE places in health related projects are ringfenced from reductions and have remained at a constant level since March 2002. There are 3,710 people working in CE health sector places and the cost of maintaining these places during 2003 will be in the region of €46 million. The ringfencing of CE health services was agreed with the Department of Health and Children and the health boards during discussions on mainstreaming these services.
The total numbers of CE places providing health-related services were not clearly identified or specifically ringfenced until 2002 and, accordingly, comparable figures are not available for 2000 and 2001. The overall number of CE places available is set to reduce by 5,000 places this year to a level of 20,000 by year-end. Therefore, it is not possible to expand any of the services being provided by the programme at this time.
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