Thursday, 9 November 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
157. Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many participants of the community employment schemes are being forced back on the dole as a result of over stringent regulations by his Department and that people, particularly those aged over 55 years and people with disabilities, are being discriminated against in the context that if they had a herd number and were on the rural social employment schemes they would have far more latitude and a far better chance of remaining in employment within this scheme rather than if they were employed with the community employment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37263/06]
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Martin): Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme 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 basis. CE helps unemployed people to re-enter the open labour market by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.
To cater for older workers in particular, in November 2004 I revised the three year CE capping to allow those of 55 years of age and over to avail of a 6-year period on CE (based on participation since 3rd April, 2000). Subsequently, the participation limit for persons eligible for CE based on a Social Welfare disability linked payment was increased by 1 year. These measures were introduced in recognition of the fact that older participants and people with disabilities may find it more difficult to progress into the open labour market.
I am informed that the primary purpose of the Rural Social Scheme, under the aegis of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, is to provide income support to low-income farmers and fishermen and providing certain services of benefit to local communities. The aim of CE remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community. The schemes are quite different in their objectives.
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