Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has called on the Minister for Social Protection to extend the time frame for participation in Community Employment, Tús and Rural Social Schemes.
Commenting on the issue Eugene Murphy TD said “This Government needs to wake up to the huge contribution that CE, Tús and RSS schemes make to communities right across the country, in both rural and urban areas. Without these schemes, many services that the public rely on, such as a the maintenance of community facilities, football pitches, green spaces as well as meals on wheels and other social services, would not be available.
“Many people who participate in these schemes are unlikely to re-enter the commercial workforce, and the idea of forcing them back on to Jobseeker’s Allowance is counter-productive. It can have a negative impact on the people themselves and it deprives communities of experienced workers who could be making a valuable contribution to their communities.
“The time restrictions should be amended so that anyone in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance for an extended period of time can be allowed apply for positions on Community Employment schemes. There have been instances in the past whereby it has been particularly difficult to find participants for these programmes because of the current time restrictions and the figures for County Roscommon show that there has been a reduction in the number of people on CE schemes. For example in 2016 there were 125 people in the Roscommon Town area on CE schemes but that has dropped to 119 in 2017 while in Ballaghaderreen the numbers have dropped from 68 to 62 in the past year while in South Roscommon there were 47 on CE schemes in 2016 and that dropped to 33 in 2017. There were 66 people on CE schemes in Boyle in 2016 and that dropped to 65 in 2017.
“Figures for the Rural Social Schemes (RSS) have remained stable over the past year but the numbers on these schemes are still quite low with five in Boyle, eight in Ballaghaderreen, four in Roscommon Town and three in Castlerea and expanding the numbers on these schemes could bring great benefits to local communities- people who want to continue on these schemes should be accommodated, particularly when replacements cannot be found.
“Minister Varadkar must review the current limits to ensure that people who want to stay on these schemes are facilitated so that these valuable community services can continue,” concluded Deputy Murphy.