Irish News

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Jobless to lose training scheme place after year to prevent 'institutionalisation'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 16/01/2013|05:00

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UNEMPLOYED people will be thrown off community employment schemes after just one year to stop them becoming "institutionalised".

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Some of the 23,000 people on community employment schemes spend up to seven years working there.

But a new review has warned that this runs the risk of people becoming 'institutionalised' on the schemes and less likely to find a job as a result.

And it limits the number of places for new people.

The review recommended a one-year limit for unemployed people and lone parents as part of a shake-up of the unemployment training system.

The only exceptions will be people with disabilities, who will be allowed to stay for two years, while recovering drug addicts will be allowed to stay for three years.

The Department of Social Protection's review said that people on community employment (CE) schemes get a minimum weekly payment of €208 for working 19.5 hours per week on local projects and services.

Lone parents, who make up one sixth of those on the schemes, used to be able to get their full social welfare payment on top of this. But this has been scrapped for new entrants. Supervisors of the CE schemes, who are in charge of 15 people each on average, get between €550 and €855 per week.

Concerns

The review acknowledged there was a risk to community, sporting and care projects if the CE staff working on them were changed around after a year. However, it said that if suitable people were provided to replace them, this challenge "should be minimised".

The department's review of training schemes also raised concerns about the €200m Back to Education allowance, which allows 26,000 people to keep their social welfare payments while they are studying in Post Leaving Cert courses or in college. It said 60pc of those who completed or dropped out of a course were back on the live register afterwards.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has promised to hold a consultation about proposed changes to the CE schemes next month. She said her department was spending around €900m per year on schemes for 75,000 people on social welfare.

The OECD has complained that there is a relatively high reliance on temporary employment schemes here and that their record of helping people to find work was disappointing. It has warned that such schemes must be temporary and should not become a disguised form of subsidised permanent employment.

Irish Independent

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