The Community Employment Scheme is to be expanded to benefit more people, a Fine Gael TD has announced.
The expansion of the scheme was confirmed to Clare TD, Joe Carey, in the Oireachtas by the Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development, Heather Humphreys TD.
The Community Employment (CE) programme is designed to help people who are long-term unemployed (or otherwise disadvantaged) to get back to work by offering part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities.
Deputy Carey said, “At present CE participants aged 62 years and over who meet the eligibility requirements may stay continuously on CE up to the age at which they qualify for a State pension, providing there are places available.
“After I raised questions on this at the Oireachtas Committee, Minister Humphreys confirmed to me that she intends to make this option available to people aged 60 and over.
“This is a significant expansion of the CE Scheme, allowing more people to stay on the scheme continuously up to pension age.
“The Minister also confirmed to me that she intends to significantly increase the number of referrals to CE schemes from Intreo Offices. It has become apparent this route hasn’t been utilised enough, and I am pleased with the Minister’s positive response to this.
“It was also confirmed to me that flexibility will be introduced to ensure that in exceptional circumstances where schemes genuinely cannot find replacement CE participants after advertising, etc, existing participants contracts can be extended on a short-term basis to maintain services until a replacement CE participant is found.
“Minister Humphreys advised me that, subject to Government approval, she hopes to make an announcement early in the New Year.
“These important changes to the CE Scheme are in addition to Minister Humphreys’ recent announcement that all CE participants will have their contracts extended until next February.
“CE Schemes are hugely important for providing employment and these changes will strengthen that impact and also help to ensure continuity of the services that are of such benefit to communities across the country,” Deputy Carey concluded.