Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has welcomed the measures announced to support Community Employment (CE) schemes today, but stated that further action is needed to support these schemes.
The Government announced this morning that Adult Dependents will now be able to participate in CE schemes on a pilot basis, and that each scheme will receive a €1,000 grant to support them with rising costs.
However, significant challenges remain in filling CE scheme vacancies across the State, which Sinn Féin has repeatedly highlighted in recent years.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“While the announced measures are welcome, further action is needed to fill rising CE vacancies across the State.
“CE schemes provide invaluable services for communities across the State, and they must be able to continue to provide these services. Without these schemes, in many cases these services simply would not exist.
“It is positive that Adult Dependents will now be eligible to participate in CE schemes, but the reality is that measures are needed to bridge the growing gap in CE scheme vacancies.
“I also welcome that for Ukrainian Refugees, the reduction of time spent on the Live Register from 12 months to 9 months, in order to access the Scheme.
“They can play a role in making a real difference in our communities and can contribute so much. I would question why this reduction was not made for everyone on the Live Register and I think the Minister should look at this.
“There are now over 3,600 CE vacancies in the State and, having engaged with CE schemes, I know many are having difficulties in securing referrals and filling vacancies.
“I remember raising the level of vacancies with the Minister when there were 1,200 vacancies – they have increased enormously and continue to, despite changes to the scheme announced previously.
“The Minister needs to look at referrals from her Department to CE Schemes.
“I have raised with the Minister many times the challenges that CE schemes are having in filling vacancies, and it is clear that the Government must go further to support them in doing so.
“I will continue to push for adequate supports for CE schemes, to ensure they can provide valuable services for their communities and be sustained into the future.”