Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has said that Local Employment Services, in their community-based and not-for-profit current form, must be protected.
This comes as the service is set to go out to tender, something which the government insist they are required to do in order to comply with EU procurement rules.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Kerrane said:
“The rollout of JobPath in 2015 signalled a move towards the privatisation of job activation services. Since then, there has been an emphasis on referrals to the JobPath providers, Seetec and Turas Nua, above all other existing schemes, including the Local Employment Service. This preference for JobPath has not gone unnoticed.
“Local Employment Services offer a unique service – not just to those referred to them but, crucially, through their walk-in service. The services provided are person-centred and additional wraparound services are also available. This is a service that we must protect.
“While it is welcome that the Local Employment Service is set to be expanded to parts of the state without such a service, through the first phase of the tendering process, it must be maintained in its current structure. There can be no dismantling of the community and not-for-profit ethos.
“There are legitimate concerns that the Department are moving towards a fully privatised model of job activation – this is not something we support.
“Considering the millions of taxpayers’ money handed over to the JobPath providers for very poor return for sourcing sustainable employment, we cannot allow this privatisation agenda to creep into community services like the Local Employment Services.
“I have met with the Irish Local Development Network and I’ve spoken with some Local Employment Service staff and I intend to meet with a SIPTU representative in the coming days.
“We will vehemently oppose any plans to change how the Local Employment Service is delivered. The service remains cost effective and extremely successful – this cannot be eroded to make room for private companies to line their pockets.”