All vacant places on the Community Employment Scheme, the Tús Scheme and the Rural Social Scheme must be “filled without delay”, while rules governing the schemes must be changed to allow participants to stay on longer if no other suitable applicants are available to fill them.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht, and Island Affairs, Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív, who said it was “heart-breaking” to meet people on such seems “who are enjoying the work they are doing” but are told they have to go back on Jobseekers Allowance once their year is over.
According to Dep Ó Cuív, there are 380 vacant places on the Rural Social Scheme, while the Community Employment Scheme fares much worse, with 4,850 vacancies, and Tús has 1,847 unfilled places. As a result he is calling on the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, “to relax the rules”.
“There are still a large number of unemployed people anxious to get a place on one of these schemes,” said the Cornamona based TD, “but under the current rules many will not qualify because they may have had a place on a scheme before.”
He said the Tús Scheme “is very constrained” as participants are only allowed to stay on it for one year. He is calling for the Minister to sanction a second year for participants, if there are no new local applications.
“We have to face the reality that there are many people for whom community employment is more suitable, and who simply would not secure a job outside of these schemes,” he said. “The Government appears to be failing to grasp this, and is also not recognising the important work that is undertaken on these schemes in providing vital services in communities up and down the country.”