It costs only "a couple of hundred euro more a year" to keep people in work on a community employment scheme then to have them on Dole, and yet under current rules, people on such schemes are being forced back into unemployment once their time is up.
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who is calling for the rules regarding community employment schemes, which currently employ almost 1,500 people in Galway, to be overhauled.
Galway has 71 such schemes, with 1,479 places. The average annual cost of a CE place for one year, including income support, training fees, material costs, and supervision, is approximately €15,000. A standard minimum rate of €210.50 per week is paid to a person on a CE scheme. “That’s just a couple of hundred euro more a year than paying Jobseeker’s Allowance to a single person or someone without dependents," said Dep Grealish.
Currently, people under 55 cannot spend more than three years over their lifetime on the schemes, with a lifetime cumulative limit of six years for those over 55. Dep Grealish is calling for the cap to be lifted on the number of years people over 50 can work on such schemes.
"It would cost the State very little to extend the number of years that people aged over 50 could work on the CE schemes," he said. "I am appealing for a change in the rules, for people in this age group in particular, most of whom unfortunately have little chance of finding other work. And this is more than a matter of money — this work plays a huge role in their well-being and self-worth. Isn’t it much better to be spending this money on employing people, than forcing people who’d rather be doing something constructive, back on the dole?"