Louth TD pushes bill to allow participants opt out from JobPath scheme
Louth Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach has voiced his support for his party’s new Social Welfare (Community Employment) Bill 2018, which should it be adopted, would give a participant the legal entitlement to opt out from a JobPath scheme to take part in a Community Employment Scheme, a Tús Scheme or a Rural Social Scheme, should this opportunity become available.
Deputy Breathnach was commenting as his party launched the new bill, which was launched to prevent JobPath, the labour activation initiative, from denying participants from taking up a place on a Community Employment (CE) Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) or the Tús Scheme.
“The Government must stop its attempt to implement a ‘one-size fits all approach’ to Job Activation, and ensure that suitable participants are enabled to take part in very worthwhile and important community-based schemes,” said Deputy Breathnach.
“There seems to be a prioritisation from the Government to steer people onto JobPath, which is delivered by two private companies, and away from other activation schemes.
“Our bill gives a legal entitlement to a person to opt out from a JobPath scheme to take part in a Community Employment Scheme, a Tús Scheme or a Rural Social Scheme, in circumstances where a place on any of these schemes becomes available.
Breathnach continues, “Many people have been in touch with me and colleagues from my party to express their concern at attempts to unfairly coerce them into JobPath.
“For many reasons, they would prefer to take up place on a CE, RSS or Tús scheme, which in many instances is more appropriate and suitable to their needs.
“It makes no sense to me to attempt to send unemployed people in their late 50s or early 60s onto a JobPath scheme when there are other, more suitable schemes.”
According to the latest Live Register figures, there are currently 21,717 people on Community Employment schemes across the country. According to Deputy Breathnach, over 60 people in mid Louth alone are employed in CE schemes.
“I spent many years in the late 1990’s managing the mid Louth CE Scheme”, he says.
“In mid Louth over 60 people are employed in CE Schemes from within the local communities from the ranks of the long term unemployed.
“These people are encouraged to avail of training opportunities provided to them as part of their time on Community Employment.
“The Fianna Fáil Bill will prevent JobPath, which is a payment by results model and operated on behalf of the Department by two private companies, from side-lining CE, RSS and Tús schemes, which are an integral to the social fabric of communities the length and breadth of the country.
“There is unease among both participants and management alike in CE, RSS and Tús schemes that this is a back door attempt to wind them down.
“The Government must accept that a one-size fits all approach is not the most appropriate way to supporting those seeking new employment or training opportunities,” concluded Breathnach.