The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, has secured Cabinet approval for a number of major reforms to Community Employment, Tús and the Rural Social Scheme.
The purpose of Community Employment (CE) and Tús is to provide long term unemployed participants with work experience in their local communities to help them find employment.
There are currently over 19,000 participants on CE, almost 5,000 participants on Tús and just under 3,000 participants on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS). Government investment in the three schemes will amount to over €500 million in 2022.
Also today, the application process for the ex-gratia payment for CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors is being opened.
This ex-gratia payment will benefit around 2,500 people at a total cost of over €24 million.
Changes to CÉ, Tús and RSS
Minister Humphreys secured Government approval for the following changes today:
- Removal of the six-year time limit for all participants on the Rural Social Scheme.
- Eligibility for Tús extended to persons in receipt of Disability Payments
- New flexibility to allow CE schemes to directly recruit eligible candidates to fill 30% of places.
- Intreo to significantly increase the number of referrals to CE with schemes required to offer places to at least 60% of candidates referred.
- New Pilot Scheme to extend eligibility to Qualified Adults to be explored
- Continue to allow schemes to extend individual placements and retain existing participants in cases where no replacement candidate has been selected. This means that local services should not be impacted due to an inability to replace participants.
These measures are in addition to previous changes introduced by Minister Humphreys and O’Brien earlier this year which allow participants on CE and RSS who are aged over 60 to remain on schemes until retirement.
Announcing the changes today, Minister Humphreys said:
“As Minister for both Social Protection and Rural and Community Development, I absolutely recognise the vital role that our CE, Tús and Rural Social Scheme workers play in local communities right across the country.
“These schemes support a range of vital local services in areas such as childcare, meals on wheels, the maintenance and upkeep of local amenities and other vital work in our communities.
“We now have record employment in Ireland with over 2.5 million people at work. While this is hugely positive it does present challenges for local schemes in terms of recruitment which in turn has a knock-on effect on the delivery of important local services in communities.
“The changes that I am announcing today will extend the eligibility criteria for these schemes and will also provide additional flexibility to local supervisors when it comes to the recruitment and retention of participants.
“I’m from a rural community myself and I have always been a passionate believer in the benefits of programmes like CE, Tús and RSS both for participants and for communities.
“I am pleased to announce that the application process for the ex-gratia payment for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors is now open.
“My Department will shortly write to CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who may have an immediate entitlement inviting them to apply for this payment.”
Minister for State, Joe O’Brien T.D added
“Almost 27,000 persons participate on these schemes, working part time, to provide services to local communities including in disadvantaged and rural communities.
“It is clear that with the increased turnover of participants on schemes, post COVID, and in the tightening labour market, schemes are finding it difficult to recruit sufficient number of participants.
“This could lead to difficulties for schemes maintaining vital community services.
“The changes announced today will support schemes by strengthening the recruitment process, allow schemes retain more participants beyond their standard contract time limits, as well as removing the six-year time limit for the final group of RSS participants to whom it still applied.”
Ex-gratia payment to CE supervisor and assistant supervisors
Minister Humphreys and Minister O’Brien also announced today that the application process for the ex-gratia payment for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors is now open.
The CE Ex-Gratia Payment was agreed in December 2021 by the Department of Social Protection and the unions, SIPTU and Fórsa, representing CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors. It will benefit approximately 2,500 people employed by CE schemes at a total cost of over €24 million. On reaching retirement age, eligible CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors will receive a once off payment in respect of time employed by CE schemes. Around 700 people who have retired since 2008 will be able to apply for payment from this scheme, straight away. From this week, the Department is issuing letters to this first group of beneficiaries, inviting applications for payment.
Notes for Editors:
Community Employment (CE) and Tús are active labour market programmes designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged people with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.
The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is an income support scheme that provides part-time employment opportunities for farmers and fishermen and women in receipt of specified social welfare payments, and who are underemployed in their primary occupation.
RSS is specifically designed and delivered to certain qualified people of working age whose income falls below certain limits. The valuable work undertaken by participants draws on their existing skills which may be further developed and shared throughout their participation.
The types of work CE, Tús and RSS participants are involved in include local amenities management, environmental projects, arts and culture, sports, childcare, Tidy Towns, health-related services, meals on wheels and drug rehabilitation schemes.
CE Ex-gratia payment
This payment settles a Labour Court recommendation on pensions in respect of CE supervisors and assistant supervisors.
The ex-gratia Payment was agreed in December 2021 by the Department of Social Protection and the unions, SIPTU and Fórsa, representing CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors. It will benefit approximately 2,500 people employed by CE schemes. It has a total cost of over €24 million. On reaching retirement age, eligible CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors will receive a once off CE Ex-Gratia payment in respect of time employed by CE schemes.
The CE Ex-Gratia Payment will be calculated based on actual time worked, with periods of time spent in part-time employment calculated on a pro-rata basis. For CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who qualify, this payment will be based on the salary scale point when the CE employment ceased. The payment is subject to a cap of €600 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks per year. The qualifying period for the CE Ex-Gratia Payment is from 1st July 2008 to the 31st December 2023.
Department of Social Protection officials are currently communicating in writing with CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who may have an immediate entitlement to the scheme inviting them to apply for this payment and to those who retired since 2008.