Dáil Éireann - Volume 646 - 07 February, 2008

Written Answers. - Community Employment Schemes.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will ensure the provision of adequate finances for the expansion of the various community employment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4429/08]

  Deputy Micheál Martin: Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a fixed term basis. CE aims to facilitate unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills. To achieve these objectives, FÁS works in partnership with community and voluntary organisations to provide much needed social services within a community based environment.

The aim of CE still remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment. The programme is managed in a flexible way within this context, with consideration to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community.

The FÁS Board has not yet approved the detailed FÁS budget for 2008. However, I can say that the Community Employment budget for 2008 has been provided with a view to maintaining overall numbers on schemes at 2007 levels. Since 2002 the number of CE places provided nationally has been maintained at a constant level.

There are currently no plans for expanding the Community Employment Scheme beyond its current capacity due to the relative stability in the numbers of long-term unemployed and other relevant target groups for participation on CE.

In conclusion then, I would say that this Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. In this regard, the operation of the Scheme is kept under constant review.