The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has confirmed to Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen that the money is available within her department to protect Community Employment Schemes. Therefore, any cuts to CE schemes following the Minister’s ‘review’ will be purely a political decision.
Responding to questions from Deputy Cowen in the Dáil this evening, Minister Burton admitted that the funding for CE schemes this year is less than last year, but she said she has increased funding available in her overall budget of €1billion this year and that she envisages further savings in some costs such as rents and insurance etc.
Deputy Cowen commented, “Minister Burton has confirmed that a substantial amount of funding is at her disposal for training schemes and that she is also expecting to have more funds at her disposal when her department saves on costs such as rents and insurance etc. She has an overall training budget of almost €1 billion this year. Therefore it is clear that if she decides to make cuts to CE schemes, this will be a purely political decision.
“The Minister has been reviewing her controversial CE cuts for weeks now. She has already indicated to me in the Dáil on previous occasions that this review is unlikely to result in any reversal of the cuts to CE grants she announced in the Budget. Her latest comments reinforce the fact her ‘review’ is essentially meaningless and that CE schemes around the country are still in the firing line.
“If Minister Burton wants to, she can protect funding for Community Employment schemes this year. Her decision to cut CE schemes cannot be blamed on the Troika, the previous Government or anyone else. This is a purely political decision for Fine Gael and Labour, and I know that there are many people that hope they make the right one.”