Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has said an opportunity is being lost to provide vital support to Mayo’s Community Service Programmes (CSPs) to ensure their continued success and current level of service.


Deputy Calleary said: “Due to budgetary cutbacks Community Service Programmes have seen a dramatic fall in the level of annual Government support available. In fact in many cases, 100% of annual overheads funding has been lost. This is placing a huge strain on the affected projects.


“In my view the Department of Social Protection has overlooked a golden opportunity to provide a lifeline to such projects, using the savings made in the adjustment in employers PRSI as effective from 1st July 2011.


“With the goodwill of Minister Joan Burton and her Department, CSPs have an opportunity to recover some of the losses incurred. If CSPs were allowed to retain the savings made in the PRSI adjustments, these funds could be used to help meet overheads and allow our fantastic projects to expand their great work in our communities.


“Last week I requested that the Minister consider allowing organisations participating in the CSP to allocate the savings achieved via the adjustments in employers PRSI towards their overhead costs. I was extremely disappointed with the Minister’s response. She quite bluntly rebuffed my request stating that she has ‘no proposals to allocate the savings indicated, given the significant demand on other areas of the Department’s operations.’


“Having spoken to many local CSP Managers, I am acutely aware that the voluntary management and the staff on the Community Services Programme are determined to maintain the level of services that are so essential in our communities. The savings from employers PRSI, which is funding that is already allocated, would be very welcome at local level. I am disappointed with the Minister’s response to what is a practical, constructive solution.”