At the February meeting of Leitrim County Council, Cllr Gerry Kilrane moved a Motion calling on the Minister for Social Protection to explain why so many lone parents are been cut from CE Schemes. There has been a huge drop in the number of lone parents taking up Employment on Community Schemes. Figures released from the Department of Social Protection show a drop of over 44% in the numbers employed on Community Schemes nationally. Councillor Gerry Kilrane has highlighted the issue at Council level and says that the national trend is also reflected locally in Leitrim and surrounding counties. Speaking last week Councillor Kilrane said, “I have come across a number of cases here in Leitrim where people are effectively been denied the opportunity of taking up Community Employment because of the threat of losing their Single Parent Family Payment”.
The figures were released in response to a Parliamentary Question to Labour Minister Joan Burton and they confirm that the number of lone parents employed on CE Schemes dropped from 4,650 on the 1st January 2012 to 2,592 as of the 21st January, 2013. Councillor Kilrane went on to say “Since Minister Burton decided lone parents would have to give up the One-Parent Family payment to remain on a CE scheme, there has been a massive but inevitable drop-off in the number of lone parent participants”.
In reply to the Parliamentary Question Minister Burton highlighted that the number of places on CE schemes has actually increased. In response to this Councillor Kilrane said that he welcomed such announcements but that he was concerned that when one actually scrutinised the real figures that one becomes concerned regarding the ability of people to take up such places. He concluded, “Many of the people affected locally would have been working on childcare and community projects, some having completed training such as FETAC accredited courses. The Employment offered under CE Schemes would have greatly improved their job prospects through having a significant level of work experience to bolster their CV’s. Prospective Employer’s always place great emphasis on work experience. We must ensure that those seeking employment can as much as possible compete on a level playing field”. Fianna Fail are highlighting this as terrible attack on lone parents by a government which clearly has no vision for how social support structures should be working to help people to secure meaningful employment.