Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has called on the Social Protection Minister to give assurances that the future of community schemes will be protected and enhanced.  In particular, Deputy Smyth would like to see the current time limits for certain schemes abolished.

“Community schemes like the CE scheme, Tús and the Rural Social Scheme are invaluable programmes which see local people provide important services in towns, villages and rural areas right across the country.  Community ventures such as the maintenance of football pitches, green spaces and community halls are all carried out by people on these schemes.  In many cases, if it weren’t for these programmes the work would not be done as many councils do not have the resources or the manpower”, explained Deputy Smyth.

“My office has been contacted by a number of people concerned about the future of the Tús scheme.  We need assurances from Minister that this scheme, along with others such as the CE and RSS will be continued into the future and that repressive time-limits for certain schemes.

“The benefit of these schemes is two-fold, it gives participants a sense of purpose and reintegrates them back into the workplace and it ensures that essential works are carried out in communities.  Many of the people who participate in these schemes are unlikely to re-enter the commercial workforce, and the idea of forcing them back on to Jobseeker’s Allowance is counter-productive.  It can have a negative impact on the people themselves and it deprives communities of experienced workers who could be making a valuable contribution to their communities.

“I am calling on Minister Varadkar to examine the current time restrictions attached to some of these schemes so that people can continue participating in these essential programmes”.