“The Government must stop its attempt to implement a ‘one-size fits all approach’ to job activation, and ensure that people are allowed to continue to take part in important community-based schemes,” said Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth.

Deputy Smyth was commenting following the launch of her party’s Social Welfare (Community Employment) Bill 2018. The new legislation aims to prevent Jobpath, the labour activation initiative, from denying participants from taking up a place on a Community Employment (CE) Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) or the Tús Scheme.

“The government appears to be prioritising Jobpath by attempting to steer people on to the job activation programme rather than recognising the importance of CE schemes, the RSS and the Tús scheme”, explained Deputy Smyth.

“Our Bill gives a legal entitlement to a person to opt out from Jobpath to take part in a Community Employment Scheme, a Tús Scheme or a Rural Social Scheme, in circumstances where a place on any of these schemes becomes available.

“Many people have been in touch with me and colleagues from my party to express their concern at attempts to unfairly coerce them into Jobpath. For many reasons, they would prefer to take up place on a CE, RSS or Tús scheme, which may be more appropriate and suitable to their needs.

“It makes no sense to me to attempt to send unemployed people in their late 50s or early 60s onto a Jobpath scheme when there are other, more suitable schemes available.

“Furthermore, the Bill will prevent Jobpath, which is a payment by results model and operated on behalf of the Department by two private companies, from side-lining CE, RSS and Tús schemes, which are an integral to the social fabric of communities the length and breadth of the country.

“There is unease among participants and management alike in CE, RSS and Tús schemes that this is a back door attempt to wind them down. We need to remember that as well as providing employment and training options for people, these schemes also provide invaluable supports to community, voluntary and sporting organisations.

“The Government must accept that a one-size fits all approach is not the most appropriate way to supporting those seeking new employment or training opportunities,” concluded Deputy Smyth.