Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD says there should be a commitment in Budget 2018 to increase funding to Community Services Programmes should the minimum wage be increased as recommended by the Low Pay Commission.

Deputy O’Dea said, “Community Services Programmes (CSP) cater to the local, social, economic and environmental needs of many communities that are not being met through public or private funding. They are at the heart of many communities and it is imperative that they are sufficiently resourced so that they can continue the vital work that they do on the ground across the country.

“Last year I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil were vocal in our opposition to the decision taken by the Department of Social Protection to no longer match their wage contribution to the legal minimum wage. This decision meant CSP’s had to make up the shortfall. Our persistence in highlighting this situation resulted in the Department setting up a fund to assist companies that are not in a position to cover last year’s minimum wage increase.

“Once again, CSP’s are faced with the prospect of another increase in the national minimum wage. I have received information through a parliamentary question reply which shows that the cost of increasing funding to the CSP’s to match the proposed minimum wage increase would be approximately €3m in a full year, which I believe represents good value for money.

“I hope that the Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty will have the foresight to recognise the invaluable work that CSP’s do and the valuable contribution they make to local communities. Minister Doherty needs to ensure that there is a corresponding increase in funding to CSP’s should the national minimum wage increase in line with the recommendation made by the Low Pay Commission.”