Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to examine the possibility of allowing people over the age of 55 to remain on a CE scheme until retirement.

The party has tabled an amendment to the Social Welfare Bill to this effect.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “Thousands of people benefit from their time on a CE scheme and for many it offers the opportunity to get back into the workplace.  Many of the people who take part in these schemes are older and the 55 year age limit is proving problematic.

“In 2015 the then Social Protection Minister Joan Burton established the Service Support Stream pilot initiative, which allows CE participants over the age of 62 to remain on a CE scheme until they qualify for the State pension.  This pilot scheme has worked well and I am urging Minister Doherty to roll this initiative out across the board.

“Many older people enjoy participating in a CE scheme as it gives them a sense of worth.  They enjoy the work and social element of these scheme and many learn new skills.  It also works from an economic perspective as participants undertake work which benefits their local communities.

“I have long been a supporter of Community Employment schemes because I see the benefits they bring and the sense of community they create.  I want to ensure that older people who are engaged in them have the opportunity to continue on until they retire.  The current pilot has been successful and I would like to see the Minister extend it to all participants over the age of 55”.