A range of essential community services across the state such as childcare, meals on wheels, eldercare and disability are dependent on CE workers and CE funding to remain in existence. However, due to budget cuts of between 30% and 40% last year to the training and materials grants many of these schemes are in difficulty.
Speaking after the meeting, SIPTU Campaign Co-ordinator Darragh O’Connor said “It’s critical that the number of CE Schemes and places are not subject to further cuts. The need for these schemes is greater now than at any time in the last 10 years. It is also essential that participants continue to have access to quality accredited training to assist them back into full time employment.”
The issue of cuts to payments of lone parents and people with disabilities who take up community employment was also raised. Describing the impact of these cuts CE Supervisor and SIPTU activist Seamie Briscoe said: “CE is no longer a financially viable path to employment and training for lone parents and people with disabilities. This is a tragedy because the progression rate for lone parents back into full time employment was close to 100% in many of these schemes. The additional expenses incurred by these groups must be addressed in the upcoming budget.”
The delegation also stressed the importance of maintaining placements for up to three years in order to facilitate completion of recognised training courses and work experience.
Darragh O’Connor concluded: “We welcome the establishment of an Employment Schemes Advisory Committee where the voices of CE supervisors, workers and other stakeholders can be heard with regard to the future shape, structure and funding of Community Employment.”