Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called on the Minister for Employment & Social Protection to re-examine the rules governing a number of rural and social schemes.  Deputy Rabbitte hosted a meeting in Leinster House to hear from community groups which are worried about the future of these programmes.

“Schemes such as the Rural Social Scheme and Tús are community based programmes which provide work for people and benefit local towns and villages.  While primarily they exist to get people back to work, there is a huge social inclusion element contained within them and I am concerned that the new funding model proposed by the Minister for Employment & Social Protection aims to cut the schemes without fully considering the benefit that these programmes have on their local communities”, explained Deputy Rabbitte.

“I met with community groups from Tipperary, Mayo, Limerick and Galway to discuss their concerns with them.  Fianna Fáil has been advocating for some time to have the rules for these schemes relaxed.  The six year rule for the Rural Social Scheme is particularly unfair as it can prove more difficult for older people to find work in the commercial economy.

“The same is true of the Tús programme and yet there is a one year participation limit applied to it.  I would like to see that extended to a minimum of two years.  Tús specifically targets people who are long term unemployed and many of the participants may need more than one year to feel fully ready to re-enter the workplace.

“I am very worried by Minister Doherty’s efforts to favour Jobpath over schemes such as the RSS and Tús.  While I appreciate that employment is rising, and I welcome that, we cannot forget the social element that these programmes provide, not only to participants, but to their communities as well”.

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