Change CE scheme regulations for older workers

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East Galway TD this week welcomed news that the Department of Social Protection is to seek cabinet approval in coming months for a change to CE scheme rules for older workers.
Deputy Connaughton learned of the development during a meeting with Minster Kevin Humphreys TD, Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection with special responsibility for Employment, Community and Social Support on Wednesday. Following the meeting he welcomed the news that serious consideration is being given to changing the current regime, but warned that this change may come too late for people due to retire in coming months.
The East Galway TD sought the meeting after he was contacted by a number of constituents who are nearing the completion of their term on a CE scheme and who wanted to remain on the scheme rather than seek Jobseeker’s Assistance between the end of their time on the CE Scheme and retirement, which in some cases is only a number of weeks or months.
‘The case was made very strongly to me by a number of people from all across East Galway. They pointed out that it made economic, social and moral sense for the state to keep them employed in their local community, doing valuable and very worthwhile work as opposed to paying them Jobseeker’s for the short time that they will remain in the workforce. I made the case to Minister Humphreys that if a person was nearing retirement and wanted to stay on a scheme rather than take up Jobseeker’s Allowance in the time before retirement, they should be able to do so. This may result in a small increase in the number of people on CE schemes, but at no cost to the state as they would otherwise be availing of Jobseeker’s Allowance and there would be a significant gain, both for the person in question who wishes to stay on the scheme, and the local community.
‘A one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to CE scheme participants and making such a small change will make a big difference to these people. We have to be imaginative and cannot afford to be restricted by rules and regulations where they don’t work for the people involved or their local communities. This government is focused on getting people back to work and of course where people want to work in the months up to retirement, rather than claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, they should be entitled to do so.
‘In a number of cases, CE scheme participants were caught out by the raising of retirement age. Had the age not changed, they would have been on the CE scheme right up to retirement, but the change meant that they found themselves with one year to spend on Jobseeker’s Allowance before retirement. Many had never before been on Jobseeker’s Allowance and wished to work up to retirement. Such cases should, I believe, be facilitated and that is why I sought the meeting with Minister Kevin Humphreys on the issue.
‘I will continue to work with Minister Humphreys and endeavour to get this change over the line and facilitate the many people who want to continue to work in their local communities right up to retirement.’