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 Header Item Job Initiatives (Continued)
 Header Item Other Questions
 Header Item Rented Dwellings Register

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton] The elements scored include conformance with good corporate governance and achievement of service and progression outcomes.

  Following an evaluation of Bawnogue Unemployed Group Limited, the Department did not believe it could justify the renewal of the contract. It notified Bawnogue Unemployment Group Limited of this decision in January 2013. The annual contract with Bawnogue Unemployed Group Limited subsequently expired on 29 March 2013. It was fully funded by the Department up to that date. The Department is considering alternative arrangements for the provision of jobs club services in the area. It is delivering employment services in the area through the local employment service's Bawnogue office and the Department’s employment service office in Clondalkin. As the Department is not the employer, salaries and redundancy payments are matters for the company to address. Obviously, statutory redundancy payments are handled by the Department.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

If a company or employer is unable to pay statutory redundancy to its employees, it is open to them to avail of the Department's redundancy and insolvency payments scheme, details of which are available on the Department’s website. The Department is committed to the provision of quality jobs club services. It will continue to evaluate jobs clubs to ensure the funds disbursed to fund their services are properly and effectively discharged to provide effective services to jobseekers and facilitate the continuous improvement of the service.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The vital part of the Minister's reply was her reference to the State not being the employer in this case. I remind her that the State often sets the terms, conditions and rates of pay in jobs clubs and most other community employment schemes. Will the Minister examine the case of Bawnogue Unemployed Group Limited? The Bawnogue area needs a service of this nature because it has a high level of unemployment. I will not say whether it needs the existing service or another service. A service urgently needs to be provided by Intreo or some other agency. The Department needs to address an issue that has arisen in this context. One of the group's workers, Martin Walsh, has been occupying its premises because he has not been given the enhanced redundancy he deserves. That needs to be addressed. Some of the workers at the DBD jobs club in Bawnogue have not been paid. Can the Minister give a guarantee that a jobs club service, or its equivalent, will be in place in this part of Clondalkin within weeks if not days? It is needed in light of the huge job of work this group has done over the years.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton As the Deputy knows, I am very familiar with the Bawnogue area. I am aware that there is a significant unemployment problem in Bawnogue and other parts of the greater Clondalkin area. At the moment, the local employment service and the Department's office in Clondalkin are providing services to people in the area who are seeking to get back to work. I will revert to the Deputy when our examination of the situation has been completed. I understand that two people were working under the most recent contract at Bawnogue Unemployed Group Limited and that the total value of the annual contract was €115,000.

Returning to the contractual situation, I should mention that a number of the organisations that provide services to the Department of Social Protection and other Departments, including the organisation in this case, are private limited companies. The responsibility of the Department relates to statutory redundancy. If the company that was employing these two people was unable to meet its redundancy commitments, the Department of Social Protection would cover that under the insolvency arrangements. I am not familiar with the details of this case. The Deputy might like to provide them to me privately. We hope to have another service provided quite soon.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh I thank the Minister for assuring me that another service will be provided quite soon. The State sets and evaluates the framework for pay, hours and everything else in the case of organisations which are funded in this way. When it withdraws that money and two jobs are lost as a consequence, the role it plays must involve more than providing statutory funding. This issue is coming up more frequently. It came up when community development projects were being squeezed. The State told these companies to become limited companies in the first place.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I do not particularly want to discuss private affairs in public.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh I understand.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton If the Deputy wants to advise me of any other circumstances, I will be happy to hear from him. Many economists are quite critical of jobs clubs, community employment schemes and other efforts to help people back to work and to provide services in communities. In fact, most of the reports on jobs clubs are very positive. The Department has an annual review process. It was decided not to renew the annual payment of €115,000 in respect of the Bawnogue service, unfortunately, following an objective review of the service that was carried out on the basis of certain criteria.

As I mentioned, I have increased the overall budget for jobs clubs this year. They are very helpful for people in areas like CV preparation. As the Deputy knows, if one has been working for 15 years, one will not have drawn up a CV for 15 years. Jobs clubs allow people to meet other people who may unfortunately have become unemployed, to get to know people who are going back to work and to make contacts. All of that jobs club activity has certainly been very positive. I will revert to the Deputy on this individual case.

Other Questions

Rented Dwellings Register

 6. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she is considering revising the rent caps in urban areas in view of the recent reports that rents are increasing in urban areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18803/13]

 8. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if any consideration will be given to increasing the maximum level of rent in respect of which rent support will be offered with particular reference to the need to address local market issues throughout North Kildare; if her attention has been drawn to the discrepancy in rent levels throughout the county due to market forces which in turn impact on persons on local authority housing lists who have to rely on private rented accommodation in lieu of local authority housing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18933/13]

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 8 together.

The Government has provided more than €403 million in 2013 for over 86,000 rent supplement recipients. The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation. It should not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. It is essential that State support for rents are kept under review and do not distort the market in a way that could increase rent prices for other people, such as low-paid workers and students. Analysis shows that there are properties available within the maximum rent limits for rent supplement recipients in County Kildare. The number of rental properties available in north Kildare is somewhat lower than the numbers available in the rest of the country. This has an impact on the number of accommodation units available for rent supplement purposes. According to the latest figures, there are 4,400 rent supplement recipients in County Kildare, over 1,000 of whom reside in the Leixlip, Kilcock, Maynooth and Celbridge areas of north Kildare. This indicates that it is possible to secure accommodation in such locations under the current rent limits. An analysis of recent reports has shown that rents have increased in Dublin, Cork and Galway, with rental asking rates falling in other cities and in rural areas. I gave a previous commitment to complete a review of maximum rent limits by the end of June. The officials have done a great deal of work on this. I am pleased to say I am confident that the review will be finished by the end of May, with new rent limits in place by early June.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett We have finally heard some good news.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Can I bottle that comment?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I hope it really is good news. I am glad the rent limits are being reviewed. It could not have come a moment too soon. I ask the Minister to consider a random sample from of rents in the south Dublin area. In the case of bedsits, there is not a single rental property in south Dublin that is available today under or on the cap the Minister is proposing.

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