I have today welcomed the announcement of changes to support CE and TUS schemes during Covid. The changes were announced by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.
‘The main measures are the extension of contracts until July 2021 to benefit 7,000 participants, clarification of 2017 rule changes for those over 55, the making available of 3,000 additional places and the creation of a new Stakeholder Engagement Forum.
‘I raised this issue in February during Leader’s Questions with the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD and subsequently met with Minister Humphreys and her senior officials and highlighted the difficulties being faced by CE schemes across the country, including many in East Galway, in terms of keeping valuable participants who wished to stay on the scheme but whose scheduled contracts were coming to an end.
‘Many valuable local services risked being curtailed by the loss of key workers and in excess of 3,000 remain unfilled across the country which is a huge loss to the communities and organisations such as Ability West, the Irish Wheelchair Association and Meals on Wheels.
‘Participants of both schemes whose contracts were due to finish over the period since last October will now benefit from a further extension up to the 2nd July. This will benefit those 5,000 participants with existing contract extensions, and an additional 2,000 participants whose contract would ordinarily end between now and the start of July.
‘I am also delighted to issue that the Saver Clause is now being retained, which will allow people who were 55 years or older at the time of the July 2017 rule change and who were already on a CE scheme at that time have the option of remaining on a CE scheme for up to six years. The Minister has asked officials to prepare a more detailed guide what will issue to all CE schemes in the coming days.
‘It was also announced today that a new CE and TÚS Forum comprising representatives of CE and TÚS schemes and officials from the Department of Social Protection will be established shortly. The purpose of the Forum is to discuss and exchange views on operational issues impacting on both schemes.’