Laois/Offaly TD Brian Stanley.

Stanley says local Jobs Clubs under threat

Existing local Jobs Clubs must be protected in Laois/Offaly and across the State, according to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, instead of moving to a profit-based results approach.

He has called on the government “to remove the profit-focused approach set out in a tender for Local Employment Services (LES). The tender as set out makes it almost impossible for local Jobs Clubs in Laois/Offaly to apply for the contract, such as those in Portarlington, Birr, Tullamore and Portlaoise.

The request for tender is open to applications for the rollout of a new model of contracted public employment service in four areas including Laois/Offaly. The terms included in the tender have caused significant concern about the quality and future of Local Jobs Clubs. The issue was raised by Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil last week.

“Having been kept in the dark about the changes to Local Employment Services for so long, we are finally seeing a request for tender which encourages a ruthless shift to ‘services’ which focus on profit over people. This is unacceptable and must not be allowed to happen.

“The ‘payment by results’ model put forward in the tender tells us that the government is looking to implement employment services which focus on quantity over quality or more accurately a headage payment.

“This is not the person-centred approach so successfully fostered by the Local Jobs Clubs and will only result in a focus on profit-driven results which leaves those who need these services behind.

Local Jobs Clubs are also cost-effective. Portarlington Jobs Clubs for example are able to work with clients who are unemployed and get job placements for them on a budget of between €1,000 and €2,400. Private companies that provide the service through what is called “JobsPath” are costing €11,000 per client to secure a job that lasts more than twelve months," the Laois/Offaly TD ended.

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