Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) representing Ireland’s Local Employment Service (LES) providers, have pointed to a newly published report by Economist Jim Power which suggests that the new model for the provision of Community based employment services put forward by the Department of Social Protection, is not likely to prove viable for charitable not-for-profit companies unless significantly altered.
The assumptions in the report are based on the model the Department of Social Protection have used in their Request for Tender (RFT1) for the procurement of a Regional Employment Service in Donegal, Sligo-Leitrim, Laois-Offaly and Longford-Westmeath.
The Key Findings of the report include:
- The model used in RFT1 is a for-profit model. It is not clear that this approach can meet the needs of the long-term unemployed, and also excludes some cohorts such as carers, lone parents and those referred from complementary programmes such as SICAP.
- This new model inherent in RFT1 is not likely to prove viable for charitable non-for-profit companies.
- There is a danger that the transfer of risk to the voluntary, charitable sector will lead to the closure of some organisations, which would impact on the delivery of other programmes such as Social Inclusion & Community Activation Programme.
- The RFT 1 model ignores the existence of current LES contracts and the need to adhere to the obligations and practical arrangements needed to transition from these, including redundancy provision. Providers have not had the ability to build reserves under the current contract and therefore have no fund to cover even the statutory redundancy costs or start- up costs.
Commenting on the report, Martina Earley Chair of the ILDN Special Committee on the Future of Employment Services said; “Local Employment Services have been successfully delivering not-for-profit Community based employment services for all people out of work for over 25 years. The Jim Power report clearly outlines that the Department’s proposed replacement model will not be viable in the main for current Local Employment Services providers. The Department need to revisit their approach urgently to avert the loss of hundreds of well qualified professional staff and dozens of offices across the Country.”