January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
I welcome the new guidelines brought forward this week by my Labour colleague, Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD, that could see significant savings for parents of children in schools operating a book rental scheme.
Textbooks are one of the most costly aspects of sending a child to school. Book rental schemes have been extremely successful in the areas that have introduced them. In fact, Department figures show that parents can save up to 80% on the cost of new books by ensuring a book rental scheme is run in their school.
The Department of Education and Skills has worked closely with Barnardos, the National Parents Council and the St Vincent de Paul in drafting up these guidelines, with the aim of ensuring as many schools as possible are operating a Book Rental Scheme.
I particularly pleased with the commitment from the Irish Educational Publishers Association to limit the publication of new editions, to maintain editions of books and ensure they are unchanged for at least six years. Books from these publishers will also be made available to Rental Schemes at substantial discounts.
January 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
I am pleased with the news this week that 2,000 additional places will be available on the Community Employment (CE) programme. These new places announced by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., will bring the total number of CE places to 25,300 this year.
This expansion of the Scheme is most welcome and I congratulate Minister Burton on her efforts in delivering these extra Community Employment places, and for her continued support for these vital services for jobseekers and communities.
The Government, through the Department of Social Protection alone, will spend more than €1 billion on activation programmes and other supports this year to help jobseekers acquire the work experience, skills and qualifications needed to return to full-time employment. Community Employment is a key labour activation programme, offering on-the-job training and education that is a gateway to employment for many participants.
The 2,000 additional places announced will specifically target the growing number of long-term unemployed, as well as other welfare claimants who are over a year in receipt of payments. This is part of a concerted and wider effort by the Department of Social Protection to help jobseekers to become employment-ready and find a job, training or educational opportunity.
In Budget 2013, Minister Burton secured €11 million in additional funding for 10,000 extra activation places of which nearly half will consist of placements in Tús (2,500) and CE schemes (2,000).
I particularly welcome the priority given to schemes and organisations who are involved in the delivery of community childcare services, and social and healthcare services for people with a disability. I would encourage existing CE schemes in Dublin South who believe they can improve the level of their services to consider applying for the additional places and organisations.