A Call to Support Local Employment Services Dáil Motion on 30th November 2021
Dear Elected Representative,
On behalf of Northside Partnership, I am writing to you seeking your support on a motion coming before the Dáil on the 30th of November 2021. This motion is designed to pause the speed with which a request for tender for employment services is being rolled out by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).
We have provided you, and thank you for your engagement to-date, with previous briefings on the substantial concerns we have on the DSP proposed model and mode of payment. To sum these up.
- New models of employment services are being rolled out without any forum having being established that researches and scopes out the best model of employment services for those most distant from the labour market. The new model removes any element of choice from citizens on the service they can access as everyone, whither on the live register or not, will be required to access public employment services only through DSP staff, in the first instance.
- The new models sought are a Regional Employment and a National Employment service both through competitive tendering on the open market. If not paused these RFTs will issue before Christmas 2021. A request for tender for the provision of employment supports to people living with disabilities will issue in the new year.
- Our national network, the Irish Local Development Network, has on two occasions written to Minister Humphreys seeking a response and engagement around the advice secured from third parties on procurement, the financial model, the impact on citizens and the sourcing of funding for redundancies if they arise. The Minister has not responded to these letters.
- As job losses are inevitable within Northside Partnership, under the model proposed by DSP, the ILDN is seeking direct discussion with DSP to consider the financing of redundancy payments. Given that ILDN members have not been enabled to build reserves under the current funding model prescribed by DSP, they are unable to pay redundancy.
- The model proposed by DSP is an unsuitable for-profit model that has not been proven to work anywhere in the world for those who are distant from the labour market. It is not evidenced-based; it has not been tested or piloted; it has not received endorsement from academic researchers, Labour Market Advisory Council (LMAC), Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF), or the Oireachtas Committee – those who have commented have rejected the approach.
- The proposed model transfers risks from the funder to the contract holder, thus jeopardising not-for-profit community organisations, not just at bid stage, but in implementation as there is considerable risk of operating at a loss which cannot be addressed by reserves or alternative income. It also transfers a potential future risk of substantial redundancy costs (for individual service up to 25 years) if future contracts are not secured after the initial four -year term.
- Given the CSO Monthly Unemployment figure at the end of October 2021, the numbers unemployed are 135,200. At the meeting of the 1st of November last, DSP stated that the new Regional Employment service is aimed at the roughly 10% of those unemployed, who are particularly distant from the labour market. This provides a figure of 13,520 persons across Ireland. If this figure was doubled to 20%, this would give a figure of 27,040 that, over a three-year referral cycle, would generate 9,013 referrals per annum across the state. This is unworkable. In the event where DSP are unable to meet minimum referral numbers, compensatory payments are unlikely to be permitted as an alternative method of ensuring contract viability.
Given the seriousness of this matter we request that you engage with Minister Humphreys in the forthcoming debate on Tuesday 30th to ensure that the process is paused to allow sufficient engagement with a stakeholder forum to build a model of employments services that is fit for purpose , based on the needs of citizens and does not lose 25 years plus of the capacity of a skilled workforce.
I would like to thank you for your previous representations with Minister Humphreys on this matter and your continued support.
To understand this issue further, Listen to this panel discussion featuring Paul Rogers, Dr. Michael McGann, Maynooth University & Lisa Bornemann, LES.