The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D. today published the plan for the development and implementation of a new National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES), as provided for in the Programme for Government. The objective is to integrate the provision of employment services and benefit payment services within the Department and in so doing to ensure that the payment of income supports to people who do not have a job is directly linked to the equally, if not more important, task of supporting people in their pursuit of employment and related opportunities and improving their life chances.
The establishment of this new service is a necessary response to the current economic crisis and the unprecedented rise in unemployment with its far-reaching implications for workers, the economy and society in Ireland. In this regard employment has proven to be a major factor for people exiting poverty and also influences quality of life and social well-being. Therefore, while social welfare income support remains crucial and must be adequate to meet needs, passive income support alone is not sufficient if poverty and social exclusion are to be comprehensively addressed and people are to have financial independence and reach their potential. This new service delivery model is aimed at increasing social and economic participation. In some cases, the successful outcome will be full-time employment without any further social welfare support. In other cases where people are quite distant from the labour market, measures will support people on social welfare payments taking up other options, such as training and education to enhance employability.
In providing for the establishment of the NEES, the Programme for Government reiterates the requirement for the integration of FÁS employment services and community programmes and the HSE Community Welfare Services (CWS) into the Department. The establishment of the NEES is also a key commitment under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU/IMF/ECB.
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