NAO issues report on Community Work Scheme

The Auditor General today presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives the National Audit Office (NAO) report entitled An Evaluation of the Community Work Scheme.

In a press release, the NAO said that from 2016 to 2018, central Government incurred an expenditure of over €30 million (VAT included) in relation to the Community Work Scheme (CWS). As at September 2018, the Scheme employed 839 persons within Social Purpose Entities (SPEs). These include Local Councils, Schools and NGOs. A Concession Agreement between Jobsplus and the Community Work Scheme Enterprise (CWSE) Foundation establishes the CWS’s operational framework.

The NAO added that the Community Work Scheme (CWS), as an active labour market initiative which primarily seeks to improve the employability opportunities of severely disadvantaged persons, operates within difficult parameters in view of the social circumstances of these persons. Despite the inherent risks associated with preparing and encouraging disadvantaged individuals to find more gainful employment, the Scheme proved economically viable although its implementation yielded mixed results.

The scheme has also satisfied principal value-for-money criteria in relation to its economic viability.

Furthermore, employability audits carried out by the CWSE Foundation ensured that the 839 participants could be deployed with SPEs where they could best utilise their competencies. At least nine per cent of participants joined the scheme through the catch-all eligibility criteria of ‘additional resources’.

The NAO also stated that due to a lack of sufficient resources, Jobsplus does not have the adequate structures in place to perform more in-depth reviews of the scheme.