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To ask the Minister for Social Protection her plans to allow private contractors provide employment activation services for the long-term unemployed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013

REPLY

The Pathways to Work initiative launched last year signalled the potential of contracting with third party providers to complement the existing capacity of the Department of Social Protection and the Local Employment Services to deliver employment services.  The potential contribution of such contracting and the design of a contracting approach has since been considered by the Department working with an Interdepartmental group, comprising representatives of this Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the National Economic and Social Council, the Offices of the Attorney General and the Chief State Solicitor.  The Department also availed, following an open tender process, of expert international advice.  Arising from this evaluation, the Cabinet Committee on Pathways to Work approved in principle a proposal to tender for the provision of employment services and agreed to the issue Prior Information Notice (PIN), which was published on 28 June.  This notice formally notifies the market that the State intends to procure employment services. A PIN is a discretionary and exploratory first step in a procurement process.  The publication of a PIN will enable the State to engage with potential vendors and other interested parties to gauge the level of market interest and will assist in finalising tender/contract design.  A final decision on whether or not to proceed to full tender, and if so in what form, will be made once this engagement process is completed.

It is important to note that our intention in exploring this option is not to displace existing resources within the Department and the LES but to contract with other parties so as to complement and work alongside these resources and thereby increase our capacity to serve unemployed people.

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