In the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection I raised a number of questions regarding JobPath Processes and Procurement.
Addressing Officials from the Department and Representatives from Turas Nua and Seetec the two British based private companies administering the JobsPath Programme which provide employment activation measures to people who are unemployed:
I am seeking explanation as to the merit of privatising employment service and displacing existing services where, I understand, there was no legal procurement obligation to put such services out to tender. I believe these services could and should be provided by existing structures including the Local Employment Service, the Partnership Companies, Employability and others.
I queried how much the whole procurement process cost but the department were unable to confirm. They did confirm that €84 million has been spent to-date and that the government had committed to referring 240,000 participants to these companies over the life of the contract.
Why are people forced into unsuitable training, compelled to travel long distances across rural areas without public transport? Both companies were unable to say how much was provided for travel costs last year or how much profit they made or what their turnover was. They also denied that people struggling with addiction or mental health problems were put into groups and pressured to disclose private information.
Vulnerable people have been pushed into signing contracts on the basis that if they didn’t their social welfare payments would be cut off. These people often signed these contracts rather than be left in a situation where they were left with no money for food or rent.
The department and both companies said they would provide answers to several of the questions they were unable to answer to the Committee at a later date.
I am not at all satisfied that the JobPath Scheme is being run fairly or ethically or that it is delivering value for money. We have to stop the privatisation of these and other services that provide essential services and supports for people who can be exploited for profit maximisation instead we need to use existing structures and provide them with the proper resources to do the job.