Minister Joe O’Brien Announces Expansion of Community Employment Scheme Eligibility for Ukrainian Refugees

22nd March, 2023

  • Eligibility for CE extended for people arriving from Ukraine 
  • €1,000 grant to all CE schemes to help with rising costs
  • New Pilot Scheme will see Adult Dependants eligible for CE


Minister Joe O’Brien TD has announced a series of improvements to Community Employment (CE) Schemes and expansion of the scheme to arrivals from Ukraine who have been in Ireland for 9 months or more.

CE Schemes play a vital role in both rural and urban communities in terms of supporting people on the road to employment.

There are 835 CE Schemes nationwide delivering a wide range of community services, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Currently, there are over 18,500 CE participants.

As part of the package secured by the Minister, the following measures are being introduced:

  • Eligibility for CE Schemes will be reduced from 12 months on the live register to 9 months for Ukrainian nationals who have fled the war.
  • The payment of a €1,000 grant to CE sponsor organisations to help them deal with rising costs.
  • Adult dependants of CE participants in receipt of a Jobseeker’s Payment will qualify in their own right for the first time.


Announcing the changes, Minister O’Brien said:

I recognise the vital role that Community Employment schemes and their participants play in local communities right across the country.

“These schemes support a range of key local services in areas such as childcare, meals on wheels, the maintenance and upkeep of local amenities and other vital works designed to enhance our towns and villages.

“I am therefore delighted to announce this series of changes which will benefit both the CE organisations and participants themselves.”

“This grant of €1,000 towards costs and the improvements to CE eligibility demonstrate this Government’s commitment to CE schemes and recognises the valuable services they deliver for communities.

“These measures also recognise the valuable work experience and training opportunities CE Schemes provide to the long term unemployed.

“Participants on CE work part time to provide essential services to local communities.

“The changes announced today will support schemes by widening the pool of people eligible for CE with the intention of increasing participation. 

“The change to the eligibility for CE for Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war who are in Ireland under the Temporary Protection Directive is a positive one and I believe it will be successful in both increasing participation in CE and in helping Ukrainians to further integrate into local communities.

“The Government is continuing to respond to this unprecedented crisis through the co-ordinated effort of Government departments in providing emergency assistance, income supports and accommodation to people arriving in Ireland fleeing the war in Ukraine.”




Note for Editors:

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged people with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

The CE sponsoring authorities employ participants to deliver a range of services to local communities throughout the country. As well as contributing to the delivery of local services, CE participants develop a range of occupational skills and work experience that help to improve their own prospects of securing full-time employment.

The types of work CE participants are involved in include local amenities management, environmental projects, arts and culture, sports, childcare, Tidy Towns, health-related services, meals on wheels and drug rehabilitation schemes.


Recent changes to CE scheme eligibility and qualification criteria

  • All people over 60 years of age can remain on CE until reaching retirement age.
  • CE participants whose contract term was coming to an end are permitted to stay on CE until a replacement is found.
  • Updating the baseline year to 2014, and to ensure that this is updated annually.
  • Putting enhanced referral procedures in place to support recruitment to CE.
  • New flexibility to allow CE schemes to directly recruit eligible candidates to fill 30% of places.