430. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice the level of funding to be provided by her Department in 2022 for the promotion and support of the social enterprise sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [59941/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): In late 2020, my Department launched an innovative employment-focused strategy designed to increase the work options for people with a criminal past. The Working to Change social enterprise and employment strategy 2021-2023 is aligned with several national and international policies and is a sister strategy to the current National Social Enterprise Policy 2019 – 2022. It sets out my Department’s direction for supporting employment options for people with convictions by simultaneously working to remove the systemic barriers so that people can make sustainable changes.
Working to Change builds upon a solid foundation of employment supports already in place across the criminal justice sector and is a collaboration between the Prison Service, the Probation Service and my Department. It focuses on three strategic areas to increase employment options for people with lived experience of the criminal justice:
- Employment in the social economy/social enterprise sector
- Mainstream employment in the public & private sectors
Investment in the social economy in recent years has been key to increasing the number of meaningful jobs for people with a criminal past. This investment has predominately come in two forms:
1. Incentivised recruitment through investment in social enterprises:
The Probation Service’s KickStart Fund is administered in partnership with Pobal and is funded through the Dormant Accounts Disbursement Scheme.
2. Socially responsible public procurement:
Purchasing power of the Department and criminal justice agencies indirectly support the employment of people with a criminal past by allowing social enterprises to become part of their supply chain.
My Department fully supports the implementation of the Working to Change strategy, which includes a pledge that 10% of all procurement contracts signed by the Department, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service will include social considerations by the end of the Working to Change strategy (2023).
In addition, as was the case in 2021, the Department will support awareness raising campaigns to highlight the significant role the social enterprise sector plays in recruiting those furthest from the labour market, particularly people with criminal records.
My Department relies on its executive agencies, the Probation Service and Irish Prison Service, to lead on the implementation of the Working to Change strategy and both agencies take on various related elements and expenditure.
The Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service co-finance the role of the Criminal Justice Social Enterprise Project Manager on a 50/50 basis. This is provided by way of payment to Pobal for total salary costs of €114,800 for 2022. A further €29,740 is being provided for ICT and other support costs.
The Probation Service, supported by the Prison Service and administered by Pobal, invests in the social enterprise sector through their KickStart fund.
Dormant Accounts Funding of €1.150m was approved under the Dormant Accounts 2020 Programme for the second round of KickStart Funding. The original timeframe for the programme was intended to be from September 2020 to December 2021. However, due to delays as a result of COVID restrictions, an extension of time has been granted until the end of June 2022.
In November 2021, additional funding of €1.150m was approved under the Dormant Accounts 2021 Programme to support the third round of KickStart Funding.