The Tús initiative is a community work placement scheme providing short-term working opportunities for unemployed people. The work opportunities are to benefit the community and are provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas. The Tús initiative is managed by local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta for the Department of Social Protection, which has overall responsibility for the scheme.
Unemployed people who are eligible to participate in the scheme are selected and contacted by the Department of Social Protection – see 'Selection process' below.
Type of project
All the work carried out by participants in the Tús scheme will be community-based. The types of project eligible for the scheme may include:
- Environmental services (for example, conservation and maintenance of national walkways)
- Caring services (for example, childcare, care of older people)
- General community services (for example, newsletters or information provision for communities)
- Heritage and cultural services (for example, local heritage project)
- Para-educational services (for example, community playgroups)
Allocation of places
The places on the scheme are allocated to community and voluntary organisations involved in the delivery of local services in urban and rural areas – see 'Community and voluntary organisations' below. The allocation is based on the numbers of eligible unemployed people in each local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta area.
To be eligible to participate in the Tús scheme you must:
- Have been continuously unemployed for at least 12 months and "signing on" on a full-time basis; and
- Have been receiving a jobseeker's payment (Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance) from the Department of Social Protection for at least 12 months; and
- Be currently receiving Jobseeker's Allowance.
Unemployed people who are eligible for the scheme will be identified and contacted by their social welfare local office or Intreo centre and offered the opportunity to participate in the scheme. Since May 2015, some Tús places can now be filled through self-referral by potential participants.
If they agree to participate in the Tús scheme they will be referred to their local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta where they will be recruited for a suitable placement when it becomes available.
As there only limited places available on the scheme, not all eligible unemployed people will be contacted.
Participants on Tús can take up other part-time employment provided it does not interfere with the work and times of the Tús work placement. If participants are offered full-time alternative work they may terminate their work placement contract.
Refusal of work placement
Under the National Employment Action Plan someone getting Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) is required to take up work opportunities such as the offer of a Tús work placement. If they refuse a work opportunity without good reason, they may have their social welfare payment reduced or terminated. If, following a refusal of a placement, someone’s payment is reduced or terminated they may appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.
Participants will work for 19 ½ hours a week and the placement lasts 12 months. They receive the same statutory annual leave and public holiday entitlement as other employees. During the 12 months, they may have up to 2 days’ uncertified and 7 days’ certified sick leave. When the placement finishes, they should sign on again with their local social welfare office. They cannot participate in the Tús scheme again for 3 years.
Childcare: If you need childcare in order to participate in the Tús scheme, you may be eligible for the After-School Child Care (ASCC) scheme.
The minimum weekly payment for participants (based on 19.5 hours worked) is €210.50 from January 2016.
If the actual Jobseeker’s Allowance (including dependants) you were getting was €188 a week or less, then you will get the minimum Tús weekly rate of €210.50 (that is €188 plus €22.50). If your actual weekly Jobseeker’s Allowance (including dependants) was €188.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €22.50 (there are some exceptions to this).
Participants will retain any extra benefits and the medical card provided they are still eligible.
If you have any additional income, for example, from part-time work, it will not affect your Tús payment. However, the rules on change of circumstances that apply to Jobseeker’s Allowance also apply to the Tús payment. In order to avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should inform your local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta and your local social welfare office. One example of a change in your circumstances would be if your dependant got a job. Their income would be assessed as means and your Tús payment might be reduced. It cannot be reduced below the minimum rate of €210.50.
Spouses or partners and Tús
If you get a place on a Tús scheme and your spouse or partner is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JA), Disability Allowance (DA) or Farm Assist in their own right, they can claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult with their JA, DA or Farm Assist. Your income from the Tús scheme (as a single person) is then assessed as insurable employment against their payment.
If you are on a Tús scheme and your spouse or partner gets a place on a Tús scheme, you will each get a single rate of the Tús payment together with half of the Increases for a Qualified Child for any dependent children.
Tax and PRSI
The Tús payment is taxable but the amount payable depends on individual circumstances.
Class A PRSI contributions will be paid for all participants. Those earning more than €352 a week will pay a PRSI contribution.
Participants on the Tús scheme are exempt from the Universal Social Charge.
Community and voluntary organisations
The work placements are proposed and provided by community and voluntary organisations. The organisations must provide good quality work opportunities that are of benefit to the community. Organisations with a proposed work placement should register with the local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta in their area. They will be asked to submit a proposal detailing the work and the number of participants requested. The local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta will assess and make a decision on the proposal.
The community and voluntary organisations are generally responsible for the costs which are not covered by Tús and they are required to make a contribution. In certain circumstances there may be some funding available from the local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta.
How to apply
In general, there is no application process for unemployed people who are eligible for this scheme. Potential participants will be selected and contacted by their social welfare local office or Intreo centre.
Self-referrals should be made to the social welfare local office or Intreo centre.
You can find more detailed information about Tús in this list of frequently asked questions.