A CONSULTANTS' report for the government has said that community employment schemes have no significant impact on the employment prospects of participants.

The mid-term review of the ?14bn training and employment programmes of the National Development Plan, drawn up by consultants, Fitzpatrick Associates, is likely to be welcomed by the government, which is at the centre of a row over cutting back on the community employment schemes, which are aimed at assisting the long- term unemployed get back to work.

The report says that community employment schemes should no longer be funded under the National Development Plan but left to relevant government departments to finance if they so wish.

Over ?1.2bn was spent on the CE scheme and other initiatives in the last three years and the review recommends that only around half this amount be spent on the remaining three years of the scheme.

In line with the trend to cut back on employment service schemes for the unemployed, the review also recommends that funding for the Back to Work Allowance and Back to Education Allowance schemes be slashed from ?660m to ?248m. The relevance of the jobs component of these measures has declined, says the review, and it is likely to decline further over the next few years reflecting a policy decision to restrict eligibility.

Other programmes facing cutbacks include a scheme to help early school leavers, which under the review proposals would see its allocation drop from an expected ?147m to ?93.5m. The partially EUfunded Local Social Capital programme, which provides financial assistance to disadvantaged areas in order to promote employment initiatives, never got started and the review recommends that its budgeted funds of almost ?11m be given to another measure.

To balance the cutbacks the review recommends that measures targeted at training and development, be increased.

The allocation for the Fás- run skills training for the unemployed and those made redundant, for example, is set to triple from ?81m to ?264m.