10 March 2023
By Tom Collins
‘EmployAbility’ provides assistance to people with disabilities in accessing employment
Some directors and staff of ‘EmployAbility’ companies across the country are concerned about the upcoming tender and how potential changes will affect the people they help in gaining employment.
EmployAbility West Cork (EWC), is a service that provides assistance to people with disabilities in accessing employment. The service has existed here in West Cork for 20 years. The company has been told that they must apply for tender this summer in order to keep the service going.
Chairperson of EWC, is Evie Nevin. Her name will be familiar as she sought election in 3 years ago as a Cllr for the Social Democrates. As regards today’s matter she said:
“EmployAbility Service organisations across the country as well as their dedicated staff are concerned about the future of this vital service. With 70% of disabled people being unemployed, and being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis, this service must not just continue to exist but to expand in its current form.
All 23 EmployAbility Services are set up as independent companies with an annually renewed contract of under €750,000. According to Article 4 of the relevant EU Procurement Directive, under which the DSP is operating, we as EWC are therefore exempt from having to apply for tender.
The DSP claims in its defence of the tendering process, that the Chief State Solicitor has advised that under EU law we must go to tender. Our legal advice is to the contrary.
EmployAbility Service West Cork is concerned that the DSP is moving the goal posts to suit their own agenda and only sees the service as a single service when it suits their needs. The DSP has not been forthcoming and transparent about what changes may occur and how our directors, staff and, above all, how clients in need of this valuable service will be affected.
We have and always have been separate, legal entities and, up to now, have been treated as such. The staff and directors just want to focus on the work that needs to be done to support our clients and this is such an unnecessary distraction and is causing a lot of anxiety.
EmployAbility Service West Cork always welcomes changes that improve the service for clients. Our team at EWC continues to advocate on many issues that benefit its clients and their families. This is a case of the DSP trying to fix something which is not broken. EWC is very proud of its 98% satisfaction rate and the dedication the team has to our clients.”
EWC’s Coordinator, Micheal Hurley said:
“I’m immensely proud of EWC and the effective work the team does to support people who face barriers in their lives to secure employment. Seeing our clients gain confidence and thrive in the right environment is such a pleasure to watch. Our team is passionate and dedicated to the work they do and we hope this will be the case for many more years to come”.
“We need to ask ourselves as a society as to whether we want an empowering, person-centred approach or a one-size fits all model. That’s what we are most worried about, our clients,”
The board of directors have contacted their constituency TDs on the matter and urge people in West Cork to do the same.