§ Lord Melchett
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will confirm that the Department of Manpower Services in Northern Ireland pay 90 per cent. of the salaries of those employed under the Aid to Community Enterprise (ACE) scheme and a maximum of £240 per person per year towards overhead costs; whether they will state how this compares to funds available from the Manpower Services Commission under the Community Enterprise Programme and any other schemes which encourage the employment of otherwise unemployed adults in the United Kingdom; and whether they agree that the requirement to fund 10 per cent. of the salary bill under the ACE scheme makes it impossible for many potential employers to provide places under it.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Elton)
Under the Action for Community Employment (ACE) Scheme in Northern Ireland, the Department of Manpower Services contribute 90 per cent. of the gross wage cost (including employers' national insurance contributions) up to a maximum grant of £83 per week for each employee plus a fixed allowance of £240 per annum for each employee as a contribution toward the cost of materials and administration. In Great Britain the Manpower Services Commission provide 100 per cent. funding of wages under the Community Enterprise Programme (up to the same maximum grant of £83 per week) plus an annual grant of up to a maximum of £400 per employee.
The differences between the schemes are the result of deliberate decisions taken in Northern Ireland which allow the advantages of ensuring a genuine commitment by sponsors, maintaining administrative simplicity and providing as many jobs as possible within the resources available. Since the scheme was introduced on 1st April 1981 the Department of Manpower Services have approved 377 places and are currently considering a further 128 places. In addition, 24 potential sponsors have indicated their intention to submit applications covering a further 130 places. This response clearly demonstrates the attraction and value of the scheme in its present form, indicating that the target of 500 places in the current year will be achieved.