In July 2014, Kevin Humphreys was appointed Minister of State for Employment, Community and Social Support in the Department of Social Protection. In the last 20 months he has worked to deliver a number of key initiatives.
HELPING THE LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED BACK INTO WORK
Kevin was given special responsibility for activation to ensure people who are out of work are given a chance to get back into a job or self-employment. Over 135,000 jobs have been created since 2012, and one of Kevinâ€™s priorities was that those out of work for more than a year do not miss out on the recovery. The long term unemployment rate has fallen by nearly 50% in 3 years, and schemes like JobsPlus are helping people out of work for over a year back into a job. Kevin secured a doubling in the number of places on this scheme.
After beingÂ unemployed in the 1980s, Kevin knows the importance of a decent job and ensuring people are supported back into the work place. Ireland has invested in its people through training, apprenticeships and education so we cannot afford to let those skills go to waste. If re-elected this will remain one of Kevinâ€™s key priorities â€“ to ensure decent work and decent wages for people who want a job.
SMALL LOAN SCHEME TO TACKLE MONEYLENDERS
Kevin introduced a personal micro-credit scheme to help families who struggle to access small loans and whose only other option would have been high-interest moneylenders.Â This was launched in over 30 credit unions before Christmas 2015. The â€śIt Makes Senseâ€ťÂ loan is open to social welfare recipients who collect their payment in cash at a Post Office and have access to the Household Budgeting Scheme as the loan repayment method. The loan value can range from â‚¬100 to a maximum of â‚¬2,000. The interest rate will be not more than 12% (APR 12.68%). Kevin has a proven track record of standing up for ordinary people.
GROUND BREAKING GENDER RECOGNITION LAW
Ireland is now a world leader in transgender rights. Kevin piloted the Gender Recognition Bill through the DĂˇil, securing agreement for self-certification. It came into force in September and is another step to a more equal Ireland. If re-elected, Kevin will continue to advocate for a modern, progressive and more equal Ireland.
SUPPORTING OLDER PEOPLE TO HELP THEIR COMMUNITIES
Those over the age of 62 are now able to stay on a Community Employment scheme until retirement age â€“ this recognizes their knowledge, experience, and capability. Kevin pioneered this new Community Support Strand in recognition of the value older people provide to their communities. There will be a total of 1,600 places countrywide. If re-elected Kevin will continue to advocate for a decent and inclusive society where older people are supported and appreciated as the cornerstone of our communities.
A PROVEN TRACK RECORD AS A LEGISLATOR
In 20 months as a Minister, Kevin brought four pieces of legislation through the DĂˇil including the Civil Registration Act, two social welfare bills and the ground breaking gender recognition act. Kevin has a proven track record as a legislator, both as a Minister and as a backbencher from 2011 to 2014, when he introduced two bills, amendments and was very active on the Finance and Environment committees where he championed accountability, transparency and openness.
ADVOCATING FOR THE STANDARD BANK ACCOUNT
The standard bank account will be critical to the future of community banking through our Post Office network, ensuring that everyone can benefit from direct debit deals and access financial services that older people are often locked out from. Too many people do not have access to a bank account that would allow them to access cheaper utility deals and various financial transactions. Kevin has ensured this was a Government priority and will continue to ensure our communities are supported and Post Offices protected.