The community work scheme which was launched in 2016 has come under the lens of the Auditor General in a report which he presented to the Speaker, in which he gave it an overall good certificate. However, he urged the Governmental agencies involved to improve the monitoring of the scheme and indicate what productivity was expected from the workers in this scheme.
This scheme, which was intended to improve work opportunities for those who are the most disadvantaged in society, has cost the Government around 30 million Euro between 2016 – 2018. This emerged from the report published by the Auditor General Charles Deguara, which was tabled in Parliament. In a verification exercise by the Auditor’s Office it was found that last September, there were 839 people working in this scheme, 505 in Malta and 334 in Gozo. They are carrying out work at the local councils, schools, NGOs, and with public entitites, with the majority of them assigned to carry out works in schools and public entities, especially in Gozo.
The Auditor noted that since the scheme started in 2016, 42 people have found work in other places. Many of the workers are over the age of 45, and some had been on the unemployment register for many years before being enrolled in this scheme. The Auditor said that although there are many risks associated with this scheme, he still found that it was economically viable, even if its implementation has given varied results.
The Auditor certified that the scheme satisfied the main principles of value for money and explained that it also satisfied the macro-economic criteria because these jobs contribute to an increase in Government income and economic growth since people who had been unproductive for many years have now entered the workforce. While he made several observations about how the scheme can be improved, the Auditor said that the aim should not just be to have a number of disadvantaged people being cut off the unemployment register by being employed in this scheme, but to serve as a way to improve the job opportunities for these workers in sectors which are more productive.