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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 282-303
 Header Item Departmental Investigations
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Numbers
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Payments
 Header Item Jobseeker's Benefit Payments
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Relief Application
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item One-Parent Family Payment Expenditure
 Header Item Free Travel Scheme Administration
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Code Review

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 282-303

Departmental Investigations

 282. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of investigations that have been launched into persons suspected of claiming jobseeker's allowance or jobseeker's benefit under false pretences in the most recent twelve months for which figures are available. [53885/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton My Department has a target of reviewing 985,000 individual welfare claims and achieving €645 million in control savings for 2012. Up to the end of October 2012, almost €560 million in estimated control savings has been reported and over 1 million reviews have been carried out across all schemes.

  The table below gives a breakdown of the control savings and reviews recorded on the Jobseekers schemes up to end of October 2012 and also the reviews and savings achieved for 2011.

Jobseekers
Reviews done
Savings Achieved €m
Jobseekers
2011
222,272
€82.54
YTD Oct 2012
200,145
€73.94


  Control savings result from a control activity where a claim is reduced or terminated as a result of unreported customer error or fraud. Control savings estimate the total future savings to the Department of a revocation or reduction resulting from a control review of a payment. Had the payment not been stopped or reduced, the Department would have incurred this additional expenditure for a future period.

  Information about control activity is not recorded in the manner requested by the Deputy. However, the most reliable measure of excess payments by the Department through fraudulent claiming is by way of overpayments raised. In 2011 there were 63,310 overpayments raised amounting to €92.4m across all schemes. Of these, €34.9m involving 20,585 cases related to fraud. In respect of the Jobseekers schemes, €15.2m was the value of fraud overpayments raised in 2011 in respect of 16,464 cases.

National Internship Scheme Numbers

 283. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on whether the requirement for a person to have signed on the dole for three months before he or she can apply for a JobBridge scheme placement is a barrier to those who cannot fulfil this requirement but are nonetheless good candidates for such a JobBridge position.  [53917/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The JobBridge Scheme has made significant progress since it came into operation on 1st July 2011. Over 12,300 internships have commenced to date with over 5,400 participants currently on an internship as at 22nd November 2012 and over 2,000 internship opportunities advertised on www.jobbridge.ie.

  An independent evaluation of the Scheme conducted by Indecon Economic Consultants found that 52% of individuals who have completed their internships are now in paid employment. This represents very significant progress in a short period of time.

  Given the scale of the unemployment crisis, the key objective of labour market policy and of the NEAP (National Employment Action Plan) will be to keep those on the Live Register close to the labour market and prevent the drift into long-term unemployment. This will ensure that Live Register members availing of activation measures such as the National Internship Scheme will, get an opportunity to engage in the workplace, get work experience and so be in a position to avail of employment opportunities as the economy improves. As such, the policy objective is to prioritise scarce resources on those on the Live Register so as to increase their chances of leaving it thereby ensuring a reduction in Exchequer costs over time

  I wish to advise the Deputy that circa 42% of those joining the live register exit within the first three months. Therefore, a reduction in the JobBridge eligibility period could be seen as potentially interfering with normal labour market conditions. Furthermore, it may be seen as discouraging newly unemployed individuals from seeking jobs in the normal manner. The recent interim evaluation report conducted by Indecon confirms that 66.9% of JobBridge participants were unemployed for over six months while 38.1% of this sub-group had been unemployed for over a year prior to commencing their JobBridge internship. Given that the long-term unemployed have particular difficulties in securing employment, this is an important aspect of the JobBridge scheme.

  I would further advise the Deputy that the interview and selection process is entirely a matter between a Host Organisation and its potential interns. Thus, the facility exists whereby a Host Organisation could propose a start date to coincide with their selected candidates’ fulfilment of this eligibility criterion.

  It is anticipated that a final report will be published by Indecon in late December. Part of its remit includes recommendations on how the Scheme might be improved or expanded. It is at this stage that further consideration will be given to amending the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

  Question No. 284 answered with Question No. 279.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

 285. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young persons aged between 18 and 21 years who are in receipt of the full rate of jobseeker's allowance of €188; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53955/12]

 286. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young persons aged between 22 and 24 years who are in receipt of the full rate of jobseeker's allowance of €188; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53956/12]

 287. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young persons aged between 18 and 21 years who are in receipt of the reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance of €100; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53957/12]

 288. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young persons aged between 22 and 24 years who are in receipt of the reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance of €144; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53958/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 285 to 288, inclusive, together.

  At the end of October there were 56,940 persons under the age of 25 in receipt of jobseekers allowance, and 47,855 of these persons were in receipt of the rates mentioned by the Deputy. The remainder of the jobseeker's allowance recipients (9,085) are in receipt of a weekly rate that reflects either their means or family circumstances. A detailed breakdown of the 47,855 recipients by age and rate is set out in the tabular statement below.

  The €100 rate of jobseeker’s allowance was introduced for claimants aged under 20 in April 2009, and this rate was applied to claimants aged up to 21 from December 2009. The €100 rate does not apply to certain categories of claimant including:

- claimants with a qualified child;

- those transferring to Jobseeker's Allowance immediately after exhausting their entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit;

- those making a claim for Jobseeker's Allowance where that claim is linked to a Jobseeker's Allowance claim made within the previous 12 months to which the maximum personal rate applied;

- those transferring directly to Jobseeker's Allowance from Disability Allowance;

- certain people who were in the care of the HSE during the period of 12 months before he or she reached the age of 18.

  A rate of €144 applies to claimants aged 22-24. The adoption of these measures reflected the need to encourage more young jobseekers to improve their skills by either pursuing further study or accessing a labour market programme.

  Receiving the full adult rate of a jobseeker's payment without a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training can lead to welfare dependency. While many young people with low levels of education and training were able to get work in construction and other areas when the economy was doing well, they are likely to find it much harder to get work over the course of the next few years. The measures encourage young jobseekers to improve their skills and remain active in the labour market in order to avoid the risk of becoming long-term unemployed and will help them to progress into sustainable employment on a long-term basis. Where a person is in receipt of a rate of jobseeker's allowance described above and he or she participates in a course of education, training, Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme or Tús, the full normal rate of payment applicable to that course or scheme applies without any reduction for persons aged under 25.                                             

Tabular Statement     
 
Weekly Rates
Weekly Rates
Weekly Rates
 
Age
€100
€144
€188
Totals
18
2,902
n/a
154
3,056
19
5,554
n/a
461
6,015
20
6,072
n/a
936
7,008
21
5,200
n/a
2,326
7,526
22
n/a
3,450
4,861
8,311
23
n/a
2,581
5,541
8,122
24
n/a
2,041
5,776
7,817
Totals
19,728
8,072
20,055
47,855

Jobseeker's Benefit Payments

 289. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young persons under 25 years of age, in receipt of jobseeker's benefit for less than six months; for more than six months and less than 12 months; for more than 12 months and less than 24 months; and those in receipt of this payment for more than 24 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53959/12]

 290. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young persons under 25 years of age, in receipt of jobseeker's allowance for less than six months; for more than six months and less than 12 months; for more than 12 months and less than 24 months; and those in receipt of this payment for more than 24 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53960/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 289 and 290 together.

  The total number of persons who are under 25 years of age and are in receipt of jobseekers allowance is 56,940 while the total number of persons who are under 25 years of age and in receipt of jobseekers benefit is 5,421.

  One third of under-25s on the Live Register have been signing on for less than six months while just over a quarter have been signing on for two years or more. A detailed breakdown of these data is contained in the following tabular statement.

  Tabular Statement

Recipients of Jobseekers Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance at end October 2012
Duration/Scheme
Jobseekers Allowance
Jobseekers Benefit
Total


Less than 6 months
17,483
3,425
20,908


6 – 12 months
9,168
1,470
10,638


12 – 24 months
13,108
499
13,607


Greater than 24 months
17,181
27
17,208


Totals
56,940
5,421
62,361

  Questions Nos. 291 and 292 withdrawn.

Mortgage Interest Relief Application

 293. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the correct level of mortgage interest relief payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53993/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The correct level of mortgage interest relief payable to the person concerned is €125.45 per month. Her weekly illness benefit payment of €188 and the minimum contribution of €30 per week payable by a single person were taken into account in calculating the amount payable.

  Question No. 294 withdrawn.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 295. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason a person (details supplied) has been waiting 14 months for their application for an invalidity pension to be processed by the appeals office and the measures she will take to rectify this. [53998/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 15th October 2012 who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.   

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

 296. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when an application for jobseeker's allowance will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54002/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The jobseeker’s allowance application of the person concerned is being processed at present and she will be informed of the outcome once a decision has been made.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 297. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on a carer's allowance application in respect of a person (details provided) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54016/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 15th May 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

  Question No. 298 withdrawn.

One-Parent Family Payment Expenditure

 299. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide the exact figure for savings made on the changes to one parent family payment in Budget 2012, broken down between employed and unemployed lone parents, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [54051/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The number of one-parent family payment (OFP) recipients stood at 89,510 on 28 November 2012. Some 49% of OFP recipients are presently in employment.

  As you are aware, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012, introduced changes to the age of the youngest child at which the payment ceases. These changes are being brought in on a phased basis between 2012 and 2015 and it is estimated will yield the following savings:

2012€m
2013€m
2014€m
2015€m
0.3
2.0
5.8
11.9


  The Act also reduced the amount of earnings disregarded for the purposes of the OFP means test from €146.50 per week to €130.00 per week in 2012 – with further reductions being introduced over the following four years. The earnings disregard reduction will yield the following estimated savings:
2012€m
2013€m
2014€m
2015€m
2016€m
14.2
32.0
50.0
63.0
76.1


  The savings outlined above are those estimated in Budget 2012. These apply to all recipients of the OFP. A breakdown of these figures between employed and unemployed lone parents is not available.

Free Travel Scheme Administration

 300. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her plans to continue to provide free travel to those currently eligible into the future and to implement measures to better ascertain usage of this service such as a swipe card. [52666/12]

 301. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her plans to work with her counterparts in the Stormont Assembly to have free travel passes recognised on a cross-Border basis in view of the fact that currently a person eligible for free travel going to Belfast from Dublin would need to buy a ticket crossing the Border and vice versa for someone travelling from Belfast.  [52667/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 300 and 301 together.

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, to carers and to people who are in receipt of certain disability type payments. There are currently in excess of 745,000 customers eligible for free travel and when spousal and companion passes are taken into account, there are over 1.1 million customers with some free travel eligibility. The scheme provides free travel on the main public services such as Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Irish Rail and Luas as well as services provided by over 90 private operators. The previous Government froze expenditure on this scheme in 2010 and it has remained at almost €76 million since then.

My Department is currently rolling out a public services card that will be used to access all social welfare entitlements. The card will act as a key for access to public services in general, identifying and authenticating individuals as appropriate and where required. A variant of the public services card will be issued to free travel customers which can be scanned or read electronically on the public transport network through the integrated ticketing scheme environment or as a pass that can be shown to the bus driver. A pilot of the public services card using the free travel variant is currently being developed in the Department for roll-out next year. This will facilitate the collection of more complete data on the operation of the scheme.

The cross-border free travel scheme has been in place since July 1995, initially facilitating cross-border bus or rail journeys free of charge between the two jurisdictions. Since April 2007, the all-Ireland free travel scheme enables all seniors resident in all parts of the island to travel free of charge on bus, rail, air and ferry services participating in the travel schemes in both jurisdictions.

There are considerable challenges ahead to protect, as far as possible, the key income supports provided by my Department which impact in some way on the lives of almost every person in the State. As part of the deliberative process for the budget, my Department reviews all schemes. Any changes will be announced in the upcoming Budget.

An interdepartmental review for the free travel scheme is currently being carried out with a view to ensuring that the scheme operates in a sustainable and cost effective manner. I appreciate that the free travel scheme has played a major role in preventing the social isolation of elderly people in Ireland, but it is important to review the operation of it to ensure that it continues to be fit for purpose. The review is in the early stages.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 302. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a domiciliary care appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54069/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3rd October 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code Review

 303. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her plans to proceed with changes to eligibility to the lone parents payment in view of the fact that the Scandinavian model of child care is not in place here.  [54075/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The changes to the structure of the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme and to the age of the youngest child at which the payment ceases are contained in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012, which was enacted on 1 May 2012. These changes are being brought in over time between now and 2015.

An Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) on School-Age Child Care has been established to define the best model for the provision of school-age child care to meet the needs of the customers of the Department, including those of lone parents. The model will seek to address the child care requirements of children aged between 7 and 12 years (inclusive) both during the school term and the school holidays.

Extensive work has been completed by the Group to quantify the level of school-age child care that is required to support the relevant social welfare income support recipients, in particular lone parents, for each year up to and including 2015. An examination has also been carried out of existing child care schemes and of the capital investments already made by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in this sector. Based on these findings the IDG are engaged in detailed discussions to define an effective school-age childcare model and to determine the level of funding required. Once completed, the proposals will be submitted to Government for their consideration.


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