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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 304 - 329
 Header Item Budget Consultation Process
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Places
 Header Item Youth Unemployment Data
 Header Item Work Placement Programme
 Header Item Employment Support Services
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Applications
 Header Item Tax and Social Welfare Codes
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Benefit Payments
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Payments
 Header Item Social Welfare Code Issues
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

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. 304 - 329

Budget Consultation Process

 304. 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 the organisations she met on a bilateral basis in the preparation for budget 2013; the organisations that sought a meeting but had their request declined; and the reason for these decisions.  [54079/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton As part of my preparations for Budget 2013, I held a pre-Budget forum on 12 October 2012. I invited thirty five community and voluntary groups to the forum and listened carefully to their views and proposals in relation to the forthcoming Budget. These organisations play a key advocacy role in our society and the payments made by my Department play a vital role in providing income support to the individuals they represent. Appendix 1 contains the names of the thirty five organisations who were invited to the pre-budget forum while appendix 2 contains the names of the 5 organisations which did not attend.

  A request to attend the forum was made on behalf of the Retired Garda Association. Due to limitations on the time allocated for presentations and the space available at the venue, the Department was unable to accommodate the request this year. The list of attendees is reviewed on an annual basis and the expression of interest from the Retired Garda Association will be kept on the Department’s records. In addition, a number of other organisations sought a meeting but it was not possible to accede to those requests. A list of the organisations concerned is provided at appendix 3.

  Appendix 1.

  Pre Budget Forum 12 October 2012

  List of Organisations invited: 35 - 1. Active Retirement Ireland; 2. Age Action Ireland; 3. Barnardos; 4. Care Alliance Ireland; 5. Carers Association; 6. Children’s Rights Alliance; 7. Congress Centres Network (ICTU); 8. CROSSCARE - sub group – Health Eating for All; 9. Cúram (Care); 10. Disability Federation of Ireland; 11. FLAC; 12. Inclusion Ireland; 13. Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA); 14. Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU); 15. Irish Senior Citizens Parliament; 16. National Association of Widows in Ireland; 17. National Federation of Pensioners' Associations; 18. National Women's Council of Ireland; 19. Older and Bolder; 20. One Family; 21. OPEN; 22. Pavee Point; 23. Retired Workers Committee; 24. Saint Vincent de Paul; 25. Social Justice Ireland; 26. The Wheel; 27. Threshold; 28. TREOIR; 29. Trustus We Care; 30. Unmarried and Separated Families of Ireland; 31. Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice; 32. Women’s Aid; 33. Alone; 34. Centre for Independent Living; 35. European Anti Poverty Network Ireland.

  Appendix 2

  Pre Budget Forum 12 October 2012

  Number of Organisations who did not attend on the day: 5 - 1. Barnados; 2. Cúram; 3. National Association of Widow’s in Ireland; 4. Women’s Aid; 5. Children’s Rights Alliance.

  Appendix 3

  Organisations that sought a meeting and which were not invited to the Pre Budget Forum: 6 - 1. Retail Excellence Ireland; 2. End Child Poverty Coalition; 3. PACUB; 4. SaveOurChildBenefit; 5. Home and Community Care Ireland; 6. Drinks Industry Group.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 305. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54095/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the disability allowance claim of the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department following an assessment by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that he was medically unsuitable for the allowance. An appeal was registered on 06th September 2012 and in accordance with the statutory procedures the relevant Department papers and the comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the matter raised in the appeal have been sought. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. 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.

National Internship Scheme Places

 306. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young people aged 18-25 who are availing of the JobBridge scheme; the metrics in place to measure the success of this scheme in tackling youth unemployment and in young people leaving the scheme upon completion to take up paid employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [54109/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The National Internship Scheme provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors and at present is limited to individuals who are in receipt of a Live claim (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance) or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 months (78 Days). The JobBridge Scheme has made significant progress to-date since it came into operation on the 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 opportunities presently advertised on www.JobBridge.ie.

  For the purposes of labour market policy, “a young person” is defined as those under the age of 25. Consequently, our records in relation to “young people” are reported on this basis. I wish to advise the Deputy that those “under 25” account for 3,494 or 28% of the 12,314 placements to-date.

  The Department’s records indicate that 37% or 769 of the 2,065 individuals who have finished their JobBridge internship placement within this cohort (under 25’s) have immediately progressed into employment, 414 of whom with their Host Organisation and 355 with another organisation. The findings of the interim evaluation of JobBridge, The National Internship Scheme by Indecon International Economic Consultants (published – 5th October 2012) stated that the extent of employment among JobBridge participants is also seen to rise as the length of time since internship completion increases. As a consequence, Indecon found that 52% of all finishers to-date were now in paid employment. These progression rates compare favourably with European averages in this area and represent very significant progress in a short period of time. It is expected that the progression outcomes in respect of those ‘under 25’ would be broadly in line with the 52% figure.

  A further breakdown of progression into employment by age category will be provided in the final Evaluation Report. It is anticipated that this Report will be available in late December. In addition to the above this evaluation will assess the design, delivery and impact of the JobBridge Scheme and present recommendations on how the Scheme might be improved. It is at this stage that further consideration will be given to amending the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

Youth Unemployment Data

 307. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if the pathways to work scheme is successful in targeting youth unemployment; if it is being used by young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54110/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Pathways to Work policy and the establishment of the new integrated National Employment and Entitlement Service (Intreo) service will transform the nature and level of engagement between our employment and income support services and the unemployed, including those under the age of 25. The policy is underpinned by five core strands which reflect the new integrated employment and income support services which are currently being established. Each of these strands places the customer at the centre of all the service’s activities, recognising their individual and specific needs. The strands provide for:

 - Transforming and reforming the employment and income support services institutions to deliver better services to the unemployed through an integrated approach.

 - More regular and on-going engagement with people who are unemployed through active case management and profiling. There were over 87,000 referrals of unemployed welfare recipients to the employment service in the first eight months of 2012.

 - Greater targeting of activation places and opportunities by providing for over 85,000 places on initiatives such as Job Bridge – the National Internship Scheme, Tús, the Rural Social Scheme and the Jobs Initiative.

 - Incentivising the take up of opportunities by the unemployed.

 - Creating and enhancing relations with employers through incentivising the provision of opportunities for people who are unemployed. One such measure is the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme.

  Registering with Employment Services gives job-seekers access to guidance interviews, job search assistance, and referral to training courses, as well as self-service job-seeking options. In terms of job search assistance, some 17,000 young people registered with Employment Services this year up until September 2012, representing 37% of all registrants.

  Under the National Employment Action Plan (EAP) persons between the ages of 18 and 65 years who are approaching 3 months on the Live Register are identified by the Department of Social Protection and referred to Employment Services for interview with the aim of assisting them to enter/re-enter the labour market. Last year, there were 35,400 referrals of under 25s to the EAP, affecting approximately 25,000 individual jobseekers (those who do not attend initially are referred again). Of those referred, 62% of clients had signed off the Live Register by the end of the year.  For the first eight months of this year, there were 23,700 referrals affecting 18,300 young jobseekers. The EAP process is being changed on a progressive basis across the country to one where referral will take place immediately on becoming unemployed for those identified, through profiling, as being at greatest risk of remaining unemployed for long periods – and this will include targeting young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

  Through the registration and referral process, young people access a wide range of programmes aimed at supporting them in their job search and increasing employability. For example, over 12,000 young people were trained on the main FÁS programmes for unemployed people in 2011, while a further 1,700 benefitted from a specific measure for redundant apprentices. Almost 5,000 previously unemployed young people went back to further or higher education with financial support under my Department’s Back to Education Allowance scheme.

  In addition, there are a number of schemes/programmes available that are focussed on work experience.  The most relevant for young people are JobBridge (the National Internship Scheme), and its predecessor the Work Placement Programme. Over 1,500 young people are currently participating on these schemes. The total number of placements of young people on JobBridge during its first year of operation was 2,600. Young people also benefit from the reduced rate of employer’s PRSI, the purpose of which is to support job creation, as well as from the impact of Revenue Job Assist and the Employers PRSI Incentive Scheme.

Work Placement Programme

 308. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of young graduates who have taken part in the work placement programme; if they have been successful in gaining further employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54111/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Work Placement Programme was announced by Government on 27th May 2009. In June 2009, it was rolled out nationally. Under the programme, organisations apply to offer ‘work placements’ for a duration of two to nine months, within their organisations, and those who are unemployed can apply for these placements. Certain categories of unemployed can retain their social welfare payments and entitlements while on a placement.

The aim of the programme is to provide unemployed people with the opportunity to work and gain experience so that they can keep their skills fresh and relevant to the job market. For graduates, the aim is to give them the opportunity to apply their skills in a work situation and to get real work experience to add to their qualification. There are two streams to the programme. Graduates with a level 7 qualification can apply for both the graduate placements (WPP1) and the non-graduate placements (WPP2).

Since the launch of WPP, in June 2009, 2,425 graduates have participated on the WPP1 Graduate stream. Of which, 2,375 have completed their placements and the balance of 50 are currently on WPP1. Based on responses received, our records indicate that 23% of graduates who have finished their WPP 1 placement have immediately progressed into employment on completion of their placement. However, it is important to note that this does not take into account participants who may have secured employment in the subsequent weeks or months after completing their placement.

Employment Support Services

 309. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the incentives are available for employers who hire a young unemployed person, currently receiving Social Welfare benefits; if there is an inclination for employers to use these incentives; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [54114/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton There are a two main incentives available to employers to hire unemployed people in receipt of social welfare benefits, namely the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme and the Revenue Job Assist Scheme. (used by 794 employers in 2011). In addition, the National Internship Scheme (JobBridge) supports the provision of internship places for unemployed people, with approximately 3,000 participants in 2011).

  The Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme allows an employer who employs an additional member of staff, who had been unemployed for six months or more, to be exempted from paying employers’ PRSI for 18 months. The job must be new and additional, be at least for 30 hours a week and last for at least six months. The scheme was used by over 660 employers in respect of 923 employees in 2011. From January 1st to the 26th October 2012, applications have been received from 820 employers in respect of 1,224 employees and 617 of these applications have been approved in respect of 801 employees. Twelve per cent of employees taken on through this scheme in 2011 were under 25 years of age.

  Reduced Employer’s PRSI for Low Paid: From 1 July 2011 the lower rate of employer PRSI was halved (to 4.25%) for all jobs that pay up to €356 per week. Many of those employed under this scheme are likely to be younger.

  Revenue Job Assist allows employers a double wages deduction in their accounts, if they employ a person who has been unemployed for 12 months or more. The double wages deduction may last for three years and applies to wages paid to a qualifying employee in a qualifying employment and employer’s PRSI contributions paid in respect of such wages. Job Assist was used by 794 employers in 2011. An employer can avail of both the Revenue Job Assist Scheme and the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme.

The National Internship Scheme provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors. An Indecon evaluation found that overall some 52% of participants who had finished their internship had found employment at the time of the survey, and that 29% were employed with their host organisation. More than one in four participants on this scheme (27%) in 2011 were under 25 years of age.

  In order to encourage employers to take up these various incentives, the Department has recently held a number of ‘Employer Roadshows in Sligo, Cork, Limerick, Athlone, Dublin, Galway and Waterford attended by approximately 800 companies. These roadshows advised employers of the range of services available through the Department of Social Protection’s Intreo service, which is a single point of contact for all employment and income supports. It is the intention of the Department to increase the uptake of employer incentives in order to assist in the hiring of unemployed persons.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 310. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be processed; when a decision will issue; the amount of months applicants for carer's allowance who are now being processed have had to wait for their application to be processed; the steps she intends to take to reduce this processing time; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [54116/12]

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 the 13th of April 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

The average time taken to award a carer’s allowance application is 25 weeks, however individual cases may vary. Some will be processed quicker, others will take longer depending on complexity and whether all information is supplied by the customer at the outset. In addition, where a customer requests a review of an initial decision to refuse an application, this will take additional time. I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer’s allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking appropriate action to resolve the situation.

Following the completion of a major modernisation project, an in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project was completed for the carer’s allowance scheme. This project focused on optimising output and customer service and the reduction of backlogs. The outcome of the review is the division of work into two streams. One concentrates on dealing with new claim intake and processes these without delay and the other on the backlog which is ring-fenced with a clear and targeted plan for its elimination. Implementation of the plan commenced on Monday 3 September and will be closely monitored and managed to ensure it achieves its objectives. A noted increase in the number of new claims processed has been achieved in recent months where claims processed have substantially exceeded claim intake. However, it will take a number of months before the backlog is reduced to an acceptable level. Significant additional temporary resources already have been allocated to the backlog elimination effort and the situation continues to be monitored in order that the backlog is eliminated in the shortest possible timeframe.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 311. Deputy Seán Conlan Information on Sean Conlan Zoom on Sean Conlan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will receive a decision in relation to their application for carers allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54117/12]

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 the 27th March 2012. This application was referred to one of the Department’s medical assessors who found that the caree in question was not medically eligible for carer’s allowance. A letter issued on the 21st August 2012 refusing the allowance. The person in question subsequently submitted further medical evidence for review on 13th of September 2012. This medical evidence has now been assessed by a medical assessor and the application is with a deciding officer for review. The person in question will be contacted directly with the outcome.

Rent Supplement Scheme Appeals

 312. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will approve an application for rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54124/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Having received the final piece of information from the customer last week, the customer was contacted and arrangements made to make all payments due to him.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

 313. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason for the delay in the processing of a rent supplement application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and when a decision will be taken in this case. [54129/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned has been contacted in relation to his application for rent supplement and a decision will issue to him once the application process is complete.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes

 314. Deputy Ray Butler Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when the Advisory Group on Taxation and Social Welfare will be bringing its report to her in view of recent calls by self-employed groups (details supplied) for reform of the PRSI system to give full cover to the self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [54134/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Creating jobs and tackling poverty are two of the key challenges that Ireland now faces and it is essential that our tax and social protection systems play their part in addressing these issues. To this end, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare last year with the aim of harnessing expert opinion and experience to examine a number of specific issues. These include making cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes, particularly child poverty outcomes. Among the issues provided for under the Advisory Group’s Terms of Reference is for the Group to examine and report on the issues involved in providing social insurance cover for self-employed persons in order to establish whether or not such cover is technically feasible and financially sustainable.

The Group’s overall method of working is based on producing modular reports on the priority areas identified in the Terms of Reference. Where possible, the aim is to provide recommendations that can be acted upon in time for the annual budget, estimates and legislative cycle and to allow the Government to best address its commitments under the EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support. Among the issues that the Group is currently considering is social insurance coverage for the self-employed. The Group will submit its report on this issue once its examination of the various questions has been completed. Decisions on the publication of the Group’s reports will be made subsequently at the appropriate time.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 315. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will outline projects in which the Department co-operates with the Department of Social Development in the North. [54163/12]

 325. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the nature, process and outcomes of North-South co-operation with respect to the assessment and payment of social welfare benefits; and the payment of cross-border benefits and the issue of fraud control. [54384/12]

 326. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the process through which the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland is agreed with the Executive in the North.  [54385/12]

 327. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the nature, process and outcomes of the cross-Border operational forum. [54386/12]

 328. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the nature, process and outcomes of the case-by-case data matching which takes place between her Department and the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development. [54387/12]

 329. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the nature, process and outcomes of North-South co-operation between her Department’s SIU officers and their counterparts in the Fraud Investigation Service.  [54388/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 315 and 325 to 329, inclusive, together.

The Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005, allows a Departmental inspector to investigate - at the request of the competent authority of another Member State or international organisation or other country with which a reciprocal agreement has been made - any claim by a person resident in the State who is in receipt of any social security payment under the legislation of any of the above bodies. Legislation also provides for the transfer of bulk information relating to recipients of social welfare payments to the competent authority of another Member State or international organisation or other country with which a reciprocal agreement has been made (Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009).

In practice, close co-operation exists between the relevant agencies in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in October 2000 on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Department of Work and Pensions, the Permanent Secretary, Department of Social Development and the Secretary General, Department of Social and Family Affairs (now the Department of Social Protection). The purpose of the MOU is to improve the efficiency, cost effectiveness and integrity of our mutual social security systems.

A Management Committee was established to oversee the workings of the MOU. The Committee comprises senior officials from Departments of Social Development, Social Protection and Work and Pensions and it assists and directs activities of the Cross Border Operational Forum, which deals with operational activities. Through the MOU and the work of the Operational Forum, considerable benefit has been derived by the parties through sharing of best practice in counter-fraud operations and highlighting awareness of new developments. In addition under the MOU, procedures have been implemented to ensure that all information requests and data exchanges are made through a single point of contact in each jurisdiction.

Over the past number of years, fraud detection systems in border areas have been refined and enhanced and are subject to continuing review. A range of measures are employed by the Department to ensure that social welfare fraud and abuse is minimised. The Department’s Special Investigation Unit works with other agencies such as Revenue, National Employment Rights Authority, Customs and the Gardaí and ensures that control activity is being targeted at high risk categories of claimants/employers. There is an active and on-going relationship between the Department’s SIU officers and their counterparts in the Fraud Investigation Service in Northern Ireland. The Deputies will appreciate that due to operational sensitivities, the Department is not in a position to release information regarding the specifics of control activities that target cross-border fraud.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 316. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and when a decision may be made on same. [54166/12]

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 11th September 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer 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.

Carer's Benefit Payments

 317. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of carees, whether on full or partial rate in reciept of respite grant for each of the last 10 years; the value of the grant each year; and the cost to the Department for each of those years.  [54211/12]

 318. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of carers in receipt of respite grants for each of the last ten years, whether on full or partial rate; the value of the grant in each of those years; and the total cost to his Department.  [54222/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 317 and 318 together.

  The respite care grant (RCG) is an annual payment made automatically to people in receipt of carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit, or domiciliary care allowance from my Department. Other people who are not in receipt of one of these payments, but who are providing full time care and attention can also apply for the grant via separate application. The RCG is paid automatically on the 1st Thursday in June of the year in question. The RCG is paid by a number of sections in my Department, via various computer platforms As a result, not all of the information requested by the Deputy is available. Details of the number of carers, broken down by scheme, the overall scheme expenditure and the annual rate of the Grant are shown in the tables below, where the information is available.

  The information requested regarding the number of carees in respect of whom the respite care was paid from 2002 onwards is not available at present. It is currently being prepared and I will be in touch with the Deputy as soon as the reply is complete.

  Table 1 - Respite Care Grant Number of Carers (2002 to date)

Year
Carer’s Allowance1
Carer’s Benefit2
Domiciliary Care Allowance3
Standalone RCG4
2002
Not Available
     
2003
20,247
     
2004
20,947
     
2005
24,246
   
5,832
2006
25,413
   
7,806
2007
Not Available
   
9,005
2008
35,732
2,353
 
7,033
2009
44,109
2,222
139
5,555
2010
38,260
1,697
23,110
5,184
2011
39,601
1,223
23,710
4,629
2012
37,853

(to June 2012)
1,210

(to date)
24,245

(to June 2012)
4,149

(to date)


  Notes:

  1 Details on the carers on half-rate carer’s allowance who received the Grant are not available.

  2 No details are available prior to 2008. Details shown relate to payments of the Grant.

  3 Responsibility for this scheme and the associated respite care grants transferred to this Department from the Health Service Executive during 2009. Details shown in the table relate to 1st—time applications made to this Department only. Almost all payments of the 2009 respite care grant made to carers on this scheme were by the Health Service Executive during that year

  4 This standalone payment was introduced in 2005
        Table 2 - Respite Care Grant Expenditure (2002 to date)
      Year
      Expenditure

      ( €000 )
      2002
      13,164
      2003
      16,409
      2004
      19,324
      2005
      34,302
      2006
      50,458
      2007
      72,471
      2008
      98,204
      2009
      99,200
      2010
      128,097
      2011
      130,392
      2012 *
      133,834


  Note: 2012 expenditure is to end October 2012.
          Table 3 - Respite Care Grant Rate (2002 to date)
      Year
      Rate of Grant

      2002
      635
      2003
      735
      2004
      835
      2005
      1,000
      2006
      1,200
      2007
      1,500
      2008
      1,700
      2009
      1,700
      2010
      1,700
      2011
      1,700
      2012
      1,700

  Question No. 319 withdrawn.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Payments

 320. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when payment of a domiciliary allowance will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54311/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned was notified on the 30th November 2012 that his domiciliary care allowance appeal was successful. Payment of the allowance, along with arrears due, will issue on the 18th December 2012.

Social Welfare Code Issues

 321. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if there is any scheme, supports or advice for unemployed taxi drivers, particularly those who got out of the business due to penalty points. [54317/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Self-employed persons are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4% which entitles them to access long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension (contributory). Ordinary employees who have access to the full range of social insurance benefits pay Class A PRSI at the rate of 4%. In addition, their employers make a PRSI contribution of 10.75% in respect of their employees, resulting in the payment of a combined 14.75% rate per employee under full-rate PRSI Class A. (For employees earning less than €356 per week, the rate of employer’s PRSI is 4.25%).

  Self-employed people, including taxi drivers, can apply for the means-tested jobseeker's allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year and, in the current climate, account is taken of the downward trend in the economy. As in the case of a non-self-employed claimant for jobseeker’s allowance, the means of husband/wife, civil partner or co-habitant will be taken into account in deciding on entitlement to a payment. If a self-employed person's situation changes after they have made an initial claim for jobseeker's allowance, the person can apply to have his or her means reviewed in the light of these changed circumstances.

  My Department operates a range of supports for unemployed people and people on other social welfare payments who wish to engage in enterprise, education and employment. For more complete information on all the schemes available, visit my Department’s website at www.welfare.ie or contact the Local Social Welfare Office. My Department’s Employment Services Officers work with social welfare recipients, to identify appropriate training or development programmes, which will enhance the skills that the individual has and ultimately improve their employment chances, as well as help them to continue to develop personally. These officers are located throughout the country, covering defined geographical areas and develop individual progression plans with the customer. They work closely with FÁS, the VECs and other agencies at a local level to identify and target appropriate education, training and personal development opportunities.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 322. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision on a carer's allowance appeal will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54319/12]

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 02nd April 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 20th November 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer 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.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 323. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when carer's allowance claim will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54320/12]

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 the 20th February 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 324. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on a claim for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54330/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on the 25th October 2012. This application has been forwarded to one of the Department’s Medical Assessors for their medical opinion. Upon receipt of this opinion, a decision will issue to the customer. It can normally take up to eight weeks to process an application for DCA.

Questions Nos. 325 to 329, inclusive, answered with Question No. 315.


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