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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 41 - 60
 Header Item Work Permit Applications
 Header Item Employment Support Services
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Back to Education Allowance Payments
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Application Numbers
 Header Item Disability Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Supplementary Welfare Allowance Applications
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Applications
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Applications
 Header Item Deserted Wife's Benefit Eligibility
 Header Item Social Insurance Payments
 Header Item Child Benefit Rates
 Header Item Child Benefit Rates
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 41 - 60

Work Permit Applications

 41. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding work permits. [54849/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The High Court Judgement of 31st August raised serious issues in relation to employees who have unwittingly entered into illegal contracts of employment by virtue of not having an employment permit. When I received the judgement, I quickly stated my aim was to ensure that an employer should not benefit from using an illegal contract of employment where he or she was a willing party to its creation. I repeated this assurance personally to the person concerned when I met him and a delegation from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and SIPTU. The Deputy will note that the Government did not oppose Senator Quinn’s Private Member’s Bill as it concurs with our objectives - to ensure that outcome of the High Court case will not arise again.

The issue raised by the High Court judgement is one which has important policy and legal implications in the area of Employment Permits and also in terms of Employment Rights. The question that arises for policy makers is to what extent such workers should be dissuaded from working illegally in Ireland by virtue of there being a statutory offence to do so, versus, to what extent should certain employment rights protect vulnerable migrants who find themselves unwittingly in such employment positions. My Department has received preliminary legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General counselling that the judgement raises matters that are particularly complex. These matters are currently receiving priority attention with a view to identifying the best way in which the legislation may be amended.

It is my firm intention to amend the Employment Permits legislation in a precise manner so as to ensure that an employer may not benefit from the illegality of the contract of employment where they are found culpable in not ensuring a valid employment permit was in place for the employee concerned. To this end, I hope to be in a position to propose the necessary provisions in a new Employment Permits Bill, currently being drafted and which is anticipated to be introduced in the first quarter of next year. I believe that this would be the most appropriate method of dealing with such a technically specific matter. Decisions on the legal options will be made in light of further legal advice and in consultation with other Government departments. I can assure the Deputy that my Bill is a Government priority and I would expect a speedy passage through the Oireachtas after its introduction.

Finally, I wish to stress that the judgement relates only to the consideration of the enforceability, or otherwise, of an employee’s rights. It does not mean that unscrupulous employers can employ unauthorised third country nationals without running the risk of significant legal consequences. I would emphasise that an employer who engages in this type of activity is open to prosecution under the Employment Permits legislation and could be found guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €250,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both. Both An Garda Síochána and the National Employment Rights Authority actively pursue breaches under the legislation and welcome information concerning possible breaches.

Employment Support Services

 42. 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 the position regarding training or work in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [54856/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned agreed a Personal Progression Plan with her case officer on 11th October 2012 in which many work and training opportunities were presented to her. It was agreed that she would update her case officer on a regular basis on her efforts to find employment. At a further meeting with her case officer on 18th October 2012 she stated that she did not have time to explore her training options at present due to family difficulties, but that she had arranged a meeting in November 2012 with the employment facilitators Jobcare. She was contacted by her case officer on 4th December 2012 for an update and a further appointment has been arranged for her to meet to discuss progress and options in relation to employment or training.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

 43. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for domiciliary care allowance. [54832/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 9th November 2012. The application was referred to one of the Department’s Medical Assessors who considered that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on the 30th November 2012 advising of the decision. Additional information has been supplied and the case is currently being reviewed. The person concerned will be notified in writing when the review is completed.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 44. Deputy Tom Hayes Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision on an invalidity pension will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54843/12]

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 29th November 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 Appeals

 45. 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 progress made in respect of an appeal for jobseeker's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54845/12]

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 27th November 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.

Back to Education Allowance Payments

 46. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 29 November 2012, if she will state the correct level of back-to-education allowance payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [54848/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The weekly rate of back to education allowance payable to the person concerned is €247.60. This consists of a personal rate of €188.00 plus €59.60 qualified child allowance. A fuel allowance of €20.00 per week is also in payment.

  Question No. 47 withdrawn.

Family Income Supplement Application Numbers

 48. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if there has been a change of practise in processing applications for family income supplement (details supplied); if a person who applied pre October could cancel that application and apply again and will it be processed straight away but would then lose any back money that they would have received with the original claim. [54863/12]

 49. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the length of time it takes to process an application for family income support and the length of time it will take to clear the current backlog.  [54864/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 49 together.

The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. An in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has recently been completed for the FIS scheme. This project focused on optimising output, improving customer service and the elimination of backlogs. Part of the project was a detailed examination of workloads and a full assessment of existing capacity within the area and what capacity is needed in order to process the volumes of claims, both new and renewal, being received on a weekly basis.

The outcome of this review is a detailed plan outlining the process required to manage both the continuous weekly intake and backlog claims clearance. This plan sees the current weekly new claim and renewal intake processed by one team, while the backlog is ring-fenced and a focused team assigned to this work with a clear plan for its elimination. Clearly, claims received before November are not parked and are getting full and focused priority.

This team including additional temporary resources has been identified and is already assigned and working on the backlog claims. In order to reduce the time it will take to eliminate the backlog, some claims are being processed outside of Longford Social Welfare Services Office. This team is fully focussed on the elimination of the backlog of claims in the shortest possible timeframe, concentrating in the first instance on those claims which were previously in payment but where payment has expired and continuing on to first-time new claims within those categories, those waiting the longest will be processed first.

While it is not possible to clear all claims in the backlog before Christmas, every effort will be made to pay as many eligible claims as possible in that timeframe. It is expected that the backlog will be fully eliminated by the end of March 2013. Claims which are approved by the backlog team will be backdated to the date of claim or the date of expiry of the previous claim, as appropriate, and all arrears due will be paid. It is not advisable for an applicant to choose to withdraw their application before it is decided upon and re-apply from a current date because the consequence of this is that they will lose entitlement for the period between the first and the second applications.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

 50. 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 her views on the anomalous situation whereby a recipient of disability allowance can continue to receive a dependent allowance for a dependent who has exceeded the age of 22 years, by virtue of the fact they are in full time education on the date of their 22nd birthday, however if the dependents birthday happens to fall on a date when the educational facility is in recess that this entitlement does not exist despite the dependent being deemed to still be in full time education as illustrated by a case (details supplied) in County Cork; if she will review this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54877/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An increase for a qualified child is typically payable in respect of each qualified child aged up to 18 years of age. The social welfare system provides additionally that an increase for a qualified child (IQC) may continue to be paid where the child is aged between 18 and 22 years while the child is in full-time education. In order to avoid a situation where such payments would cease in the course of an academic year, the welfare system provides, exceptionally, that where a student reaches age 22 during an academic year, the IQC is continued in payment for the duration of that academic year, provided s/he remains in full-time education till then. There are no plans at this time to change these arrangements. The person concerned was paid an increase in respect of his son, who reached 22 years old in August 2012, until 24 October 2012.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Applications

 51. 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 persons receiving supplementary allowance on 1 November 2012; the number of appeals with the social welfare appeals office on same; the number of applications not finalised by her Department on the same date for each of the social welfare schemes; and the average waiting times for each.  [54894/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The total number of persons in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance on 1 November 2012 was 33,090. I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the number of appeals on hands for each scheme on 1st November 2012, along with the average processing time for each scheme for cases dealt with on a summary basis and by oral hearing is as set out in table 1. The number of Supplementary Welfare Allowance appeals not finalised on that date was 2,226. The total number of applications pending on each of the Department’s schemes on 1 November 2012 is detailed in Table 2.

  Table 1: Appeals on hand and processing times

Scheme No. on hand at 1st November 2012 Average processing time (weeks) at 1st November 2012

Summary Decisions
Average processing time (weeks) at 1st November 2012

Oral Hearings
Adoptive Benefit 1 - -
Bereavement Grant 47 28.5 -
Blind Pension 12 18.2 -
Carers Allowance 1,582 33.4 40.7
Carers Benefit 80 26.4 30.9
Child Benefit 426 34.3 54.9
Disability Allowance 4,016 33.6 40.0
Domiciliary Care 1,178 32.6 40.1
Deserted Wives Benefit 7 - -
Deserted Wives Allowance 0 - -
Farm Assist 151 13.7 67.2
Family Income Supplement 147 20.4 24.7
Homemakers 1 - -
Illness Benefit 1,524 41.1 50.7
Invalidity Pension 4,211 38.0 46.6
Liable Relatives 44 32.2 -
Lone Parent 1 - -
One Parent Family Payment 641 27.3 45.0
Maternity Benefit 19 - -
State Pension (Contributory) 98 36.5 45.0
State Pension (Non-Cont) 141 25.8 42.4
State Pension (Transition) 30 47.9 33.8
Occupational Injury Benefit 33 32.2 82.4
Disablement Pension - OIBDIS 251 28.4 39.0
Incapacity Supplement 22 - 28.1
Guardian's Payment (Con) 21 21.7 41.3
Guardian's Payment (Non-con) 9 31.8 29.8
Pre-Retirement Allowance 1 - -
Partial Capacity Benefit 41 - -
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means) 1,636 24.8 31.4
Jobseeker's Allowance 1,413 26.7 31.6
Jobseeker's Benefit 622 25.7 27.2
JA/JB Fraud Control 4 - -
Respite Care Grant 135 26.7 33.0
Insurability of Employment 81 - 101.7
Supplementary Welfare Allowance 2,226 19.2 25.1
Treatment Benefits 1 - -
Survivor's Pension (Con) 19 - -
Survivor's Pension (Non-con) 25 26.4 27.3
Widows Parent Grant 3 - -


Table 2. Applications pending on Department of Social Protection schemes
SCHEME CLAIMS PENDING 31/10/2012 AVERAGE WAITING TIME IN WEEKS
Jobseeker's Benefit 7,689 2
Jobseeker's Allowance 23,048 4
One-Parent Family Payment 3,668 16
State Pension Contributory (Dom) 1,901 7
State Pension Transition (Dom) 1,457 5
Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension 308 2
State Pension Non-Contributory 1,561 13
Widow (ers) Non Contributory Pension 72 10
Household Benefits 3,470 3
Free Travel 63 1
Bereavement Grant 1,026 1
Domiciliary Care Allowance 344 5
SWA 5,346 1
Child Benefit (Domestic & FRA) 1,678 5
Child Benefit (EU Regulation) 2,098 35
Maternity Benefit 4,335 2
Family Income Supplement (New) 7,639 16
Family Income Supplement (Renew) 7,693 18
Carer's Allowance 9,517 23
Carer's Benefit 329 N/A
Disability Allowance 7338 N/A
Disablement 1,780 N/A
Invalidity Pension 4,561 40
Bereavement Grant 478 2
Illness Benefit 3,065 1
Interim Illness Benefit (OIB) 495 N/A
Respite Care Grant 730 N/A
One-Parent Family Payment - HQ 3889 15

  Question No. 52 withdrawn.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

 53. 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 expedite 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. [54960/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned made an application for rent supplement on the 23rd November 2012 and has been requested to provide further information in order to process her claim. A decision will be made on her application when the necessary information has been provided.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

 54. 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 expedite an application for rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54961/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned has not provided the necessary information required to assess his application in full. The landlord of the person concerned must also provide proof of ownership of the property in question. The Department has supplied the necessary documentation in order to facilitate the application process.

Deserted Wife's Benefit Eligibility

 55. 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 if she will take into account the exceptional circumstances in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of her deserted wife's benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54962/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton All claims and benefits paid by the Department are subject to periodic reviews to establish continued entitlement. In this instance the person concerned was in receipt of Deserted Wife's Benefit. The customer was recently requested to supply documents to support her continued entitlement to the benefit. To date the documents requested have not been provided and as the deciding officer did not have the information necessary to establish continued entitlement, the payment was suspended. As soon as the relevant documentation has been received, the claim will be reviewed and a letter will issue to the customer advising them of the outcome.

Social Insurance Payments

 56. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a person who was working in the public sector and also had self employment income at the same time is entitled or obliged to pay self-employed PRSI on the self employed income; if these contributions may be used for State pension entitlement purposes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54992/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Permanent and pensionable employees in the public service, other than those who were recruited after 6 April, 1995, are liable to pay social insurance contributions at modified PRSI rates. Subject to having the required number of PRSI contributions, employees who pay modified contributions may be entitled to the following payments:

 (a) widow’s/widower’s (contributory) pension and surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pension;

 (b) guardians payment (contributory);

 (c) bereavement grant, and

 (d) carer’s benefit.

  Modified rate contributions are not reckonable for establishing entitlement to State pension (contributory). Currently modified rate contributors are exempt from PRSI in respect of self-employed earned income (from a profession or trade) and any other unearned income. This exemption has been abolished in Budget 2013. All such income will become liable to PRSI at the rate of 4%. There will be no entitlement to social insurance benefits based on the payment of this contribution.

Child Benefit Rates

 57. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the amount that would be raised for the Exchequer by cutting the children's allowance by €10 per child. [54998/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton A reduction in Child Benefit of €10 per child per month would save the Exchequer €142.5m (in a full year).

Child Benefit Rates

 58. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason required saving to the Exchequer expenditure on child benefit cannot be achieved in a progressive manner rather than a crude cut; if it is possible to tax it instead; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55000/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Child benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a physical or mental disability. The estimated expenditure on child benefit for 2012 is around €2 billion and it is paid to around 600,000 families in respect of some 1.15 million children. Budget 2013 provides for a reduction in child benefit rates to €130 per child per month for the first, second and third child in a family and to €140 per child per month for the fourth and subsequent children. Although the gross savings is about €136 million in 2013, some of these savings have been redirected towards services for children including after school childcare, an area based child poverty initiative and school meals which have the potential to improve outcomes for children generally.

While child benefit is an important source of income for families, the social protection system also provides assistance to families with children through the payment of qualified child increases (QCIs) on primary social welfare payments and through the family income supplement (FIS) payment which both provide assistance which is linked with household income. Budget 2013 maintains both the QCI rate and the FIS income limit thresholds.

While issues relating to changes in taxation policy are a matter for my colleague, Michael Noonan T.D., Minister for Finance, the taxation of child benefit would only address one of the main child income support payments and would not address the other child income support payments to low income families, which includes QCIs and FIS. In this context the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare which I established last year was tasked with recommending cost-effective solutions as to how income employment disincentives can be improved and better poverty outcomes achieved. The Advisory Group’s report on family and child income supports remains under my consideration and will assist in informing how reform in this area might be progressed.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 59. Deputy Paschal Donohoe Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55021/12]

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 24th February 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

 60. 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 maximum rent on which rent allowance is payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55038/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Following review a payment of seven hundred and forty seven euro and sixty cent per calendar month has been sanctioned. Arrears of one thousand, one hundred and forty seven euro and twenty cent issued this week.   


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