Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 557-579
 Header Item Disability Allowance Applications
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Status
 Header Item Fuel Allowance Applications
 Header Item Free Travel Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Rural Social Scheme Assessments
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory)
 Header Item Carer's Benefit Payments
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Maternity Leave
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory)
 Header Item Rural Social Scheme Data
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Payments
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Social Welfare Overpayments
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Eligibility
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory) Applications
 Header Item Youth Employment Initiative
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Eligibility
 Header Item JobsPlus Scheme
 Header Item Social Welfare Schemes

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 557-579

Disability Allowance Applications

 557. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of an application for disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43431/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady. The claim was referred by a deciding officer (DO) to a social welfare investigative officer (SWI) for a report on the person’s means and circumstances.

The SWI met with this lady on 14 September 2017 and outlined to her the documents needed in order to progress the claim. This was followed up by a written request for the documentation. However, she has so far failed to provide same. Once the SWI has submitted his/her report to the DO, a decision will be made on the application and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

 558. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43432/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 8 June 2017. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 2 August 2017 and the case has been 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Applications

 559. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a lump sum for fuel allowance will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43441/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned is currently in receipt of Fuel Allowance and is receiving this payment on a weekly basis. It is not possible to issue a lump sum fuel payment for the current period as applications have now closed, however the person concerned can complete the Fuel Allowance lump sum form before December 2017 in order to receive the second Fuel Lump sum in January 2018.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

 560. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the estimated full year cost of providing all persons in receipt of a long-term illness payment with a free travel pass. [43446/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by almost 80 private transport operators. There are approximately 894,000 customers in receipt of free travel.

Persons resident in Ireland who are over 66 and persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments are eligible for the scheme. The social welfare payments that allow persons aged under 66 a free travel pass include disability allowance, invalidity pension, carer’s allowance and partial capacity benefit. Disability allowance and invalidity pension are both long term illness payments, and so people in receipt of those payments will already have eligibility.

People may claim illness benefit for up to 2 years. People on illness benefit do not receive the free travel pass. However, a person who has been in receipt of illness benefit for at least 12 months and who most likely will be incapable of work for at least another 12 months, or who may be permanently incapable of work, may apply for invalidity pension which is a qualifying payment for the free travel pass.

The information sought by the Deputy on the estimated full year cost of providing all persons in receipt of long term illness payments with a free travel pass is not available to my Department. Any such cost would manifest itself in the form of requests for increased funding by transport providers, based on increased numbers using the scheme on their service, and so would depend on a number of factors including the type of travel pass issued (e.g. single or companion pass), the number of journeys made using the free travel pass, the prevailing fares, and the type of journeys undertaken i.e. rail, bus or Luas.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy..

Rural Social Scheme Assessments

 561. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the reason persons on the rural social scheme are being called repeatedly for assessments particularly in rural County Kerry (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43455/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The rural social scheme (RSS) provides opportunities for farmers and fishermen/women who are currently in receipt of specified social welfare payments to work to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The Government is very aware that communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishermen and participants have the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing this valuable work in their local communities. In recognition of this fact, an additional 250 RSS places were announced last week as part of Budget 2018.

  To remain eligible to participate on the RSS, an individual must continue to maintain an underlying entitlement to Farm/Fish Assist. This ensures that only those in need of income support for their farming/fishing enterprise benefit from the scheme. Thus, the rate of payment made to a participant can be reviewed at any stage to ensure that they continue to be eligible and that they receive their correct entitlement. This practice has been in place since the commencement of the scheme and applies to all participants on the scheme regardless of their location.

  The following table gives a breakdown, by county, of the number of RSS participants at the end of September 2017 and a breakdown of the RSS reviews for the period January to the end of September 2017. The table clearly indicates that participants on the RSS in all counties have been subjected to a review, where appropriate, to ensure continuing entitlement to the scheme in accordance with the its rules.

County No. RSS participants at end Sept 2017 No. of Reviews in 2017 (Jan –30th Sept)
Carlow 18 1
Cavan 80 2
Clare 140 10
Cork 179 8
Donegal 244 8
Galway 317 27
Kerry 293 19
Kildare 24 0
Kilkenny 14 1
Laois 21 0
Leitrim 105 3
Limerick 87 8
Longford 57 5
Louth 12 1
Mayo 583 47
Meath 20 1
Monaghan 41 3
Offaly 49 2
Roscommon 149 8
Sligo 136 5
Tipperary 67 4
Waterford 13 1
Westmeath 42 3
Wexford 39 1
Wicklow 22 1
Grand Total 2752 169


  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Question No. 562 withdrawn.

State Pension (Contributory)

 563. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she will address a matter regarding a request for information pertaining to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43470/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The budgetary increase to state pension (contributory) payments came into effect on 10 March 2017. The person concerned is in receipt of a reduced rate pension. The weekly increase of €5.00 was payable in full to those in receipt of the maximum rate of state pension (contributory), with a proportionate increase paid to all other recipients.

When the person concerned requested a copy of his insurance record from the Department, it was noted that certain additional contributions were not included when the original decision on entitlement was made. The person’s entitlement to state pension (contributory) was reviewed and a higher rate of payment was awarded, with effect from 18 February 2005. The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 18 May 2017 and provided with a copy of the social insurance record on which the decision was based.

The person concerned was also in receipt of an increase for qualified adult on their state pension (contributory) for the period 18 February 2005 to 3 October 2013, the date from which their spouse was awarded a state pension (contributory) in their own right. A review of the person’s entitlement to increase of qualified adult was undertaken as the rate of increase for qualified adult payable is related to the claimant’s rate of pension payment. Details of the qualified adult’s means were requested as increase for qualified adult is a means-tested payment. The information requested has not yet been received by the Department.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy..

Carer's Benefit Payments

 564. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty when payment will issue in respect of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing the payment in view of the fact that it has been with the payments and maintenance section for a significant period of time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43481/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Carer’s benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a person(s) in need of full-time care and attention.

  A person can be considered to be providing full-time care and attention where they are engaged in employment, self-employment or on training courses outside the home for a maximum of 15 hours per week, provided that they can show to the satisfaction of a deciding officer that adequate care has been provided for the care recipient in their absence.

  CARB was awarded for a period 21 July 2016 to 19 July 2017. Upon expiry of the claim on 28 July 2017 the person concerned made a further application to extend her period of benefit.

   However, the information supplied was insufficient to enable a decision to be made. Accordingly additional information was requested from the person concerned on 7 October 2017 in relation to leave periods from her employment with Galway/Roscommon Education and Training Board.

  Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 565. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43484/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I confirm that my Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person concerned on 21 August 2017. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Maternity Leave

 566. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if the recent changes to maternity leave regarding mothers whose babies are delivered prematurely will be extended to include mothers who are currently on maternity leave or who have recently returned to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43487/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty On 3 October 2017 I, together with my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., announced increased maternity leave and maternity benefit for mothers whose babies are born prematurely.

Under the new arrangements, in addition to the current 26 weeks of paid maternity leave a mother will be entitled to an additional period of maternity leave and benefit where her baby is born prematurely, where she meets the ordinary qualifying criteria for the schemes. The additional period will commence at the end of the standard 26 week period of paid maternity leave. The extended period to be added will be the number of weeks from the baby's actual date of birth up to two weeks before the expected date of confinement which would have been the 37th week of the pregnancy, at which point the current entitlement to 26 weeks leave and benefit would normally begin.

The Government decided that the additional maternity leave and benefit would be available for mothers of premature babies born on or after 1 October 2017 and my Department is now working to make sure the necessary arrangements are put in place to meet that deadline. There are no plans to extend the new arrangements to mothers of premature babies born before that date.

State Pension (Contributory)

 567. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a person can buy stamps to allow them receive full rate in their contributory pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43490/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty In order to qualify for a State pension (contributory), there are a number of conditions which must be met. A person should have paid social insurance contributions before the age of 56 and, for a person reaching state pension age after 6 April 2012, should have a minimum of 520 paid contributions.

To ensure that the individual can maximise their entitlement to a State pension, all contributions paid or credited over their working life, from when they first enter insurable employment until pension age, are taken into account when assessing their entitlement and the level of that entitlement. Contributions can be paid on income from insurable employment or self-employment.

Employees who have gaps in their social insurance record where they are not in a position to pay PRSI, such as during periods of unemployment or illness, may be awarded credits which are taken into account in assessing the level of entitlement to State pension. Alternatively, where an individual is no longer paying PRSI as an employed or self-employed contributor, they can pay voluntary contributions, provided they satisfy the qualifying conditions of the scheme. The payment of voluntary contributions helps to protect future entitlement to State pension as they are also taken into account in determining the level of pension entitlement.

Where people cannot qualify for a full rate contributory pension as a result of an intermittent PRSI record, the social protection system provides alternative means-tested supports. For example, if their spouse has a contributory pension, a person may qualify for a means-tested increase for a qualified adult which is up to 90% of a full rate contributory pension. Alternatively, they may qualify for a means-tested State Pension (non-contributory), amounting up to 95% of the maximum contributory pension rate.

If a person has taken time out of the workforce on caring duties, they may have access to the Homemaker’s Scheme. Under the Homemaker's Scheme, any years that a person spent as a homemaker (since 6 April 1994) are disregarded when working out their yearly average contributions for a contributory State pension. This may result in their qualifying for a higher rate of payment.

Rural Social Scheme Data

 568. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the number of participants on the rural social scheme and community employment scheme in County Donegal on either a municipal area or employment exchange area basis, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43526/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Table 1 outlines the number of participants supported under the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) and Community Employment (CE) in County Donegal at the end of September, 2017.

Table 1

Scheme
Number of participants in County Donegal at end of September 2017
RSS
244
CE
1,093


Table 2 shows a breakdown of the CE participants by Local/Intreo Office:
Office Number of CE participants
Ballyshannon 29
Ballybofey 205
Letterkenny 578
Gweedore 281


  Records for participants on the RSS are not available on either a municipal area or employment exchange area basis as requested by the Deputy.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Payments

 569. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she will examine a case in which a person (details supplied) was awarded disability allowance but had the contributions to apply for invalidity pension; if she will take into consideration that the person has subsequently been awarded invalidity pension following the advice from this Deputy's office to apply for same; if arrears will issue in respect of invalidity pension in view of the fact the person had the contributions for invalidity pension and was on a reduced rate of disability allowance due to means; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43548/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Backdating of the Invalidity Pension claim of the lady concerned has been considered and the claim has now been awarded from 08 November 2012, i.e. from the first Thursday following receipt of her Disability Allowance application. Arrears for the period 08 November 2012 to 10 May 2017 (less any overlapping social welfare payment and/or outstanding overpayment) will issue shortly to her nominated bank account. She was notified of this decision on the 17 October 2017.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

 570. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she will address a matter regarding an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43551/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

  It is a condition for receipt of CA that the applicant’s means are less than the statutory limit which in this case is €242.60 weekly.

  The application for CA was disallowed as her means were determined to exceed the statutory limit.

  Means are any income belonging to the carer and their spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant, property, (except their own home) or an asset that could bring in money or provide them with an income, for example occupational pensions, or pensions or benefits from another country.

  The evidence before the deciding officer included a payslip dated 30 March 2017 which showed a gross income of €16,881.25 for 13 insurable weeks, averaging €1,298.56 per week. When allowable deductions of €110.58 were applied, the weekly assessable income was €1,187.98. A disregard for a married couple of €665.00 then applied and the remainder was halved. The carer’s means were therefore assessed at €261.49 per week which is in excess of the statutory means limit of €242.60.

  The person concerned was notified on 22 July 2017 of this decision, the reason for it and her right of review and appeal.

  A review of this decision was requested on 3 August 2017 and following this review the deciding officer decided that her means still exceeded the statutory limit and that consequently there would be no change to the original decision.

  The person concerned was notified of the outcome on 4 October 2017 and of her right of appeal.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Question No. 571 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Overpayments

 572. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she will provide a detailed breakdown of a debt her Department is seeking a person (details supplied) to repay. [43597/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned does not currently have a debt with the Department. In previous correspondence with the Department the person concerned was advised, in error, that they had repaid in excess of the debt they had incurred. This error was corrected and the person concerned has been advised that they do not have a debt with the Department.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Family Income Supplement Eligibility

 573. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she is satisfied that the policy of not awarding FIS to otherwise qualified persons whose renewal date coincides with a period of sick leave is compatible with equality legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43614/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Family Income Supplement (FIS) is weekly tax-free payment available to low-paid employees with one or more qualified children.

One of the conditions for receipt of FIS is that an applicant or the applicant and spouse, partner or cohabitant must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week.

FIS is awarded for 52 weeks at a time and on expiry of the 52 week period, all recipients must complete and submit a new application if they wish to continue to receive FIS.

Should a FIS recipient become ill and qualify for Illness Benefit or Injury Benefit, either benefit is payable in conjunction with FIS for 6 consecutive weeks only. If the sick leave extends for more than 6 weeks, the FIS payment is suspended until either the applicant resumes paid employment and submits a final medical certificate to the Department or until the 52 week FIS period expires (whichever is the earlier). This condition applies to all FIS recipients.

State Pension (Contributory) Applications

 574. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of an application for a contributory State pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43639/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned applied for the state pension (contributory) on 25 November 2014. A mixed insurance pro rata state pension (contributory) was awarded, with effect from 26 May 2014, back-dated six months from the date of receipt. A decision letter to that effect issued to the applicant on 2 March 2015. The pension is based on the person’s combined record of full and modified rate of social insurance contributions paid in Ireland.

  In addition, the person’s entitlement to a pro rata state pension (contributory) under EU regulations, based on their UK contributions, was examined. However, the person concerned does not have an entitlement to a pension of this type.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Question No. 575 withdrawn.

Youth Employment Initiative

 576. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the details of the new youth employment support scheme announced in budget 2018; the funding provided to this scheme; the date this scheme is expected to commence; the targets set; the numbers expected to participate in the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43727/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) is a new work experience programme targeted at young jobseekers who are long-term unemployed or who face significant barriers to gaining employment - people who even during the Celtic Tiger years would have found it difficult to get a foothold on the career ladder. The programme aims to provide them with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement.

  YESS will be open to jobseekers and other eligible cohorts who are aged between 18 and 24 and have been out of work and in receipt of a qualifying payment for at least 12 months or, if unemployed for less than 12 months, are considered by a case worker to face a significant barrier to work.

  Candidates must be in receipt of one of the following qualifying payments: Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit, One Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker Transition Payment, Disability Allowance, Blind Person's Pension, Supplementary Welfare Allowance; or signing for Credits.

  Although people will be encouraged and supported to avail of suitable placements, participation on YESS will be entirely voluntary - there will be no financial penalties for jobseekers who do not wish to participate or who do not complete a placement.

  There will be clear eligibility requirements for host organisations wishing to participate in the programme. They will be required to sign up to Terms and Conditions when they advertise a placement.

  The standard duration of the work experience programme will be 3 months, with an option to extend the placement further to 6 or 9 months following a review of progress by a Departmental case worker. The attendance requirement will be 30 hours per week. Participants will receive a weekly payment equivalent to the net minimum wage which represents a very significant increase on their underlying payment.

  A designated case worker will liaise with the participant and the host organisation throughout the period of the placement, to monitor how well it is progressing for both parties and to provide appropriate advice and support.

  Clearly defined learning and development outcomes for each placement will be identified, with a focus on ‘soft’ (employability) skills as well as any specific ‘hard’ skills that will be acquired and/or demonstrated during the placement. The host organisation will complete an assessment for the participant at the end of the placement.

  Host organisations will be encouraged to hire participants who have performed well (i.e. offer them paid employment) and will qualify for a financial subsidy under JobsPlus Youth.

  It is proposed to introduce the YESS in Quarter 2, 2018 as it will take some time to promote the new scheme to employers and participants. A dedicated budget of €1 million has been allocated for 2018. The full-year cost of the scheme is expected to be €7.5 million, catering for up to 1,600 participants.

Family Income Supplement Eligibility

 577. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she is no longer planning on introducing a working family payment as committed to in the programme for Government in view of the fact that the Government has retained family income supplement as the working family payment; if so, the rationale behind this; her plans to reform the operation of FIS in terms of the number of hours required to be worked in order to receive this payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43728/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Department's approach to developing the working family payment was guided by the two principles of ensuring that work pays and that the payment has a positive effect on reducing child poverty. To advance the commitment contained in the Programme for Partnership Government, the Department established an internal working group and an Inter-Departmental Group of the relevant Government Departments to consider proposals.

As part of this process the Department carried out an extensive analysis of its existing range of supports that are aimed at assisting individuals to take up employment. The analysis showed the existing in-work supports are very effective, and work well in assisting individuals make the transition from unemployment into employment.

These findings are confirmed by the ESRI’s research into the Department’s existing in-work measures, and Eurostat figures, which show that the parental in-work poverty rate in Ireland is 5.8%, significantly below the EU 28 average of 11.2%. This is in large part due to the Department’s in-work supports such as Family Income Supplement and the Back to Work Family Dividend.

Consequently, the analysis carried out by the working group did not support the need for the establishment of a new scheme. In the context of Budget 2018 it was decided to re-designate the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme as the Working Family Payment (WFP), which will bring it more visibility as a payment aimed specifically at working families. The new name better reflects the nature of the payment and the Department would encourage families to look into seeing if they are eligible for the payment.

In relation to the working hours requirement associated with qualification for payment of the WFP, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. This “hours worked” eligibility criterion has been reduced significantly since the introduction of the scheme in 1984, from 30 hours per week to 19 hours per week in 1996. It is important, however, to ensure that the WFP does not inadvertently subsidise unsustainably low earnings or encourage employers to offer minimal hours of employment.

For low-income workers with less than the minimum hours of employment for the WFP and working on a casual basis up to and including 3 days per week, the jobseeker's allowance scheme provides in-work income support through daily disregards and tapered withdrawal of payments. Individuals on jobseeker’s benefit can also work up to 3 days per week. For each day they work they lose a proportionate reduction in their jobseeker’s benefit payment.

If a person cannot meet the 19 hours WFP threshold the Department offers a number of other schemes, which can provide income support that can be combined with earnings from employment, subject to each individual’s circumstances. These include jobseekers allowance and benefit (which permit an element of casual work), disability allowance, carer’s allowance, the one-parent family payment, jobseeker’s transitional payment and the part-time job incentive scheme. Combined, the Department provides an extensive system of social welfare support, which facilitates recipients taking up some employment while maintaining their social welfare payment.

Given all of the above there are no plans to reform the operation of the WFP in terms of the number of hours work required to qualify for payment..

JobsPlus Scheme

 578. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the details of the enhanced JobsPlus recruitment incentive announced in budget 2018; the moneys allocated to same; the targets set; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43729/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty As the Deputy is aware, the JobsPlus incentive is designed to encourage employers and businesses to focus their recruitment efforts on those who have been out of work for long periods. It provides employers with two levels of payment - €7,500 or €10,000 - over two years, paid in monthly instalments, provided the employment is maintained. The €7,500 rate is paid to employers that recruit workers who have been on the Live Register for between 12 and 24 months. The €10,000 rate is paid to employers that recruit workers who have been on the Live Register for more than 24 months.

  My Department recently conducted a Focused Policy Assessment of JobsPlus which highlighted that workers over the age of 50 are under-represented on the scheme. To address this, I have announced an enhancement to the scheme to encourage businesses to employ older workers. From 1 of January 2018, employers that recruit workers who are on the Live Register for over 12 months and are over the age of 50 will be paid at the higher rate of €10,000.

  Currently, just over 10% of JobsPlus employees are over 50. It is envisaged that this change will increase the percentage of employees in this age category to between 20% and 25% over the coming years.

  The budget allocated to JobsPlus in 2018 will be €30 million.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Schemes

 579. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a person must be in receipt of both the living alone allowance and the fuel allowance in order to qualify for the newly announced weekly telephone support allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43730/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The new telephone support allowance is targeted at those who are most in need. Accordingly, it is aimed at those living alone and of limited means as an aid to paying for communications and/or a home alert solution. Consequently, customers who qualify for the living alone allowance and who at the same time are in receipt of the fuel allowance (which is a means tested allowance) will automatically qualify for the telephone support allowance.

I understand that there are currently over 124,000 customers who are likely to automatically qualify for this allowance at an estimated cost of €16.14 million in 2018. Customers are not required to make a specific application for this allowance as it will be paid to them automatically once available.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy..


Last Updated: 19/02/2020 09:12:10 First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page