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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 333-340
 Header Item Personal Public Service Numbers
 Header Item Treatment Benefit Scheme
 Header Item Telephone Support Allowance
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item Jobseeker's Payments
 Header Item Back to Education Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Local Authority Housing

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 107 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 333-340

Personal Public Service Numbers

 333. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if an application for a PPS number by a person (details supplied)will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29537/18]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty While an application was received from the person concerned, not all documentation was provided. The applicant has been notified of this and has been asked to provide all of the required documentation.

  Where a person comes or is coming to the State and requires a PPS Number, they can attend and apply in person at a PPS Number allocation centre. At this centre, they should provide acceptable evidence of identity and proof that a PPS Number is required in order to carry out a transaction with a specified body.

  Where a person is not present in the State and requires a PPS Number to transact business with a public body, a separate registration process is provided by the Department by post or email. Copies of identity documents and evidence as to the requirement for a PPS Number are provided by the applicant.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Treatment Benefit Scheme

 334. 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 person (details supplied) whose glasses were stolen can avail of the treatment benefit scheme to have them replaced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29543/18]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The treatment benefit scheme provides for an optical examination and new spectacles every second calendar year for everyone who meets the PRSI qualification criteria. There are no special allowances for spectacles that have been stolen within that period.

  However, as the person concerned last claimed under the optical benefit scheme more than two years ago he is eligible to claim for a new pair of spectacles in the normal way. This can be done by making an appointment with his optician, who will be able to initiate the claim process for him.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Telephone Support Allowance

 335. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if the telephone allowance will be increased from €2.50 to €4 per month as proposed by an organisation (details supplied); her plans to expand this allowance to all recipients of the State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29548/18]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The new Telephone Support Allowance (TSA) is a weekly payment of €2.50 not a monthly payment. Customers of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection who are in receipt of a qualifying payment and who are also in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance automatically qualify for the TSA. Approximately 127,000 customers are in receipt of the TSA payment. The estimated full year cost of the scheme is €16.14 million.

The primary objective of the TSA is to allow the most vulnerable people access to personal alarms or phones for security. The allowance will also encourage social contact and assist in the prevention of social isolation for those living alone.

The criteria for the TSA are framed in order to direct the limited resources available to my Department in as targeted a manner as possible. Fuel Allowance is a means tested payment and these criteria will ensure that the TSA payment goes to those most at risk of social isolation.

Any decision to extend the TSA scheme to all pensioners regardless of their means or personal circumstances or to increase the weekly rate to €4 would have significant budget implications and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Contracts Data

 336. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the number of times her Department has engaged polling companies and-or Irish market researchers to conduct research on its behalf in each of the past two years; the names of such companies; the costs associated with same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29573/18]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The information requested is currently being compiled by my Department and will be provided to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Jobseeker's Payments

 337. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the length of time persons must wait before applying for jobseeker's benefit and-or jobseeker's allowance in cases in which they are made redundant as part of a voluntary redundancy scheme in a large company; if there is a period of non-payment in view of the fact that their employment finished as a result of their voluntary redundancy package; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29646/18]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The 2018 Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure this year on the jobseeker’s schemes of €2.17 billion.

  Jobseeker’s benefit (JB) is a contingency based social welfare payment typically for employees who have suffered a substantial loss of employment and have sufficient social insurance contributions to qualify. If a person does not qualify for JB they may qualify for means-tested jobseeker's allowance (JA).

  There is no disqualification from receiving JB irrespective of the amount of the redundancy payment for claimants 55 years of age or over. A person under 55 years of age who has been made redundant, shall be disqualified from receiving JB for a period of up to 9 weeks from the last date of employment where the person has received or is entitled to a payment in excess of a prescribed amount under the Redundancy Payments Acts or under an agreement with his/her employer. The amounts and periods of disqualification are provided in the tabular statement. The amount includes the gross amount of all payments in respect of the redundancy, e.g. statutory redundancy, top-up or ex-gratia payments related to weeks of service, early encashment of pension entitlements (if from employer's funds), and any other money received under an agreement with the employer.

  Where an applicant for JB may have an entitlement to a redundancy settlement which is not yet negotiated, a JB claim may be awarded (if all other conditions are satisfied) pending receipt of the redundancy settlement. When the details of the redundancy payments become available, the JB claim is reviewed. Where necessary a revised decision is then made and a period of disqualification as appropriate applied.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  The following table shows the length of time a person may be disqualified from receiving jobseekers benefit having regard to the gross amount of redundancy received.

Amount of Redundancy Period of Disqualification
€50,000.00 - €55,000 1 Week
€55,000.01 - €60,000 2 Weeks
€60,000.01 - €65,000 3 Weeks
€65,000.01 - €70,000 4 Weeks
€70,000.01 - €75,000 5 Weeks
€75,000.01 - €80,000 6 Weeks
€80,000.01 - €85,000 7 Weeks
€85,000.01 - €90,000 8 Weeks
€90,000.01 and over 9 Weeks

Back to Education Allowance Eligibility

 338. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is an anomaly between eligibility criteria for progression routes in the postgraduate applications centre, PAC, system when applying for higher diploma programmes as compared to the back to education system; the steps which have been taken to address this inequality; the way in which she is advising persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29703/18]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The back to education allowance (BTEA) is a scheme that allows persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments the opportunity to pursue a course of study, while still maintaining their income support, subject to satisfying a number of conditions. The conditions include progressing in the level of education held by the client with reference to the national framework of qualifications.

BTEA applicants holding a qualification at tertiary education level (certificate, diploma, primary degree or post graduate qualification) are not approved under the BTEA to pursue a course at a similar or lower qualification level. However, the BTEA may be approved if a person holds a HETAC level 8 Honours degree and wishes to pursue a Higher Diploma at HETAC Level 8 as this is considered progression.

Overall, it is important to note that the purpose of the BTEA is to raise educational and skill levels so as to improve a welfare recipient’s employment prospects. Progression in education is a condition which is not unique to BTEA. State support for education purposes is grounded on a student progressing from one qualification level to a higher one. Administration of BTEA is aligned with the student support schemes under the Department of Education and Skills.

PAC (the Postgraduate Applications Centre) is an agent for and acts on behalf of the universities participating in the Application System. PAC is an administrative facility.

If the Deputy is referring to a particular case, she should forward the details to my Department for review.

I hope this clarifies the matter.

Local Authority Housing

 339. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if a full and urgent structural review of local authority flat complexes has been ordered in view of the severe structural deficits found at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29468/18]

 340. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if a ministerial directive will be issued to Dublin City Council to urgently relocate residents at a location (details supplied) while structural repair work takes place in view of the health and safety risks of remaining in the building; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [29469/18]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 339 and 340 together.

The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including the implementation of planned maintenance programmes and the carrying out of responsive repairs for tenants living in social housing, is a matter for each individual local authority under section 58 of the Housing Act 1966. Therefore the specific issue raised is a matter for Dublin City Council (DCC).  

I am advised by DCC that condition surveys of all of its flat complexes are being carried out in the context of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. In the specific case referred to, DCC will be advised by the consultant engineers appointed to carry out the structural examination as to whether the works to make these stairwells safe can be carried out while the residents remain in their homes. The safety of tenants is of the utmost importance to DCC and they continue to take all necessary steps to ensure this.


Last Updated: 06/03/2020 10:19:01 First Page Previous Page Page of 107 Next Page Last Page