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Burton, Joan

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Social Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages

I would like to put on the record of the House that much of the discussion by the Opposition around the lone parent and carers issues is confusing people. I will explain to Members what a single p...More Button

As I have stated previously, I have protected primary weekly payments. When in government, Fianna Fáil cut the lone parent payment by more than €16 per week. I want to put what is being discuss...More Button

-----€319.80 per week. In addition, from next year the parent will also receive €130 per month in child benefit.More Button

Deputy Catherine Murphy raised the issue of concern for lone parents. A lone parent who is a carer - I know the Deputy is aware of this - is not, as suggested by her, required to seek employment b...More Button

The lone parents with whom I have spoken say that what they would like is more certainty around the availability of respite places and other services for the child for whom they are caring. I wa...More Button

Social Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages (Continued)

If the person being cared for lives with the carer and is an adult, he or she is entitled to disability payments amounting to approximately €11,000 per year. The total package, therefore, for a di...More Button

Let me say, with regard to-----More Button

These are the facts, Deputy-----More Button

The facts are very important-----More Button

-----for the people who are outside the House.More Button

On the amendment, we are talking about lone parents and the fact that we are reforming the one-parent family system to bring it into line with the best such systems that operate in other European c...More Button

Regarding lone parents whose children are growing up and are in school, reforms are being introduced, and I am glad - if I understood her correctly - that Deputy Murphy is supportive of this. We a...More Button

I am aware that Deputy Murphy knows of and cares about many parents who are parenting on their own. The best outlook for such parents and for their children, whom they love and care for so much, w...More Button

We have one of the highest rates of direct payments for parents and children in Europe. These figures are verifiable. Our risk of poverty is reduced by almost 50% more than even the richest of ...More Button

We should think about putting more of the resources into services. That is why, for instance, in this budget I am increasing funding for the provision of hot school meals and for the special initi...More Button

I said already that we have ten offices now operating the new system of social welfare. These are not pilots but are the first wave of the transformation of the Department of Social Protection f...More Button

There are approximately 96,000 lone-parent families in Ireland. Think of all of the talent and energy that could be harnessed by my Department by helping those families get back into education a...More Button

This is a reform of the social welfare system about which I feel passionate because I went to school with people who, for various reasons, had to rely on social welfare for their income. The best ...More Button

We want people of working age to be able-----More Button

In the-----More Button

That is why I have made provision in the budget for 10,000 extra activation places, consisting of 3,000 on JobBridge, 2,500 on Tús, 3,000 in the local authorities and 2,000 in CE schemes.More Button

When we discussed CE schemes this time last year the Deputies opposite all claimed they would close down and the supervisors would lose their jobs. We are in fact increasing the number of places. ...More Button

I move amendment No. 6:More Button

These amendments are consequential on the insertion of a new section 14 providing for the deferral of the dates on which the age reductions for one-parent family payments will take effect. Under t...More Button

I know.More Button

I am doing what the Cathaoirleach has asked me to do. I hope Deputies appreciate that. Under the provisions of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012, the qualifying age of the youngest child f...More Button

I have engaged in intensive work with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs over the past year so that the State could provide additional child care places. This is why I was happy to announ...More Button

These changes have been welcomed. Last night Deputy Ó Snodaigh, like most of the other Deputies who spoke in the debate, welcomed the extension of time and the additional child care places. I t...More Button

I move amendment No. 11:More Button

  Amendment agreed to.More Button

  Section 3, as amended, agreed to.More Button

As in the case of section 3, the changes I propose in this section also follow on from the pension reform measures I announced in the budget in December 2011, which were implemented from September ...More Button

Under legislation which was enacted in 1997, the number of PRSI contributions a claimant for the contributory State pension is required to have paid in order to be eligible for that pension incre...More Button

The 260 contribution requirement still applies in the case of claimants for contributory State pension who have a reduced yearly average of between ten and 20 contributions. This means that this...More Button

Section 4 makes a further amendment to abolish a provision which is no longer required. Special pension arrangements were introduced in 1988 to cater for people who had been affected by the oper...More Button

A number of Deputies, including Deputies Denis Naughten and Brendan Ryan, have raised the issue of the quality of the available services. I know that this aspect is of most concern to carers. The...More Button

I did not interrupt the Deputy.More Button

I am talking about a vision for how we can provide for solidarity in society. If the Deputy has ever cared for someone who is very ill, elderly or in need of care, he will know, as Deputy Denis Na...More Button

When Deputy Róisín Shortall was in the Department of Health, she was extremely aware of this point which was discussed by the Select Sub-Committee on Social Protection. Every Deputy who has spoken...More Button

I refer to Deputy Denis Naughten's comment about the job to be undertaken by the committees of this House. Various committees should consider the supports available for children such as those pr...More Button

My ministerial colleague, Deputy Brendan Howlin, will address the issue raised by Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly of the salaries paid and payments made to workers in the public service as part of a s...More Button

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly and others referred to other ways to make savings in the social welfare budget.More Button

However, there are requests for more money in every part of the social welfare budget. While the balance and proportions of expenditure and taxes can be varied, the troika has set expenditure ceil...More Button

I refer to Deputy Brendan Ryan's detailed proposal, about which I will speak to the Minister for Finance. It may be a matter for the finance committee and there is a job of work to be done. Giv...More Button

If we do not see the other side of this programme and recover our financial sustainability, the people who will suffer most will be those dependent on the social welfare system.More Button

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh has given as an example a widow with three children, one of whom has special needs. She sent the Deputy an e-mail. A widow who is a carer would receive a weekly widow's...More Button

The Irish carer's package is unique by comparison with packages in the rest of Europe. Very few other European countries have a carer's package like ours, but there is a weakness in the provisio...More Button

I listened to the Deputy and every other Member who spoke and took notes on the individual cases and issues raised.More Button

That is because I take very seriously the points made by the Deputies, including Deputy Róisín Shortall.More Button

I lost an hour and a half yesterday morning that could have been used to discuss the Bill because of the carry-on that had nothing to do with social welfare. This morning I lost another hour and a...More Button

I want to see a significant improvement to the package of services the country provides for carers-----More Button

I did not interrupt the Deputy.

  With regard to Deputy Willie O'Dea's comments, I realise and as he knows there are higher levels of disability in parts of his constituency, Lim...More Button

In a carer's household-----More Button

The reduction in respect of an adult caring for another adult was over €32.50 per week.More Button

We have a very tight, difficult budgetary position which requires us to effect change in regard to carers that preserves the weekly payment. Fianna Fáil disagreed because, on several occasions, it...More Button

In respect of the kinds of cases about which we are talking, there was a cumulative reduction of €32 per week. Carers still feel very strongly about this, just as pensioners feel strongly about Fi...More Button

Another important point on carers was raised, including by Deputy Denis Naughten. The income disregard and means test for carer's allowance to which the Deputy referred-----More Button

-----are actually the most generous in the social welfare system. A couple under 66 years with two children and earning a joint annual income of up to €35,400 can qualify for the maximum rate of c...More Button

Bearing in mind total social welfare expenditure, several Members mentioned fraud. We have launched very significant anti-fraud campaigns in the Department. Some Deputies had a problem with thi...More Button

------and payments as a result of fraud and abuse. They were recoverable, as the Deputy knows, at a rate of only €2 a week.More Button

Up to €350 million in overpayments are due to my Department. Deputy Patrick Nulty should note this is relevant because, if we can recover the bulk of those payments, it will take the pressure-----More Button

Some Members were unhappy last night with the idea that we would recover, at a rate of more than €2 a week, payments obtained in a fraudulent way.More Button

If the Deputy has a problem with this, he should note it is one of the reforms introduced in the Bill that is extremely important. It will actually provide us with more resources.More Button

I know Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett has a particular problem with recovering payments made as a consequence of fraud.More Button

We are going to recover the money and in recovering it we will make more funds available for those who rely for their income on the Department of Social Protection. The sum of €20.2 billion provid...More Button

On the suggestions made by Members, including Deputy Ryan, I will raise them with the Minister for Finance specifically because they have a good deal of merit and merit detailed examination.More Button

May I reply briefly to Deputy Michael Lowry?More Button

This year the Government increased spending on carers by €20 million.More Button

In the Estimates for next year I have provided for an increase in spending.More Button

Last week, on the morning of the budget, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin Deputies-----More Button

I do not think members of the Technical Group were there, but Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin Deputies supported an increase of €680 million in a Supplementary Estimate to increase the overall social wel...More Button

I am entitled to respond to Deputy Michael Lowry.More Button

Yes.More Button

Child Poverty

Was asked: her views on whether budget 2013 will result in more children in poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

A social impact analysis of the main personal welfare and taxation elements of Budget 2013 is currently being finalised by the Department. This analysis will include the impact on children.More Button

  Question No. 85 withdrawn.More Button

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Was asked: if a decision has been made on a domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned was notified on the 29th November 2012 that her appeal had been successful. Payment of the allowance, along with any arrears due, will issue on the 18thMore Button

  Question No. 87 withdrawn.More Button

Family Income Supplement Application Numbers

Was asked: if she intends to tackle the backlog of family income supplement applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as pos...More Button

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 o...More Button

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 intake of...More Button

This team which included additional temporary resources is currently working on the backlog claims. In order to reduce the time it will take to eliminate the backlog, some of these claims are be...More Button

It is intended 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 t...More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8, who is awaiting a decision on their jobseeker's appeal, has been informed that they have to leave their college course or the community welfare o...More Button

Under Social Welfare legislation any person who is a full-time student does not qualify for supplementary welfare allowance. As the person concerned has now ceased full-time education, his suppleme...More Button

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) has been refused jobseeker's allowance.More Button

The person concerned made 4 claims for jobseeker’s allowance; on 4th October 2010, on 24th March 2011, on 9th December 2011 and on 16th&nb...More Button

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) has had two appeals for jobseeker's allowance refused.More Button

The person concerned made 4 claims for jobseeker’s allowance; on 4th October 2010, on 24th March 2011, on 9th December 2011 and on 16th&nb...More Button

  Question No. 92 withdrawn.More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Was asked: if she will publish the waiting times for applications for social welfaree payments and the waiting times for arrears to be paid for each social welfare payment; her views on the waiting times in g...More Button

The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes that...More Button

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Was asked: if she will expedite an appeal for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied).More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 10th   September 2012. It is a statutory requirem...More Button

Pension Provisions

Was asked: if previously self-employed persons who paid an annual PRSI contribution, and who are now unemployed, can sign for PRSI credits in order to not break their entitlement to contributory old age pensi...More Button

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 p...More Button

PRSI credited contributions are an integral part of the social insurance system. For the most part they are linked to having an underlying entitlement to a social welfare payment while temporari...More Button

The class at which a contributor paid his or her last PRSI contribution determines entitlement to credited contributions. Credits are awarded in respect of an employment contribution which is de...More Button

Respite Care Services

Was asked: the number of persons in receipt of the respite care grant and the percentage of recipients who are not in receipt of the carer's allowance, that is the number of persons who exceed the income limi...More Button

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 a...More Button

Carer's Allowance Applications

Was asked: the postion regarding a carer's allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.More Button

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 18th   January 2012. The application is with a deciding officer ...More Button

Social Welfare Code Issues

Was asked: the reason community employment participants who complete their period on a CE scheme and go on jobseeker's benefit and are in receipt of a reduced payment are not entitled to fuel allowance; and i...More Button

The fuel allowance is a means tested weekly payment of €20 available for people on long-term welfare schemes, including state pension, disability allowance, one-parent family payment and jobseeker’...More Button

Jobseeker’s benefit is a short-term payment and is not a qualifying payment for fuel allowance which is means tested and paid to long term welfare recipients. A person will only be paid a fuel al...More Button

When the CE scheme ends the participant is entitled to make an application for a jobseeker’s payment. They may have built up sufficient PRSI contributions to allow them to apply for jobseeker’s ...More Button

If a person is in receipt of a reduced rate jobseeker’s benefit payment and their income is insufficient to meet their needs, they may, subject to a means test, be eligible for a top-up under the...More Button

I have no plans to amend the qualifying criteria for fuel allowance.More Button

Rural Social Scheme Applications

Was asked: her plans to cease or change the rules of the rural social scheme; if she has received a report recommending this; the reasons given for such a recommendation; and if she will make a statement on t...More Button

The rural social scheme provides income support for farmers and those engaged in fishing who have an entitlement to specified social welfare payments. Participants are engaged for 19½ hours per we...More Button

Work Placement Programme

Was asked: when the extra places on the Tús scheme will be rolled out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: her plans to change the rules of the Tús scheme by allowing participants to stay on the scheme for an unlimited duration; the reason that at present participants are only allowed stay on the scheme...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 102 together. More Button

Tús, the community work placement initiative introduced during 2011, was initially set up to provide up to 5,000 short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than ...More Button

Community Employment Scheme Numbers

Was asked: the number of participants of the community employment schemes that are on the scheme for more than two years; if it is intended to transfer these participants to the Tús scheme in view of its lowe...More Button

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups, (including persons with a disability and lone parents on One ...More Button

Depending on the length of time an applicant is unemployed the duration on CE is one year up to three years with the option of a further year extension for persons who are over 3 years in receipt...More Button

There are currently 7,966 participants on CE who have been on the programme for 2 or more and these represent approximately one-third of 23,300 places on CE. The Tús programme has a budget of 5,0...More Button

However, there has been a recent change to CE which allows Tús participants under certain circumstances to enter CE. This particularly applies to Tús participants who are in need of training and...More Button

Earlier this year, a financial review of individual CE schemes was undertaken by local staff in this Department. This was a very valuable exercise and substantial savings have already been achiev...More Button

  Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 100.More Button

Carer's Allowance Delays

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the delay in processing a carer's allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay; when a decision will issue; and if sh...More Button

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 29th December 2011. Further information was needed to finalise the claim and that was requ...More Button

Social Insurance Yield

Was asked: the estimated yield for every 0.1 of a percent added to the rate of employee PRSI; and the rate increase required to provide for a yield of €265 million in 2013 and €289 million in a full year.More Button

It is estimated that the full year yield for a 1% increase in the rate of employee PRSI would be in the region of €383 million. To provide a yield of €265 million in 2013 and €289 million for a fu...More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Was asked: the current and correct level of rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the reason rent support was discontinued; and if she will make a statement on the...More Button

In September 2012, the rent allowance payable to the person concerned was reviewed. She was issued with an explanatory letter and the relevant forms for completion. Payment was discontinued as sh...More Button

The information requested has now been received and payment has been re-instated. The correct level of rent allowance payable to the person concerned is €725 per month.More Button

One-Parent Family Payment Applications

Was asked: when the correct level of one parent family allowance will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned is in receipt of a weekly rate of one parent family payment of €277.40. This consists of a personal rate of €188.00 plus €89.40 qualified child allowance. A fuel allowance of...More Button

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Was asked: the level of carer's allowance payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that they receive one parent family allowance; and if she will make a stateme...More Button

The person in question is in receipt of one-parent family payment. If she can satisfy the conditions for carer’s allowance she would be entitled to get half the rate of carer’s allowance along wit...More Button