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. 625-641
 Header Item Capital Expenditure
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards
 Header Item Tax and Social Welfare Codes
 Header Item Redundancy Rebates
 Header Item Unemployment Levels
 Header Item Sick Pay Scheme Reform
 Header Item Youth Unemployment Data
 Header Item Gender Recognition Issues
 Header Item Youth Unemployment Data
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Tax and Social Welfare Codes
 Header Item Farm Assist Scheme Application Numbers
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 625-641

Capital Expenditure

 625. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will provide a list of the payments made by the State to private landowners in 2010 and 2011 to acquire land for use in the public capital programme.  [40012/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Details of payments made by my Department and its Agencies to private land owners to acquire land for use in the public capital programme are set out in the table following. These payments were made by Shannon Development.

Year Payee Amount Paid to Date Total Purchase Price
2010 Lisdoonvarna Failte & Trustees of the Rooska and Spa Wells Trust €121,500 €121,500
2010 Donal McAullife €361,496 €361,496

Appointments to State Boards

 626. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of appointments that have been made to positions available on the boards of semi-State companies and statutory agencies following public advertisement; if he will provide details of the names of persons who have been appointed under this initiative and the agencies on which they now sit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40036/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In line with Government policy to introduce greater transparency in the appointment of members of State Boards, I have sought expressions of interest, on a number of occasions since coming to Office, from suitably qualified persons to fill vacancies that have arisen on the boards of various agencies within my Department’s remit. The overriding objective of all appointments is to provide boards with levels of expertise and experience that contribute to their effective operations.    

  National Standards Authority of Ireland

On 6th March 2012, I appointed Ms Barbara O’Leary and Mr Terry Landers to the board of the NSAI. Both Ms O’Leary and Mr Landers applied through the expressions of interest process. In August 2012, expressions of interest in appointment to the board were again invited. These are currently under consideration.

  National Consumer Agency

On 6th May 2012, I appointed Ms Coleen Savage and Mr Eugene Gallagher to the board of the NSAI. Both Ms Savage and Mr Gallagher applied through the expressions of interest process. In August 2012, expressions of interest in appointment to the board were again invited. These are currently under consideration.

  IDA Ireland

On 6th February 2012, I appointed Mr Alan Gray and Ms Mary Campbell to the board of IDA Ireland. While these posts were publicly advertised, neither of those appointed applied through the expressions of interest process. Ms Campbell was identified following consultations with IDA Ireland to nominate a person with relevant financial experience for my consideration for appointment to the board.

  Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

On 1st September, I appointed Ms Muireann O’Neill to the board of IAASA. Ms O’Neill had applied through the expressions of interest process.

  Personal Injuries Assessment Board

In relation to the board of PIAB, I have made the following appointments - Mr Martin Naughton (with effect from 5th April 2012), Dr Fionnuala O’Loughlin (1st August 2012) and Mr John Lynch (also 1st August 2012). All three were appointed following a request for expressions of interest.

Planned Appointments   

  In addition to the vacancies on the boards of National Consumer Agency and the National Standards Authority of Ireland, expressions of interest have also been sought in respect of appointment to the board of Science Foundation Ireland. These are currently under consideration.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes

 627. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare in relation to extending social insurance cover to the self-employed may be expected; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37160/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Creating jobs and tackling poverty are two of the key challenges that Ireland now faces and it is essential that our tax and social protection systems play their part in addressing these issues. To this end, last year I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare with the aim of harnessing expert opinion and experience to examine a number of specific issues. These include making cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes, particularly child poverty outcomes. Among the issues provided for under the Advisory Group’s Terms of Reference is for the Group to examine and report on the issues involved in providing social insurance cover for self-employed persons.

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

Redundancy Rebates

 628. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the consultation that was made with employers groups in advance of the decision to reduce the redundancy rebate; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37387/12]

 629. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she has prepared an impact analysis of the effects on jobs of the reduction in the redundancy rebate; the effects it will have on the level of redundancy payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37388/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 628 and 629 together.

The purpose of the redundancy payments scheme is to compensate workers, under the Redundancy Payments Acts, for the loss of their jobs by reason of redundancy. Compensation is based on the worker’s length of reckonable service and reckonable weekly remuneration, subject to a ceiling of €600.00 per week. All payments are made from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF). There are two types of redundancy payment made from the SIF - rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership or liquidation.

It is the responsibility of the employer to pay statutory redundancy to all their eligible employees. An employer who pays statutory redundancy payments to their employees is then entitled to a rebate from the State. Rebates to employers and lump sums paid directly to employees are paid from the Social Insurance Fund.

Significant and increasing amounts have been paid out in redundancy rebates to employers from the SIF in recent years. While the SIF is constituted primarily from employer contributions, the taxpayers’ contribution is also significant. One of the factors which influenced the Government’s decision to revise the rebate rate was the increasing cost of rebates in recent years.

I am very concerned about the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund. In term of redundancy rebate payments to employers, €152.2 million was paid out in 2006; €167.4 million in 2007; €161.8 million in 2008; €247.9 million in 2009; €373.2 million in 2010 and €185.3 million in 2011. The amounts paid out in lump sums to employees have also increased. The Budget 2012 changes were given legislative effect in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012. The new changes apply where the date of dismissal by reason of redundancy occurs on or after 1 January 2012.

I do not see why this country should continue to borrow money to plug the hole in the Social Insurance Fund in order to fund the cost of making people redundant – often from very profitable companies.

As part of the deliberations on Budget 2012, the approach taken in other countries was examined and it was decided that the 60% level of rebate is not sustainable in the current economic climate. While this may cause difficulties for employers it should be noted that redundancy rebate payments to employers are not common in many EU and other jurisdictions. The new arrangements bring Ireland more closely into line with practice in other countries.

Unemployment Levels

 630. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her policy on tackling long-term unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37416/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The unemployment rate is currently 14.7% and while it has stabilised after several years of increases, the rate remains unacceptably high. It is of additional concern that long-term unemployment accounts for 61% of total unemployment, and for almost half of all unemployment among young people. In the first instance, the Government’s primary strategy to tackle long-term unemployment is to create the environment for a strong economy recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity through the Action Plan for Jobs . Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth.

  In addition to promoting economic recovery, the Government recognises the need for measures to support the long-term unemployed and keep jobseekers close to the labour market. Past experience suggests that, without such measures, long-term unemployment may fall more slowly than overall unemployment when strong economic growth returns.

  In this context, the major elements of the Government’s response are set out in the Pathways to Work   policy which is aimed at ensuring that as many as possible of the job vacancies that are created are filled by people from the Live Register, with a particular focus on those who are long term unemployed or at risk of long-term unemployment.

  Pathways to Work

  The Pathways to Work policy and the establishment of the new integrated National Employment and Entitlement Service (NEES) service will transform the nature and level of engagement between our employment and income support services and the unemployed. The policy is underpinned by five core strands which reflect the new integrated employment and income support services which are currently being established. Each of these strands places the customer at the centre of all the service’s activities, recognising their individual and specific needs. The strands provide for: transforming and reforming the employment and income support services institutions to deliver better services to the unemployed through an integrated approach; more regular and on-going engagement with people who are unemployed through active case management and profiling. There were over 87,000 referrals of unemployed welfare recipients to the employment service in the first eight months of 2012; greater targeting of activation places and opportunities by providing for over 85,000 places on initiatives such as Job Bridge – the National Internship Scheme, Tús, the Rural Social Scheme and the Jobs Initiative; incentivising the take up of opportunities by the unemployed; creating and enhancing relations with employers through incentivising the provision of opportunities for people who are unemployed. One such measure is the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme.

  The Pathways to Work policy sets very ambitious targets to be achieved over the next three years; to ensure that 75,000 of those long term unemployed will move into employment by 2015; to reduce the average time spent on the live register from 21 months to less than 12 months; to ensure that employers have access to and are offered suitable candidate to fill full time vacancies and that the proportion of vacancies filled by the Department’s employment services from the Live Register is at least to 40% by 2015; to ensure that each person in receipt of a jobseeker payment fulfils their personal responsibility to engage fully with the employment and training supports provided by the State as a pre-condition for recipe of their welfare payments.

  Education & Training

  The Government has also taken various initiatives to allow those who are out of work to up-skill through the education and training system. The most prominent schemes in this regard are the Back to Education Allowance and the Springboard Initiative. In the 2010/2011 academic year there were 25,000 participants on the Back to Education Allowance scheme, with similar numbers expected for 2011/2012. Springboard offers a choice of free courses in higher education from certificate, to degree, to post-graduate level. All courses lead to qualifications in enterprise sectors which are growing and need skilled personnel. Participants on Springboard courses retain their social welfare payments. Sixty-per cent of Springboard participants have been unemployed for more than twelve months and one third of those for more than 24 months. Over 3,500 people are due to graduate this month from the first round of Springboard programmes, which were put in place in 2011 and an additional 6,000 places are being made available for this academic year.

  The State is also providing a wide range of vocational training options outside of the mainstream education system that are closely aligned to the needs of the labour market. Specific Skills Training courses are employment-led and lead to qualifications that offer learners both generic and advanced skills. The expected outcomes are progression to employment in the occupational field or to further and higher education/training and the achievement of certification from levels 5 – 7 in the National Qualifications Framework. The training system also provides Apprenticeships and Traineeships which entail significant skill requirements best acquired through a combination of alternating periods of on and off-the-job training. There were some 27,000 participants on these three FAS programmes in 2011. The Government is prioritising places on training courses for those who have been on the Live Register for 12 months or more.

  In addition to these programmes, the Government is providing €20 million from the National Training Fund for a new Labour Market Education and Training Fund   for the long-term unemployed. This fund, which will be specifically targeted at the long-term unemployed, will deliver upwards of 6,500 training places provided by the private sector on a competitive-tender basis.

Sick Pay Scheme Reform

 631. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her policy on employers paying sick pay; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37419/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton For a number of compelling reasons, the Government is considering the introduction of a scheme of statutory sick pay at this time – as a measure to help in addressing the growing deficit in the Social Insurance Fund; to limit progression from short-term illness to long-term illness or disability; and also to bring Ireland into line with practices in other countries in this area.

The range of complex issues that need to be addressed before any decision could be taken by Government on the possible introduction of such a scheme – the extent of coverage; the rate of payment; possible compensation mechanisms for employers where appropriate and how the scheme would be enforced and policed – will be discussed in the course of the wider process associated with the preparation of Budget 2013.

Youth Unemployment Data

 632. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her policy on addressing youth unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37434/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Young people, typically, suffer disproportionately from job losses in recessions as they tend to have entered employment more recently, are more likely to hold temporary contracts and to be employed in cyclically sensitive industries than older workers. The Quarterly National Household survey indicated that there were 56,000 young unemployed aged 15-24 in Q1 2012, made up of 15,000 aged 15-19 and 41,000 aged 20-24. Of particular concern is the continued increase in the share of the young unemployed who are out of work for more than one year. They now account for half of all youth unemployment.

  In the first instance, the Government's primary strategy to tackle youth unemployment is to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth. Past experience suggests that youth unemployment, which tends to rise relatively rapidly in a downturn, can be expected to fall relatively rapidly during the recovery.

  In addition to promoting economic recovery, the Government recognises the need for interim measures to support the young unemployed and keep young jobseekers close to the labour market.

  There are five main approaches being taken to tackle youth unemployment: education, training, job search assistance/guidance, work experience, and encouraging job creation. These actions range across a number of Departments and Agencies.

  In terms of education, the Youthreach programme provides integrated education, training and work experience for unemployed early school leavers without any qualifications or vocational training who are between 15 and 20 years of age. There are almost 6,000 places available nationwide under the Youthreach umbrella.

  The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) scheme, operated through VECs, provides a range of courses to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people over 21 years of age (particularly early school leavers). There were almost 1,000 participants on VTOS who were under 25 years of age in December 2010.

  The Back to Education Allowance scheme run by my Department provides income maintenance, along with a contribution to education costs, for unemployed people returning to further or higher education. Over 6,500 young people participated in the in the last academic year.

  Over 18,000 persons aged 25 and under completed a training course with FÁS in 2011 (excluding evening courses). Training allowances on eligible courses exceed what a young person would receive in jobseekers' payments, providing an incentive to take up training programmes.

  The Labour Market Education and Training Fund (LMETF) is part of the Government's 2012 Action Plan for Jobs initiative. The Department of Education and Skills has committed €20m to fund a range of education and training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long term unemployed.   There are four themes to the funding, one of which is dedicated to the cohort of under 25s.

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

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

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

Gender Recognition Issues

 633. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will grant recognition to transgender persons and equality in same-sex marriage (details supplied).  [37711/12]

 635. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when transgender-intersex citizens will be recognised and the reason for the failure to date to provide such recognition.  [37934/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 633 and 635 together.

The Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) was established in 2010 to advise the Government on the legislation required to give legal recognition to the acquired gender of transgender persons. The Report of the Group, which recommends a scheme for the legal recognition of transgender persons, was approved by the Government on 12 July 2011, and was subsequently published on 14 July, 2011.

Since the publication of the Report, the Department has been working on developing draft Heads of a Gender Recognition Bill. In this context, it has engaged in discussions with the relevant medical health professionals and with representatives from interested NGOs. Given the legal complexities involved in relation to some of the GRAG recommendations relating to the marital and civil partnership status of individuals, in March, my Department sought advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which in turn sought the legal opinion of external counsel on these issues.

The external counsel’s legal opinion on these issues was recently received in my Department and will inform discussions between officials in my Department, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice and Equality and external counsel. The outcome of these discussions will continue to inform the drafting of the Heads of a Bill. Given the sensitive and complex nature of the issues involved, it is my intention to ask the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education to discuss draft Heads of Bill once they are completed.

With regard to intersex persons the GRAG concluded that addressing the inclusion of the intersex condition required more research and medical expertise than was available to it. In addition, the Group was concerned that the intersex condition was outside its specific remit to advise on the legislation required to provide for the legal recognition of transgender people..

Youth Unemployment Data

 634. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she has any proposals to support the 40% of persons under the age of 25 who are unemployed and are seeking employment. [37728/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Young people, typically, suffer disproportionately from job losses in recessions as they tend to have entered employment more recently, are more likely to hold temporary contracts and to be employed in cyclically sensitive industries than older workers. The Quarterly National Household survey indicated that there were 56,000 young unemployed aged 15–24 in Q1 2012, made up of 15,000 aged 15-19 and 41,000 aged 20-24. This represents just under 30% of the young labour force, and 11% of the young adult population. Of particular concern is the continued increase in the share of youth unemployed who are out of work for more than one year. They now account for half of all youth unemployment.

  In the first instance, the Government’s primary strategy to tackle youth unemployment is to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth. Past experience suggests that youth unemployment, which tends to rise relatively rapidly in a downturn, can be expected to fall relatively rapidly during the recovery.

  In addition to promoting economic recovery, the Government recognises the need for interim measures to support the young unemployed and keep young jobseekers close to the labour market.

  There are five main approaches being taken to tackle youth unemployment: education, training, job search assistance/guidance, work experience, and encouraging job creation. These actions range across a number of Departments and Agencies.

In terms of education, the Youthreach programme provides two years integrated education, training and work experience for unemployed early school leavers without any qualifications or vocational training who are between 15 and 20 years of age. There are almost 6,000 places available nationwide under the Youthreach umbrella.

  The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) scheme, operated through VECs, provides a range of courses to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people over 21 years of age (particularly early school leavers). There were almost 1,000 participants on VTOS who were under 25 years of age in December 2010.

  The Back to Education Allowance scheme run by my Department provides income maintenance, along with a contribution to education costs, for unemployed people returning to further or higher education. Over 6,500 young people participated in the in the last academic year.

  Over 18,000 persons aged 25 and under completed a training course with FÁS in 2011 (excluding evening courses). Training allowances on eligible courses exceed what a young person would receive in jobseekers’ payments, providing an incentive to take up training programmes.

  The Labour Market Education & Training Fund (LMETF) is part of the Government’s 2012 Action Plan for Jobs initiative. The Department of Education & Skills has committed €20m to fund a range of education and training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long term unemployed.   There are four themes to the funding, one of which is dedicated to the cohort of under 25s.

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

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

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

  Question No. 635 answered with Question No. 633.

  Question No. 636 withdrawn.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

 637. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of occasions in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012 in which one month’s rents in advance have been provided through exceptional needs payments. [38746/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. There are currently over 90,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided €436 million for 2012.

  Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, a payment for rent in advance can be made as an exceptional needs payment. An exceptional needs payment may be made to help meet an essential once-off cost, which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment and each application is determined by the officer administering the SWA scheme based on the particular circumstances of the case taking account of the nature and extent of the need. Such payments are confined to occurrences which are considered to be unexpected, unforeseen or exceptional.

  Payment of rent in advance ensures that individuals with particular needs can be accommodated within the scheme and specifically protects against homelessness. Details of the number of occasions rent was paid in advance for the period 2008 to date are provided in the following tabular statement.

  Payment of rent in advance

Year No. of Payments
2008 132
2009 119
2010 76
2011 52
2012 52*
      *Figures for 2012 cover the period 1/1/12 – 07/09/12

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

 638. 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 her attention has been drawn to the fact that due to the refusal by her Department to provide rent support in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare they cannot have visits from their children due to their inability to provide accommodation from their own resources; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that all information requested over the past two years has been supplied to no avail and the person is now attempting to pay for their rental accommodation; if she will confirm the number and status of leases they have supplied to her Department during the period in question; if an appeal or oral hearing is pending; when it might be deemed likely to offer rent support in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39569/12]

 644. 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 and when rent supplement will issue in view of the contradictory reply to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 5 July 2012 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37188/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 638 and 644 together.

The person concerned has been refused higher rent supplement to cover accommodation for himself and his child as the child is primarily accommodated with his mother and his housing need has already been met. This refusal has been upheld by the HSE appeals office. While the person concerned would qualify for rent supplement at the single rate for self-contained accommodation in Kildare, he has not provided any documentation to indicate that the rent has ever been reduced to that rate. Throughout the application process, the person concerned has only ever provided the Department with one lease which stated that the rent was €700.00 per month whereas the approved rent limit is €400.00 per month. If the person concerned wishes to appeal this decision, he must appeal directly to the Chief Appeals Officer who functions independently of the Department. An appeal can be sent in writing to Social Welfare Appeals Office, D’Olier House, D’Olier St, Dublin 2.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes

 639. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the steps she has taken to address the issues of tax parity and PRSI contributions for self-employed workers; her views on whether the current system discourages persons from becoming self-employed due to the absence of a social safety net if business fails; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37166/12]

 741. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38137/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 639 and 741 together.

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

Any changes to the PRSI system to extend the full range of social insurance benefits to self-employed persons would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered in the context of a much more significant rise in the rate of contribution payable.

I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare last year and one of the issues that the Group is currently considering is the issue of providing social insurance cover for self-employed persons in order to establish whether or not such cover is technically feasible and financially sustainable. In addition, the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund, which has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and will be generally available in the next few days, has examined this matter.

Self-employed individuals who fall on hard times or are without work for some time may establish entitlement to assistance-based payments. Those who have been previously self-employed can apply for the means-tested jobseeker’s allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year and, in the current climate, account is taken of the downward trend in the economy. As in the case of a non-self-employed claimant for assistance-based payments, the means of husband/wife, civil partner or co-habitant will be taken into account in deciding on entitlement to a payment.

Farm Assist Scheme Application Numbers

 640. Deputy Tom Barry Information on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of claimants for farm assist in the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012 and the amount of money paid out in total in those years. [37167/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton A table detailing the number of recipients of a payment under the farm assist scheme follows showing the number of recipients at the end of July 2012 and at end of the years 2007 to 2011 inclusive. The table also details the finalised expenditure figures for the year’s 2007 to 2011 as well as the total provisional expenditure on farm assist to 31 July 2012.

Year Recipients Expenditure
2007 7,376 €78.7m
2008 7,496 €84.9m
2009 8,972 €93.3m
2010 10,714 €110.9m
2011 11,333 €113.7m
31 July 2012 11,137 €63.5m*
        *Provisional

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 641. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason an invalidity pension has ceased in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [37182/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 23rd July 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers have been received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.   

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.


Last Updated: 06/05/2020 09:09:43 First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page