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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 456-479
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item One-Parent Family Payment Appeals
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Payments
 Header Item Social Welfare Code Issues
 Header Item Home-makers Scheme Applications
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Numbers
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Illness Benefit Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Eligibility
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 788 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 124 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 456-479

Family Income Supplement Applications

 456. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a family income supplement payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if same will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1011/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned made a first time application for family income supplement (FIS) on 5 November 2012.

  To qualify for FIS a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment as an employee 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.   

  Following their application, the case of the person concerned was referred to a social welfare investigator. Upon receipt of the social welfare investigator’s report, a deciding officer decided that FIS was not payable on the ground that the employment concerned is self-employment. As FIS is only payable to employees, the application has been refused.

  However, other arrangements exist whereby self-employed people on low earnings can receive additional payments under the social welfare system. Self-employed people whose income falls below the rate of jobseeker’s allowance (JA) appropriate to their family circumstances are entitled to claim assistance.      

  The rate of assistance payable depends on the person's means. In assessing means, account is taken of the net income which the applicant may reasonably expect to receive in the next year, and all expenses necessarily incurred by the applicant in carrying out the business are disregarded.

  The person concerned should enquire into his entitlements, in this regard, at his local social welfare office.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 457. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their application for carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1031/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 15th June 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 458. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a review and decision will be made on an appeal in respect of a person in County Mayo who had their invalidity pension withdrawn; if this person will be given a medical review on foot of the extra information supplied; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1032/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Payment of invalidity pension, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was medically unsuitable.

  An appeal was registered on 2nd January 2013 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with the statutory procedures, the relevant department papers and the comments of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of the appeal have been sought. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out.

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

One-Parent Family Payment Appeals

 459. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on a one-parent family appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [1036/13]

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 together with the relevant Departmental papers and the comments of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal was received in that office on 9th January 2013. 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.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

 460. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will approve an application for rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1046/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned has made an application for rent supplement and was requested to provide further information on the 5th October 2012 in order to process his claim. A decision will be made on his application when the information has been provided.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 461. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a carer's allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [1049/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 20th October 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department’s medical assessors who was of the opinion that the caree in question was not medically eligible for carer’s allowance. A letter issued on the 17th July 2012 refusing the allowance. The person in question subsequently submitted further medical evidence for review on 14th August 2012. The additional evidence has recently been assessed by a medical assessor and the application is now with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

  Question No. 462 withdrawn.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 463. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on a carer's allowance appeal application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1058/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 29th June 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department’s medical assessors who found that the caree in question was not medically eligible for carer’s allowance. The deciding officer further decided that the applicant was not habitually resident in the State. A letter issued on the 10th of March 2012 notifying the person concerned of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review or appeal.

The person in question requested a review of this decision. Following the review, the caree in question was found to be medically eligible. The habitual residency condition has also been reviewed. The application is with a deciding officer for a revised decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Carer's Allowance Payments

 464. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide an update on any changes in the payments made to carer's in the years 2002 and to date, including in Budget 2013, in tabular form; the numbers that qualified for the various payments in each of the years concerned; the overall budget for carer's supports from her Department in each of those years in tabular form; the data that is available to her Department that enables a comparison to be made to financial supports to carer's in other EU countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1067/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The estimated expenditure on carers in 2012 is over €771 million: €509 million on carer’s allowance, €24 million on carer’s benefit, €135 million on the respite care grant and €103 million on domiciliary care allowance. This represents an increase of almost €20 million on expenditure in 2011. Carer’s also receive a free travel pass at an annual cost of €6 million and carers who reside with the care recipient are eligible for the household benefits package at an annual cost of approximately €30 million.

  The principal source of data for other jurisdictions is MISSOC, the 'Mutual Information System on Social Protection / Social Security'. The system includes information on Social Protection in all 27 Member States of the European Union, the three countries of the European economic area - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - as well as Switzerland.

  The tables below provide the information requested by the Deputy:

Changes to Rate of Respite Care Grant - 2002-2013
Year
Rate of Grant€
% change over previous year
2002
635
25
2003
735
15.7
2004
835
13.6
2005
1,000
19.8
2006
1,200
20
2007
1,500
25
2008
1,700
13.3
2009
1,700
0
2010
1,700
0
2011
1,700
0
2012
1,700
0
2013
1,375
-19
Changes to Rate of Carer’s Allowance – Under Age 66 – 2002 -2013  
       
 
Rate €
Increase €
Increase %
       
2002
122.60
10.23
9.1%
2003
129.60
7.00
5.7%
2004
139.60
10.00
7.7%
2005
153.60
14.00
10.0%
2006
180.00
26.40
17.2%
2007
200.00
20.00
11.1%
2008
214.00
14.00
7.0%
2009
220.50
6.50
3.0%
2010
212.00
(8.50)
-3.9%
2011
204.00
(8.00)
-3.8%
2012
204.00
0
0
2013
204.00
0
0
Changes to Rate of Carer’s Allowance – Over Age 66 - 2002-2013  
       
 
Rate €
Increase €
Increase %
       
2002
137.80
12.73
10.2%
2003
147.80
10.00
7.3%
2004
157.80
10.00
6.8%
2005
169.80
12.00
7.6%
2006
200.00
30.20
17.8%
2007
218.00
18.00
9.0%
2008
232.00
14.00
6.4%
2009
239.00
7.00
3.0%
2010
239.00
0.00
0.0%
2011
239.00
0.00
0.0%
2012
239.00
0.00
0.0%
2013
239.00
0.00
0.0%


  Changes to Carer's Benefit
     
 
Rate €
Increase €
Increase %
2002
132.70
10.17
8.3%
2003
139.70
7.00
5.3%
2004
149.70
10.00
7.2%
2005
163.70
14.00
9.4%
2006
180.70
17.00
10.4%
2007
200.70
20.00
11.1%
2008
214.70
14.00
7.0%
2009
221.20
6.50
3.0%
2010
213.00
(8.20)
-3.7%
2011
205.00
(8.00)
-3.8%
2012
205.00
0.00
0.0%
2013
205.00
0.00
0.0%


  Expenditure on Carer’s schemes
  Carer's Allowance Carer's Benefit (1) Respite Care Grant (2) Total (5) % Increase (year on year)
  €000 €000 €000 €000  
2002 160,042 5,807 n/a 165,849 24.9%
2003 183,273 6,943 n/a 190,216 14.7%
2004 210,277 7,698 n/a 217,975 14.6%
2005 223,059 9,588 34,302 266,949 22.5%
2006 284,584 16,688 50,458 351,730 31.8%
2007(3) 361,257 26,900 73,376 461,533 31.2%
2008 450,260 33,666 98,204 582,130 26.1%
2009 502,469 30,204 99,200 631,873 8.5%
2010 501,789 26,288 128,097 656,174 3.8%
2011 507,193 24,474 130,392 662,059 -0.8%
2012 (est) 509,170 24,072 135,490 668,732 1.0%
2013 (est) 534,200 24,300 110,650 669,150 0.06%
% increase 2000-2010 Total expenditure on all carers schemes has increased by 570% from 2000 to 2012
1: Carer's benefit was introduced in 2000

2: Expenditure on respite care grant is included in carer's allowance or carer's benefit expenditure for the years 2000 to 2004 inclusive

3: Half-rate carer's allowance was introduced in September 2007

This table does not, for comparability purposes, include expenditure on domiciliary care allowance which was transferred to the Department during the course of 2009. Expenditure in 2010 was €95.7, 2011 was €99.9 million, 2012 was €102.5 million (est) and estimated expenditure for 2013 is €106.8 million.


  Recipients of Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit 2002 – 2012
Year
Carer’s Allowance
Carer’s Benefit
2002
20,395
615
2003
21,316
639
2004
23,030
679
2005
24,970
867
2006
27,474
1,647
2007
33,067
2,080
2008
43,569
2,249
2009
48,223
1,917
2010
50,577
1,642
2011
51,666
1,637


  Number of Respite Care Grants paid in 2010 and 2011
Scheme 2010 2011
Carer’s Allowance 38,260 39,600
Carer’s Benefit 1,720 1,200
Domiciliary Care Allowance 25,500 26,700
Standalone RCG 6,500 5,600
Total 71,980 73,100
  The figures for Carer’s Benefit , Domiciliary Care Allowance and Standalone RCG are approximate.

  Note:   There were 51,666 people in receipt of carer’s allowance, including half-rate carer’s allowance in 2011. The reason for the lower number of grants for carer’s allowance in the table above is because some people were awarded the grant as part of the domiciliary care allowance prior to being awarded carer’s allowance.   

  Data in relation to respite care grant is not readily available over a longer period. However, it can be noted that all recipients of carer’s allowance or carer’s benefit would automatically have received this payment.

  People receiving more than one Respite Care Grant 2011
Carer’s Allowance Carer’s Benefit Domiciliary Care Allowance
·2,850 in respect of two care recipients

·91 in respect of three care recipients

·7 in respect of four care recipients

·2 in respect of five care recipients
·94 in respect of two care recipients

·1 in respect of three care recipients
·1,509 in respect of two children

·124 in respect of three children

·10 in respect of four children
Total 3,061 Total 96 Total 1,787

  Question No. 465 answered with Question No. 412.

Social Welfare Code Issues

 466. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will give consideration to supports to carer's who need additional financial aid in respect of respite costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1069/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I am aware that the reduction in the respite care grant is very difficult for carers. However, in order to allow us to protect the core weekly payments which people receive such as pensions, disability and carer’s allowance, the Government had to look very carefully at other additional payments, such as the respite care grant. I have no plans to introduce additional financial aid in respect of respite costs.

Carers receive significant income supports from the Department, among the highest rates of income support in Europe. Carers receive additional support in the form of free travel and household benefits (for those who live with the person for whom they care), and the annual respite care grant in respect of each person for whom they care. If a person is getting certain qualifying social welfare payments and also providing full time care and attention to another person, they can keep their main social welfare payment and get the half-rate carer's allowance as well. They can also receive an extra half-rate carer’s allowance if they care for more than one person.

The income disregard and means test for carers is the most generous within the social welfare system. A couple under 66 with two children, earning a joint annual income of up to €35,400 can qualify for maximum payment carer’s allowance which such a couple earning €59,300 will still qualify for the minimum rate.

Expenditure on carers has increased significantly in recent years. The estimated expenditure on carers in 2012 was over €771 million: €509 million on carer’s allowance, €24 million on carer’s benefit, €135 million on the respite care grant and €103 on domiciliary care allowance. This represents an increase of almost €20 million on expenditure in 2011. There are almost 52,000 people in receipt of carer’s allowance. Of these, over 23,000 are getting half-rate carer’s allowance in addition to another social welfare payment at an annual cost of some €90 million. There are over 1,600 people in receipt of carer’s benefit. The numbers in receipt of a carer’s allowance payment from the Department have increased by more than 150% in the last 10 years from 20,000 in 2001 to 52,000 in 2012. Expenditure on the carer’s allowance scheme has increased by almost 220% in the same period.

The respite care grant is paid to approximately 70,000 people each year, with some 5,000 people in receipt of more than one grant as they care for more than one person. This includes people who are in receipt of the carer’s allowance, the domiciliary care allowance (DCA) and carer’s benefit. Persons who are in receipt of both DCA and carer’s allowance receive one respite payment. In addition, some 5,000 carers not in receipt of a carer’s payment receive the grant.

The rate of the respite care grant has also increased significantly in the last ten years from €635 in 2002 to €1,700 in 2012. Expenditure on the grant has increased by 290% since 2005 from €34.3 million to €135 million in 2012.

While the respite care grant is an important income support for carers, respite services are provided by the HSE, not through income supports provided by the Department of Social Protection. A survey carried out in 2006 indicated that the respite care grant, in the majority of cases, is not used for respite care.

If a person getting a social welfare payment has a once-off exceptional expense which they cannot reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income, they may apply for an exceptional needs payment under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

Home-makers Scheme Applications

 467. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of applications that have been received before the deadline to register retrospectively for home makers credits; her plans to review the situation and consider allowing further registration for credits for past years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [1070/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The homemaker scheme makes qualification for the State pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme was introduced in and took effect from 1994. The scheme allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person’s social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

The homemaker disregard will not, of itself, qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance ten years before pension age, pay a minimum of 520 contributions at the correct rate and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age, must also be satisfied.

The conditions for this scheme are provided for in secondary legislation each year by way of regulation. This regulation allows for the extension of the time limit for applications. In this regard, Statutory Instrument No. 567 of 2012 was signed by me on 21 December 2012 to extend the registration deadline for applications from people who commenced homemaking duties between 6 April 1994 and 31 December 2012 to 31 December 2013. Therefore, the question regarding the consideration of allowing further registration of retrospective claims and the numbers of applications received before the deadline does not arise.

I have no plans to backdate the homemaker scheme. While my Department will keep this scheme under review, any improvements which could result in further costs for the Exchequer could only be considered in a budgetary context.

National Internship Scheme Numbers

 468. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a person who has completed a JobBridge internship and who had previously started but not completed a JobBridge internship might be considered for a new placement under any circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [1075/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton All participants in JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, who have completed an internship or who have started but not completed an internship are eligible for a second placement. The Scheme provides for a maximum of two internships per individual over a combined period of 9 months (39 weeks). This is subject to all other eligibility criteria being met.

  JobBridge is a targeted labour market activation intervention intended to assist jobseekers to break the cycle where they are unable to get a job without experience, to provide those seeking employment with the opportunity to gain work experience, maintain close links with the labour market and to enhance their skills and competencies through an internship opportunity, thereby improving their prospects of securing employment in the future. The scheme gives individuals a real opportunity to gain valuable experience to bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives. It is has been launched in this targeted way to ensure that it does not replace or displace the normal operation of the labour market, which is an essential element of Ireland’s economic recovery.

  The JobBridge Scheme has made very significant progress in achieving those objectives since it came into operation on the 1st July 2011. By 27th December, 2012, 13,232 internships had commenced, with 5,612 participants on an internship and 2,083 opportunities advertised on www.JobBridge.ie   as of that date.

  The interim evaluation of JobBridge by Indecon International Economic Consultants (published on 5th   October, 2012) states that 52.3% of JobBridge finishers progressed into employment with either their host organisation or another employer since finishing their internship. These progression rates compare favourably with European averages in this area. Given that, in the past, some labour market programmes have been seen as having insignificant or even negative impacts on employment probabilities, this suggests JobBridge is an appropriate labour market intervention.

  Further information on outcomes will be ascertained as a result of the ongoing formal evaluation of JobBridge. It is anticipated that the final Report will be available in the coming weeks. This evaluation will assess the design, delivery and impact of the JobBridge Scheme, it will provide details of the nature of the work experience of the participants; a measurement of the relevance of that experience to the labour market, analysis of age categories and further findings concerning progression into employment. It will also present recommendations on how the Scheme might be improved. It is at this stage that further consideration will be given to amending the terms and conditions of the Scheme. Any such amendments to the scheme will be notified via the website.

  Question No. 469 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 470. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will expedite a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied). [1087/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 08th January 2013, 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 appeal against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

  Question No. 471 answered with Question No. 415.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 472. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision on an application for carer's allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 4; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1151/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 21st February 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 473. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their appeal for invalidity pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1153/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence allowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer decision.

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.

Illness Benefit Appeals

 474. 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 the position regarding an application for illness benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1164/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 27th   November 2012, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 475. 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 the position regarding an appeal against a decision to disallow an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1165/13]

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 9th January 2013. 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. When received, 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.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

 476. 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 the position regarding jobseeker's allowance in respect of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1167/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeals by the persons concerned were referred to an Appeals Officer on 30th   November 2012, who will make a summary decision on the appeals 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 appeal against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Family Income Supplement Eligibility

 477. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will review the condition for qualification for family income supplement that requires the applicant to work a minimum of 19 hours a week as, if companies choose to employ staff on short working weeks, those employees cannot earn sufficient income at work and at the same time cannot get any top up income from the State thereby leaving their families at greater risk of poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [1180/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The family income supplement (FIS) payment provides income support for employees on low earnings with children. The payment is designed to preserve the financial incentive to take-up or remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might be marginally better off in employment than on social welfare payments.

To qualify for payment of FIS, 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. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

The “hours worked” eligibility criteria has been reduced significantly since the introduction of the scheme in 1984. The requirement was initially set at 30 hours per week but was progressively reduced to 19 hours per week in 1996.

I have no immediate plans to make any significant changes to the qualifying criteria for FIS. Further reducing the “hours worked” requirement could only be decided on in a budgetary context. More generally, I recognise that creating jobs and tackling poverty are two of the key challenges that we face. It is essential that our tax and social protection systems play their part in addressing these issues and ensure that work is worthwhile. To this end, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare with the aim of harnessing expert opinion and experience in order to address a number of specific issues. These include making cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes, particularly child poverty outcomes. In this regard the Group is currently examining the issue of working age supports, which includes consideration of in-work supports such as FIS.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 478. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1187/13]

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 18th December 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. When received, 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.

  Question No. 479 answered with Question No. 447.


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