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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 555 - 577
 Header Item Industrial Property Portfolio
 Header Item Small and Medium Enterprises Supports
 Header Item Renewable Energy Generation Issues
 Header Item Employment Appeals Tribunal
 Header Item Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities
 Header Item International Labour Conference
 Header Item IDA Site Visits
 Header Item Job Losses
 Header Item Employment Appeals Tribunal
 Header Item Child Poverty
 Header Item Live Register Numbers
 Header Item Household Benefits Scheme
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Status
 Header Item Fuel Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Status
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Live Register Numbers
 Header Item FÁS Training Programmes Eligibility
 Header Item FÁS Training Programmes Provision

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 799 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 555 - 577

Industrial Property Portfolio

 555. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will provide an update on Industrial Development Agency lands in an area (details supplied); if he will provide a breakdown of the location and size of these lands by town; the current marketing strategy for each of these sites; if he will give details of the progress made to date in securing investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16875/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The management of IDA Ireland’s property portfolio is a day to day operational matter for the Agency and not one in which I have a function.

IDA Ireland has informed me that it continues to promote its property portfolio in Arklow and Greystones, as well as other public and private parks in other locations in County Wicklow, in collaboration with the Enterprise staff in Wicklow County Council.

The IDA Arklow Business and Technology Park extends to approximately 32 Hectares, accessed directly from the N11, and is an IDA Flagship Park. The Park has been designed and landscaped to a very high standard, including full services infrastructure to suit future investment in manufacturing and international services sectors. There are approximately 19.8 Hectares of serviced lands available for development which are being marketed for potential foreign direct investment (FDI).

IDA Ireland’s strategic greenfield site is located in Greystones, Co. Wicklow and extends to approximately 17.9 Hectares of serviced lands available for development. In 2012 IDA completed the transfer of approximately 2.88 Hectares of its lands to Procap, Wicklow Plastics Limited, who are now in full on site operation.

The IDA Ireland Bray Business Park is owned by Bray Town Council and there are currently no marketable lands remaining for development.

In the current economic climate the delivery of new and non-traditional investment and employment opportunities is essential in the on-going economic recovery. In this context IDA Ireland has taken the decision to open up its land holdings in a number of locations nationally.

The Agency has also indicated that it would consider opportunities to utilise its Wicklow portfolio to attract other non-traditional type investments into the region, investments which do not fall under the general remit of IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland but which could create investment and employment opportunities. Accordingly, IDA Ireland currently has approximately 10.4 Hectares of its Greystones portfolio on the open market through a National Agent and is currently in negotiations with prospective clients.

There are 17 IDA client companies in County Wicklow which have created 2,267 full and part time jobs and, with the improved infrastructure that is now in place, contribute to the attractiveness of the East region for future investment. On 7th December 2012, Nypro Healthcare announced that it is to further expand its medical device operations in Bray, Co. Wicklow with the opening of a new medical device development centre and the creation of 100 new high quality jobs.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

 556. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the amount of funding that was provided by Enterprise Ireland to businesses operating in an area (detailed supplied) in 2011 and 2012 and to date in 2013; and the number of companies in this area that Enterprise Ireland is currently supporting and working with.  [16876/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Since the beginning of 2011, Enterprise Ireland (EI) has paid approximately €4.7m in support of companies in County Wicklow to help them grow their sales and exports and improve innovation and new product development in order that they can compete on world markets.

In 2012, there were 3,339 people employed on a full time basis in the 177 Enterprise Ireland client companies in Co. Wicklow. In addition, 424 people were employed on a part-time/contract basis. In 2012, Enterprise Ireland paid almost €2.1m to support client companies in the county. In 2011, EI paid €1.89m to its client companies. To date in 2013, the agency has paid €793,634 in support of its client companies.

Enterprise Ireland activity is focussed on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs in manufacturing and internationally traded services and who are setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies. The agency supported and showcased four HPSU’s in the county in 2012. EI works in close consultation and co-operation with other Agencies in the area, including IDA Ireland, Wicklow County Enterprise Board, as well as with Wicklow County Council to address development and infrastructural deficits in the county. The development of community based enterprise centres is a crucial part of the drive to create new regional enterprise and Enterprise Ireland works closely with the local Communities in County Wicklow, as well as with other organisations in this regard. The objective of the Community Enterprise Centre Programme is to enhance the development of an enterprise climate through the provision of infrastructural facilities to support the establishment and expansion of micro enterprises through local community participation. EI has supported the development of two such centres in the county, at Arklow and Wicklow Town.

Renewable Energy Generation Issues

 557. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the amount that Enterprise Ireland has invested or provided in grant aid to an ocean energy developer (details supplied); if he will also list other investments or grant aid provided by Enterprise Ireland in other ocean wave energy developers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17023/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Ocean Energy Development Unit, established in Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in 2009, is charged with co-ordinating the relevant activities of State agencies and initiating other measures to promote and develop the sector. Companies in the early-stage development of ocean wave energy projects are assisted by the SEAI. Where appropriate, Enterprise Ireland will work with their colleagues in SEAI to assist companies in the commercialisation of a validated technology. In such cases, Enterprise Ireland's role is to assist the promoters develop their business proposition, including their funding strategy and to make introductions to Irish and international Seed and Venture Capital funders.

Between 2007 and 2009, Enterprise Ireland approved funding to the ocean energy developer concerned. I am informed by Enterprise Ireland that they made payments of €984,619.27, to the company in question. In addition, Enterprise Ireland has paid €669,377.07 to four other ocean wave energy developers.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

 558. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the circumstances in which the Employment Appeals Tribunal acceptslate appeals; if the other party is automatically notified of such an appeal and given an opportunity to refute the late basis of the claim; and the systems that are in place to deal with the logging of an appeal by the deadline.  [17050/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) is independent in the exercise of its quasi-judicial function and I have no direct involvement in its day to day operations.

The various pieces of legislation under which the Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear cases set out the time limits for initiating claims or appeals with the Tribunal. Under the Unfair Dismissal and the Redundancy Payments Acts the Tribunal has discretion to extend the time for bringing a claim. In Unfair Dismissal cases the employee has six months from the date of dismissal to lodge a claim. However, the Tribunal, in exceptional circumstances, can extend the period for up to a year. In Redundancy Payment cases the time limit can be extended from one year to two years when reasonable cause is shown. Any issue concerning the extension of the statutory time limits in relation to the referral of a complaint to the Tribunal is a matter for the Division of the Tribunal hearing the case on the day of the hearing.

The Tribunal also hears appeals from the recommendations or decision of Rights Commissioners. The time limit for lodging the appeal depends on the relevant legislation and will be either 4 or 6 weeks from the date the Rights Commissioners Recommendation was communicated. The Tribunal does not have discretion to extend this period.

All claims/appeals are logged as received on the date the complaint is received in the Tribunal. The respondent is served a copy of the claim/appeal form along with a blank Notice of Appearance Form (T2). The Form T2 gives the respondent an opportunity to furnish a summary of the defence of the claim/appeal or alternatively concede the claim/appeal. All issues regarding a late lodgement of a claim will be a matter for the Division of the Tribunal on the day of the hearing.

Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities

 559. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he intends to develop a comprehensive employment strategy for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17179/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Significant changes to Departmental responsibility have occurred in recent years which place key activation, community employment, vocational training, placement services and other supports, including employer awareness and supports related to the employment of people with disabilities outside the remit of my Department.

The employment and community employment services of FÁS (formerly within the remit of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation) and of the Community Welfare Service (formerly within the Health Service Executive (HSE) have been integrated within the Department of Social Protection (DSP) in 2011-2012.

Current Government employment policies and strategies for which I have responsibility, including the Action Plan for Jobs, are designed to be all-inclusive throughout the workforce and apply across sectors of the economy. Enterprise support provided by my Department and its agencies is available to all, including persons with disabilities. My Department would, however, input to such a strategy.

My Department has commissioned disability audit reports and implemented a significant number of the recommendations in order to ensure insofar as is reasonably practicable that our buildings are as accessible as possible to all members of the public. My Department exceeded the requirement to employ three per cent of persons with a disability for 2011 and continues to monitor performance in this regard. As required under Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005, the Department’s Monitoring Committee met on several occasions in 2012 to monitor the three per cent target for the employment of people with disabilities in the Department’s agencies. The Committee submitted its Report via the Minister to the NDA by 30th June 2012. Public bodies under the aegis of the Department will shortly be requested to report on the data collection for 2012. The Department's Monitoring Committee will consider the data and compile the report for submission to the Minister and the NDA by 30th June 2013.

International Labour Conference

 560. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will provide details of all material from the Irish delegation to the International Labour Organisation's 2012 annual conference, including minutes of meetings, reports and all information and reports relating to Ireland's compliance with all ILO conventions.  [17195/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The 101st Session of the International Labour Conference, 2012 took place from 30th May – 14th June, 2012. The Irish Government sent a tripartite delegation to the Conference comprised of Government delegates and delegates from IBEC and ICTU.

  The following Committees took place during the ILC: Committee on the Application of Standards; Elaboration of an autonomous recommendation on the Social Protection Floor (single discussion, standard setting); Committee on Youth Employment (general discussion); A recurrent discussion on the strategic objective of fundamental principles and rights at work.

  All reports in relation to each Committee, and the outcomes of the Committees, are available on the ILO’s website www.ILO.org. Specifically the following link: http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/101stSession/lang--en/index.htm.

  The Government delegates covered the Committee on Youth Employment and the recurrent discussion on the strategic objective of fundamental principles and rights at work.

  They also monitored the difficulties that arose on the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS). The CAS regularly examines the application of standards in ILO member countries, and points out areas where they can be better applied.

  In June, 2012 the CAS, for the first time in the history of the ILO, could not reach agreement on the list of country cases for discussion and examination. The country list is a matter that can only be decided by the Social Partners. In this instance, the Employers had an issue with cases that referred to the right to strike i.e. Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) and Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949). Considerable discussions were held by the ILO office and the Social Partners at that time, but no agreement could be reached to move the stalemate forward during the 2012 ILC. It remains to be seen if there will be a country case list for discussion at this year’s ILC.

  During the third week of the Conference, my colleague Minister Sean Sherlock, Minister for Research and Innovation of this Department addressed the plenary session of the Conference.

  In relation to Ireland’s reporting obligations, Ireland has ratified 71 Conventions including all fundamental Conventions. Ireland makes annual reports to the ILO in relation to the current position in relation to requested conventions. As at 31st December, 2012, Ireland did not have any outstanding reporting obligations with the ILO. The annual ILO request for 2013 has been received into my Department and officials are currently working on this request.

  The most recent Convention adopted in June, 2011 was the Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention No. 189. I intend to progress the ratification of this Convention both nationally and at EU level during the Irish Presidency.

IDA Site Visits

 561. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of Industrial Development Agency site visits that have taken place with prospective investors to County Waterford and the south east region in the first three months of 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17233/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am informed by IDA Ireland that the Agency sponsored 6 site visits by potential investors to the South East, of which 5 were to Waterford, during the first three months of 2013.

On foot of the job losses announced by the Talk Talk company in Waterford in September 2011, I tasked the agencies and stakeholders in the South East region with coming up with a set of actions to address the long-standing unemployment problem in Waterford and the region generally. The specific recommendations contained in the South East Employment Action Plan, produced by Forfás, are being progressed by a Forum representing the agencies and key stakeholders in the region and I am satisfied with the progress to date on the actions contained in the South East Employment Action Plan. I am particularly pleased with the progress made by IDA Ireland in attracting foreign direct investment to the region. On 28th March, the Taoiseach and I announced that Nypro Healthcare is to establish an additional state to the art medical device manufacturing facility in Waterford. This newly established facility will result in the creation of over 200 new high quality jobs in phase 1 which is expected to increase in subsequent years.

Job Losses

 562. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the steps he is taking to mitigate the scale of job losses at a site (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17311/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton This company currently employs 420 people in its facility in Athlone. After a review of its operations, following a reduction in demand for the company's products, they have indicated that they expect to reduce the number of staff there by approximately 100 - 130. This is expected to take place over a two-year period, as older, non-commercial product lines are phased out.

The company will begin a consultation process with employees immediately and is committed to working with them during this period of transition. They anticipate that the reduction in staff numbers will be achieved through a combination of natural attrition, voluntary redundancy and compulsory redundancy. The company has stated that the Athlone plant will continue to play a strategic part in their future business, and the facility will remain strategically important to the company’s global development and manufacturing network.

IDA Ireland will remain in close contact with the company over the coming months. I have asked all the State agencies under my remit to continue to promote Athlone and the wider region for new industrial projects and enterprise development.

It is of course very disappointing when redundancies such as these occur, arising due to changes in circumstances facing individual companies. However, I would emphasise that job creation is central to this Government’s plans for economic recovery and the Programme for Government has job creation at its core. The role of my Department is to ensure that we have the right policies in place that will support and grow our enterprise base in order to facilitate both job creation and job retention. The programmes supported by my Department and its agencies will be critical in achieving economic growth through promoting the export potential of enterprise in Ireland and driving our economy. The Action Plan for Jobs 2013 is crucial for this work, and it builds on the successful 2012 Plan, where we achieved considerable progress on a wide range of Actions and we are confident that this momentum will be maintained.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

 563. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views regarding a submission (details supplied); and the mechanism available to the person to obtain the funding as awarded by the Employment Appeals Tribunal. [17313/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Employment Appeals Tribunal is independent in the exercise of its quasi-judicial function and I have no direct involvement in its day to day operations. Its sole function is to adjudicate on disputes on individual employment rights. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on any specific determination or award made by the Tribunal.

I understand that the Tribunal made an award in favour of your constituent under the Unfair Dismissals Acts and the Minimum Notice and terms of Employment Acts on 3rd September, 2007.

The enforcement of Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) determinations is a matter for the courts. In cases other than those covered by the Payment of Wages Act, the Enforcement Services Unit of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) has some capacity to have a determination of the EAT enforced through the civil courts.

Generally where an award has been made in favour of an employee, the employer has six weeks in which to comply. If the employer fails to do so within this period, the employee or the employee’s trade union may make an application to the Circuit Court for an order directing the employer to comply with the determination. Where an employee is not in a position to do so, the matter can be referred to NERA Enforcement Services Unit, which may, in certain circumstances, make an application to the Courts for an order on his/her behalf.

In deciding whether or not to intervene in the Minister’s name, NERA would have regard to the amount of the award, the potential for achieving a favourable outcome for the claimant and the scale of the costs likely to be incurred in doing so. The enforcement of a Circuit Court order in these circumstances is the responsibility of the relevant County Sheriff and my Department has no capacity to intervene.

In circumstances where a determination has been made by the Employment Appeals Tribunal in favour of employees, and the employer is legally insolvent, the employees are entitled to seek redress from the State through the Insolvency Payments Scheme. However, where a company has been dissolved it no longer has a legal existence unless it is re-instated by order of the High Court. It may not therefore be regarded as continuing to qualify for the redress available otherwise under the Insolvency Payments Scheme. As a consequence, this avenue would not be available in such cases as a means to payment of the amount sought. In addition, NERA would not be in a position to pursue a case through the courts where the legal entity no longer exists.

Child Poverty

 564. 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 in view of the fact that recent Central Statistics Office figures show more children are living in or at risk of consistent poverty, if she plans to extend the school meal programme to all primary schools in the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16037/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged children through two schemes. The first is the statutory urban school meals scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by this Department. The second is the school meals local projects scheme through which funding is provided directly to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who run their own school meals projects. Expenditure on the school meals programme in 2012 was €35 million. The Government has allocated an additional €2 million for the programme in 2013.

There are currently over 1,300 schools and organisations benefiting from the programme, of which over 750 are primary schools.

Priority for funding under the programme is given to schools which are part of the Department of Education and Skill’s initiative for disadvantaged schools, ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ (DEIS). The Department has written to approximately 170 DEIS schools currently not in the scheme at present, which includes primary and second level schools, requesting expressions of interest in participating in the scheme for the coming school year.

Live Register Numbers

 565. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of unemployed in County Longford in February, 2013, giving percentage rate, including the numbers which were first time jobseekers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16736/13]

 566. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of unemployed in County Westmeath in February, 2013, giving percentage rate of population, including the numbers which were first time jobseekers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16737/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 565 and 566 together.

  The information requested by the Deputy is not available in the format requested. However, the tabular statement below details the number of persons in Counties Longford and Westmeath who were on the live register at the end of February 2013, indicating the percentage of persons in each of these counties on the total live register at that date.

  Persons on the Live Register in Counties Longford and Westmeath

  February 2013

County Jobseeker's Allowance Jobseeker's Benefit Credits Only Total Percentage of Total Live Register
Longford 3,989 786 289 5,064 1.18%
Westmeath 7,285 2,123 894 10,302 2.40%


Total Live Register at end of February 2013 was 428,876.

  Question No. 567 withdrawn.

Household Benefits Scheme

 568. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason an illness benefit is not considered as a qualifying payment for the household benefits package; if there is any assistance that can be provided to a person who is unable to work due to a serious illness such as cancer and who is struggling to meet household bills; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15981/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton 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’s allowance (after 15 months); it is currently paid for 26 weeks from October to April each year. The scheme is available to approximately 400,000 customers and will cost an estimated €211 million in 2013. Because of the very cold weather at the start of April, the fuel allowance was paid for an additional week this year.

The fuel allowance scheme was envisaged as a way of providing some additional support for those on long-term welfare payments during the winter season. As illness benefit is not a long-term scheme, fuel allowance is not payable.

Under my Department’s supplementary welfare allowance scheme, a special heating supplement may be paid to assist people who have special heating needs. A person may qualify for a heating supplement, if they can show that they have extra heating needs because of their age, medical condition or disability, are living alone or only with a dependent adult or dependent children and satisfy a means test. Approximately 3,200 people are currently in receipt of this supplement.

In addition, exceptional needs payments (ENP) may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which an applicant is unable to meet out of his or her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is decided on the particular circumstances of the case. The provision for exceptional needs payments in 2013 is €47.6 million, with an additional €11.4 million for supplements.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

 569. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal may expect to have their habitual residence determination made by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16021/13]

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 15th February 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.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

 570. 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 if a person can receive a winter fuel payment from the UK, which is based on contributions, while also receiving a fuel allowance, which is based on financial need, as any barrier to receiving both would punish persons for their years of work and reduce a much-needed financial boost both for pensioners and the country's balance of payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16040/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The United Kingdom winter fuel payment is an annual tax-free payment made to eligible people to help towards their winter heating costs. It is a lump sum and in most cases is paid automatically, but some people need to claim. The total amount of winter fuel payment can vary from £100 - £300 sterling having regard to age and household composition. Most payments are made between mid- November and December in a given year.

The European Court of Justice has recently ruled that people living outside the UK may be paid the winter fuel payment where they can demonstrate a “genuine and sufficient link” to the UK’s social security system.

My Department pays a fuel allowance of €20 per week to qualified households who are in receipt of long-term social welfare or HSE payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. The fuel allowance season runs for 26 weeks from October to April each year.

The implications of this ECJ judgment are currently being examined, in particular the implications for eligibility for the fuel allowance in Ireland, which is paid on the basis that an applicant is unable to provide for his or her own heating needs.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

 571. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of people who are on the payroll in her Deportment; the number of physical payslips that her Department processes each month; the percentage of these that are sent to payees in the post; the breakdown in the overall cost of physical payslips and postage per year for the years 2008 to 2012; if payees have the option of switching to online payslips; if she and her Department will implement online payslips in the near future; if she has considered the savings this would make; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16064/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton At the end of March 2013, there were 7,109 staff on the Department’s payroll. Since July 2009 hard copy payslips have not been issued to staff in the Department except for those people on extended leave such as long term sick or maternity leave. Staff access their payslips via an online payroll system which is accessible via the Department’s intranet.

An average of 597 payslips were issued per month in 2012, all of which were issued by post. The approximate cost of stationery and postage for the years 2010 to 2012 was €5,400 per annum. The cost in 2009 was approximately €44,800 and in 2008 it was €75,000.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

 572. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a social protection appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16058/13]

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 8th January 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question 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

 573. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding jobseeker's allowance application/appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16073/13]

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 evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision.

  Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts.

  Following the submission of additional evidence the Appeals Officer has agreed to review the case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of his appeal has been finalised.

  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

 574. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a decision has been made in relation to the rate of jobseeker's allowance being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16079/13]

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 partially 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.

Live Register Numbers

 575. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide details of the current level of unemployment including details of long-term unemployment on a county basis and to outline the 10 towns/areas with the highest levels of unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16087/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The latest figures for the Live Register relate to end March 2013. The number of persons on the Live Register on the 29th March 2013 was 425,088. The overall number of persons on the register for more than one year was 187,896 or 44.2%. The number of persons on the Live Register by county is provided in the table, along with the breakdown of those persons on the register for less than a year and for more than a year for each county.

County < 1 year > 1 year Total % of LT Cases
Longford
2,480
2,544
5,024
50.64%
Limerick
10,042
8,995
19,037
47.25%
Wexford
9,777
8,703
18,480
47.09%
Offaly
4,891
4,250
9,141
46.49%
Laois
4,767
4,084
8,851
46.14%
Waterford
7,576
6,379
13,955
45.71%
Kilkenny
3,924
3,286
7,210
45.58%
Wicklow
6,644
5,506
12,150
45.32%
Dublin
56,042
45,955
101,997
45.06%
Clare
5,428
4,441
9,869
45.00%
Cavan
3,896
3,182
7,078
44.96%
Louth
9,366
7,617
16,983
44.85%
Westmeath
5,711
4,628
10,339
44.76%
Donegal
11,705
9,159
20,864
43.90%
Sligo
2,865
2,237
5,102
43.85%
Meath
6,048
4,720
10,768
43.83%
Galway
12,551
9,653
22,204
43.47%
Roscommon
2,301
1,751
4,052
43.21%
Kildare
10,472
7,932
18,404
43.10%
Leitrim
1,880
1,421
3,301
43.05%
Mayo
7,295
5,467
12,762
42.84%
Carlow
4,028
3,008
7,036
42.75%
Monaghan
3,736
2,776
6,512
42.63%
Tipperary
9,519
6,976
16,495
42.29%
Cork
24,151
17,309
41,460
41.75%
Kerry
10,097
5,917
16,014
36.95%
Total
237,192
187,896
425,088
44.20%

FÁS Training Programmes Eligibility

 576. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide information on the way FÁS currently works with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to provide supports for those seeking to return to work; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a fall off or reduction in the availability of these courses commensurate with a steep fall off in demand for State-supported home retrofit; if she intends to address this matter in the future and by what means; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16097/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The training programmes provided by FÁS, including those for unemployed people, come under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills.

  In deciding on which particular courses to provide for persons returning to work, there is provision for FÁS to consult with my Department at national and local level on the training needs of the unemployed. FÁS also consults with employers and other providers of information on national and local labour market conditions.

  However the final decision on course provision is made by FÁS as part of its annual service plan, submitted each year to the Minister for Education and Skills.

FÁS Training Programmes Provision

 577. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason certain educational courses supported under the momentum initiative will not entertain applications from citizens currently in receipt of lone parents allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16099/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Momentum initiative provides free education and training opportunities for up to 6,500 long-term unemployed jobseekers. The initiative is administered by FÁS and funded by the Department of Education & Skills through the National Training Fund (NTF) and co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). Eligibility for the Momentum initiative is determined by this Department, in line with the commitments given in Pathways to Work. The key target is those who are long-term unemployed. To be eligible for Momentum, a participant must: Be unemployed and on the Live Register for 12 months (312days) or longer; Be in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance/Benefit payment from this Department or have credited contributions for 12 months or longer; and Be actively seeking work.

A person in receipt of one parent family payment does not satisfy the criteria for Momentum as the focus is on those on the Live Register. Extension of the eligibility for Momentum is not being considered given the current size and construct of the Live Register, in particular the numbers of people who are now unemployed in excess of one year. The Deputy should note that a person not on the Live Register has access to other education and training opportunities supported by the State. The Momentum initiative represents a small percentage of the over 450,000 State-funded opportunities provided in 2012 in further education, higher education and training, namely: 75,000 FÁS training places in 2012; 180,000 Further Education places; 162,000 full-time Higher Education places, through Universities and Institutes of Technology across the country; Over 40,000 training places through Skillnets, including 8,000 for the unemployed, in partnership with private employers; and Over 6,000 Springboard free part-time higher education places in 2012, with additional places to be announced for this year.

Eligibility for accessing many of these interventions is not contingent on receipt of a social welfare payment or signing for credited contributions.


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