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. 179-198
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Data
 Header Item Foster Care Data
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Investigations
 Header Item Cúram agus Oideachas na Luath-Óige
 Header Item Child Care Costs
 Header Item Ministerial Responsibilities
 Header Item Household Benefits Scheme
 Header Item Ministerial Responsibilities
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Data
 Header Item Gender Recognition
 Header Item Rural Social Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Data
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Data
 Header Item Fuel Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Fuel Allowance Applications
 Header Item JobPath Programme

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 959 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 179-198

Child and Family Agency Data

 179. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children residential centres here by county; and the amount each centre has cost in each of the years 2011 to 2016 in tabular form. [40823/17]

 181. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children that were in residential care centres by age bracket (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2016 in tabular form. [40825/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 179 and 181 together.

  I have referred the Deputy's requests for information as detailed to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for direct response to the Deputy concerned.

Foster Care Data

 180. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of registered foster care homes here by county; and the amount each county has received in each of the years 2011 to 2016. [40824/17]

 182. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children that were in foster care by age bracket (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2016, in tabular form. [40826/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 182 together.

  I have referred the Deputy's request for specific information as detailed to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for direct response to the Deputy concerned.

Question No. 181 answered with Question No. 179.

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 180.

Child and Family Agency Investigations

 183. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will investigate with Tusla the steps taken regarding a report in 2016 of mental, physical and sexual abuse by other service users and staff circa 2010 to 2012 at a charity made by a person (details supplied); and if she will further investigate the complaints of the person that reports were not taken seriously or investigated adequately by the charity or Tusla. [40836/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I have requested information from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I will forward the reply to the Deputy once I have been furnished with this information.

Cúram agus Oideachas na Luath-Óige

 184. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín den Aire Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone cathain a fhoilseofar an tuarascáil ón bhfoghrúpa den Fhóram um Luathbhlianta ar baill de CNNG, Gaeloideachas, Foras na Gaeilge, na Naíonraí Gaelacha, an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna, an Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, an tÚdarás, agus an Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige. [40861/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Chuir foghrúpa an Fhóraim um Luathbhlianta maidir le tacaíocht don Ghaeilge a dtuarascáil achomair faoi bhráid an Fhóraim i mí Iúil. Ba í príomhbhéim fhoghrúpa an Fhóraim ná ceisteanna a phlé a bhaineann le ceisteanna faoin nGaeilge go ginearálta agus na torthaí a chur ar fáil don Fhóram níos leithne. Tá moltaí an ghrúpa i gcomhthéacs chóras na Luathbhlianta agus próiseas na meastachán cáinaisnéiseach á bplé anois. Cé go bhfuil an cheist mar gheall ar fhoilsiú na tuarascála achoimre á plé faoi láthair, níl cinneadh déanta ar an rud seo fós. 

Child Care Costs

 185. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the full year cost of increasing the universal child care subsidy universal band from €1,040 per year to €1,800, €2,400, €3,000 and €3,600, respectively, with pro rata increases for the part-time, sessional and half sessional subsidies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40886/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The cost of increasing the universal childcare subsidy from €1,040 per year to €1,800, €2,400, €3,000 and €3,600, with pro rata increases for the part time, sessional and half sessional subsidies is as follows:

Universal subsidy (max per year) Max per week Additional cost
€1,040 €20.00 €0m
€1,800 €34.62 €14m
€2,400 €46.15 €26m
€3,000 €57.69 €37m
€3,600 €69.23 €49m


  The table sets out cost estimates for the different scenarios proposed, based on the following assumptions:

  - There are no changes in the subsidy-rates for other Bands (A, AJ, B, D).

  - The costs are full-year costs.

  - There is no additional change in the level of parental demand for childcare as a result of the increased subsidies.

Ministerial Responsibilities

 186. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the number of Ministers of State attached to his Department; the responsibilities of each; if designated powers have been signed by him and assigned to the relevant Ministers of State; the date on which each designation was signed; the reason in circumstances in which no such designation has been made, this has not occurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40805/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring My Department has one Minister of State, Sean Kyne T.D., who was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment with responsibility for natural resources, community affairs and digital development.

An Order designating the functions within my Department which are to be assigned to Minister of State Kyne is currently being drafted and I intend to bring it to Government for approval shortly.

Household Benefits Scheme

 187. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she will consider reinstating the telephone allowance as part of the household benefit package in budget 2018 (details supplied). [41002/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The savings arising from the initial reduction and subsequent discontinuance of the telephone allowance meant that my Department was able to retain the other valuable elements of the household benefits package such as the electricity and gas allowance and the television licence. My Department will spend approximately €232 million this year on these elements of the household benefits package for over 430,000 customers.

The cost of the telephone allowance scheme had risen significantly each year, as the number of eligible customers grew. At the end of September 2013 there were almost 396,000 receiving the telephone allowance compared to approximately 316,000 people in 2007. This was an increase of 25%, or an average increase of nearly 4% per annum.

The Government is keenly aware of the impact of Budget decisions on the Department’s clients, and strives to ensure that the money available is targeted in the most effective way. In Budget 2016, the first increase in the basic rate of the State pension in seven years was given. This increased the personal rate of the non-contributory pension to €222, and that of the contributory pension to €233.30. There was also a €2.50 increase in the rate of the Fuel Allowance, from €20 to €22.50 per week.

In Budget 2017, there was a further increase in the rate of State pensions by €5, which has increased the maximum personal rate of the non-contributory pension to €227, and of the maximum rate of the contributory pension to €238.30.

Therefore, over the past two Budgets, the maximum weekly rate for State Pensions has increased by €8 per week, along with pro-rata increases for Increases for Qualified Adults. The value of these increases is well in excess of the value of the telephone allowance previously provided.

The Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has responsibility for the Seniors Alert Scheme which provides grant support for the supply of equipment such as personal alarms, smoke detectors and security lighting to enable older people without sufficient means to continue to live securely in their homes. The grant assistance is made available through community and voluntary groups registered with that Department and the equipment supplied under the scheme remains the property of the community group.

Any decision to restore the telephone allowance would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations. In the previous two Budgets, the Government has concentrated resources on increasing the rate of the pension, rather than on the Household Benefits package.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Ministerial Responsibilities

 188. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the number of Ministers of State attached to her Department; the responsibilities of each; if designated powers have been signed by her and assigned to the relevant Ministers of State; the date on which each designation was signed; the reason in circumstances in which no such designation has been made, this has not occurred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40798/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Government’s authority to delegate powers and duties to Ministers of State is contained in section 2 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1977.

  On 14 June 2017 Minister Finian McGrath T.D. was reappointed Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health with special responsibility for disability issues. The delegation of Minister McGrath’s statutory functions in relation to my Department was effected by way of the Social Protection (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2017 (S.I. 321 of 2017) which was signed by an Taoiseach on 18 July 2017.

  On 20 June 2017 Minister Pat Breen T.D. was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Employment and Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of the Taoiseach, and the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for trade, employment, business, EU digital single market and data protection. The preparation of a delegation order for Minister Breen is currently being considered.

Community Employment Schemes Data

 189. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty further to Parliamentary Question No. 695 of 20 September 2017, if there have been cases of persons participating in courses that are NFQ level 7 or higher as part of their individual learning plan agreed between the community employment supervisor with the person; the number of these persons; the NFQ level qualification attained; and the year it was attained during each of the past 15 years. [40809/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Training on Community Employment (CE) is based on the personal and occupational needs of each individual and is identified through the tailored Individual Learning Plan (ILP), agreed between the CE Supervisor and the participant and approved by my Department. A participant training grant is allocated to each CE Scheme.

  During their time on CE, participants are encouraged and supported to work towards a major award/industry recognised standard of achievement which supports progression to employment and further training and education. In general, participants on CE engage in training leading to an award on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) at Level 3, 4, 5 or 6, or industry recognised equivalent. The award level must be appropriate to the individual's ability, prior education history and progression goals.

  In a number of individual cases, having regard to the participant’s circumstances and the need to support an individual’s progression opportunities, a contribution towards the cost of a higher level award (NFQ Level 7 or higher) may be considered by my Department, in line with the overall training budget allocation.

  The following table shows the number of participants who were assisted to achieve awards at NFQ Level 7 or higher during their time on CE from the year 2012 to 2016: (Note: data available from 2012 only when responsibility for CE transferred to my Department).

Award Level Totals No. of Participants Major Award Minor Award Special Purpose Award Supplemental Award Other * Grand Total
Level 7 (HETAC) 318 231 62 36 1 30 360
Level 8 (HETAC) 132 84 59 10   5 158
Level 9 (HETAC) 37 27 15 2     44
Totals 487 342 136 48 1 35 562


  * Industry related or other equivalent certification

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Gender Recognition

 190. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the composition and terms of reference for the review group of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40812/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Section 7 of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 provides for a review of the Act to commence within 2 years of enactment of the legislation.

  My Department is working on this and I hope to be in a position to establish the review group shortly and its terms of reference will then be finalised. The matters covered by the review will include issues relating to gender recognition for children younger than 16 years of age; arrangements for 16 and 17 year olds; and the position of non-binary and intersex persons.

  The findings and conclusions of the review must be presented to the Oireachtas by September 2018.

Rural Social Scheme Eligibility

 191. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the new qualifying criteria for the rural social scheme; if she will honour the commitment made to participants that where on the rural social scheme before these changes were implemented that they would remain under the guidelines of the old qualifying criteria for the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40818/17]

 192. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the reason participants of the rural social scheme in County Kerry are being called for review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40819/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 192 together.

The rural social scheme (RSS) provides opportunities for farmers and fishermen/women who are currently in receipt of specified social welfare payments to work to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishermen and participants have the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing this valuable work in their local communities.

Since 1 February 2017, all participants commencing on the RSS have to be over 25 years of age and a 6 year overall participation limit on the work scheme also applies. The new measure ensures that places become available to provide opportunities for other farmers and fishermen to take part in the scheme. RSS participants who commenced on the scheme prior to 1 February 2017 will remain on the scheme, as long as they continue to remain eligible for the scheme.

To be eligible to participate on the RSS, an individual must satisfy the qualifying criteria for the scheme. This includes having an entitlement to one of the qualifying social welfare payments and maintaining an underlying entitlement to Farm/Fish Assist.

This Department has a strong governance ethos in relation to all funding provided for the administration of its schemes and programmes. It endeavours at all times to ensure that only eligible customers benefit from these schemes. This also applies to people who are already participating on a scheme.

Participants on the RSS are given an annual contract if they continue to satisfy the conditions of the scheme. In the event that any of the conditions pertaining to the scheme are not satisfied, the RSS contract cannot be renewed. In addition, payments can be reviewed at any stage to ensure that participants continue to satisfy the underlying conditions and to ensure that they receive their correct entitlement. This practice has been in place since the commencement of the scheme.

The control of RSS is aligned with the aims to reduce fraud and minimise risks to public funds on an ongoing basis. Any change in a participants/household circumstances should be notified to the Department as this may impact on their continued entitlement and their rate of payment. These rules apply to all participants on the RSS regardless of their location.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Data

 193. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the number of active participants on community employment schemes. [40829/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Community Employment (CE) schemes provide part-time temporary work in local communities, including opportunities for training and development as a stepping-stone back to employment, for people in receipt of a qualifying of social welfare payments. These schemes help to break the cycle of unemployment and improve a person’s chances of returning to the labour market.   

  The total number of participants active on CE schemes at end June 2017 was 22,053. My Department is conscious of the valuable contribution the schemes and participants are making in the provision of services to individuals and communities across Ireland.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Data

 194. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the number of community employment schemes that are engaged in crèche and after school services. [40830/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty    My Department introduced a new Community Employment (CE) childcare strand in 2013 under which there is a dedicated childcare training programme leading to a major award at QQI Level 5 for CE participants who work directly with children. The QQI Major Level 5 Award is the entry level requirement to work as a basic practitioner in childcare. This has led to rationalised entry requirements, defined standards of achievement, a career progression path, and a structure for CE workers in Early Years Services.

  These changes are designed to provide a more tailored and valuable support to the provision of community childcare and achieve greater coherence between participation on CE and the job market. This will improve the career path for participants who wish to pursue a career in childcare.

  As at the end of March 2017, there were just over 150 CE schemes with approximately 1,600 participants directly engaged in the provision of crèche and after school services.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

 195. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that they qualify. [40838/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Fuel allowance is a means tested payment to assist householders on long-term social welfare payments who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

Eligibility for fuel allowance is subject to a household means test and other qualifying conditions, such as household composition. With regard to means, a person may have a combined household income of up to €100.00 per week over and above the maximum rate of state pension (contributory). For every means limit set, applicants who exceed the permissible income limit, marginally or otherwise, fail to qualify.

In addition to their state pension (contributory), the person concerned is in receipt of a private pension which brings them over the permissible weekly income limit. On that basis, their application for fuel allowance was disallowed. There is no scope for discretion to be applied where a claimant does not satisfy the conditions for the scheme.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Applications

 196. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of a fuel allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40853/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The fuel allowance is payable to persons who receive certain qualifying social welfare payments. Carer's allowance is not a qualifying payment.

  However, carers may qualify for fuel allowance if they are getting half-rate carer's allowance and another qualifying social welfare payment. Alternatively, if the carer resides with their care recipient, that care recipient may be in receipt of a qualifying payment and entitled to apply for the fuel allowance in their own right.

  In this case, neither the person concerned nor the care recipient is in receipt of a qualifying payment.

  Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, a weekly or monthly supplement may be paid to assist people whose means are insufficient to meet their needs in certain circumstances.

  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.

  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 person concerned could apply for these payments from her local community welfare service.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobPath Programme

 197. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) contracted by her Department to provide JobPath services is demanding that users register with a London-based company.  [40865/17]

 198. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if she has satisfied herself that no data protection concerns arise from the demand by a company (details supplied) contracted by her department to provide JobPath services that users register with a London based company.  [40866/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

Ireland’s Public Employment Service (PES) is managed by my Department and delivered directly by its own Intreo service as well as by contracted private providers i.e. companies delivering the Local Employment Service (LES), Job Clubs and JobPath services. These providers act on behalf of the Department for the purpose of delivering these services and are subject to strict obligations imposed by the Department in terms of data protection.

The purpose of sharing information is to assist in the development of tailored plans for individual jobseekers in order to support them back into paid employment.

JobPath providers may use jobseekers’ data only for the purposes of delivering employment services for the Department. Both companies undertake regular independent audits of their data processes and procedures as part of their contractual obligations.

Employees of Seetec, and their subcontractors, are subject to the same data protection laws as departmental staff.

JobPath providers are contractually required to register with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. Data protection legislation requires that personal data shall be kept only for one or more specified and lawful purposes and that personal data shall be used and disclosed only in ways compatible with these purposes. The legislation also requires that the data should be adequate, relevant and not excessive. Any suspected breach of the data protection legislation will be investigated by the Department and may also be a matter for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

Abintegro is a job-seeking aid that has various tools and features, such as a library of video tutorials, a CV builder, a cover letter building tool, advice on completing job applications and has been designed to support jobseekers in obtaining employment. The use of this aid is optional for jobseekers engaged with the JobPath service.


Last Updated: 11/02/2020 10:57:32 First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page