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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 245-269
 Header Item Roadworthiness Testing
 Header Item Roadworthiness Testing
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item School Completion Programme
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Services
 Header Item Community Childcare Subvention Programme
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes
 Header Item Dog Breeding Industry
 Header Item Community Services Programme
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Operation
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Supervisors
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory)
 Header Item JobPath Programme
 Header Item Free Travel Scheme Data
 Header Item Illness Benefit Data
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory) Applications
 Header Item Social Insurance Payments
 Header Item Live Register Data
 Header Item Carer's Support Grant
 Header Item Community Services Programme

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 8

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 245-269

Roadworthiness Testing

 245. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding road testing of tractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45278/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Directive 2014/45/EU on periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers, requires, from 20 May 2018, the mandatory periodic testing of tractors with a maximum design speed exceeding 40 km/h (category T5), and which are used mainly on the public road for commercial road haulage purposes. There is however, no requirement on Member States to introduce compulsory testing for T5 tractors when being used for agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery purposes mainly on the terrain where such activity takes place.

The penalties for failure to have a certificate of roadworthiness when using a commercial vehicle on the public road are set out in the RSA (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012, and are enforced by An Garda Síochána. On conviction in Court a person is currently liable to 5 penalty points, a Class A fine (not exceeding €5,000) and/or imprisonment of up to 3 months.

Therefore the key testing criteria of the new requirements relates to the use of such tractors engaged in commercial haulage, where such a haulage journey exceeds 25kms. The RSA will engage with affected stakeholders to provide them with guidance in relation to the practical implementation of its requirements.

Roadworthiness Testing

 246. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to introduce NCT testing for tractors from 2018; the criteria in this regard; the details of the penalties as set out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45279/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Directive 2014/45/EU on periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers, requires, from 20 May 2018, the mandatory periodic testing of tractors with a maximum design speed exceeding 40 km/h (category T5), and which are used mainly on the public road for commercial road haulage purposes. There is however, no requirement on Member States to introduce compulsory testing for T5 tractors when being used for agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery purposes mainly on the terrain where such activity takes place.

The penalties for failure to have a certificate of roadworthiness when using a commercial vehicle on the public road are set out in the RSA (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012, and are enforced by An Garda Síochána. On conviction in Court a person is currently liable to 5 penalty points, a Class A fine (not exceeding €5,000) and/or imprisonment of up to 3 months. It is expected that T5 tractors required to be tested under the Directive will be considered as commercial vehicles, and therefore similar penalties will apply.

The RSA will be engaging with affected stakeholders to provide them with guidance in relation to the practical implementation of the new requirements prior to their introduction in May 2018.

Insurance Costs

 247. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his views on the continuing rise of taxi insurance; and his further views on proposals in this regard (details supplied). [45324/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross A prohibition on the transfer of all Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) licences was first introduced in the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, on foot of an action in the Taxi Regulation Review Report, which was published in 2011. The rationale for the measure was that a licence should indicate a person’s suitability to carry out a function and should not have, by association, a monetary value or be trade-able on the open market. As quantitative restrictions have been removed from the taxi market and there are no barriers to entry to this industry - other than the obligation to use a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) - it is not clear how the transferring of licences on the open market now (as proposed by the Deputy's question) would deliver benefits to the industry or members of the public, especially those who require access to WAVs.

In relation to the issue of motor insurance, increased premium costs for drivers are concerning. It is clear that the increased costs of motor insurance for all drivers, particularly in the couple of years up to 2016, has also affected those working within the SPSV industry. I am informed that there are some early signs that this trend is beginning to regress with recent CSO figures showing that motor premiums generally were 14% lower in September 2017 compared with a year earlier.

The pricing of insurance products is a commercial issue for insurance companies, based on an assessment of the risks that they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products.

Notwithstanding this, I am keenly aware of how insurance issues are affecting the taxi industry. As the Deputy may be aware, the Department of Finance Working Group’s Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January of this year. Based on recommendations from this report, the Advisory Committee on SPSVs met with Insurance Ireland on 22 May to discuss cost of insurance issues relating to the taxi industry and a report on the same was issued to me on 21 June. I have forwarded the report to Minister of State Michael D’Arcy, who is the chair of the aforementioned Working Group. That Group is already pursuing many of the recommendations arising from the meeting, including the need for further engagement to take place between the Advisory Committee on Small Public Service Vehicles and Insurance Ireland.

It is my hope that this cooperation and engagement will deliver better rates for all motorists including taxi drivers..

Child Care Services

 248. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the action she is taking to ensure that a centre (details supplied) does not close; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45131/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Deputy's question refers to a specific centre which I understand operates as an independent company limited by guarantee. The centre is governed by a Board of Management that is representative of the local community. The centre provides a range of services, and receives financial support from my Department, Tusla the Child and Family Agency, and various other public bodies.

The centre provides a range of activities designed to strengthen positive informal social networks through community based programmes and services. The main focus of services is on early intervention to promote and protect the health, well-being of children, young people and their families.

The centre in question has also developed an access centre which provides services to children in care and their families. I understand from Tusla that demand from family law courts, guardians ad litem, and other parties has led to pressures being placed on the service, and that while the access centre has some additional capacity, it is not in a position to satisfy the increased demand.

The centre referred to by the Deputy has received funding from Tusla of €144,060 this year. An additional €26,000 was also provided by Tusla to the centre in recent months, bringing the total funding allocation to over €170,000 in 2017.

The centre has also received funding of €295,055 from my Department under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme and the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme in 2017.

Funding is also provided by my Department, via Cork City Education and Training Board, through the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund, which aims to develop youth facilities and services in disadvantaged areas. Funding through this scheme in 2017 amounts to a total of €30,530.

I am not familiar with the detail of the overall financial position of the centre in question, but I note the concern expressed by the Deputy with regard to sustainability. In situations such as this, decisions with regard to future funding levels for individual service providers are informed by the business case put forward by the provider in question, and an assessment of service need in the locality in question undertaken by the relevant funding authorities. It is important that this process is undertaken and completed in order to allow for an informed assessment to be made on the funding issue raised, having regard to available resources and competing priorities.

Family Resource Centres

 249. 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 amount of funding that will be provided to each of the existing 109 family resource centres in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45198/17]

 250. 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 her plans to open nine additional family resource centres in 2018; and the proposed location and opening date of each. [45199/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 250 together.

  Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, will receive an additional €40.6 million in funding next year. This will bring Tusla's allocation to over €753 million in 2018.

  I am placing a strong emphasis on the development of family support services. In this context, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that additional funding of approximately €5.0m is being made available to Tusla to be spent between now and the end of 2018 to support the work of Family Resource Centres.

  This includes the provision of additional funding to Tusla to expand the existing Family Resource Centre Programme. A total of 11 centres will be added to the Family Resource Programme in 2018. Details of the application process for this funding is available on Tusla’s website, www.tusla.ie.

  Tusla is also being provided with additional funding in 2018 to support the existing 109 Family Resource Centres across the country. Centres will be asked to work with their local Tusla office to identify services needed in their community. Up to €10,000 will be available to each Family Resource Centre next year subject to approval of their proposal.

  Finally, I am also pleased to announce that my Department is providing €2.120m in exceptional, once-off funding for Family Resource Centres to be spent by the end of this year. This funding will be in the form of minor capital assistance. Details of the application process for this funding is available on Tusla’s website, www.tusla.ie.

Applications will be assessed by Tusla and the deadline for applications is Thursday, 9 November, 2017.

  I am pleased to be in a position to support the work of centres through the targeting of additional resources to services that will impact positively on vulnerable children and families.

School Completion Programme

 251. 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 amount of funding that will be provided to the school completion programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45200/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The funding available to the School Completion Programme for the school year 2017/2018 is €24.756m. The allocation for the School Completion Programme for 2018/2019 is currently under consideration.

Child and Family Agency Services

 252. 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 amount of funding that was provided to the three existing out-of-hours social work services in 2017 by service. [45201/17]

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 in relation to this matter. I will revert to the Deputy once I have been furnished with a response by Tusla.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Community Childcare Subvention Programme

 253. 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 enrolled under band D of the more affordable child care scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45202/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I presume the Deputy is referring to the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) schemes.

As the Deputy will be aware, all CCS registrations are currently provisional as the snap shot period will only close today (25th of October). At present, there are 389 children provisionally registered under band D.

  With regard to CCSP, 230 individual children have been approved for this program year.

Families availing of band D include families with a GP visit card and parents who no longer qualify for band A or band AJ this year but who were verified as being on band A and AJ at the end of the previous preschool year. The full day payment under band D is €50, the same as was in place for the programme year 16/17 under band B. The bands were spilt to ensure that resources were distributed in an appropriate manner to those most in need.

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

 254. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will address a matter regarding a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45343/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Early Childhood and Education Programme (ECCE) programme was expanded from September 2016 so that children may start free pre-school from age 3, and can continue in free pre-school once the child is not older than 5 years and 6 months at the end of the relevant pre-school year. Currently there are three different points in the year - September, January and April.

Under Budget 2018, the ECCE programme has been expanded further so that all eligible children can avail of a full two programme years. There will also only be one enrolment point each year (i.e September). However, I must advise the Deputy that these will not come into effect until September 2018.

An upper age limit in free pre-school was set by the Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment on the advice of the Department of Education and Skills. Limiting the diversity in age ranges in primary school is considered to be generally in the best interest of children, in relation to peer interaction in junior infants, as well as other educational considerations.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs does its best to ensure, in so far as is possible, the equitable treatment of all children and families who apply for childcare funding under the ECCE Programme. In order to ensure objectivity and fairness it is essential that clear rules exist for the scheme and that they are applied in a fair manner. The rules for all of the Department’s childcare schemes are clearly published to ensure transparency and consistent application. An essential component of the scheme’s rules is an eligibility date to ensure that the scheme can be administered and budgeted for in an appropriate manner.

There are many other childcare subsidies available and I would urge the parent of this child to contact their local County Childcare Committee (CCC) to enquire about their eligibility. The contact number for Monaghan CCC is 047 72896.

Dog Breeding Industry

 255. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the actions he plans to take to address the situation in puppy farms in view of the perceived ignoring of the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010 and the lack of enforcement of the Act; and his further plans to implement the guideline review and rectify the State's poor reputation with regard to dog breeding establishments. [45243/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The regulation of dog breeding establishments is a matter for local authorities in accordance with the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010.

The Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010 provides a robust regulatory framework for, inter alia, the licensing, monitoring and inspection of dog breeding establishments by local authorities and, where a serious and immediate threat exists to public health or animal health and welfare, for the closure of such establishments.

A joint inspection regime of dog breeding establishments, involving the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Local Authority Veterinary Service, was inaugurated in 2015 for the purpose of inspection and follow up action. The discovery of individual problematic dog breeding establishments, and the taking of action by the Gardaí, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and local authorities in an integrated manner in the most serious cases, is a matter for the enforcement authorities concerned.

In late 2015, the then Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government agreed to begin a process of review of the current Dog Breeding Establishment Guidelines. In 2016, the review was broadened to a more formal public consultation, both for quality assurance and to address the need for openness and inclusiveness. A wide-scale formal public consultative process commenced on 1 December 2016 and closed on 28 February 2017.

Responsibility for the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 to 2014, including responsibility for the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010, was recently delegated to Mr. Seán Kyne, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development. The Department has completed its review of the feedback and data received through the consultation process and the findings will be submitted to Minister Kyne shortly.

Community Services Programme

 256. 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 reinstate funding to a group (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45114/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty As the Deputy is aware, the Community Services Programme (CSP) provides financial support to community companies that provide revenue generating services of a socially inclusive nature. The CSP works on a social-enterprise model which means that it does not fully fund contract holders but requires that they generate revenue by charging fees or raising funds. All CSP recipients are obliged to meet these criteria. These social enterprises also remain responsible for their own budgets and financial liabilities.

  The organisation referred to by the Deputy received funding under the CSP for one manager and two full-time equivalent (FTE) posts. This equates to funding in the order of €70,000 per annum.

  As part of the normal re-contracting process, the organisation submitted their business plan in 2016. During the re-contracting process, it was found that the service did not meet the required criteria for CSP in terms of strategic fit, value for money and the demonstration of the continued need for the service.

  Overall, the review found that the service:

  - is primarily meeting the needs of a membership base, the majority of which are private businesses. This is not a priority for continued funding under the CSP which is focused on groups that provide services to specific disadvantaged groups, rather than private enterprises;

  - has low levels of foot-fall and opening hours when compared to other tourism operations supported by the CSP. Given the service primarily benefits private business, rather that CSP target groups, the funding provided to the organisation does not represent value for money under the Programme; and

  - has not adequately and clearly articulated what the key needs of their clients are and how they propose to meet them, particularly in terms of the target groups of the CSP.

  As a result of these findings, the service was recommended to exit the CSP on 30th of June 2017.

  This decision to exit the CSP was appealed to Pobal on 29th of November 2016. Subsequently, an independent review was carried out which upheld the original decision. This was communicated to the organisation on 20th of December 2016.

  Discussions were held between Pobal and the organisation in January 2017, outlining options for alternative funding post programme exit in June 2017.

  In February 2017, the organisation requested an extension to their contract until 30th of September 2017 to allow them to complete their summer schedule and a timely wind-up of operations. This extension was facilitated and approved by my Department and an addendum to their contract was issued on 21st of February 2017.

  This organisation has now exhausted the appeals process for the CSP. In the circumstances, I would now urge them to explore other sources of funding, outside of the CSP, in order to continue operating.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 257. 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 if a person (details supplied) will retain a fuel allowance and household benefits package if they move to a community employment scheme; if they will lose their invalidity pension once their community employment scheme ends; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45112/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Participants on Community Employment (CE) schemes can retain their Fuel Allowance (FA) and Household Benefit Package (HBP) where they had an entitlement to same prior to commencing on the CE Scheme. The lady in question is in receipt of an Invalidity Pension (IP) including the FA and HBP and will retain both these payments for the duration she is on the CE scheme. Upon completion of the CE scheme, IP will be reinstated upon receipt of a P45 from the lady in question.

Community Employment Schemes Operation

 258. 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 assistance will be given to a community group (details supplied) to maintain its current staffing arrangements through Tus and Foras. [45113/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The group referred to by the Deputy is a sub-sponsor for a Community Employment (CE) scheme. They have two CE positions and neither position is currently under threat.

  All participants and community groups are aware of the time limits for an individual’s participation on these schemes. Schemes such as CE are designed to provide part-time temporary work in local communities, as a stepping stone back to employment. The objective of these schemes is to break the cycle of unemployment and maintain work readiness, thereby improving a person’s opportunities in returning to the labour market.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 259. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty when a decision will be made in respect of a disability allowance appeal submitted by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in making a decision on this appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45123/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing, has decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.   

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

 260. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty her plans to implement the 2008 Labour Court recommendation on the provision of pensions for community employment supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45154/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty As the Deputy will be aware, Community Employment (CE) scheme supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector. The State is not responsible for funding pension arrangements for such employees even where the companies in question are reliant on State funding. It is open to individuals to make provision for a pension by way of PRSA which all employers are obliged to facilitate.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that the issue of CE supervisors’ pension provision is currently being examined by a Community Sector High Level Forum, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. My Department is represented on this group, as are IMPACT, SIPTU, Pobal and other relevant Government Departments. I understand their work is ongoing and that the Forum is due to meet again in early November 2017.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

 261. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the saving limit for a person on a qualified adult allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45157/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I understand that my officials have been in contact with the Deputy’s office and that this question relates specifically to the State Pension Contributory (SPC).   

  The personal rate of SPC is a non-means-tested payment based on PRSI contributions paid.

  A means-tested increase in the SPC for a spouse or partner (qualified adult) can be paid. Any income the qualified adult has from employment, self-employment, savings, investments and capital (for example, any property except the person’s home) is taken into account. Where there are joint savings or investments with the spouse or partner, half of that amount is taken into account. The maximum rate of qualified adult allowance is payable where the qualified adult has weekly income of less than €100, and a tapered rate is payable if the qualified adult has weekly income of less than €310.

The formula for assessing means from capital (including savings) is as follows:

Capital Weekly means assessed
First €20,000 Nil
Next €10,000 €1 per €1,000
Next €10,000 €2 per €1,000
Balance €4 per €1,000


It should be noted that where a person does not meet the qualifying conditions for SPC, he or she may apply for the means-tested State pension non-contributory. The means test for State pension non-contributory takes into account the income and assets of both the claimant and his or her spouse/partner. Property (excluding a person's home), savings and investments are assessed as capital and a formula is then used to assess the weekly means from capital. The weekly rate payable depends on the total weekly means of the person or couple.

JobPath Programme

 262. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the assistance that can be offered to a person with an open application for a disability allowance and conditions such as epilepsy and anxiety who is being obliged to comply with Turas Nua despite not being fit to do so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45161/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty JobPath is an employment activation service that supports people who are long-term unemployed, including those working part time and those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed, to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. All jobseekers over one year on the Live Register are eligible for selection for the JobPath service and clients are chosen by means of a random selection process.

All Jobseekers on the live register must be capable of, available for and actively seeking full time employment. They are also required to engage with the Department’s activation services. The Social Welfare (Consolidated) Act 2005, as amended, specifies that participation in activation meetings is mandatory.

Where an existing JobPath participant subsequently submits an application for Disability Allowance they should immediately advise their Local Office of their change in circumstances. The participant’s JobPath referral will be paused pending a decision being made on their application. Pausing a JobPath referral removes the obligation to engage with the JobPath provider for a specified period of time and ensures that no penalties are incurred by persons awaiting a decision on a Disability payment.

If the Deputy would like to provide details of the specific case I will arrange to have it investigated by my Department.

I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputy..

Free Travel Scheme Data

 263. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the full year cost in 2016 and to date in 2017 for the free travel pass scheme. [45187/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The free travel scheme permits free travel on most CIE public transport services, Luas and a range of services offered by some 80 private operators in various parts of the country for those eligible under the scheme. The free travel scheme is available to all people aged over 66 living permanently in the State. Applicants who are under age 66 must be in receipt of a qualifying payment in order to qualify for the scheme and permanently living in the State. There are currently just over 897,000 customers in receipt of Free Travel.

The full year cost of the free travel scheme in 2016 was €77.112 million. To date in 2017, my Department has made payments totalling almost €65 million to companies participating in the free travel scheme.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Data

 264. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the number of persons in receipt of a long-term illness payment. [45188/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath There are 54,244 customers in receipt of illness benefit. Of these 15,612 are claiming for more than two years, 35,684 are claims with entitlement limited to 624 days (two years) and 2,948 are claims with entitlement limited to 312 days (one year). There are 132,321 customers in receipt of Disability Allowance and 57,185 customers in receipt of Invalidity Pension.

State Pension (Contributory) Applications

 265. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty when an application will be processed for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45189/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned was awarded a state pension (contributory) on 20 October 2017, with effect from 4 October 2017, their 66th birthday. Written notification of this decision, together with the amount of arrears due, issued to the person concerned on 20 October 2017.

The person concerned has been awarded a (reduced rate) state pension (contributory), based on an assessed yearly average of 27 contributions, covering the period December 1968 to December 2016. According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has a social insurance record of 1,337 reckonable paid and credited contributions. There are gaps in the insurance record for the years 1969 to 1980, 1997/98, 2001 to 2003, 2005 to 2007, and for the year 2016. These gaps impact on the overall yearly average of the person concerned and consequently the rate of weekly pension entitlement.

If the person considers that additional contributions or credits have not been recorded, it is open to them to forward documentary evidence of the missing periods of employment to my Department and their pension entitlement will be reviewed.

The person concerned has also been awarded a corresponding rate of weekly entitlement to increase for qualified adult, in respect of their spouse, together with fuel allowance (payable during winter months) to help with their heating needs. Both increase for qualified adult and fuel allowance are means tested payments.

The person concerned and their spouse, who is also over age 66, may have entitlement to the means tested state pension (non-contributory) in their own right. Separate application forms have been issued to the person concerned and their spouse for completion. On return of these application forms, their individual entitlement to state pension (non-contributory) will be assessed and they will each be notified of the outcome in writing. The higher rate of pension entitlement will be paid.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance Payments

 266. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the way in which an employer's pay related social insurance contribution is calculated in the context of when a paid internship employee is engaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45191/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty In general employees engaged in insurable employment under a contract of service are regarded as class A employees for PRSI purposes, provided their weekly earnings exceed €38. Class A employees pay PRSI at 4% where their weekly earnings exceed €352. Their employers are liable to employer PRSI at the rate of 8.5% for earnings up to and including €376. For earnings in excess of €376, the class A rate of employer PRSI is 10.75%. Class A employees have access to the full range of short term and long term social insurance benefits.

Class A PRSI may apply to individuals who have a paid internship and who are in insurable employment, in the same manner as it applies to other class A workers. This includes the manner in which employer PRSI charges are calculated.

If there is a particular individual to whom the Deputy is referring, they may wish to contact the department’s scope section for a determination on the nature of the paid internship.

Live Register Data

 267. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a person taking up an unpaid internship forms part of the live register; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45193/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Live Register is used to provide a monthly series of the numbers of people (with some exceptions) registering for jobseekers benefit or jobseekers allowance or for various other statutory entitlements at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Intreo centres. The Live Register is not designed to measure unemployment. It includes part-time workers (those who work up to three days per week), seasonal and casual workers entitled to jobseekers benefit and jobseekers allowance.

Social welfare legislation provides that a person must satisfy, amongst other things, the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking full-time work in order to be eligible for jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance.

A person undertaking a full-time internship, whether paid or unpaid, will not satisfy the standard qualifying conditions, including that of being available for full-time work and so will not be eligible for a jobseekers payment.

There are no plans to change these aspects of the jobseeker’s schemes.

Carer's Support Grant

 268. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of a carer's support grant application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45196/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty My Department recently awarded 2016 and 2017 Carer’s Support Grants to the person concerned. An amount of €3,400 (€1,700 for 2016 and €1,700 for 2017) will be lodged to her nominated bank account on Thursday 26th October 2017.

Community Services Programme

 269. Deputy Eugene Murphy Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the reasons a company (details supplied) ceased to provide services in June 2017 despite the fact that they had a contract with Pobal under the community services programme with funding in place until December 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45309/17]

 273. Deputy Eugene Murphy Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the level of funding that was allocated to a company (details supplied) under the community services programme in each of the years 2010 to 2017; and the level of staffing including full and part time in the company in each of the years 2017 to 2017, in tabular form. [45313/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I propose to take Questions Nos. 269 and 273 together. 

  As the Deputy is aware, the Community Services Programme (CSP) provides financial support to community companies that provide revenue generating services of a socially inclusive nature. The CSP works on a social-enterprise model which means that it does not fully fund contract holders but requires that they generate revenue by charging fees or raising funds. All CSP recipients are obliged to meet these criteria. These social enterprises also remain responsible for their own budgets and financial liabilities.

  The organisation referred to by the Deputy received funding under the CSP for one manager and 4.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts. This equates to funding in the order of €117,648 per annum.

  The organisation had a contract with Pobal up to 31st   of December 2017 and was due to submit a business plan to re-contract this year. The company contacted Pobal stating its intention to voluntarily exit the programme and have since submitted exit documents. Pobal has had numerous communications with the board of the company during this year and a number of avenues were explored to help the company to remain in the programme. However, the company made the final decision and are proceeding with the exit process earlier than their current contract end date.

  The Deputy will appreciate that any further information as to why this decision was taken should be addressed directly to the Board of Management of the company.

Table 1 shows the level of funding provided to the company and the staff numbers that were supported under the CSP in each of the years 2010 to 2017.

  Table 1

Year Support Fund Level of Funding Cash on Hand Total FTE Manager
2010   €117,648.00 - €117,648.00 4.5 1
2011   €117,648.00 €2,430.00 €115,218.00 4.5 1
2012   €117,648.50   €117,648.50 4.5 1
2013   €117,648.50   €117,648.50 4.5 1
2014   €117,648.50   €117,648.50 4.5 1
2015   €117,648.50   €117,648.50 4.5 1
2016 €4,200.00 €117,648.50 €19.00 €121,829.50 4.5 1
2017 €1,036.54 €49,774.36* €6,199.13 €44,611.77 4.5 1


*Level of funding taking exit date as 2nd of June 2017 - final expenditure to be agreed .

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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