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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 317-332
 Header Item Competition and Consumer Protection Commission
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Brexit Supports
 Header Item Enterprise Ireland Funding
 Header Item Workplace Relations Commission
 Header Item Child Care Costs
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Farm Safety
 Header Item Farm Safety
 Header Item Living Wage
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 7

First Page Previous Page Page of 112 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 317-332

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

 317. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the progress to date by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission regarding a screening programme for procurement processes which systematically searches for indications that bid-rigging may have occurred. [32127/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the statutory body responsible for the enforcement of competition and consumer law in the State. Section 9(5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the CCPC is independent in the performance of its functions, including carrying out investigations of suspected breaches of competition law. As investigations and enforcement matters are part of the day-to-day operational work of the CCPC, I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation have no direct function in the matter and it would be inappropriate for me to comment.   

I understand that the CCPC continues to work with various State agencies and organisations to develop awareness of the warning signs of bid-rigging and to explore the potential for developing screening tools in the procurement process. I am also informed that the CCPC has continued to research screening initiatives elsewhere and plans to host an initiative to provide relevant agencies and organisations in Ireland with information from various international agencies who have experiences of utilising the informational advantage of the public sector to detect and deter bid rigging in public tendering.

EU Directives

 318. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the timeframe for the national transposition of the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council, COM (2017) 142 final 2017/0063 (COD), to empower the competition authorities of member states to be more effective enforcers; and if her officials reviewed whether or not the implementation of this directive will empower the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to issue civil financial sanctions. [32128/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The proposed directive cited in the Deputy’s question has yet to be formally agreed and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This is expected to happen later this year and, based on the latest text of the proposal, Member States will have two years from the date of entry into force of the Directive (which is twenty days after the date of publication) in which to transpose the Directive.

The Deputy may be aware that some provisions of the proposed Directive already exist in national legislation. The other provisions of the Directive that need to be transposed (including the issue of civil financial sanctions) will be addressed in the transposing legislation by the relevant deadline.

Brexit Supports

 319. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the latest figures regarding the Brexit SME loan scheme launched in 2018 for each item (details supplied). [32132/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Brexit Loan Scheme provides affordable working capital to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees that are or will be Brexit impacted and meet the scheme criteria. The €23 million exchequer funding (€14 million from my Department and €9 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) has been leveraged to provide a fund of up to €300 million.

The scheme features a two-stage application process. First, businesses must apply to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to confirm their eligibility for the scheme. Businesses can use guidelines provided on the SBCI website to determine if they are eligible, and if so, to complete the eligibility form. As part of the process, businesses must submit a business plan, demonstrating the means by which they intend to innovate, change or adapt to meet their Brexit challenges. The SBCI assess the applications and successful applicants receive an eligibility reference number.

Successful applicants can then apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using their eligibility reference number. Participating finance providers are the Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and (from the end of June) Allied Irish Bank. Approval of loans are subject to the finance providers own credit policies and procedures.

The maximum interest rate under the scheme is 4%. This represents a significant saving compared with the prevailing rates that are otherwise being offered for similar loans on the market.

The scheme was launched on 28 March this year. As at the end of June, there had been 151 applications to confirm eligibility for the scheme, of which 132 had been approved, 13 applications were still being assessed, and 6 applicants had been deemed not eligible. A more detailed breakdown will be published on my Department's website in the coming weeks.

10 SMEs have progressed to sanction at finance provider level to a total value of €2.49 million.

Enterprise Ireland Funding

 320. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of firms with fewer than ten employees that have applied to Enterprise Ireland programmes (details supplied); the number that have successfully applied and been granted funding for the programmes; and the percentage of firms as a proportion with fewer than ten employees that have applied out of all firm sizes to each programme out of all applicant firms. [32133/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Enterprise Ireland (EI) supports companies in urban and rural areas to start, innovate and remain competitive in international markets, now and into the future. EI’s focus for 2018 is to help clients build on the strength of their 2017 performance by supporting them to innovate, be competitive and to diversify their global footprint - key attributes required to be resilient to economic shocks, such as those emerging from any kind of Brexit.

  In November 2017, EI launched a new fast-track Agile Innovation Fund to give companies rapid access to innovation funding. This fund supports companies in sectors with rapid design cycles to maintain their technology position. To date there have been 18 approvals, of which 3 (or 16.07 per cent) were to companies who reported less than 10 employees at the time of approval.

  EI’s In-house Research, Development and Innovation Fund supports the development of new or substantially improved products, services or process. The table below presents in-house research, development and innovation fund approvals in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018 for companies with less than 10 employees.

R&D Fund Approvals 2014- 2018
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Grand Total
R&D Fund 2014- 2018 - companies of <10 employees 20 10 6 8 1 45
R&D Fund 2014- 2018 - All companies (incl. <10 employees) 179 129 101 118 31 558
<10 cohort as % of Total all companies 11% 8% 6% 7% 3% 8%


  Enterprise Ireland’s Strategic Consultancy Grant is open to SMEs only, in line with the EU State aid requirements for consultancy support. The aim of this offer is to improve the strategic capability of SMEs and to assist in the development of specific strategic initiatives. The table below presents the number of Strategic Consultancy grants approved in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018 for companies with less than 10 employees.

Year No of Strategic Consultancy Approvals
2014 56
2015 51
2016 45
2017 57
2018 26
Grand Total 235

Workplace Relations Commission

 321. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of inspections carried out by the workplace relations bodies in each year since being established to 30 June 2018 by county ; the number of prosecutions undertaken in each county during this period in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32135/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Pat Breen): Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent, statutory body established on 1 October 2015 under the Workplace Relations Act 2015. The WRC assumed the roles and functions previously carried out by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), Equality Tribunal, Labour Relations Commission (LRC), Rights Commissioners Service (RCS), and the first-instance (Complaints and Referrals) functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).

  Details as requested by the deputy in relation to the number of inspections and prosecutions undertaken in each county in 2015, 2016, 2017 and to 30 June 2018 are set out below:

Inspections 2018 to 30 Jun 2017 2016 2015*
         
CARLOW 33 75 36 71
CAVAN 73 88 117 134
CLARE 82 142 129 242
CORK 125 203 332 287
DONEGAL 75 153 128 184
DUBLIN 750 1,297 1,067 977
GALWAY 180 291 408 410
KERRY 32 61 96 51
KILDARE 105 168 186 246
KILKENNY 101 85 92 91
LAOIS 57 41 63 85
LEITRIM 26 52 36 24
LIMERICK 240 312 426 347
LONGFORD 47 97 79 76
LOUTH 95 259 177 182
MAYO 68 131 147 154
MEATH 84 124 121 143
MONAGHAN 62 112 69 77
OFFALY 68 155 76 91
ROSCOMMON 32 48 61 72
SLIGO 33 50 47 58
TIPPERARY 133 196 177 241
WATERFORD 94 129 207 166
WESTMEATH 90 160 117 133
WEXFORD 129 119 181 299
WICKLOW 97 199 255 344
         
TOTAL 2,911 4,747 4,830 5,185
Prosecutions 2018 to 30 Jun 2017 2016 2015
         
CARLOW   2 5 1
CAVAN   1 4 2
CLARE   3 1 3
CORK   5 2 7
DONEGAL 1 4 2 6
DUBLIN 1 9 7 13
GALWAY   3 2 5
KERRY   2 0 1
KILDARE 3 6 11 9
KILKENNY 1 4 2 5
LAOIS   8 6 2
LEITRIM   0 0 2
LIMERICK   5 2 4
LONGFORD   0 0 0
LOUTH 1 1 1 3
MAYO   5 0 0
MEATH   2 9 1
MONAGHAN 1 6 0 0
OFFALY 1 1 8 15
ROSCOMMON 1 0 1 0
SLIGO   0 0 2
TIPPERARY   8 6 5
WATERFORD 4 2 3 1
WESTMEATH   7 1 6
WEXFORD   7 5 6
WICKLOW 1 4 7 7
         
TOTAL 15 95 85 106


  *the figures for 2015 are full year figures taking into account inspections carried out by NERA prior to the establishment of the WRC on 1 October 2015.

Child Care Costs

 322. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her Department has carried out or commissioned research or reports regarding the cost of childcare and the material impact on businesses and SMEs here with respect to skills shortages and labour force participation levels since 2011; and if so, the reports and the date each was published. [32136/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The availability of affordable childcare is an important factor in increasing female labour market participation and addressing skills shortages. The National Competitiveness Council reports to the Government on the cost of doing business in Ireland annually, and one of the factors examined is the cost of childcare. In its Costs of Doing Business in Ireland 2018 Report, published on 1st June, the Council notes that gross childcare fees in Ireland are relatively high compared to EU and OECD averages. As a percentage of average wages, gross fees for two children attending full-time care amount to 50 per cent in Ireland compared to the euro area average of 22 per cent. Net Irish childcare costs for couples with two children, earning above the average wage are the third highest in the OECD. For lone parents Ireland is the most expensive OECD location.

My Department is aware that the high cost of childcare represents an obstacle to labour force participation. As we draw closer to full employment it is vital that enterprise has access to a high quality flexible talent pool. Enhancing female participation has the potential to address the growing needs for skills and talent and to deliver significant social and gender equality benefits. To this effect, my Department is leading on one of the initiatives in Action Plan for Jobs 2018 which aims to identify relevant policy issues for cohorts with low participation rates based on patterns of labour market participation. Policy responsibility for participation falls across multiple government Departments and my Department will be working with these departments to ensure the completion of this action by the end of this year.

Further to this, the Action Plan for Jobs also includes an action for the development of the Affordable Childcare Scheme. The scheme will replace the existing childcare subsidy schemes with an income-based national scheme providing financial support for parents towards the cost of childcare. Such a new scheme will complement the universal free pre-school programme. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs have responsibility for the continued implementation of reforms to existing schemes and progressing the Affordable Childcare Scheme. The deadline for this action is also the end of this year.

Brexit Issues

 323. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she has held discussions with the Minister for Finance regarding customs staff resources in addition to customs awareness and higher level customs clearance training and advice for third country trading as a contingency measure for a no deal hard-Brexit scenario. [32137/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Co-ordination of the whole-of-Government response to Brexit, including as regards customs related issues, is being taken forward through the cross-Departmental coordination structures chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which includes the Department of Finance and my own Department.

  Contingency planning for a no-deal or worst-case outcome is well advanced and is focused on the immediate economic, regulatory and operational challenges which would result from such an outcome.

  The Brexit negotiations are still ongoing and therefore there is still a lot of uncertainty about exactly what we have to prepare for.

  However, there are certain things the Government can prepare for, such as getting our ports and airports ready for what may be a changed trading relationship with the UK, either after March next year or at the end of the transitional period in December 2020.

  This includes looking at the number of additional customs officers and veterinary inspectors that will be required as well as infrastructure needs at our ports.

  This work is well advanced and the Government will be in a position to take the necessary decision if and when required.

  There are a range of initiatives underway in terms of raising awareness and providing information, advice and training in the customs area.

  The Enterprise Agencies have a number of measures in place to raise awareness amongst firms as to the skills needs generally that may arise in the event of a hard Brexit. This is happening in the context of support being provided to companies to assess their Brexit exposure and identify contingency actions that can be taken now to prepare for Brexit. Addressing possible skills gaps, including in customs, is a key area of focus.

  EI and ITI Brexit Advisory Clinics focus on priority areas for contingency action in Financial & Currency Management, Strategic Sourcing, Customs, Transport & Logistics.

There is also a ‘Customs and Logistics’ component of Enterprise Ireland Act on Programme   which involves provision of Independent consultants to client companies for two half day sessions. This is designed to help them decide on specific actions over a short period to address risks and opportunities of Brexit.

  The Revenue Commissioners has extensive engagement with industry and are providing advice on long term planning around skills for customs post Brexit. Industry Representative Bodies are also playing their part. Customs awareness and clearance training is being offered by the Irish Exporters Association, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, Irish International Freight Association. Private sector provides are also active in this space.

  Six Logistics and Services apprenticeships have been approved under 2015 and 2017 apprenticeship calls for Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers; Logistics Associate; Supply Chain at the level of Associate, Specialist and Manager; and Lean Sigma Manager. Progress is being made on rolling these out with the Logistics Associate Apprenticeship beginning in September this year. The industry consortia led by Freight Transport Association of Ireland has been developing this in collaboration with DIT Aungier Street.

  Finally, my Department is working with stakeholders to address recommendations of the recent EGFSN report ‘Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from Brexit’. Recommendations focus on raising awareness amongst firms as well as understanding and taking action to address skills needs in customs, financial management, languages, intercultural awareness, product design and development, logistics and supply chain.

Farm Safety

 324. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of farm safety inspectors employed by the Health and Safety Authority; and the number of new inspectors hired in 2017 and to date in 2018, for farm safety. [32196/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys  In 2017 the HSA undertook a recruitment campaign for 11 Inspector posts, 6 of which were for field inspection posts which have now been filled. These 6 Inspectors will be involved in future farm inspection campaigns thereby helping to ensure that farm inspection campaign targets are achieved. These inspectors are in addition to the existing cohort of 18 inspectors currently involved in farm inspection and farm safety promotion campaigns.

The HSA is currently in the process of carrying out a recruitment campaign to recruit an additional 12 new inspectors of which 7 will be specifically Brexit related and the remainder will be assigned to chemicals and general inspection activities which will include farm safety inspection and promotion activities.

Farm Safety

 325. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the amount spent by the Health and Safety Authority on farm safety initiatives; the number of inspections in each of the years 2011 to 2017 and to date in 2018, in tabular form; the number of fatalities on farms in this period annually; the percentage of farm fatalities out of total workplace fatalities recorded by the HSA; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32197/18]

 326. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the amount allocated by the Health and Safety Authority for farm safety initiatives in 2017 and 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32198/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 and 326 together.

  The amount allocated by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for farm safety initiatives in the years 2010 to 2017, and the anticipated expenditure for 2018 and the number of farm inspections and investigations 2010– 2018, are set out in the attached appendix. Also attached in tabular form are details about farm fatalities in the context of total workplace fatalities.

  While the HSA was originally allocated a budget of €384,000 for farm safety initiatives in 2017, the actual expenditure was higher at €533,995 due to the allocation of additional funding by my Department during 2017.

  In 2018 the HSA has allocated approximately €624,000 for farm safety initiatives. The actual figure expended might vary during the year in response to particular issues that arise in this or other sectors.  These initiatives will involve the organisation of, participation in, or support of a wide range of agriculture related events as well as media coverage. The Authority will also engage in a number of targeted promotional campaigns through relevant media.

  In 2018 the HSA is also carrying out three focused inspection campaigns each of one-month duration. The first campaign focused on Livestock Handling in March, the second campaign was on Farm Vehicle Safety which took place in May and the third on Working at Height and Maintenance will take place in October. In addition to these specific campaigns other national campaigns related to vehicle and construction safety will have relevance to the farming sector.

  Since 2014 the HSA has redirected some of its inspection resources towards engaging directly with farmers on other accident prevention initiatives. Research has shown that farmers working in peer to peer groups, such as Knowledge Transfer Groups similar to Discussion Groups take on new information, new procedures, and new technology more easily and make more lasting changes in the way they farm when involved with such groups. The objective is to bring about sustainable changes to work practices and controlling risk.

  In line with the research findings the HSA has a renewed focus in offering strong support to  these Knowledge Transfer Groups. During 2017 HSA inspectors were involved with over 100 such Groups, in addition to farm walks, thereby reaching a further 2,000 farmers through such engagements. The use of Knowledge Transfer Groups is continuing in 2018.

Table of Expenditure on Farm Safety Initiatives 2011 to 2017

Year
Expenditure *
2010 €264,000 **
2011 €264,481
2012 €589,870
2013 €449,669
2014 €327,953
2015 €396,251
2016 €416,917
2017 €533,995
2018 (estimated) €624,000


*Note: Annual figures for expenditure include some cross sectorial initiatives where the expenditure is also relevant to other sectors. As it is not possible to extract this it has been included as the full figure.

** Note: The expenditure figure for farm safety initiatives in 2010 was recorded on a now defunct financial system and is no longer accessible but was similar to expenditure for 2011.

Set out below also is a table showing the breakdown of the annual farm inspection numbers carried out by the HSA from 2010 to date in 2018 (Feb. 13th).

Farm inspections and investigations 2010 – 2018

Year Number of farm Inspections and Investigations
2010 1,646
2011 3,058
2012 3,136
2013 2,784
2014 2,644
2015 3,056
2016 2,008
2017 1,776
2018 983 (Target 2,000) *(As of 10/07/18)

[Table cont]

The level of farm deaths fluctuates greatly for example from 16 in 2013 to 30 in 2014 as does the percentage of farm deaths compared to all sector deaths 29% of total in 2013 to 64% of total in 2014. (See table below)



YEAR Farm Deaths All Sector Deaths % Farming

2010

25 43 58
2011 22 48 46

2012 21 56 38

2013 16 55 29

2014 30 47 64

2015 19 48 40

2016 21 46 46

2017 24 47 51

2018 13

*(As of 10/07/18)
26 50

TOTALS

191 416 46

Living Wage

 327. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the cost of implementing a living wage of €11.90 for all employees directly employed or in agencies funded by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32216/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The additional salary cost to the Department of introducing a minimum hourly rate of €11.90 per hour for directly employed staff is estimated to be €311,873 per annum.  This figure, inclusive of employers PRSI would be €345,399. The Offices of the Department include the Companies Registration Office, Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, Patents Office, Registry of Friendly Societies, Employment Appeals Tribunal, Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission.

  The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is self-financing and does not receive any Pay provision through my Department’s Vote. Any additional Pay cost on foot of the introduction of a living wage of €11.90 per hour would have to be borne through the fees mechanism operated by the PIAB.

  The staff of Inter-Trade Ireland, which is part-funded through my Department's Vote, are all based in Northern Ireland.

  I have asked all Agencies under the aegis of my Department to advise me of the relevant information, and I will communicate that information to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

  The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  My Department has now compiled the additional information required from the agencies regarding the cost of implementing a living wage of €11.90.

  The indicative additional annual cost across the Agencies funded through my Department's Vote would be €95,077. This covers the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission, Health & Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority, Enterprise Ireland, National Standards Authority of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.

Hospital Appointments Status

 328. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of treatment being proposed for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31635/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

 329. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the estimated cost of the extension of a general practitioner card to persons in receipt of domiciliary care allowance but that do not receive a carer's allowance or carer's benefit. [31735/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Deputy will be aware that since June 1st 2017, all children for whom a Domiciliary Care Allowance is paid automatically qualify for a medical card without assessment. 

Costs on the provision of a GP Visit Card to parents/guardians, for whom a Domiciliary Care Allowance payment is made on behalf of their child/children is not routinely available as this would require an extensive analysis of the HSE and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection datasets. 

The Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2018 is currently passing through the Oireachtas.  This Bill seeks to provide eligibility for a GP visit card to all persons in receipt of Carers Allowance or Carers Benefit.  There are currently no plans to extend this eligibility to other groups.

Proposed Legislation

 330. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when new legislation dealing with the fair deal scheme will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31636/18]

 474. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when changes will be introduced to the fair deal scheme to acknowledge that a farm holding is a business when calculating the means test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32076/18]

 487. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the timeline on the proposed introduction of changes to the fair deal legislation to assist farmers and small business owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32249/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly I propose to take Questions Nos. 330, 474 and 487 together.

The review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) was published in July 2015. Arising out of the review, a recommendation was made to examine the treatment of business and farm  assets for the purposes of the financial assessment element of the scheme. The Programme for a Partnership Government also committed to reviewing the NHSS to remove any discrimination against small businesses and family farms.

At present, the capital value of an individual's principal private residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the three year cap. This cap does not apply to productive assets such as farms and businesses except in cases of sudden illness or disability where specific conditions are met.

It is proposed to amend the scheme to treat farm and business assets in the same manner as the principal private residence where a family successor commits to working the farm or business, i.e. to cap contributions at three years.

The Department of Health has been examining the potential for changes to the treatment of business and farm assets under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. Any changes to the scheme, if approved by Government, will require amendment of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009.

A Memorandum for Government setting out the details of the proposed policy change and seeking Government approval to draft the General Scheme of a bill to amend the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 has been circulated to other Government Departments for observations and will be submitted to Government shortly.

Hospital Beds Data

 331. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of beds available in St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin for persons with eating disorders; the numbers of beds that are vacant; and the numbers of people waiting for a bed [31641/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Hospital Beds Data

 332. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of beds available in a facility (details supplied) for persons with eating disorders; the numbers of beds that are vacant; and the number of people waiting for a bed [31642/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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