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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 396-406
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Departmental Staff Redeployment
 Header Item Departmental Staff Promotions
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Applications
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 782 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 396-406

  Question No. 396 withdrawn.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 397. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason for the delay in processing an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and the target time taken to process such applications. [50020/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 31 January 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

 398. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of officials by grade in her Department that will be working solely on the Presidency for the remainder of 2012; if redeployment or promotion has occurred; if they will be paid any additional allowances or pay; the way these officials were selected; if the selection procedure gave rise to any complaints; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50022/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton No additional staff members have been appointed to work solely on the planning of EU Presidency within my Department. The preparatory work is being done on a part-time basis by staff members who are already working on EU related matters or on policy matters that will feature on the agenda of the Presidency.

In terms of full-time staff, one Higher Executive Officer (HEO), an existing member of staff in the EU/ International Section, has been assigned full time to Presidency duties. A second HEO has been assigned from the normal internal promotion panel to do the work usually done by this HEO. In addition, one Clerical Officer will shortly be redeployed to the EU Unit to assist with the organisation of meetings during the Presidency. In addition to these full-time staff, an additional Principal Officer has been assigned to spend 50% of his time on Presidency-related business.

One Assistant Principal (AP) was assigned to the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels for the duration of the Presidency and will also work on other on-going EU related matters on behalf of the Department. No competition was held for this assignment as the person involved moved from another role in Brussels. They are receiving the normal Dept. of Foreign Affairs allowances for officials assigned to Brussels.

No competitions were held for any of the above positions and no complaints have been received.

Departmental Staff Promotions

 399. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the date that internal promotional competitions were last held for promotion to principal officer, promotion to assistant principal officer, promotion to higher executive officer and promotion to staff officer or executive officer; the number of applications for each grade; the numbers placed on panels for possible appointments; the numbers from each panel that have been appointed to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50026/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Details in respect of the latest internal promotion competitions held in my Department are shown in the table.

Date of competition Grade
No. of Applicants
No. placed on panel
No. appointed to date
21/11/2011 Principal
83 *
35
12
02/02/2010 Principal – North West
26
8
4
10/09/2010 Assistant Principal
263
39
24
04/06/2010 Higher Executive Officer
412
35
22
08/09/2010 Executive Officer
1742
95
21
08/09/2010 Staff Officer
1444
111
22
  * Includes eligible former CWS and FÁS staff

  In accordance with arbitration findings, my Department is to establish panels for promotion to the grades from Staff Officer to Assistant Principal in respect of eligible staff who transferred to my Department from the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive and the Employment Services of FÁS. These panels will run in parallel to the existing panels detailed above and staff will be promoted according to the ratios agreed.

  In this regard the panels for promotion to the grade of Higher Executive Officer have been established. A total of 13 eligible staff participated in the competition, with six former CWS staff and seven former FÁS staff being placed on the respective panels. To date none of these staff have been promoted. Plans are to hold the remaining competitions are underway.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

 400. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 has not received any social welfare assistance in recent months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50030/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Following an investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector, the claim for one parent family payment from the person concerned was disallowed as it was decided that she was not making a full and open disclosure as to the circumstances of her stated cohabitation. This decision was appealed by the person concerned and the outcome of this will be determined by the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

A claim for supplementary welfare allowance was subsequently received from the person concerned. The Community Welfare Officer also investigated the case and was satisfied that the person concerned had not provided adequate information to verify that she was living alone as a lone parent and that she had failed to disclose her means. As a consequence, this claim was also disallowed.

  Question No. 401 withdrawn.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

 402. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will review the decision to refuse jobseeker's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50067/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton If the person concerned wishes to have a review carried out of the decision to disallow her jobseeker’s allowance claim, she should submit a written request to this Department.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 403. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and when a decision will be expedited. [50090/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 21 November 2011. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 404. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding the backlog for carer's allowance payments; the number of outstanding applications; the average length of time each new claim takes to process from initial application to payment; the number of staff allocated to deal with new claims; the steps she take to reduce the backlog; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50114/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  The number of outstanding applications as of 2 November 2012 is 9,411. It is taking on average 25 weeks at present to process applications. It should be noted that this is an average, with some claims being processed significantly quicker and other claims taking longer. Including a number of additional temporary staff allocated to assist with backlog elimination, there are currently 32 staff plus supervisors engaged in the processing of new carer’s allowance claims.

  I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer’s allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking appropriate action to resolve the situation.

  Carer’s allowance section has recently completed a major service delivery modernisation project to improve the efficiency with which it processes applications from clients for carer’s allowance. The project involved the development of IT functionality and associated business process re-organisation. Full deployment of the new system for Carer’s Allowance was completed in June 2012.

  Following the completion of the modernisation project, an in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project was completed for the carer’s allowance scheme. This project focused on optimising output and customer service and the reduction of backlogs. The outcome of the review is the division of work into two streams. One concentrates on dealing with new claim intake and processes these without delay and the other on the backlog which is ring-fenced with a clear and targeted plan for its elimination. Implementation of the plan commenced on Monday 3 September and will be closely monitored and managed to ensure it achieves its objectives. A noted increase in the number of new claims processed was achieved in September and October, where claims processed substantially exceeded claim intake, and this increase continues into November. However, it will take a number of months before the backlog is reduced to an acceptable level. The allocation of available resources to this task continues to be monitored in order that the backlog is eliminated in the shortest possible timeframe.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

 405. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton in view of the reports of increases in rents since the start of 2012; if the rents limit review to be undertaken by her Department will take place sooner than the next review proposed for June 2013 [50123/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are approximately 89,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement for which the Government has provided €436 million in 2012.

The State plays a major role in the private rental market through the rent supplement scheme. As the Department currently funds approximately 30% of the private rented sector it is essential that State support for rents are kept under review and reflect current market conditions.

Revised maximum rent limits came into force on 1 January 2012 and are in place until June 2013. The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that maximum value for money for tenants and the taxpayer was achieved whilst at the same time ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation.

The Department will continue to monitor rent levels throughout the country but at this point I have no immediate plans to revise the existing rent limits.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

 406. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the basis on which maximum rent support levels are being determined in respect of persons eligible for such support in lieu of local authority housing; the factors taken into account in determining the upper cost of rental accommodation throughout the regions; the way variations at such levels are determined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50134/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are approximately 89,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement for which the Government has provided €436 million in 2012.

  New maximum rent limits came into force on 1 January 2012 and are in place until June 2013. These new limits were set after an analysis of the most up to date market data available. For all counties, major urban population centres were tested as part of the rents review to ensure that rent supplement applicants can access temporary housing arrangements whilst seeking employment opportunities. The focus of the review was primarily based on ensuring an adequate level of housing stock is available, using the 40th percentile as the basis for establishing rent limits.

  The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that maximum value for money for tenants and the taxpayer was achieved whilst at the same time ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation.

The full report of the review of maximum rent limits is available on the Department’s website at http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Policy/ResearchSurveysAndStatistics/Pages/rentreview2011.aspx  

  Officials in the Department continue to monitor the impact of the rent limits on those who claim rent supplement.


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