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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 341-360
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Applications
 Header Item Job Initiatives
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Farm Assist Scheme Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Delays
 Header Item Farm Assist Scheme Application Numbers
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 341-360

Invalidity Pension Applications

 341. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the measures she has taken to address the unacceptable waiting lists for invalidity pension applications; the timeframe to process these applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [56586/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The processing times of individual invalidity pension claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the qualifying criteria. In addition, factors outside the Department’s control can have an impact, for example, insufficient information received from claimants at time of application and delays in claimants furnishing the information requested.

At present approximately 220 new invalidity pension claims are received in the Department each week and these are examined within a short time after receipt. Where a medical assessment and/or further information are required, these are requested without delay.

Additional temporary staff was assigned to the invalidity pension area in an effort to deal with the backlog which has been reducing steadily since June 2012. The number of invalidity pension claims awaiting action and decision at the end of May 2012 was 7007 – this has reduced to 3673 at the end of November 2012 and presently all of these claims have been actioned by my department and are awaiting further information from customers or a medical assessment. It should also be noted that this number includes approximately 900 claims which are being assessed under EU or bilateral arrangements and that such claims are more complex and take longer to decide. Once all the necessary information is received, the claim will be processed promptly, usually within two weeks.

  Question No. 342 withdrawn.

  Question No. 343 answered with Question No. 339.

Job Initiatives

 344. Deputy Shane Ross Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will consider expanding the JobBridge scheme along the lines of the noted German Dual Vocational Training System; her plans for the scheme over the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [56591/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton In Germany, the most common kind of vocational training is referred to as the dual system, which consists of practical vocational training given at work in a company or organisation, backed up by theoretical training and general education provided in vocational training schools which are generally attended one or two days a week.

  JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors and at present is limited to individuals who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance) or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 months (78 Days).

The JobBridge Scheme has made significant progress to-date since it came into operation on the 1st July 2011. 13,049 internships have commenced to date with 5,612 participants currently on an internship as at 13th December 2012 and over 2,235 opportunities presently advertised on www.JobBridge.ie   . The interim evaluation of JobBridge by Indecon the International Economic Consultants (published – 5th October 2012) states that 52.3% of JobBridge finishers progressed into employment with either their host organisation or another employer since finishing their internship. These progression rates compare favourably with European averages in this area.

  This suggests JobBridge is an appropriate labour market intervention. Further information on outcomes will be ascertained as a result of the ongoing formal evaluation of JobBridge. It is anticipated that the final Report will be available in late December. This evaluation will assess the design, delivery and impact of the JobBridge Scheme, it will provide details of the nature of the work experience of the participants; a measurement of the relevance of that experience to the labour market, analysis of age categories and further findings concerning progression into employment. It will also present recommendations on how the Scheme might be improved, amended or expanded; It is at this stage that further consideration will be given to amending the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

  Question No. 345 withdrawn.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 346. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision on an appeal application for domiciliary care allowance will be made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56595/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 11th June 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 07 November 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

  Question Nos. 347 and 348 answered with Question No. 339.

Farm Assist Scheme Applications

 349. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the measures she has taken to address the unacceptable waiting lists for farm assist applications; the timeframe to process these applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56603/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The average processing time for Farm Assist claims which were decided in November 2012 was 10 weeks. Farm Assist claims are often complex and require detailed investigation and verification of circumstances. Every effort is made to ensure that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible.

Carer's Allowance Delays

 350. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the measures she has taken to address the unacceptable waiting lists for carer's allowance applications; the timeframe to process applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56608/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton 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 is being closely monitored and managed to ensure it achieves its objectives. A noted increase in the number of new claims processed has been achieved with claims processed substantially exceeding claim intake in recent months. However, it will take a number of months before the backlog is cleared. The allocation of available resources to this task continues to be monitored in order that the backlog is eliminated in the shortest possible timeframe.

Farm Assist Scheme Application Numbers

 351. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total saving to her Department on a full year basis of the changes to the farm assist scheme in budget 2012 and 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56610/12]

 361. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of farmers that will be affected by Budget 2013 changes to the farm assist scheme broken down by county; the total anticipated savings in the changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55963/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 351 and 361 together.

  Support for farmers on low incomes is available through the farm assist scheme. This means-tested payment is similar to the jobseeker’s allowance scheme, on which it is based. The farm assist scheme was introduced in 1999 to replace ‘Smallholders Unemployment Assistance’ for low income farmers, without the requirement to be available for and genuinely seeking work.

  In Budget 2013 two measures were announced, for implementation in April 2013, which will bring the farm assist scheme into closer alignment with the jobseeker’s allowance scheme’s treatment of self-employed persons by:

a. Increasing the amount of means from self-employment, which is assessed against the claimant from 85% to 100%; and

b. Discontinuing the means testing disregards for child dependents of claimants.

  It is anticipated that these measures will achieve savings of €3.75 million in 2013, and €5 million in a full year, and will affect some 7,000 recipients. In relation to Budget 2012, the measures introduced in that Budget were anticipated to achieve savings of €5.15 million in a full year.

  It is not possible to profile anticipated Budget 2013 savings on a county by county basis. However, it is expected that affected farm assist recipients will be broadly proportionate to the overall distribution of claimants, as set out in the following table:

Farm Assist Claimants – October, 2012

County Recipients County Recipients
MAYO
1798
WEXFORD
245
DONEGAL
1506
LONGFORD
263
GALWAY
1088
KILKENNY
95
CORK
905
LAOIS
154
KERRY
795
WESTMEATH
185
CLARE
608
OFFALY
124
MONAGHAN
498
MEATH
89
SLIGO
303
CARLOW
87
CAVAN
387
WATERFORD
137
ROSCOMMON
405
LOUTH
80
TIPPERARY
397
WICKLOW
79
LEITRIM
390
KILDARE
51
LIMERICK
238
DUBLIN
35
Total    
10,942

  Questions Nos. 352 to 354, inclusive, withdrawn.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 355. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Carlow will receive a decision on their appeal for invalidity and if she will expedite a reply.  [56629/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 01st June 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 05th December 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 356. Deputy John Perry Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will be made on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in view of extenuating circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56647/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 05th   December 2012, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 357. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will be made on a review of carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [56656/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm, in accordance with routine procedure, that the carer’s allowance of the person in question was reviewed when the caree turned 16 years of age. The payment was disallowed on the ground that, based upon the medical evidence supplied by the person in question, the caree does not satisfy the statutory conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance.

The person concerned appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and submitted further medical evidence in support of the appeal. The case is with a deciding officer for further examination and if the decision to refuse stands, all relevant papers will be sent to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination. Alternatively the deciding officer may revise the original decision based up on the new information supplied. The person in question will be notified of the outcome.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

 358. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when jobseeker's allowance will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56659/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer decision.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

 359. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if those who successfully conclude the TÚS scheme will receive their first three days payment after returning to social welfare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [56664/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Where a person was in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance and had then participated in the TÚS scheme and where s/he subsequently applies for jobseeker’s allowance immediately on completing TÚS, payment of jobseeker’s allowance will resume from the first day subject to all of the qualifying conditions continuing to be met.

Payment is made from the first day in this case as the jobseeker’s allowance application is considered to be a continuation of the previous claim, unlike the situation which pertains in the case of a new jobseeker claim where the first three days are not payable.

  Question No. 360 withdrawn.


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