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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 45-53
 Header Item Social Welfare Code
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Administration
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Reports

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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Written Answers Nos. 45-53

Social Welfare Code

 45. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Court of Justice of the EU, in the case of Servet Kamberaj v Servet Kamberaj v Istituto per l’Edilizia Sociale della Provincia autonoma di Bolzano IPES, that EU member states are prohibited from implementing legislation which treats third-country nationals who are long-term residents different from EU citizens in relation to the allocation of certain types of social welfare payments; if she has examined the implications of this judgment for her Department; and if she will provide details of any discussions she has had on it. [18836/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton There do not appear to be any implications for my Department from the Judgement of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of Servet Kamberaj v Istituto per l’Edilizia Sociale della Provincia autonoma di Bolzano (IPES). My Department does not treat third-country nationals who are long-term legal residents any differently to Irish, EU or EEA citizens in relation to the allocation of certain types of social welfare payments. The Directive which is mentioned extensively in the Judgement and which governs the status and treatment of third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the European Union is Directive 2003/109/EC. Recital 25 in the preamble to that Directive states:- “In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and without prejudice to Article 4 of the said Protocol, these Member States are not participating in the adoption of this Directive and are not bound by or subject to its application”.

Social Welfare Appeals Administration

 46. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if her attention has been drawn to the fact that in 2011, almost one in five decisions in social welfare appeals was overturned by getting the original deciding officer to revise their original decision; her plans to ensure that there is better first-instance decision-making. [18842/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Decisions on statutory social welfare schemes are made by statutorily appointed Deciding Officers (DO). The DO must satisfy him/herself that the person:

- is aware of all the information that could adversely affect his/her entitlement;

- was given an opportunity to comment and to submit any facts or information to correct any inaccuracy or incompleteness in the information; and

- any comments made by the person are clearly and fully considered before a decision is made.

DOs and others involved in the process will assist claimants as far as possible in making their applications but, as a matter of law, the burden of providing evidence to support a claim rests with claimants.

Disqualifications and disallowances are issued to the customer in writing. The disallowance/disqualification reasons and grounds are outlined clearly and are sufficient to enable the appellant to lodge an appeal. Persons are advised, in the decision letters, of their right to seek a Department of Social Protection (DSP) review of the initial decision and are also advised as to how to lodge an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). Where a review is sought, the DO re-examines the case and, taking account of any new facts or evidence, may revise his/ her decision.

6,035 of the appeals finalised in 2011 were revised decisions made by DOs who reviewed the claim following the initial disallowance. This figure illustrates that the review process is well understood and utilised. Many revised decisions arose as a result of new facts or fresh evidence produced by the claimant after the original decision on his /her claim. In such cases an Appeals Officer decision was not necessary and obviated the need for claimants to go through the full appeals process. DOs are reminded through on-going training, guidelines and circulars of the rules of natural justice and the submissions and decisions process of the SWAO. Furthermore the Department constantly monitors the decision making process and implements any changes required to ensure a high standard of decision making is maintained.

The Department processes in excess of two million claims each year and it makes payments to over one million people every week. It is important to emphasise that the staff in this Department are very conscious of their obligations to claimants and every effort is made to ensure people receive the entitlements due to them.

  Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 12.

  Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 26.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

 49. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide clarification on the situation concerning those mothers working in the home and their ability to receive a token social welfare payment which would allow them to access community employment schemes and other training in preparation of returning to full-time work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18844/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The core eligibility criterion for CE is that the person is in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment, as defined on the Department’s website. This requirement is based on Government policy and Departmental guidelines and has been the rule since CE commenced in 1994. At present persons signing for credits or otherwise ineligible for a social welfare payment, do not meet the current eligibility requirements for participation on the CE Scheme. They may, however, be eligible for participation on other programmes, although they may not qualify for payment of an allowance e.g. FÁS training courses. Such persons are advised to contact their local Employment Services Office or Intreo office (where available) where an Employment Services Officer will be happy to discuss the employment and training options that are open to them. There are no proposals currently under consideration in regard to making changes to the national operation of the Community Employment Programme. Within the current very difficult budgetary constraints, the number of places on Community Employment is being expanded up to 25,300 by the end of 2013.

Departmental Reports

 50. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if her Department has conducted any research on identifying a minimum essential standard of living; if she will provide the results of this research and the methodology used; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18837/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department has not directly undertaken research on identifying a minimum essential standard of living for households. However, as part of its overall function of research into poverty and social exclusion issues, the Department has indirectly supported research related to this area, namely through a social policy project approved by the Irish Research Council under its Research Development Initiative in 2010. The project titled 'Establishing Minimum Income Standards for Irish Households' was a joint initiative of Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. The latter body has a long-running series of research publications in this area. A report on the study titled 'A Minimum Income Standard for Ireland - A consensual budget standards study examining household types across the lifecycle' was published in 2012 and is available at the following link (http://www.tcd.ie/policy-institute/publications/bluepaper_27.php).

  Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 12.

  Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 44.

  Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 42


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