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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 153-167
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Eligibility
 Header Item Youth Guarantee
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Live Register Data
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 817 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 153-167

Family Income Supplement Eligibility

 153. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on whether the minimum hours in employment condition of the family income supplement scheme is a barrier to those taking up low-paid employment or continuing in low-paid employment; her views on whether it is equitable that a person working 30 hours per week is entitled to a family income supplement while a person working 15 hours per week is not entitled to a family income supplement or any other social welfare payment due to the hours of work; the options available to a person whose hours of employment have been reduced below the minimum hours of employment and where he or she does not qualify for a jobseeker's payment as the hours of employment mean that the person is not available for work; if she will consider this situation and review the minimum hours requirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43417/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The family income supplement (FIS) is an in-work support for employees with families on low earnings, who otherwise might be at risk of financial poverty. FIS also preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might only be marginally better off than if he or she were unemployed and claiming social welfare. Expenditure on FIS for 2012 was of the order of €224 million in respect of some 32,000 families. The estimated expenditure for 2013 is expected to be €229 million.

To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family. The “hours worked” eligibility criterion has been reduced significantly since the introduction of the scheme in 1984, from 30 hours per week to 19 hours per week in 1996. Further reducing the “hours worked” requirement would have expenditure implications. It is also important that FIS does not inadvertently subsidise unsustainably low earnings or encourage employers to offer minimal hours of employment.

For low income workers with less than the minimum hours of employment for FIS and working on a casual basis up to and including 3 days per week, jobseeker’s schemes provide in-work income support through daily disregards and tapered withdrawal of payments.

Creating jobs and reducing unemployment are key challenges facing the Government. The tax and social protection systems have a part to play in addressing these issues and in ensuring work is remunerative. To this end, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare with the aim of harnessing expert opinion and experience in order to address a number of specific issues. The Group is currently examining the issue of working age supports. In this regard the Group is considering how employment incentives might be improved. Among the issues being examined by the Group include atypical working patterns in the context of jobseeker’s schemes, and the role in-work supports, such as FIS, should play in facilitating people to move from welfare into work.

  Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 144.

Youth Guarantee

 155. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the actions that are to be taken following the one-day special summit in Berlin on youth unemployment, particularly in respect of Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [34269/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The main conclusion from European Heads of State and the European Labour and Social Protection Ministers at the Berlin conference in July 2013 was that implementation of the EU Recommendation on a Youth Guarantee should focus on:

- The development of a vocational dual-training model as used in Germany and Austria – i.e., an expanded system of formal apprenticeships featuring classroom based and work based training.

  This requires significant commitment from employers;

- The support and promotion of internships;

- The promotion of intra-EU labour mobility from areas of labour surplus to areas with full employment;

- The targeted use of employment subsidies to promote the recruitment of young people;

- The development of youth entrepreneurship supports including micro-finance;

- The review and redesign of business processes in Public Employment Services (PES) to ensure that young people receive early and effective support in transitioning from education or unemployment back into employment;

- The development of closer links between PES/training agencies and employers.

  This conclusion is now informing how the Government is developing it’s plan for the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in Ireland. It is expected that this plan will be finalised for submission to the EU by the end of 2013.

  Questions Nos. 156 and 157 answered with Question No. 120.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 158. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a decision has been made on a review of a decision of a domiciliary care allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43418/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on 28th May 2013. The application was disallowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance. A letter issued on the 1st August 2013 advising of the decision.

A review of this decision has been requested and additional information on this child’s condition/care needs has been supplied. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of this review as soon as it is completed.

  Question No. 159 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 160. 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 the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow was refused disability allowance; and if he is entitled to any other payment.  [43439/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Payment of disability allowance, to the person concerned, was refused by a Deciding Officer following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department of Social Protection who expressed the opinion that he was medically unsuitable for disability allowance.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, decided to disallow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in light of new evidence or new facts.

I am further advised that the person concerned has submitted additional evidence and that the Department was requested to return the file to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The file has now been received and referred to the Appeals Officer dealing with this appeal who will, in light of the additional evidence, review the case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of his appeal has been finalised. If the means of the person concerned are insufficient to meet his needs he should contact Community Welfare Services regarding his entitlement to supplementary welfare allowance.

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.

Live Register Data

 161. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the categories of payments from her Department that mean that the recipient is counted on the live register; and the number of persons in each category.  [43449/13]

 162. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the categories of payments from her Department that mean that the recipient is officially counted as unemployed; and the number of persons in each category. [43450/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 and 162 together.

  The official measure of unemployment is the figure for people unemployed reported by the Central Statistics Office in the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS). This figure is compiled and calculated in accordance with international standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is directly comparable with equivalent measures in other countries. The monthly Live Register count is a separate measure of people in receipt of jobseeker payments. It contains all claimants for Jobseekers Benefit (excluding systematic short-time workers), claimants for Jobseekers Allowance (excluding smallholders and self-employed persons), and other people of working age claiming for credited social welfare contributions, but excluding those directly involved in an industrial dispute. Claims with a status of awarded or pending award are included, along with those claims which have a status of disallowed but where the client is still signing on. The Live Register count includes people who are working casually, i.e. working up to three days per week and claiming a jobseeker payment for the remainder of the week. As the Live Register figure includes casual workers and people claiming credits it typically exceeds the official QNHS measure of people unemployed.

Live Register end of September, 2013

Scheme Number on Live Register
Jobseeker’s Allowance 312,392
Jobseeker’s Benefit 61,714
Credits Only 34,564
Total 408,670
  As of the end of September 2013 there were 408,670 people on the live register. I have attached a breakdown by scheme of this number for your information. It is to be noted that 82,295 of the total number were casual and part-time workers.

  Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 138.

  Question No. 164 answered with Question No. 144.

Departmental Schemes

 165. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons taking part in the JobsPlus initiative and the cost of same to the Exchequer.  [43454/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton JobsPlus was launched on 8th July 2013. This is a new incentive to encourage employers to recruit and employ persons who have been unemployed for long periods. It replaced this Department’s Employer Job PRSI Incentive Scheme and the Revenue Job Assist Scheme managed by the Revenue Commissioners. Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria and creating a full-time position, employers will receive a direct monthly cash incentive over two years if the person they hire has been unemployed for a prolonged period. The level of payment is higher where a person who has been unemployed for a longer period is recruited and retained.

The Department had received applications from 2,414 jobseekers at the close of business on the 4th October 2013. Of these, 1,869 applications have been deemed eligible with 1,201 qualifying on the basis of being 24 months unemployed and, therefore, attracting a payment to an employer of €10,000 paid over two years. The remaining 668 applications are eligible for a payment of €7,500 over two years, having been unemployed for between 12 and 24 months.

The Department has processed applications from 1,229 employers at the 4th October. Of these 585 have been matched with eligible jobseekers and I expect grant payments to commence in respect of these 520 of these cases before the end of the month. The initiative is expected to operate on a pilot basis initially, with €21.25 million allocated to cover costs over three years. I anticipate that this allocation will be reviewed along with other aspects of the initiative, when it has been operational for a number of months.

Further information regarding the scheme can be found at www.jobsplus.ie

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 166. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will review a decision to refuse a domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43473/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 26th July 2013. The application was disallowed as it was considered that the child does not meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. A letter issued on the 5th September 2013 advising of the decision.

The person concerned has now supplied additional information and an appeal will be registered in this case. As part of the appeal process, the case will be forwarded to the Department’s Medical Assessors for further consideration, including a review of the new information supplied. Upon receipt of the Medical Assessor’s opinion, the case will be further considered and forwarded to the Appeals Office, if necessary.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 167. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when an appeal hearing will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan in respect of their appeal to her Department’s decision to refuse payment of their disability allowance claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43488/13]

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 of the available evidence, has decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. 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.


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