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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 481 to 497
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Status
 Header Item Community Services Programme
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Places
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Administration
 Header Item Work Placement Programmes
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Community Development Projects
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Expenditure

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 481 to 497

Social Welfare Appeals Status

 481. Deputy Frank Feighan Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide an update on a social welfare appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) lodged with the appeals office in D’Olier House in respect of an illness benefit claim which was refused in August 2013; and when a decision will be finalised. [12851/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Payment of illness benefit, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

  I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal was registered on 18 February 2014 and that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer’s comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed.

  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.

Community Services Programme

 482. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will reverse the decision not to continue funding for community radio Youghal under the community services programme through Pobal (details supplied). [12905/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports community businesses to deliver local services to their communities and to create employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged groups. The Programme is managed on behalf of the Department by Pobal.

The CSP is designed on a social enterprise model and a core requirement of the programme is that contract holders generate non-public revenue from their operations e.g. by charging fees for services delivered or fundraising. The grant from the Department is not intended to represent full-funding. Companies in contract under the CSP are responsible for their own budgets, income, financial and other liabilities and must be not-for-profit, social enterprise or community business in nature.

A re-contracting process for a number of the approved organisations took place in 2013, including the project referred to by the Deputy. This involved the submission of business plans which were reviewed by Pobal. While the organisation’s proposal was rejected, based on value for money considerations, a review is currently being undertaken of this decision and they will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible.

Community Employment Schemes Places

 483. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will reverse the cut that sees the loss of a community employment supervisor in the Community LYNKS drugs project, Inchicore, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12925/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Officials from the Department met with representatives from the Community Lynks Special Drugs CE Scheme on 27 February last. I understand that there was a temporary supervisory post due for completion of a six month contract on 28 February and that this has been extended for one month to facilitate the scheme with regard to maintaining a sufficient number of participants to warrant this post. The matter will then be reviewed.

In the meeting with the Community Lynks representatives, it was confirmed that there will be no change in the numbers of places on the scheme - 40 approved places. The scheme currently has 36 participants. The scheme has been asked to review the intake of participants to ensure sustainability of take-up of places on to the scheme. Furthermore, they have been advised that the Department will sanction approval for additional places if the sponsors show a demand for such places.

CE schemes involved in the drug rehabilitation strand have a lower participant to supervisor ratio due to the different nature of the clients participating on those schemes. The standard ratio is 7 drugs rehabilitation referred participants and 2 mainstream participants to 1 supervisory post for dedicated drugs rehabilitation schemes. This adjusted ratio was agreed, in consultation with statutory, community and voluntary sector representatives, under the nine special conditions to support the delivery of drug rehabilitation places on CE.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 484. 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 status of the appeal against the refusal of invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if same will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12957/14]

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 29 October 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 February 2014 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Rent Supplement Scheme Administration

 485. 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 rent allowance will be extended to participants in back to work enterprises who are in the early stages of their businesses and in receipt of low incomes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13009/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The purpose of rent supplement 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 currently approximately 78,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014.

A person who is in receipt of rent supplement who commences the back to work enterprise allowance may retain entitlement to rent supplement, subject to the means test, if they are deemed as eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) by a housing authority. The back to work enterprise allowance scheme is designed to encourage people who are dependent on certain social welfare payments to engage in self-employment while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment over two years.

A new applicant for rent supplement who is participating on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme would not qualify for rent supplement. The Department has no plans to change the conditions of the rent supplement scheme at this time.

Work Placement Programmes

 486. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons in Counties Westmeath and Longford who have so far participated in the Gateway local authority work placement scheme; if there are plans to expand the number of Gateway positions in the local authorities in the coming months; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13021/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Gateway has a target to provide for 3,000 placements focusing on those who have been unemployed for 24 months or more.

  The initial placement of participants on Gateway has commenced with a total of 90 participants currently engaged. While Longford and Westmeath County Councils have been allocated targets of 55 and 80 respectively, no participants have been placed to date in either county.

  The sum of €19.1m has been allocated for Gateway in 2014 which will provide for the 3,000 places referred to above. I have no plans at present to increase the current level of placements beyond that number.

Departmental Reports

 487. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of external or internal policy reports currently that have been handed to her but not yet published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13037/14]

 488. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when she will publish reports currently in her possession that have not been published to date; if she will outline in tabular form the reports involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13054/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to answer Questions Nos. 487 and 488 together.

  I have no policy reports that are awaiting publication.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 489. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a domiciliary care allowance application will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13108/14]

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 in light of representations and additional supporting evidence submitted by the Deputy the Appeals Officer has decided that the appeal in this case will be re-opened and an oral hearing will be arranged.

  Every effort will be made to have the hearing as soon as possible and the person concerned will be notified of the arrangements when finalised.

  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.

Question No. 490 withdrawn.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 491. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a domiciliary care allowance application will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13213/14]

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 in light of additional information submitted, the Appeals Officer has decided to set aside her previous decision to disallow the appeal of the person concerned.   The appeal, in this case, has been re-opened and an oral hearing will be arranged.

  Every effort will be made to have the hearing as soon as possible and the person concerned will be notified of the arrangements when finalised.

  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.

Social Welfare Benefits

 492. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will outline Ireland's position on taking unemployment benefits to another EU country, currently set at three months; if Ireland supports a European Commission proposal to extend this up to six months; Ireland's position on these negotiations at European level to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13184/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Social welfare entitlements for people moving around the EU to live or work are regulated by EU regulations on the coordination of social insurance systems. Amongst other things, these regulations allow those who wish to go to another EU country to look for employment to continue to receive their unemployment benefits for up to 3 months. While the regulations provide that Member States may extend this period to six months, Ireland does not operate this further concession.

As part of a series of measures to encourage and facilitate free movement of EU citizens across the Union, the EU Commission has proposed that the export period should be standardised at six months. Legislation to effect this change has not yet been formerly proposed by the EU Commission but it is expected that this will happen later this year.

It is important that unemployed people are assisted in their efforts to secure employment and in this regard the facility to export benefits is an important support for those who wish to look for a job in another EU country. However, I am not convinced that allowing export of benefits for an extra three months will improve the prospects of a person seeking employment abroad. Therefore, I will examine any forthcoming proposal that extends this period on a mandatory basis very carefully.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 493. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13245/14]

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 oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 13 February 2014 and that the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all of the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision when the appeal has been determined.

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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 494. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a domiciliary care allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13263/14]

 545. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a domiciliary care allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13923/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to answer Questions Nos. 494 and 545 together.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 06 January 2014. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question 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 appeal 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Community Development Projects

 495. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide an annual breakdown, in tabular form, of the money invested in the community sector in County Donegal yearly since 2008.  [13291/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I set out in the following table a breakdown of monies allocated in employment programmes by the Department in Co. Donegal from 2008 to 2013.

-Project Start YearCommunity Employment (CE)Job Initiative (JI)Rural Social Scheme (RSS)TúsCommunity Services Programme (CSP)Annual Total
200817,091,5261,527,603n/an/a2,518,03421,137,163
200918,421,0911,403,436n/an/a3,043,62522,868,152
201018,769,6841,118,881n/an/a2,781,42622,669,991
201118,618,8831,141,56398,320101,7003,103,92323,064,389
201216,407,154998,426117,100253,4523,214,17120,990,303
201317,903,0381,065,601103,000272,4762,858,93022,203,045
Total by Programme107,211,3767,255,510318,420627,62817,520,109132,933,043
  

In the context of the above table, it should be noted that (i) responsibility for the RSS transferred to the Department in September 2010. Expenditure breakdown figures prior to this date are not available to this Department, and (ii) Tús was not established until 2011.

Social Welfare Benefits Expenditure

 496. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide an annual breakdown, in tabular form, of the amount spent on social welfare payments in County Donegal yearly since 2008.  [13292/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The information requested by the Deputy is not available in my Department. Statistics in respect of expenditure are collated annually in respect of all social welfare payments on a national basis only and are not available at county level.

Question No. 497 withdrawn.


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