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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 498-517
 Header Item Work Placement Programmes
 Header Item Departmental Programmes
 Header Item Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility
 Header Item Work Placement Programmes
 Header Item Social Insurance Payments
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Child Care Services Provision
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Farm Assist Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Community Welfare Services
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals

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. 498-517

Work Placement Programmes

 498. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be re-called for an interview for gateway; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13301/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Gateway is a work placement initiative which aims to improve the employability and maintain the work readiness of those who have been unemployed for 24 months or more. Participants are selected by a random process conducted by the Department from those persons in receipt of a jobseekers allowance payment for 24 months or more.

Responsibility for delivery of Gateway rests with the individual county and/or city councils. I understand that Mayo County Council have agreed to re-arrange an interview with the individual concerned and the Council will contact him in this regard in due course.

Departmental Programmes

 499. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her plans for the introduction of a standard means test that would apply across all arms of Government to avoid the current situation whereby persons have to complete multiple means test forms depending on the body they are applying to; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13308/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton My Department operates a range of means tested schemes and these schemes, including the means testing elements, are administered through a network of local and central offices.

In the case of means tested social assistance schemes, the vast majority of claimants are means tested only once. In a small number of cases, a second means test may be required if they apply for basic supplementary welfare allowance or rent supplement.

In 2010, DSP commenced work on a project to build an application to allow the capture and storage of means data for customers across 13 different means-tested schemes. The resulting application is known as the Means Assessment Object (MAO). The Department has now completed a further project to enhance the Means Assessment Object. This project has extended the functionality of the system in order to facilitate the capture of means data for a number of contributory-based schemes for the purposes of determining entitlements to additional allowances (e.g. Increases for a Qualified Adult or a Qualified Child) which have a means testing element.

Now that the functionality for the relevant schemes to use the MAO is in place, roll-out of the application will be undertaken to the additional business and scheme areas involved. The overall effect of this development is to ensure that once means data is captured in the MAO it is available for re-use by other scheme areas, thereby eliminating the need to provide similar information a second or subsequent time.

A second project, the Means Information Sharing Service (MISS), will provide the capability to allow for the electronic sharing and re-use of means element data as stored by DSP within the MAO with participating State bodies. Exchanges of data will relate solely to information on means and will assist participating bodies in providing a better service to customers, by reducing the number of times customers would be required to provide information on their means where possible entitlements are being assessed. This project has now developed a web service which is due to go into live use with one State organisation shortly. The feedback from this live test will inform the further development and roll-out of the service.

  Question No. 500 withdrawn.

Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility

 501. 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 if an allowance will be paid to a person in respect of the cost of medication if they were to lose their current medical card and who previously was covered by the long term chronic illness medical scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13322/14]

 515. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of applications made to community welfare officers for exceptional needs payments in February 2013 and February 2014 per county, respectively. [13426/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 501 and 515 together.

  Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. The Government has provided €31.3 million for the ENP scheme in 2014.

  There is no automatic entitlement to an ENP. ENP’s are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.

  The ENP scheme is not intended to cover circumstances where responsibility rests with another Government Department or Agency such as assistance towards medication costs. Responsibility for medication costs under the medical card or the long term illness scheme is a matter for the Health Service Executive and is not covered under the ENP scheme.

  The Department does not maintain records of the number of applications received for ENPs. However, a detailed breakdown of payments made per county in February 2013 and 2014 is provided in the following tabular statement.

Tabular Statement: Exceptional Need Payments for February 2013 by County.--
CountyNumber of PaymentsExpenditure
DUBLIN5,475€1,332,315
CORK882€316,381
KILDARE601€181,573
TIPPERARY671€161,585
WICKLOW335€111,215
LIMERICK490€107,692
GALWAY404€105,621
MEATH377€70,963
WEXFORD199€70,482
KERRY228€61,328
DONEGAL154€61,003
CARLOW175€56,158
LAOIS247€55,362
MAYO335€50,800
KILKENNY201€50,759
WATERFORD171€48,181
WESTMEATH174€45,516
ROSCOMMON156€41,405
LONGFORD83€40,835
CAVAN103€38,563
CLARE187€38,110
LOUTH114€36,532
SLIGO148€35,182
LEITRIM71€24,731
OFFALY108€24,590
MONAGHAN41€12,176
Total12,130€3,179,058
Exceptional Need Payments for February 2014 by County.--
CountyNumber of PaymentsExpenditure
DUBLIN 3,867€970,086
CORK812€247,518
TIPPERARY501€140,117
KILDARE379€126,212
LIMERICK332€107,045
WICKLOW205€75,559
WEXFORD136€64,947
KILKENNY172€58,641
GALWAY211€57,806
WATERFORD193€56,986
KERRY154€51,822
DONEGAL115€50,750
MEATH237€49,318
WESTMEATH152€42,772
LONGFORD87€40,464
LOUTH117€39,400
LAOIS327€37,403
MAYO150€34,914
CARLOW123€32,015
ROSCOMMON68€31,642
CLARE113€27,304
SLIGO100€24,836
OFFALY86€22,362
LEITRIM63€21,602
CAVAN63€19,952
MONAGHAN48€15,007
Total8,811€2,446,480

Work Placement Programmes

 502. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if persons offered a placement on the gateway scheme who are under 26 years of age will be brought up to a full rate of jobseeker’s allowance; or if the reported €20 per week in additional income for those participating in the scheme will be added to the current reduced rate of payment for unemployed people under 26 years of age in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance.  [13335/14]

 503. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if persons offered a placement on the gateway scheme who are in receipt of a partial jobseeker’s allowance payment will be brought up to a full rate of jobseeker’s allowance; or if the reported €20 per week in additional income for those participating in the scheme will be added to their current reduced rate of payment.  [13336/14]

 504. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if persons signing for credited contributions will be allowed to participate in the gateway scheme.  [13337/14]

 505. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if additional payments to participants in the gateway scheme will be made by her Department or the participating local authority.  [13338/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 502 to 505, inclusive, together.

Gateway is a work placement initiative which aims to improve the employability and maintain the work readiness of those who have been unemployed for 24 months or more. Similar to Tús, participants are selected by a random process conducted by the Department from those persons in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment for 24 months or more and currently in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance. The selected jobseekers are informed when they have been selected and, if they agree to participate, will have their contact details passed to the relevant county or city council.

Random selection for participation on Gateway is restricted to those who are currently on the live register and in receipt of a jobseeker’s allowance. Those who are signing for credits are not eligible for selection.

The current minimum rate of payment on Gateway and other DSP work placement programmes is €208 per week. In cases where the individual’s original rate of jobseeker’s payment is under €188 per week, they will be paid a weekly rate of €208. If their rate of jobseekers’ payment is over €188 per week, a €20 weekly top-up will apply. These amounts apply regardless of the age of the participant. There is no provision for additional payments to Gateway participants over and above these rates. However, it should be noted that the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government has made €2m available to cover health and safety training and safety equipment etc as part of Gateway. I understand that this funding is being administered through Limerick Local Authority.

Social Insurance Payments

 506. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons aged under 26 years who are signing for credited contributions with her Department.  [13339/14]

 507. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons aged over 60 years who are signing for credited contributions with her Department.  [13340/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 506 and 507 together.

Credited contributions (credits) are a feature of the contributory social insurance schemes. A credit is a pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution awarded to an insured person under certain circumstances, such as proved unemployment. Credits ensure that a person’s insurance record is maintained and can be helpful at a later stage to qualify for other social welfare benefits, such as pensions.

I assume that the Deputy is referring to unemployment credits in his questions. Of the total of 37,312 current jobseeker credit only claims i.e. those not in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment, 351 people are aged 18 to 25 and 11,403 are aged 61 to 66.

Carer's Allowance Applications

 508. 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 progress to date in determination of an application for carer's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who submitted further requested documentation in recent days; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13343/14]

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 the 14th January 2014. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 509. 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 eligibility for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of medical circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13345/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned was disallowed disability allowance on 4 December 2012 on the grounds that his weekly means exceeded the statutory limit allowable for receipt of disability allowance. The person was informed at that time of his right of appeal, within 21 days, of this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office has confirmed that no appeal was ever received in this case.

If the person’s circumstances have changed it is open to him to make a new application for disability allowance.

Child Care Services Provision

 510. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if there are any further measures planned to support lone parents in getting access to affordable child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13354/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton In Budget 2013, a joint initiative between the Department and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (D/CYA) was announced to provide subsidised after-school child care places for low-income families who enter employment. The purpose of the after-school child care (ASCC) scheme is to help to offset some of the after-school child care costs that are associated with availing of an employment opportunity in a bid to encourage more individuals to take up employment. The scheme supports those who are unemployed as well as one-parent family payment (OFP) recipients. The ASCC scheme is available nationwide since 31 October, 2013 and will provide 800 subsidised after-school child care places in 2014.

Following Budget 2014 the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) Programme was expanded from 1 January, 2014 to include Community Employment (CE) participants. There are 1,800 places available nationally. Access to the CETS Programme for CE participants means they can now access subsidised child care for the first time in the same way as participants pursuing Education and Training Boards courses. Feedback from CE sponsors is that the lack of access to affordable child care is a barrier to participation on CE for parents with young children, particularly lone parents. This measure is an important provision in their engagement. Lone parents currently on CE and those in receipt of the OFP prior to commencement on CE are particularly welcome to take up a CETS subsidised childcare place.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has responsibility for the wider provision of childcare and any further childcare measures planned would be a matter for that Department.

Departmental Meetings

 511. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of times her Department received requests by Philanthropy Ireland to meet in 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number of times her Department met with Philanthropy Ireland in those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13394/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I am informed by my Department that it has not received any requests from Philanthropy Ireland to meet in 2011, 2012 or 2013 and no meetings with Philanthropy Ireland were held in those years.

Farm Assist Scheme Appeals

 512. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding farm assist in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13408/14]

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 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.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 513. 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 progress to date in determination of a review of an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13411/14]

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 the 15th May 2013. The person in question was refused carer’s allowance on the 1st of July 2013. The person concerned appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office carried out all the necessary investigations on this claim and subsequently the appeal was disallowed on the 10th of January 2014 as it was decided that the qualifying conditions for carer’s allowance have not been met. The Social Welfare Appeals Office wrote to the person in question on 10th January 2014 to notify them of this decision. Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed in the light of additional evidence or new facts.

I am informed that the Social Welfare Appeals Office has asked for the file to be returned to that office on the 17th of February 2014. The Social Welfare Appeals Office will be in touch with the person directly if there is any change in the position.

Community Welfare Services

 514. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton further to Parliamentary Question No. 401 of 25 February 2014, the number of home visits undertaken by community welfare officers each month since the restructuring of the community welfare service referred to in her response broken down by county.  [13425/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton As part of the Department’s overall process to provide a more streamlined and consistent service to the customer and to support the activation commitments under the Pathways to Work Programme and the development of Intreo services nationally, it has been necessary to review the administration of all its services across its remit including the community welfare service (CWS).

Overall, this is resulting in a rebalancing of resources across the Department’s range of activities including the relocation of some staff to main centres, primarily Intreo offices, which will provide a full range of services, including the CWS and these will, in general, be available in one location.

In general, this means that the frequency of available public clinics has increased. Improved phone services have been put in place, allowing in many cases, for customer queries to be processed without having to attend a clinic on a face to face basis. If a person is unable to travel to a clinic, for example due to illness, alternative arrangements are in place including arranging a visit to the client’s home if necessary.

The Department does not maintain records of the number of home visits undertaken by staff in the CWS. However, in response to the recent severe weather conditions, I can confirm that Department officials have made approximately 600 home visits countrywide to individuals worst affected by the severe weather who have required this level of support.

  Question No. 515 answered with Question No. 501.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 516. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if the invalidity pension section of her Department notified the claimant that the claim was unsuccessful and the file had been referred for appeal on 22 January; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13443/14]

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 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.

  Question No. 517 withdrawn.


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