Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 215-238
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists
 Header Item Social Insurance
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Offices
 Header Item Disability Allowance Applications
 Header Item Treatment Benefit Scheme
 Header Item Departmental Staff Relocation
 Header Item Disability Allowance Payments
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Applications
 Header Item Youth Unemployment Measures
 Header Item Unemployment Benefits Data
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times
 Header Item Employment Support Services
 Header Item Unemployment Levels
 Header Item Protected Disclosures Data
 Header Item Work Placement Programmes
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Eligibility
 Header Item Free Travel Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item State Pension (Non-Contributory) Appeals
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications
 Header Item Labour Activation Programmes Data
 Header Item Child Benefit Data

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 215-238

Insurance Costs

 215. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the cost of insurance under different insurance headings such as public liability, buildings cover, employer liability and so on for his Department and each body under its aegis; the name of the insurance provider for each year since 2010, in tabular form; the number of current outstanding insurance claims against his Department or the body under its aegis; the estimated cost of those claims if available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15179/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Normal State policy, as advised in the Public Financial Procedures, is that the State is its own insurer and as such covers its own costs. State indemnity for personal injury and third party property damage was legislated for in the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000 where the management of personal injury and third party property damage claims against certain State authorities, and underlying risks, was delegated to the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). When performing these functions, the NTMA is known as the State Claims Agency (SCA).

  Under the general rule of State indemnity enacted through the statutory provisions above, certain State bodies are indemnified by the Minister for Finance for the following:

  - Personal injury to employees of the State;

  - Personal injury to third parties (the public);

  - Third party property damage.

  In that context there are no insurance claims against my Department.

  The information requested in relation to bodies under the aegis of my Department is a matter for the individual bodies concerned.  Arrangements have been put in place by each Agency to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas.  The contact email address for each agency is set out in the following table.

Agency Email address
An Bord Pleanála Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie
Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland oireachtas@ervia.ie
Housing Sustainable Communities Agency publicreps@housingagency.ie
Housing Finance Agency oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie
Irish Water oireachtasmembers@water.ie
Irish Water Safety oireachtas@iws.ie
Local Government Management Agency corporate@lgma.ie
Residential Tenancies Board OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie
Pobaloireachtasqueries@pobal.ie

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

 216. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of persons currently approved for social housing in County Cork who are waiting to be housed, by town and settlement; the number of persons on the housing list in each area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15234/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Details on the number of households which are qualified for social housing support in each housing authority area and whose housing need has not been met, are provided in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments. The most recent figures available are the results of the 2016 Summary which are available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/summary_of_social_housing_assessments_2016.pdf.

The 2016 results show that there were 4,440 & 4,241 qualified households in Cork City Council and Cork County Council, respectively, as at 21 September 2016.  The results do not provide a breakdown of the numbers for individual areas within the Councils' administrative areas and my Department does not hold such detailed data.

Social Insurance

 217. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the estimated revenue that would be raised by introducing a new employers’ rate of pay-related social insurance of 15.75% on the portion of salary paid in excess of €100,000 per annum. [14867/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Currently class A employers pay PRSI at the rate of 8.5% where weekly earnings are between €38 and €376. Once weekly earnings exceed €376, the rate of employer PRSI is 10.75%.

  The annual increase in the PRSI yield to the Social Insurance Fund from increasing the class A employer PRSI rate from 10.75% to 15.75% on the portion of salary is dependent on the number of people at any time earning in excess of €1,932 per week (€100,000 p.a.) and the amount of that excess. This is a complicated query.

  I have asked my officials to generate an estimate and provide the data requested directly to the Deputy within the next week.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 218. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when a person (details supplied) will receive a decision on their domiciliary allowance appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14809/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 22nd June 2016. This application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance. A letter issued on the 21st October 2016 outlining the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

An appeal of this decision was registered on 28th October 2016. Additional information on the child’s condition/care needs was supplied as recently as 13th March 2017. The application together with the new information supplied has been forwarded to a Medical Assessor for their professional opinion. Upon receipt of the Medical Assessor’s opinion, the case will be further examined by a deciding officer, who will revise the original decision if warranted or alternatively, forward the case for consideration by the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Offices

 219. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number and location of welfare clinics that have been closed and moved to other locations in the past two years, such as the proposed closure of welfare services in Duleek and Laytown, County Meath; the cost of the provision for each such service; the reason for closure; if he will reconsider the closure of Duleek and Laytown services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14811/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Following the transfer of the Community Welfare Service (CWS) from the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the Department in 2011, the Department has re-engineered its business model to support the provision of integrated services across all business streams involved in the delivery of localised services.

  As part of this strategy, the Department is engaged in the delivery of integrated Intreo centres, which provide a full range of services, including the CWS, generally available in one location. The following table provides a breakdown of the 42 CWS clinics closed since 2015 on a county basis. Information regarding the cost of the provision of clinics is not available.

  Where the service has been restructured alternative arrangements have been put in place to ensure that customers are provided with on-going access to the supports provided by the service. This means that the frequency of available public clinics has increased, an improved phone and appointments service is generally available and alternative arrangements are in place for those who cannot travel, for example due to illness, including arranging a visit to the client’s home as necessary.

  CWS clinics in Laytown and Duleek will move to the main Intreo Centre in Drogheda with effect from 3rd April 2017. A large proportion of customers accessing the CWS in both Duleek and Laytown are already dealing with the Intreo Centre in Drogheda. This move will enable customers to access all services in the one location eliminating the need for them to visit a second office to make a claim for supplementary welfare allowance. The service availability will increase from one to three mornings per week which will provide a greater level of flexibility to clients accessing the service. The Intreo Centre provides a comprehensive information service on the full range of supports provided by the Department and this will enable customers to clarify all their queries in relation to employment and income support services in one location.

  The Department has written to all customers affected by this move and the feedback to date has been positive with the expanded opening hours being seen as a very positive development. For some customers travelling to the Intreo office in Drogheda is much more convenient especially for customers in areas such as Highlands, Grangerath, Backbush Avenue, Ard Ri and Deepford. All customers have been informed that a CWS officer will be available to carry out a home visit where a customer cannot access the clinic due to incapacity or for any other legitimate reason.

  I am very conscious of the need to provide efficient and effective customer-facing services at a local level for all customers of the Department and would like to reassure the Deputy that the changes to the services are intended to enhance the integration of all of the Department’s localised services.

  CWS Clinic Closures by County and Year of Closure

County201520162017 *Total
Carlow5  5
Clare1  1
Cork 213
Donegal11 2
Dublin115117
Kerry  11
Kildare 1 1
Leitrim 2 2
Louth1  1
Meath1  1
Roscommon4  4
Sligo1  1
Westmeath21 3
Grand Total2712342
  *to date in 2017

Disability Allowance Applications

 220. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will reinstate a disability allowance for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14820/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Following a review of the entitlement of his gentleman, his claim was suspended as he failed to supply the information required in order to assess his entitlement. The deciding officer requested further information on 27 February 2017 and we await the documents sought. On receipt of this information a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Treatment Benefit Scheme

 221. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the grant assistance that is available to a person (details supplied) in receipt of a State pension non-contributory who requires two hearing aids. [14821/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The treatment benefit scheme, which includes provision for a grant towards hearing aids, is based on PRSI contributions. There are two main qualification criteria for someone the age of the person concerned;

  - The first is that they must have paid at least 260 qualifying PRSI contributions since first starting work. The person concerned meets this condition.

  - The second is that they must have at least 39 such contributions paid or credited in the years immediately before they turn either 60 or 66 years of age. Records indicate that there are no PRSI contributions recorded as paid or credited for those years. As a result the person concerned does not meet the second condition, and so does not qualify for treatment benefit.

  If he has a Medical Card he should contact his local HSE Office about their parallel hearing aid scheme.

Departmental Staff Relocation

 222. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the reason staff working in social welfare services in County Longford are not being facilitated in transferring to the office in Carrick-on-Shannon even though these transfers were sanctioned some time ago; and if these transfers will take place without further delay. [14893/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Department facilitates staff transfers in accordance with the appropriate protocols. In this regard, where a permanent post falls to be filled by transfer the relevant transfer list is consulted. In addition to having to satisfy attendance and performance criteria, the question as to whether the person can be released from their current office/Department arises. There are a number of reasons why someone might not be released, e.g. they may be required to serve in their current location for a specified period of time, there may be no suitable replacement available should one be required, or the business needs of the office are such that releasing an experienced person cannot be facilitated at that point in time. If a person is not suitable or cannot be released they retain their place on the transfer list for future opportunities and the next person on the list is considered.

An increase in the work undertaken in the Department’s Longford office required the ongoing assignment of a significant number of new staff last year. The Department's priority is to ensure that service is provided to its customers. Therefore, in order to maintain service delivery to those depending on the schemes operated in that Office, it has not always been possible to release experienced staff until new staff are fully trained up. The position is subject to continuous review with a view to being able to facilitate staff transfers when opportunities arise in the future.

  Question No. 223 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance Payments

 224. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when arrears will issue to a person (details supplied) who was waiting more than 12 months on a decision regarding a disability allowance application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14904/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath This lady was awarded disability allowance (DA) by the Social Welfare Appeals Office from 27 April 2016 and her first weekly payment issued on 22 March 2017. The person in question was in receipt of another social welfare payment, or an increase was paid to another for her benefit, during the period 15 November 2016 to 21 March 2017. Consequently, the amount of social welfare already paid required calculation and was deducted from any arrears due.

  This process was completed by my department as quickly as possible. DA arrears issued by cheque to this lady on 23 March 2017.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

 225. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will expedite a domiciliary care allowance and a carer's allowance for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14936/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received from this lady on the 21st February 2017. The application will be considered by a Deciding Officer and the decision will be notified to her as soon as possible. Applications are processed in date of receipt order, it can currently take up to 14 weeks to process an application for DCA.

  Carers allowance in respect of children under 16 years old is dependent on the child qualifying for DCA in the first instance. As a result this lady’s application for carers allowance cannot be considered or approved until entitlement to DCA is determined.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Youth Unemployment Measures

 226. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which the various youth unemployment alleviation measures have resulted in successful full-time job placements throughout the country and especially in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14970/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. First, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs; and second, through Pathways to Work, to ensure that as many as possible of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise in our economy are filled by people taken from the Live Register, including young people.

Reflecting the impact of government policy, and the overall improvement in the labour market, youth unemployment continues to fall with a rate of 14.5% (30,500 persons) in February 2017 estimated by CSO, as compared to 17.2% (32,600) persons in February 2016 and a peak of over 31% (70,600 persons) in 2012. Unemployment data are not available at the county level.

However, the number of young people signing on the Live Register in offices in Sligo and Leitrim (which may serve as an indicator of trends in unemployment) has fallen from 1,430 in February 2012 to 720 in February 2017. I know that the Deputy will very much welcome this information.

While systemised data is not readily available on employment outcomes for specific programmes nationally or at county level, some indicative figures are available for people aged under 25 at a national level. For example:

- The evaluation of JobBridge by Indecon (report published October 2016), shows on the basis of self-reported survey results that 61% of interns aged 20 to 24 years (and 53.8% of those aged 15-19) were currently in employment at the time of the survey. Overall, individuals similar to those who participated in JobBridge had a 36.6% probability of securing employment within one year, whereas the JobBridge interns’ probability of securing employment within one year increased to 48.4% (an 11.8 percentage point difference and a 32% increase in the probability of becoming employed).

- JobsPlus provides subsidies to employers for the full-time employment of those formerly long-term unemployed on the Live Register. In October 2016 there were 4,323 participants benefiting from JobsPlus, 765 (17.7%) of whom were under 25.

- In 2015 the level of satisfaction among under 25 year old Intreo clients with getting on to course, training or getting a job was very high at 4.27, of a possible maximum of 5.

- 2016 results from the Customer Satisfaction Survey will be published shortly and show a similar high level of satisfaction among under 25 year olds Intreo clients with getting on to course, training or getting a job.

Under the Government’s policies to support the young unemployed, the first intervention is to provide case officer support to help newly unemployed young people find and secure sustainable jobs. There is monthly engagement with all young jobseekers by a case officer, and a Personal Progression Plan is developed to chart the steps to be taken to facilitate a return to employment, which may include further education and training or other opportunities.

For those who do not find employment, through the process just described, additional offers are provided for. Most such offers (over 70%) are in existing further education or training programmes. Others are in existing community-based employment programmes/workplace based interventions such as CE, Gateway and Tús and First Steps; or in subsidies to employers, through JobsPlus Youth. Long-term unemployed jobseekers under 25 are also referred to JobPath, a contracted, payment-by-results employment services that provides additional resources and supports to those long-term unemployed.

Pathways to Work 2016 to 2020 sets additional targets in relation to addressing youth unemployment: 1) increase the relative share of workplace-based interventions (Gateway, TÚS, Positive to Work etc.) for youth unemployed; 2) to ensure the frequency of engagement with all young unemployed people is a minimum of one case officer meeting per month; 3) restructure the First Steps programme for young unemployed people to improve take-up by offering a higher level of support to jobseekers and employers – these consolidate reforms undertaken in previous Pathways to Work strategies; the fourth action, to implement the Defence Forces Skills for Life employment support programme, is a new programme. The First Steps Programme has now been restructured and the pilot Skills For Life programme has been completed.

I am satisfied that these policy measures, together with an improving labour market, will continue to address youth unemployment and support further improvements in the labour market situation for young people across the country.

Unemployment Benefits Data

 227. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons currently in receipt of unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit in counties Sligo and Leitrim; the extent to which such numbers have fluctuated in the course of the past four years and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14972/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following table.

  It should be noted that the county level statistics indicate the number of people signing-on for payment at an office located in the county indicated. As the catchment area of many local offices cross county borders this data is not equivalent to the number of people residing in each county who are signing-on.

Recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit in County Sligo at the end of February in each of the years 2013 to 2017

-20132014201520162017
Jobseeker’s Allowance3,6693,7343,4673,2682,973
Jobseeker’s Benefit1,000797669647587


Recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit in County Leitrim at the end of February in each of the years 2013 to 2017
-20132014201520162017
Jobseeker’s Allowance2,4352,3012,1962,0381,804
Jobseeker’s Benefit653454455406361

Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

 228. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which he can continue to improve the time taken to process appeals in respect of various social protection payments throughout the country and particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14973/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The average appeal processing times for all appeals determined from 2014 to 2016 broken down by all social welfare scheme types is outlined in the following tables. I am advised by the Chief Appeals Officer that statistics are not maintained on a county by county basis and she is not in a position to supply information specific to counties Sligo and Leitrim.

  Appeal processing times are kept under constant scrutiny and significant effort and resources have been devoted in recent years to reducing the length of time taken to finalise an appeal. This has resulted in a marked improvement in processing times.

  The average time taken to determine an appeal requiring an oral hearing reduced from a peak of 52.5 weeks in 2011 to 28.6 weeks in 2014, 25.5 weeks in 2015 and 24.1 weeks in 2016 and the average time taken to finalise an appeal decided by way of a summary decision dropped from 25.1 weeks in 2011 to 21.1 weeks in 2014, 18.1 weeks in 2015 and 17.6 weeks in 2016.

  The quasi-judicial nature of the appeals system means that there are inevitable time-lags involved. However the system is designed to be flexible and fair and allows for review and submission of further information at all stages. The time taken is proportionate to the complexity of many of the issues under appeal which require a high level of judgement, and the need to ensure due process and natural justice.

  The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times will continue to be a priority for her office.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Appeals processing times by scheme 01/01/2014 - 31/12/14

 Average processing times (weeks)

Summary Decisions
Average processing times (weeks)

Oral Hearings
Adoptive Benefit17.1-
Blind Pension20.524.9
Carers Allowance30.134.4
Carers Benefit22.923.1
Child Benefit23.832.9
Disability Allowance20.826.7
Illness Benefit29.534.8
Domiciliary Care Allowance22.629.1
Deserted Wives Benefit-64.7
Deserted Wives Allowance-41.8
Farm Assist23.228.3
Bereavement Grant25.631.9
Family Income Supplement26.032.6
Invalidity Pension25.931.2
Liable Relatives21.533.2
One Parent Family Payment24.433.5
Maternity Benefit22.444.7
Partial Capacity Benefit48.548.5
State Pension (Contributory)25.241.9
State Pension (Non-Cont)20.329.4
State Pension (Transition)27.035.1
Occupational Injury Benefit33.633.7
Disablement Pension23.630.6
Occupational Injury Benefit (Medical)-53.9
Incapacity Supplement21.559.6
Guardian's Payment (Con)25.924.9
Guardian's Payment (Non-con)19.730.3
Pre Retirement Allowance17.3-
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)18.127.5
Jobseeker's Allowance16.221.1
JA/JB Fraud Control12.1-
Jobseeker's Benefit16.721.1
Treatment Benefit20.8-
Respite Care Grant24.927.1
Insurability of Employment45.062.3
Supplementary Welfare Allowance14.422.1
Survivor's Pension (Con)20.232.5
Survivor's Pension (Non-Con)24.724.6
Widowed Parent Grant22.2-
All Appeals21.128.6


Appeals processing times by scheme 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2015
 Average processing times (weeks)

Summary Decisions
Average processing times (weeks)

Oral Hearings
Blind Person’s Pension21.130.7
Carers Allowance20.625.9
Carers Benefit19.721.8
Child Benefit24.834.7
Disability Allowance15.821.4
Illness Benefit26.333.1
Partial Capacity Benefit25.743.4
Domiciliary Care Allowance21.728.7
Deserted Wives Benefit19.726.2
Deserted Wives Allowance-16.2
Farm Assist21.028.6
Bereavement Grant65.726.0
Death Benefit (Pension)-22.6
Family Income Supplement19.427.7
Invalidity Pension26.228.4
Liable Relatives22.831.2
Maternity Benefit22.617.5
One Parent Family Payment22.933.9
State Pension (Contributory)26.046.0
State Pension (Non-Contributory)20.430.8
State Pension (Transition)80.153.4
Occupational Injury Benefit20.335.0
Disablement Pension23.735.3
Incapacity Supplement41.251.5
Guardian's Payment (Con)18.227.5
Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)18.731.0
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)15.826.0
Jobseeker's Allowance15.221.9
JA/JB Fraud Control -46.1
BTW Family Dividend14.1-
Jobseeker's Transitional12.921.3
Recoverable Benefits & Assistance21.030.3
Jobseeker's Benefit14.321.2
Pre-Retirement Allowance15.0-
Treatment Benefit17.9-
Carer’s Support Grant *21.223.6
Insurability of Employment47.669.4
Supplementary Welfare Allowance13.123.5
Survivor's Pension (Con)24.146.6
Survivor's Pension (Non-con)23.738.3
Widows Parent Grant18.4-
All Appeals18.125.5
  * Previously called Respite Care Grant

Appeal processing times by scheme 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2016
 Average processing times (weeks)

Summary Decisions
Average processing times (weeks)

Oral Hearings
Blind Person’s Pension18.233.8
Carers Allowance17.621.6
Carers Benefit20.722.4
Child Benefit22.138.2
Disability Allowance14.620.1
Illness Benefit27.234.3
Partial Capacity Benefit27.333.6
Domiciliary Care Allowance24.330.6
Deserted Wives Benefit13.032.8
Farm Assist21.926.0
Bereavement Grant23.1-
Death Benefit (Pension)19.7-
Liable Relatives14.016.9
Family Income Supplement20.425.5
Invalidity Pension21.328.2
Maternity Benefit18.921.7
One Parent Family Payment21.731.9
State Pension (Contributory)25.645.9
State Pension (Non-Contributory)22.732.9
State Pension (Transition)67.761.3
Occupational Injury Benefit25.031.9
Disablement Pension25.826.8
Incapacity Supplement27.750.9
Guardian's Payment (Con)15.824.5
Guardian's Payment (Non-Con)18.423.3
Jobseeker's Allowance (Means)16.725.5
Jobseeker's Allowance16.020.9
BTW Family Dividend21.0-
Jobseeker's Transitional19.022.3
Recoverable Benefits & Assistance32.531.6
Jobseeker's Benefit16.027.2
Treatment Benefit17.1-
Carer’s Support Grant *18.123.3
Insurability of Employment36.685.7
Supplementary Welfare Allowance15.024.1
Survivor's Pension (Con)16.628.8
Survivor's Pension (Non-con)18.423.4
Widows Parent Grant23.563.8
All Appeals17.624.1
* Previously called Respite Care Grant

Employment Support Services

 229. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which he has examined issues preventing or discouraging unemployed persons from obtaining employment and particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim; if he has examined various schemes available with a view to ensuring adequate incentivisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14974/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The main social welfare schemes offered by my Department for unemployed people in the State are jobseeker’s allowance and benefit. Both schemes provide significant support to unemployed people such that they can work up to 3 days a week and still retain access to a reduced payment, subject to continuing to satisfy all of the qualifying conditions.

The goal of the Government’s Pathways to Work Strategy is to ensure that as many jobs as possible go to people on the Live Register. Ensuring that work always pays and preventing long-term dependency on welfare are important aspects of this strategy. In-work supports such as family income supplement (FIS) and the back to work family dividend (BTWFD) are key because they are stepping stones to ensure that recipients are better off in employment and can work towards financial independence over time.

FIS targets families with children on low incomes where the parent works at least 19 hours per week. The payment effectively preserves the incentive to take up or remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might otherwise be only marginally better off than if s/he were claiming other social welfare payments.

The BTWFD allows those who had been in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment, including jobseeker’s transition payment) and recipients of the one-parent family payment, to retain their full increase for a qualified child payment for the first year of employment, tapering to 50 per cent in the second year.

Where a long term unemployed jobseeker is offered employment of more than 3 days but less than 24 hours a week, they may be eligible for the part-time job incentive scheme. Under this scheme they can receive a weekly payment of €119 per week if they are single or €193.90 if they have an adult dependant.

ESRI research, based on an analysis of current incomes, benefits and taxes, has found that people are better off in work than on welfare. It demonstrates that more than 8 out of 10 unemployed jobseekers would see their income increase by at least 40 per cent upon taking up employment. Fewer than 3 per cent would, in the short-term, be financially better off not in work. Although the risk of facing weak financial incentives to work is higher for unemployed persons with a spouse and children, less than 1 in 15 of that group would be financially better off not working. The BTWFD reduces that figure to 1 in 20.

Reflecting the impact of government policy, and the overall improvement in the labour market, long term unemployment continues to fall. The most recent data show that unemployment has fallen from a peak of 15 per cent in 2012 to 6.6 per cent in January 2017.

I am satisfied that the combination of jobseeker’s payments, FIS, BTWFD and the part-time job incentive scheme provides considerable support for people to take up employment by allowing them retain access to a social welfare payment. However, my Department is currently analysing incentives to work in the social welfare system for jobseekers with children in the context of a working family payment. The main principles guiding this work are to make work pay and to reduce child poverty.

Unemployment Levels

 230. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which he continues to monitor the age profile of those on the live register long term with a view to initiating measures to address the issue throughout the country and particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14975/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The official measure of unemployment is sourced from the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS). Measures of unemployment from the QNHS are based on International Labour Office (ILO) definitions. To be ‘ILO unemployed’ a person must in the week before the survey be without work but available for work and have recently taken specific job-search steps. The Live Register, which captures those registering for unemployment benefits, (including those working part-time and in casual work who draw partial unemployment payments), is an administrative record. It is not the official measure of unemployment, but can give indicative trends. My Department uses both Live Register and QNHS data for reporting and monitoring trends and adjusting policies accordingly at national level.

  This includes providing data and trends broken down by age categories. The QNHS data, being prepared as part of the EU-wide Labour Force Survey, also allow Irish trends to be compared with international developments.

  The Pathways to Work strategy, the key document setting out policy to facilitate the unemployed of all ages back into work, is underpinned by analyses of the labour market situation based on the statistical sources mentioned above.

  By allocating activation resources to persons on the Live Register, the government’s policy tends automatically to focus on those areas and age-groups in which unemployment is most concentrated. The focus on those most in need is further reinforced by the use of profiling to identify, among the newly unemployed, those most likely to face severe difficulties in re-entering employment. People identified as having a low PEX (probability of exit from unemployment) score are prioritised for intensive engagement and support from the Intreo employment service. Finally, the introduction of JobPath over the last 2 years has led to a greatly increased focus of employment service resources on those who are out of work for long periods.

  This policy approach has seen a sharp reduction in long-term unemployment – from over 200,000 (9.5% of the labour force) in 2012 to just under 80,000 (3.6% of the labour force at the end of 2016.

  While data from the QNHS are not available at the county level, trends in the Live Register can give an indication of underlying trends in unemployment.

  The Live Register age breakdown for offices in County Leitrim and County Sligo for February 2017 and 2011 is given in Table 1. Overall, the number of people on the Live Register fell by over a third over this period, in both counties; while for those aged under 25 the fall was almost 60 per cent.

  Table 1. Live Register Age Breakdown February 2017 and February 2011

  2011 M022017 M02
Leitrim County   
 Under 25 years582242
 25 years and over30582093
 All ages36402335
Sligo County   
 Under 25 years1108478
 25 years and over44353347
 All ages55433825

Protected Disclosures Data

 231. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the process within his Department for dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; the number of disclosures received by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15081/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 provides a statutory framework within which workers can raise concerns regarding potential wrongdoing that has come to their attention in the workplace. The Department of Social Protection is committed to fostering an appropriate environment for addressing concerns relating to potential wrongdoing in the workplace and to providing the necessary support for staff that raise genuine concerns.

The Act requires public bodies to establish and maintain procedures for dealing with protected disclosures and to provide written information relating to these procedures to workers. The Department’s policy and procedures on protected disclosures are in place since June 2016 and are available on the Department’s website, with notification issuing to all staff in the Department on 22nd June 2016.

Persons submitting a protected disclosure may raise their concern via their line management or to the Head of Internal Audit in the Department or to the external bodies outlined in the Act.

Protected disclosures are initially assessed by the Protected Disclosures Group in the Department, comprising four Departmental managers - the Head of Internal Audit and Principal Officers with responsibility for Business Information Security Unit, Internal Control Unit and Human Resources (other areas may also have a role depending on the nature of the case). The Group has responsibility for assessing disclosures, determining if they are protected disclosures under the Act and referring cases to the appropriate section/authority/body for investigation. This may be an external investigator depending on the nature of the disclosure.

Three protected disclosures have been received to date under the Act.

The Department, as is required under the Act, publishes an annual report in relation to the matters outlined in Section 22 of the Act.

Work Placement Programmes

 232. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the supports through Tús and community employment schemes he can give to villages and towns to enhance the work of volunteers that take on the upkeep and positive promotion of their towns and villages and that support the Tidy Towns initiative; if he will expand the remit of the schemes managed locally and introduce some flexibility in the qualification of participants and length of time spent on the schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15087/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department provides a range of activation supports and programmes catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. This includes programmes such as Tús and Community Employment (CE). As the Deputy will be aware, both of these schemes provide part-time temporary work for participants in local communities as a stepping-stone back to employment. These schemes help to break the cycle of unemployment and improve a person’s chances of returning to the labour market.

I am conscious of the valuable contribution the schemes are making in the provision of services to individuals and communities across Ireland. Many participants on Tús and CE are working in placements that assist tidy towns initiatives and the schemes will continue to support this valuable work. Participation limits on work schemes are important as they allow for the utilisation of places amongst qualifying persons to ensure the benefits of participation are available and shared amongst the widest possible number of jobseekers.

The current eligibility rules and maximum durations allowed for participants are quite varied in terms of the underlying age, duration and other terms and conditions that apply across the employment programmes. This makes it very difficult for potential participants to understand and also for the overall administration of the schemes. I intend, in the coming weeks, to publish some changes to the participation terms and conditions to make them easier to navigate and manage. My Department will also be consulting with the various stakeholders about the changes.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

 233. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if a person (details supplied) can receive an extension to their placement on a CE scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15111/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Department sets down eligibility criteria for participation on employment schemes so as to ensure that opportunities to avail of activation measures are managed effectively. The maximum duration of participation available on Community Employment (CE) is determined having regard to a range of factors including the age and signing record at date of commencement on the scheme.

The person concerned will finish his placement on 30/06/2017, at which point he will have completed in excess of 3 years. It will not be possible to extend the placement beyond that date, as he will have reached his maximum allowable duration.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

 234. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will review a decision to refuse a companion travel pass in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15123/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The person concerned is in receipt of invalidity pension and qualifies for free travel in his own right. However, to qualify for a free travel companion pass, he must be medically assessed as unfit to travel alone as well as satisfying the other qualifying conditions of the scheme.

The person concerned applied for the companion pass in February 2017. The application was submitted to a medical assessor for consideration. The medical evidence provided was dated 2013 and it was the view of the medical assessor that it did not indicate the need for a companion while travelling.

The person concerned was advised of the outcome of their application on 8th March 2017. They can appeal this decision by submitting further more up-to-date medical evidence in support of their case with a particular emphasis on the medical aspects of their condition which would indicate that they should not travel unaccompanied.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Appeals

 235. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if an appeal can be conducted regarding the estate of a deceased person's (details supplied) State pension issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15131/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there is no record of an appeal on behalf of the estate of the deceased person concerned. In general, an appeal should be submitted within 21 working days of the Deciding Officer’s decision.

In light of ongoing correspondence between the executor of the estate of the deceased person concerned and the State Pension (Non Contributory) Section of my Department, the Chief Appeals Officer has advised that she will accept an appeal outside the 21 day timeframe provided the appeal is submitted without any further delay. In order to make a valid appeal the executor of the estate of the deceased person concerned should write to the Social Welfare Appeals Office specifying the grounds on which the Deciding Officer’s decision is disputed. On receipt of same an appeal will be registered.

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.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. If you require further assistance with this query please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

 236. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when a decision on an application for domiciliary care allowance by a person (details supplied) will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15148/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received from this lady on 24 October 2016. The application was not allowed as it was considered that the child did not meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. A letter issued on 14 February 2017 outlining the decision.

A request for a review of this decision was received on 2 March 2017. The application will be re-examined by a deciding officer and a revised decision will be made if warranted. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of this review as soon as it is completed. Such reviews can take up to 14 weeks to complete at present.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Labour Activation Programmes Data

 237. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons on activation programmes under the remit of his Department, by scheme, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15161/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Data on the number of participants in job activation programmes is reported monthly by programme by the Central Statistics Office. Table 1 gives the number of persons on activation programmes under the remit of my Department in each January from 2012 to 2017.

  Table 1: Numbers on DSP Activation Programmes as at January, 2012 to 2017

 2012 M012013 M012014 M012015 M012016 M012017 M01
Back to work allowance scheme - employee strand162149200
Back to work enterprise allowance scheme - self-employed strand107721081210160111801179510845
Short-term enterprise allowance12011002488440382378
Other activation programmes - DSP part-time job incentive190215296397405483
Other activation programmes - TUS - community work placement initiative233745107119786578807230
Other activation programmes - JobBridge346955656440622043231630
Other activation programmes - Gateway....1317702311560
Community employment schemes (excluding supervisors)222982106322512229272270622356
Back to education courses - back to education allowance (BTEA)256462580524728234971826314214
Total DSP activation programmes660756898671765742986806557696


  These programmes, together with programmes under the remit of other Departments (including Solas training programmes for unemployed people) form part of the Government’s overall policy to reduce unemployment. That overall policy has two main strands – first, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs; and second, through Pathways to Work, to ensure that as many of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise in our economy are filled by people taken from the Live Register, and in particular the long-term unemployed.

  These policies have shown positive results, with unemployment falling from over 15% in 2012 to 6.6% in February 2017. Demand for places on a number of activation programmes has tended to fall in line with the overall fall in the numbers of people who are unemployed.

  I am confident these policies, together with continuing economic recovery, will support further reductions in unemployment, and add to the substantial improvements that have already been seen over the last few years.

Child Benefit Data

 238. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the estimated full-year cost of child benefit in 2017; the estimated cost of providing a once-off double payment for all children born in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15162/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability.

Child Benefit is currently paid to around 627,000 families in respect of some 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure in the order of over €2 billion in 2017.

As we are only in the first quarter of 2017 it is not possible to accurately predict how many children will be born in 2017. However, utilising current Child Benefit data as a proxy the estimated cost of providing a once off extra payment of €140 per child in addition to the normal annual Child Benefit entitlement would be in the region of €8 million. It is important to note that this figure is calculated using the current number of children in receipt of child benefit who have not yet reached their first birthday as a proxy for all children born in 2017.

Providing a once off double payment for all children born in 2017 would not be a targeted approach given the universality of Child Benefit and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.


Last Updated: 03/03/2020 15:23:28 First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page