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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 376-391
 Header Item JobPath Implementation
 Header Item Farm Partnerships
 Header Item JobPath Implementation
 Header Item Job Assist Scheme
 Header Item Momentum Programme
 Header Item Back to Education Allowance Data
 Header Item Back to Work Allowance Data
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Data
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Data
 Header Item Social Welfare Schemes
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Eligibility
 Header Item JobPath Implementation
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 376-391

JobPath Implementation

 376. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the fee paid to a company (details supplied) to conduct the customer satisfaction survey published in the January 2017 JobPath performance report. [18024/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The survey of JobPath candidates formed part of a single contract covering a 2016 customer satisfaction survey of both JobPath candidates and of jobseeker users of standard Intreo services.

  Taking account of the numbers surveyed in the different respondent categories, the amount of the contract charge attributable to the JobPath element of the survey was €58,500 before VAT, or €71,900 inclusive of VAT.

Farm Partnerships

 377. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when an application for a retrospective farm partnership will be approved for persons (details supplied). [18031/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Scope section of this Department approved the application for a retrospective farm partnership on 23 February, 2017 for the customers referred to by the Deputy.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobPath Implementation

 378. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the detail of discussions between his Department and the management of a company (details supplied) regarding the company's operation of the JobPath scheme and potential changes which might ensue in the operation of that scheme when the company was acquired by a German venture capital firm (details supplied) in 2016. [18063/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Following the completion of a rigorous public procurement process, conducted in accordance with EU and national procurement rules, Turas Nua is one of two companies selected to provide the JobPath service. The JobPath Agreement between my Department and Turas Nua Limited was signed on 5 June 2015.

  Turas Nua is a joint venture between FRS Recruitment and Working Links:

  FRS Recruitment, part of FRS Network, is a co-operative organisation established in Ireland in 1980 for the provision of skilled people mainly to the agricultural sector. Initially created as a job activation organisation, FRS Network has expanded into divisions delivering training, recruitment, homecare, farm services and fencing services across Ireland.

  The terms and conditions attaching to the Agreement between my Department and Turas Nua are unchanged.

  Working Links continues to trade and there has been no effect on the operation of JobPath to date and no adverse impacts are anticipated.

  The acquisition of Working Links by Aurelius will not interfere with the execution of Turas Nua’s commitments as contained in the JobPath Agreement.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Job Assist Scheme

 379. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number young persons under 25 years of age that commenced a JobBridge placement in 2015 and for the period the scheme was in operation in 2016, in tabular form.  [18070/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar JobBridge was introduced in July 2011 in response to the sharp and dramatic increase in unemployment. A robust external evaluation of the scheme conducted by Indecon Economic Consultants in 2016 recommended that it should be replaced and JobBridge was closed to new applications from 27th October 2016. Participants who started before that date have been facilitated to complete the full duration of their placement.

  In contrast to popular perception, the Indecon evaluation found that that less than 30% of participants were under 25 years of age. A copy of the evaluation can be found at: www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/JobBridge-Evaluation.aspx.

  Table 1 shows the number persons under 25 years of age that commenced a JobBridge placement in 2015 and 2016.

  Table 1. – The number young persons under 25 years of age that commenced a JobBridge placement in 2015 and 2016.

YearNumber of Interns
20152,294
2016*744
  *JobBridge closed to new applications on 27 October, 2016

Momentum Programme

 380. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of young persons under 25 years of age who commenced a Momentum programme in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form.  [18072/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Momentum Programme is under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and is managed on behalf of DES by SOLAS. The programmes include on-the job training in the form of work experience modules as well as the provision of accredited further education and training required to obtain and retain employment. The programme is currently not recruiting new participants.

  Eligible participants are supported through the Department of Social Protection back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme and are categorised as on a BTEA-approved educational programme.

  In December 2015 there were 652 participants on the Momentum Programme, supported by the BTEA. The number of participants in December 2016 was 117. The number of young persons under 25 years of age that participated on a momentum programme at the end of 2015 and 2016 are as follows:

 Under 25’s
December 2015201
December 201611

Back to Education Allowance Data

 381. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of young persons under 25 years of age that successfully applied for support under the back to education allowance scheme, excluding those on the momentum programme in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form.  [18073/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme is one of a range of activation supports and policies administered by the Department of Social Protection for their customers. The main focus of BTEA is to assist qualifying applicants to enhance their qualifications and therefore improve their prospects of returning to sustainable employment. The objective of the scheme is to raise the educational and skill levels to enable jobseekers better access to the emerging needs of the labour market.

  One of the conditions for receipt of the BTEA for jobseekers under 21 years of age is that they must be out of formal education for at least two years. Periods spent on Youthreach can count towards the relevant qualifying period and will be regarded as periods out of formal education. To qualify for BTEA, the applicant must have had a prior entitlement to an eligible social protection payment. Advice on BTEA and the terms and conditions applying are available on the Department’s website www.welfare.ie or at any of the Department’s Intreo Centres or offices.

  The number of new participants under 25 years of age who successfully applied for support under the BTEA scheme (excluding those Momentum) for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years are as follows:

  New participants under 25 years on BTEA

YearSecond Level OptionThird Level OptionTotal
2015/161,7837132,496
2016/171,4134911,904
  I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Back to Work Allowance Data

 382. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of young person under 25 years of age that successfully applied for support under the back to work enterprise allowance scheme in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form.  [18074/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar There are two schemes to assist people on certain social protection payments who wish to become self-employed, namely, the short term enterprise allowance (STEA) and the back to work enterprise allowance (BTWEA).

  The STEA provides immediate access to those who qualify for jobseekers benefit wishing to set up a business. Payment under the scheme is at the same rate and for the same duration as their entitlement to jobseekers benefit. The BTWEA is designed to provide a monetary incentive for people who are on social welfare payments to develop a business while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment over two years – 100% in year 1 and 75% in year 2.

  Information on the number of young persons (under 25 years) that successfully applied for support under the two schemes in 2015 and 2016 is set out in the following table.

  BTWEA & STEA applicants (under 25) in payment - 2015 & 2016

Description of Scheme20152016
BTWEA188148
STEA2815
Total216163
  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Data

 383. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of young persons under 25 years of age who commenced a community employment placement in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form.  [18076/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As requested by the Deputy, the following table outlines the number of young persons aged under 25 years that commenced a Community Employment placement in 2015 and 2016.

Start Date2015 Total2016 Total
Jan10287
Feb65118
Mar15397
Apr9574
May130122
Jun11670
Jul6587
Aug4785
Sep124121
Oct134159
Nov15787
Dec7083
Grand Total1,2581,190

Jobseeker's Allowance Data

 384. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons receiving a reduced 25 year old rate and a reduced 18 to 24 year old rate of jobseekers allowance respectively in the most recent month available and the corresponding month one year previously. [18077/17]

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 tabular statement.

  Recipients of a reduced rate Jobseekers Allowance payment by age and rate at the end of March in each of the years 2016 and 2017.

 
March 2016
March 2017
Age€100€144Total€100€144Total
182,55122,5531,86631,869
194,13444,1383,24653,251
204,06774,0743,43253,437
213,89763,9033,07283,080
223,745353,7802,966152,981
233,677603,7373,022303,052
241,8321,8453,6772,771432,814
2522,9572,9591632,7902,953
Grand Total23,905 4,91628,82120,5382,89923,437

Social Welfare Schemes

 385. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the reason there are now three schemes for the long-term unemployed (details supplied). [18099/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department provides a range of activation supports for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. These supports include JobPath and employment programmes such as Community Employment (CE) schemes and Tús.

The JobPath service is provided for jobseekers only. JobPath aims to place people into full-time sustainable employment. The period of engagement with JobPath for any individual is typically 52 weeks. During that time they receive intensive individual support to help them to overcome barriers to employment and are also provided with a range of training and development supports including online modules, career advice, CV preparation and interview skills.

Employment programmes such as CE and Tús provide part-time temporary work in the communities, as a stepping stone back to employment, for people who are long term unemployed. However, CE and Tús placements are not full time sustainable jobs.

A person who is referred to JobPath, who has a start date for commencement on Tús or CE within four weeks, is not required to take up the place on JobPath. In addition people who have completed their year long engagement with JobPath may, if eligible, apply to partake in a CE Scheme after they have been assessed by a departmental case officer.

Any CE or Tús scheme experiencing issues with recruitment can contact their local Intreo office for additional assistance.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

 386. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will extend community employment eligibility to self-employed jobseekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [18113/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The eligibility for participation on the Community Employment (CE) programme is dependent on the individual circumstances of each person and the length of time s/he has been in receipt of a CE-qualifying social welfare payment. CE is intended for the long-term unemployed and other specified disadvantaged groups.

The aim of CE remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment and/or further education and training. The main cohort of CE participants is made up of the long-term unemployed in receipt of jobseekers allowance.

While it is possible for a self-employed person to meet the basic criteria of receipt of a CE-qualifying payment (specifically jobseekers allowance) for the requisite period of time (12 months), they may not meet the criteria of being unemployed during that qualifying period. For CE, the maximum amount of days worked permissible for a jobseeker is 30 days within the 12-month qualifying period. If a self-employed person is in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance and meets the criteria outlined above, they can be considered for CE on a case-by-case basis.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Questions Nos. 387 and 388 withdrawn.

JobPath Implementation

 389. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will review a situation whereby a person (details supplied) who is on JobPath is disqualified from taking up a position on a community employment scheme; the reason being on JobPath and moving to the community employment scheme is not seen to be part of the activation programme; his plans to ensure this situation is not repeated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18137/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The aim of the JobPath service, which is provided for jobseekers only, is to assist them in finding sustainable full time paid employment. Each person referred to the JobPath service is allocated a personal advisor who provides intensive individual support and assistance. When a jobseeker with JobPath finds employment, they will be supported by the JobPath Company for at least the first 13 weeks and up to a year until they are settled in the job.

This is in contrast to the Community Employment schemes that provide part-time employment and training opportunities in local communities as a stepping stone back to employment for people on a range of Social Welfare payments including those on long term unemployment payments. I should emphasise that Community Employment does not, nor is intended to provide full-time sustainable employment.

Jobseekers can only participate with one activation scheme or service at a time; this is to allow the scheme and service providers time to work with the participants to achieve the best outcome for the person. It also ensures that all places available on activation supports are managed efficiently. However, people who on the date of their referral to JobPath have a written offer with a start date within four weeks for CE or TÚS will be facilitated to take up their placement.

The person concerned has been engaged with the JobPath service since February 2017 and has agreed a Personal Progression Plan with his personal advisor, which includes a schedule of activities, actions and job-focused targets. I have been advised by the officials in my Department that the customer concerned has not been offered a position on a CE Scheme to date.

The referral period for the JobPath service is typically for a year. At the end of the 52 weeks, if the customer has not been successful in finding suitable employment may, subject to an assessment by an Intreo case officer, may apply for other activation supports such as CE.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Question No. 390 answered with Question No. 337.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

 391. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to amend the legislation and regulations for eligibility for the State contributory pension (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many persons have been denied full rate of payment due to this method of calculation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18259/17]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The State pension contributory is one of a number of pensions the State pays to people over 66. At present, entitlement to the contributory pension is determined by means of a ‘yearly average’ calculation, where the total contributions paid or credited are divided by the number of years of the working life (i.e. the period between when they first entered insurable employment and the year of pension age). The yearly average test has been in existence since 1961 when contributory pensions were first introduced. Payment rates are banded, e.g., someone with a yearly average of 48 or more contributions will qualify for a full pension, whereas someone with a yearly average of 20-29 will qualify for a pension at the 85% rate.

The home-makers scheme makes qualification for a higher rate of State pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme, which was introduced in and took effect for periods from 1994, allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age (or caring for incapacitated people over that age) to be disregarded when a person’s social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes, subject to the standard qualifying conditions for State pension contributory also being satisfied. This has the effect of increasing the yearly average of the pensioner, which is used to set the rate of their pension. My Department has estimated that the annual cost of extending the Homemakers scheme to allow people to avail of the full 20 years currently allowed under the scheme, encompassing periods prior to 1994, could cost some €290m in 2017, and this figure would rise at a faster rate than the rate of the overall cost of State pensions. This is a significant cost. The main beneficiaries would be people who already have significant household means, and who don’t therefore qualify for a means-tested payment.

Where someone does not qualify for a full rate contributory pension, they may qualify for an alternative payment. If their spouse has a contributory pension, they may qualify for an Increase for a Qualified Adult amounting up to 90% of a full rate pension. Alternatively, they may qualify for a State pension (non-contributory), which amounts up to 95% of the maximum contributory rate. While this payment is subject to a household means-test, there are very significant disregards which mean that over 70% of such pensioners qualify at the full rate.

The National Pensions Framework (2010) proposed that a “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) should replace the yearly average approach, for new pensioners from 2020. The aim of this approach is to make the rate of contributory pension more closely match contributions made by a person. Officials of my Department are currently working on the detailed development of the TCA with a view to making proposals for consideration later in the year. This is a very significant reform with considerable legal, administrative, and technical elements in its implementation. An important element in the final design of the scheme will be the position of people who have gaps in their contribution records for various reasons, and this factor is being considered very carefully in developing this reform

The forthcoming independent Actuarial review of the Social Insurance Fund will provide data that will allow officials to accurately cost and project various options available under the Total Contributions Approach currently being developed. Following the analysis of that data, it is intended to have a public consultation, in mid-2017, and following this, proposals on the final details of the scheme will be made by the Government to the Oireachtas before the end of the year.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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