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Burton, Joan

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Child Benefit Rates

Was asked: when she will publish the report of the advisory group on tax and social welfare; the conclusions of the report on child benefit rates; her future plans for child benefit rates; if the child benefi...More Button

Creating jobs and tackling poverty are two of the key challenges that Ireland now faces and it is essential that our tax and social protection systems play their part in addressing these issues.More Button

Was asked: if she will ensure that multiple birth families including twins and triplets will not be subject to further cuts in budget 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if she will arrange for a poverty and gender impact assessment to be conducted on all budget proposals relevant to her Department in advance of the announcement of budget 2013. More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the report by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, The Human Face of Austerity; and her views on their assertion that those who depend on social welfare income sup...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the call by Barnardos for pre-budget audits that examine the impact of proposals holistically and across Departments to ensure that they do not continue to erode ...More Button

Was asked: if she will ensure that there are no further cutbacks in budget 2013 in payment benefits or allowances to elderly citizens and that the cutbacks in the last two budgets for this category be reverse...More Button

Was asked: having regard to the Estimates prepared by her Department and the likely competing demand arising, if she is satisfied that she can meet the needs of those with disabilities and others who are vuln...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, The Human Face of Austerity; and her view on the assertion that those who depend on social welfare income supports must be pro...More Button

Was asked: her response to the appeal by nine leading disability organisations issued on 17 September 2012 calling on her to halt reductions in basic living standards for persons with disabilities who depend ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110, 119, 120, 126, 137, 138, 338 and 383 together.More Button

The Revised Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure in 2012 of nearly €20.55 billion. This includes expenditure of €2.08 billion on child benefit, some €6.26 billion on pensions and ...More Button

The Government is considering the appropriate level of expenditure on the wide variety and schemes and services operated by my Department in 2013 in the context of the forthcoming Budget. The out...More Button

I recognise that managing expenditure in 2013 and beyond will be extremely difficult and requires a critical analysis of all expenditure items. In this regard, I held a pre-Budget forum on Frida...More Button

As part of the Budgetary deliberative process, the Department will analyse, in so far as possible, the distributive and poverty impact of possible welfare changes to all welfare recipients includ...More Button

Child Benefit Rates (Continued)

To this end and in line with commitments contained in the programme for Government, I established last year the advisory group on tax and social welfare, with the aim of harnessing expert opinion a...More Button

The Government is conscious that child benefit, as a universal payment, is an important source of income for all families with children, especially during a time of recession and high unemploymen...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that when he was a member of the Government-----More Button

-----one of the first actions of the Government of which he was a member in the context of the crisis it brought onto the country when it introduced the fatal bank guarantee was to cut child benefit.More Button

As I stated, child benefit is an important support, particularly for parents. It is paid to the caring parent. There is strong recognition in Ireland that it is an important payment to families b...More Button

The back to school clothing and footwear allowances amount to €63 million. That is a total spend of €3 billion on child and family income supports. The purpose of the review group is to determine...More Button

That is also true of the other payments to children. It is wrong of Fianna Fáil to decide that it is not even possible, given the way Deputy O'Dea is exclaiming here, to review or examine the enti...More Button

I am just looking at Fianna Fáil's record, which shows that in 2010 its spend in government on child benefit was €2.2 billion. In 2011, the figure was €2 billion, and this year-----More Button

I ask Deputy O'Dea to allow me to give him the figures-----More Button

-----because he is a bit free and easy with information which is potentially misleading.More Button

The spend by Fianna Fáil in 2011 was €2.076 billion and the estimated spend-----More Button

The estimated spend-----More Button

The Deputy should not be getting agitated. If we are going to have a debate-----More Button

I urge the Deputy to try to calm himself.More Button

His blood pressure must be sky high. He should try to calm down.More Button

This year under the Labour Party-----More Button

The Deputy should calm himself.More Button

The Deputy will scare the children of the country if they are looking in.More Button

The Deputy should try to calm himself. This year under the Labour Party, expenditure on child benefit has increased.More Button

The total is now €2.078 billion.More Button

They are the statistics. Fianna Fáil and the Deputy, in particular, have always been afraid of statistics.More Button

That is a significant level of expenditure. Supports for families and children amount to more than €3 billion. Expenditure on child benefit has actually increased slightly and the Deputy should b...More Button

-----it is good policy to examine how money is spent on children and determine whether we can target it in a way that produces better outcomes for children and families, particularly those at risk ...More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Expenditure

Was asked: her views on the findings of the Focus Ireland report, Out of Reach: The impact of changes in Rent Supplement, that persons are homeless as a consequence of the cuts to the rent supplement scheme; ...More Button

Approximately 89,000 persons are in receipt of rent supplement, for which the Government has provided €436 million in 2012. The aim of rent supplement is to provide short-term income assistance, r...More Button

Revised rent limits are applicable to new rent supplement tenancies from January 2012 and existing tenancies on review. These limits were set after an analysis of the most up-to-date market data...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the hardship and distress caused to applicants for local authority housing who are forced to rely on rent support in respect of private housing and are subject to...More Button

There are currently approximately 89,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided €436 million for 2012. The aim of rent supplement is to provide short term income assistanc...More Button

Analysis shows that for County Kildare, there are properties available within the maximum rent limits for rent supplement recipients. The number of rental properties available in North Kildare i...More Button

Latest figures show that there are approximately 4,300 rent supplement recipients in County Kildare. When compared with Census 2011 household data this shows that 36% of properties rented from pr...More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Expenditure (Continued)

The report compiled by Focus Point, an organisation of which I have long been a supporter, is important. What I said was that the sample number of cases, ten, out of a total of 89,000, was part of...More Button

All I am saying is that the sample chosen only amounted to ten cases. The Department has settled 42,000 housing rent cases under the new arrangements this year. The new rent levels are designed...More Button

During the years I have known people who, unfortunately, have become homeless. I know it is important to have policies that support young people as much as possible to stay in their own homes or w...More Button

It wants to drive up rents.More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Delays

Was asked: her plans to reform the social welfare appeals system in view of the recent FLAC report; her further plans to address delays in the issuing of decisions and the reductions in oral hearings; her vie...More Button

The social welfare appeals office is a separate executive office with its own premises and staff. It operates independently of the Department and the Minister. The appeals process has a statutory...More Button

Was asked: the steps that have been taken to shorten the waiting period for the determination of appeals in respect of each social welfare payment; the particular payments that have so far not achieved approv...More Button

Significant resources and efforts have been put into reducing these backlogs and improving processing times for appellants, including the assignment of 15 additional Appeals Officers, retaining ret...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Delays (Continued)

I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. To go through the statistics again, the number of cases finalised in 2009 was 13,500, but that increased to 34,000 in 2011.More Button

Just so the Deputy understands, there has been an enormous expansion in the number of appeals. The Deputy is probably aware that in 2009 the former Fianna Fáil Government reduced the illness benef...More Button

The actual reduction in times this year is because of new practices and the extra staff I appointed as soon as I became Minister. However, those extra staff have to be trained. We launched trai...More Button

There is one unique feature of the Irish system, which is that people can make multiple applications in regard to the same set of circumstances. We do not tell people that they must provide all ...More Button

I recall the Deputy’s interest in that particular case. Unfortunately, the purpose of the carer’s allowance is to provide income support for a named individual who is a full-time carer. Although ...More Button

With regard to emergency situations, because of all the work that has been done to improve the processing procedures, the situation should have improved significantly. With regard to the questio...More Button

On the broader question of applications that are simply incomplete, some systems do not allow incomplete applications. Where people make repeated applications, this is one of the reasons that, w...More Button

Free Travel Scheme Administration

Was asked: if the free travel pass scheme will be fully maintained in budget 2013; her future plans for the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years of age or over. It is available to carers and to people who are in receipt of certain disability-type payments. ...More Button

Was asked: if she will extend the companion travel pass for persons in receipt of disability allowance to cover a companion on the portion of the round trip during which the disabled person may not be present.More Button

The free travel scheme is currently available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, to carers and to customers under 66 who are in receipt of certain disability type payments. T...More Button

The proposal that companions should be able to travel for free without the qualifying person would add additional costs and would also be extremely difficult to control. I have no proposals to ex...More Button

Free Travel Scheme Administration (Continued)

The previous Government, of which Deputy Willie O'Dea was a member, froze expenditure on the scheme in 2010 and it has remained at almost €76 million since. More Button

There are considerable challenges ahead in protecting, as far as possible, the key income supports provided by my Department which impact in some way on the lives of almost every person in the St...More Button

I have noted how valuable free travel is in Ireland, particularly for retired people and those with serious mobility impairments. It is a considerable cause for celebration in Ireland that retired...More Button

CIE is very happy to be part of the scheme which it sees as a valuable source of income. The company's income from other passengers has fallen owing to the economic collapse brought about by the b...More Button

Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times

Was asked: the origins of the term "headline rates of social welfare" and the meaning of the term; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I do not recall using the term "headline rates of social welfare," but when I used the term "core social welfare payments" recently, I was referring to the primary weekly payments intended to enabl...More Button

No decisions have been made at this stage as to how these very challenging budgetary targets will be met. However, as social protection accounts for 39% of gross current Government spending, res...More Button

Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times (Continued)

I am sure the Deputy knows that the reason people have suffered such a fall in their living standards-----More Button

-----is not social welfare. The country became over-reliant on the construction industry and the construction bubble collapsed. Currently almost 100,000 people are unemployed as a consequence of ...More Button

Deputy Flanagan may differ from me in his take on core social welfare rates, but for those reliant for their income on social welfare, the core rates are important because that is the core part o...More Button

I do not wish to be dishonest. The country is in a difficult place and we need to find savings. This commitment was agreed to by Fianna Fáil with the troika. However, we have to find those sav...More Button

The collapse in the construction industry, largely the cause of long-term unemployment, was not the fault of the social welfare system, at the time in question or now; rather it was the consequence...More Button

It is when people are activated and back at work that the economy will improve for everybody. When this occurs, the social insurance fund will be restored to balance. People going back to work wi...More Button

Visit by Democratic Republic of Congo Delegation

I extend a karibu to the honourable Minister from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have had the opportunity to visit the country on a number of occasions.More Button

Community Employment Schemes Funding

Was asked: her plans for community employment schemes in budget 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Community employment, CE, is the largest employment programme administered by the Department of Social Protection and forms an important pillar of the strategy to return those who are long-term une...More Button

I am happy to say I have had opportunities to personally visit CE schemes in most parts of the country and have had lengthy discussions with scheme sponsors and the people working on different sche...More Button

The review has thrown up a number of interesting points. I was surprised by the extent of administration involved in CE schemes, with almost 1,000 different companies carrying separate audit fee...More Button

Was asked: the impact of community employment scheme cutbacks in 2012; the number of schemes closed or that had hours reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: her plans for community employment schemes in budget 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if she will give a commitment that current budget levels for community employment schemes will not face further cuts in 2013.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 337 and 359 together.

  Community Employment (CE) is the largest employment programme administered by the Department of Social Protection an...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Funding (Continued)

My Department has been absolutely right in identifying these areas of very large and expensive administrative structures through very large numbers of companies and saving on those kinds of overhea...More Button

I am confident the future of community employment schemes is very strong and positive and that the Government will remain committed to funding them while making provision for savings and reforms in...More Button

I regret that the facts are inconvenient for Deputy O'Dea. As a consequence of the review, many community employment schemes have applied for additional places. This is a strong sign of how much ...More Button

Since I became Minister, I have set up two additional opportunities which are available for those who have unfortunately become unemployed. The first is the national JobBridge internship program...More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Was asked: if she will examine the cases of persons (details supplied) in relation to community welfare offices having flexibility in making payments.More Button

Was asked: her views on whether reductions in rent supplement has led to an increase in homelessness; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if she will examine the cases of persons (details supplied) in relation to community welfare offices having flexibility in making payments.More Button

Was asked: if she will respond to evidence that new rent allowance limits are resulting in tenants becoming homeless and or living in overcrowded situations; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if she will respond to evidence that new rent allowance limits are resulting in tenants becoming homeless and or living in overcrowded situations; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106, 108, 125, 131 and 141 together.More Button

There are currently approximately 89,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement, for which the Government has provided €436 million in 2012. Revised rent limits are applicable to new rent supplem...More Button

With regard to the specific case referred to by Deputies Halligan and Pringle, I understand the person concerned contacted the Department regarding his entitlement to rent supplement on 7 Novembe...More Button

I wish to inform the Deputy from Dún Laoghaire that the rent limit for a couple with three children in Dún Laoghaire for a three bedroom house is €950 per month.More Button

For people at work who are paying tax, it represents a lot of money to pay rents to landlords of €950 per month.More Button

These taxpayers are paying tax and PRSI. Deputy Boyd Barrett seems to be on a mission to raise rents for landlords, but I believe he is wrong to try to raise rents for private landlords.More Button

We are paying for it.More Button

Taxpayers in this country will pay €435 million in rent supplements to private landlords.More Button

Was asked: her plans to pass rent allowance directly to landlords rather than tenants; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs a...More Button

Under the legislative provisions governing rent supplement, the Department’s relationship is with the tenant. Rent supplement is specifically for the benefit of tenants to assist them with their...More Button

However, rent supplement payments can, at the request of the tenant and with the agreement of the Department, be paid directly to the landlord. If the Department were to introduce a system where...More Button

It is open to the landlord to bring to the attention of the Department any instance where they suspect that a tenant is receiving rent supplement and is not paying their rent. Where the Departme...More Button

Where a landlord has a grievance in relation to the non-payment of rent by a tenant, s/he may apply to the Private Residential Tenancies Board to have the dispute resolved through the Board’s dis...More Button

Was asked: if she will provide the current rent supplement thresholds in north Tipperary and south Tipperary; the reasons for any variances; her view on whether these thresholds are an accurate reflections of...More Button

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs a...More Button

Was asked: in view of the reports of increases in rents since the start of 2012; if the rents limit review to be undertaken by her Department will take place sooner than the next review proposed for June 2013More Button

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs a...More Button

The State plays a major role in the private rental market through the rent supplement scheme. As the Department currently funds approximately 30% of the private rented sector it is essential tha...More Button

Revised maximum rent limits came into force on 1 January 2012 and are in place until June 2013. The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that maximum value for money for tenants and t...More Button

The Department will continue to monitor rent levels throughout the country but at this point I have no immediate plans to revise the existing rent limits. More Button

Was asked: the basis on which maximum rent support levels are being determined in respect of persons eligible for such support in lieu of local authority housing; the factors taken into account in determining...More Button

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs a...More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments (Continued)

Coming from Dún Laoghaire, Deputy Boyd Barrett may feel that €435 million is a small amount of money but it is not a small amount of money to me.More Button

Dún Laoghaire and the south-side may well be different. The Government is currently supporting 89,000 persons in rented accommodation.More Button

One can scoff at that, at a cost of €435 million.More Button

Some 42,000 rents have been renegotiated so far this year using the limits.More Button

Child Benefit Payments

Was asked: the options she is currently considering regarding child benefit including, the way and which vulnerable families would be compensated for any cut to the universal payment; if she is considering a ...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that persons in households with children are almost three times as likely to be in debt arising from ordinary living expenses compared with those living ...More Button

I propose to take Question Nos. 107 and 128 together.

  Family and child income support payments assist parents in contributing to the costs associated wi...More Button

  Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 106.More Button

Was asked: if she will consider introducing flexibility to casual workers receiving social welfare benefit in budget 2013 with a hours based rather than days based system; and if she will make a statement on ...More Button

The current total of 421,490 persons on the Live Register includes over 80,000 casual workers in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance or jobseeker’s benefit. It is recognised that a changing labour ma...More Button

Was asked: the percentage of child benefit recipients not in receipt of any means-tested social welfare payment.More Button

There were 597,333 families in receipt of child benefit on 31st December 2011. At that time, there were 213,784 families in receipt of qualified child increases across the various m...More Button

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Was asked: if she will consider extending to 19.5 hours the number of hours a recipient of carer's allowance can work outside the home.More Button

A fundamental qualification condition for carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit and the respite care grant is that the applicant provide full time care and attention to a person who needs such care. ...More Button

There are no plans at present for a further increase in the hours as this could have a negative impact on the person in need of full time care and attention. The Department will continue to supp...More Button

Was asked: if she will commence a review of income supports for family carers as recommended by the Carer's Association.More Button

In the recently published National Carers’ Strategy my Department committed to recognising the needs of carers by the provision of income supports. My Department currently provides a range of supp...More Button

In Budget 2012, the basic rate of all income supports for carers was maintained. The means test for carer’s allowance is one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system. The inc...More Button

  Question No. 152 answered with Question No. 117.More Button

Was asked: the position regarding carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

This application was received on 26th April 2012. Further medical evidence was submitted on 23rd October 2012. Once this evidence has been assessed by a medical assessor and a deciding officer ha...More Button

Pension Provisions

Was asked: the steps she will take in response to the finding contained in her Department's report on pension charges that the private pensions industry is taking up to a third of the value of persons' retire...More Button

The Report on Pension Charges 2012 was undertaken by my Department with support from the Central Bank and Pensions Board. The primary objective of the report was to gather information on the level...More Button

In recent years a number of initiatives have been progressed at Irish and EU level which focused on the area of disclosure and transparency of pension charges. These initiatives included the publ...More Button

The report is a fact finding report, comments from interested parties and stakeholders are being invited over a 3 month period (i.e. by the end of January 2013). These responses will be consider...More Button

Was asked: the total number of recipients of non-contributory old age pension; the degree, if any, to which this number has fluctuated in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The information requested by the Deputy is in the tabular statement. The number of recipients of State Pension (Non-contributory) has been relatively stable over the period in question.

...More Button

National Advocacy Service

Was asked: her views on whether advocates working in the National Advocacy Service have no power to obtain information or attend meetings or consultations and can only operate on the basis of voluntary co-ope...More Button

The National Advocacy Service was established under the Citizens Information Board in January 2011, to provide an independent , confidential and free, representative advocacy service to vulnerab...More Button

The aim of the National Advisory Service is to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are heard and their rights safeguarded. The Service has a particular remit for people with disabi...More Button

As the National Advocacy Service has been in operation for almost two years, an independent review of the service is currently underway. The review will encompass all aspects of the service, inc...More Button

Home-makers Scheme

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to SIPTU's call for the home-makers scheme to be backdated from 1994 to 1964; if she will make arrangements to backdate it as suggested; the estimated cost of doing ...More Button

Was asked: if she will provide in Budget 2013 for a backdating of the home-makers scheme from 1994 back to 1964 in order to ensure that workers with and interrupted PRSI record do not lose out on their contri...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 124 together.More Button

The State pension is a very valuable benefit and is the bedrock of the Irish pension system. Therefore, it is important to ensure that those qualifying have made a sustained contribution to the S...More Button

The homemaker’s scheme makes qualification for the State pension (contributory) easier by disregarding time spent out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme was introduced in and took ef...More Button

Backdating the scheme to 1964 would involve considerable costs. An analysis undertaken in the 2007 Green Paper on Pensions identified that to back-date the homemaker’s scheme to 1953, the year w...More Button

It should be noted that women who do not qualify for a full rate pension may, if their spouse is in receipt of a State pension contributory, receive a qualified adult payment at a higher rate whe...More Button

Time taken out of the workforce for homemaking and caring duties will continue to be protected by the current disregard. While my Department will keep the homemaker’s scheme under review, any im...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Was asked: if she will ensure that the option of a review in advance of an appeal is given greater prominence and explanation in letters sent out turning down applications with a view to reducing the number o...More Button

Was asked: if she will take legislative or other steps to ensure that the decisions of social welfare appeals officers are implemented by her Department promptly and in full, including recommendations that th...More Button

Was asked: if she will direct that deciding officers that are considering turning down an application for social welfare should make a telephone call to the applicant before finalising their decision during w...More Button

Was asked: if she will direct that all unsuccessful applicants for social welfare payments be given their complete file, including comments of deciding officers automatically, to aid in their appeals, thereby...More Button

Was asked: her plans to shorten the time period that it takes to implement decisions of appeals officers. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117, 139, 146, 147 and 152 together. More Button

Decisions on statutory social welfare schemes are made by statutorily appointed deciding officers. The rules of natural justice and fair procedures are applied by deciding officers when making d...More Button

Deciding officers and others involved in the process will assist claimants as far as possible in making their applications but, as a matter of law, the burden of providing evidence to support a c...More Button

Disqualifications and disallowances are issued to the customer in writing and include an explanation of the reason/s for the decision. The disallowance/disqualification grounds, and reason/s for...More Button

It is considered that issuing copies of claimants’ files or telephoning applicants prior to making a decision would place an unnecessary and unreasonable burden on resources in the Department and...More Button

Persons are advised, in decision letters, of their right to seek a Departmental review of the initial decision and are advised as to how to lodge an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (S...More Button

Decisions regarding the recoupment of overpayments are administrative in nature and do not fall within the remit of the SWAO. However, before a recovery plan is put in place, the views of the cu...More Button

Deciding officers are reminded through ongoing training, guidelines and circulars that the decision of the appeals officer should be implemented without delay. In a very small number of cases, c...More Button

Was asked: if she has received an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; when this appeal will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 2nd October 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process th...More Button

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 on social welfar...More Button

Was asked: when benefit will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied); if she will expedite the matter.More Button

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing on 25 October 2012, allowed the ...More Button

Was asked: the number of reviews that have been carried out by the chief appeals officer each year since 2005. More Button

Section 318 of the Social Welfare Act provides that the Chief Appeals Officer may, following review, revise any decision of an appeals officer where it appears to her that the decision was erroneou...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Issues

Was asked: if she will take legislative steps to introduce a public appointments procedure involving the publication of selection criteria and an open recruitment competition.More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the findings of the FLAC report, Not Fair Enough, making the case for reform of the social welfare appeals system; if she has discussed the findings with the soci...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 144 together.

  I welcome this report from FLAC as a valuable analysis of the Social Welfare Appeals Service from a human rights perspect...More Button

  Questions Nos. 119 and 120 answered with Question No. 110.More Button

Sick Pay Scheme Expenditure

Was asked: the steps that she has taken to reform the sick pay scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The position remains that the range of complex issues associated with the possible introduction of a scheme of statutory sick pay, including such matters as the provision of possible compensatory m...More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Was asked: the steps she has taken to address waiting times in social welfare payments and appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes tha...More Button

In addition, the staffing needs of the Department are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resour...More Button

In relation to appeals, there are ongoing efforts to reduce the processing times. The Department has appointed 15 additional Appeals Officers since 2010. In addition, a further 10 Appeals Office...More Button

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping the methods of operation by which the Social Welfare Appeals Office conducts its business under constant review, and that the process...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which it has been found possible to expedite the process for the determination of entitlement to basic social welfare payments in respect of persons previously self-employed; and if s...More Button

Self-employed workers may establish eligibility to assistance-based payments such as jobseeker’s allowance and disability allowance. In the case of jobseeker’s allowance they can apply for the mea...More Button

In order to qualify for the payment the Department must be satisfied as to the person’s income or potential income. All facts and evidence are taken into consideration and every case is fully inv...More Button

Social Welfare Code Review

Was asked: her plans to address lone parent family distress in budget 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The number of one-parent family payment (OFP) recipients stood at 88,620 in September, 2012. This year the cost of the OFP scheme is estimated to be €1.06 billion. The Government will consider the...More Button

The aim of the reforms to the OFP scheme, which are currently underway are to prevent long-term dependence on social welfare support and facilitate financial independence among parents; recognise...More Button

The Government recognises that the best route out of poverty for lone parents is through paid employment. The reforms underway to the OFP scheme will allow lone parents to access the supports and...More Button

  Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 116.More Button

  Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 106.More Button

  Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 110.More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Was asked: her plans for the future of rent supplement in budget 2013; its future operation and in particular its relationship with local authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if she will bring forward her rent limits review scheduled to take place in June 2013 in view of reports of increases in rents since the start of 2012.More Button

Was asked: the reason she does not introduce rent controls and legal penalties on landlords who discriminate against tenants in receipt of rent allowance in view of (details supplied); if she will achieve her...More Button

Was asked: the reason she does not introduce rent controls and legal penalties on landlords who discriminate against tenants in receipt of rent allowance in view of (details supplied); if she will achieve her...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 130, 145 and 150 together.

  There are currently approximately 89,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided €436 ...More Button

  Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 107.More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to concerns raised by the National Advocacy Service that community welfare officers are not willing to pay rent supplement to persons with disabilities who are leavi...More Button

There are currently approximately 89,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement, with €436 million provided by the Government for 2012. I am aware of the comment made by the National Advocacy Servi...More Button

- have been residing in private rented accommodation, accommodation for homeless persons or in an institution for 6 months within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim, or have had an asse...More Button

Rent supplement is payable where a person has left institutional care and satisfies the conditions of the scheme. If the person concerned requires specialised housing due to the nature of their c...More Button

There have been instances where applications for rent supplement have been made where the applicants have either remained in intuitional care or have moved from one institution to another. Rent ...More Button

Under these circumstances, the responsibility for meeting the accommodation needs of the person concerned would be met by the body or organisation which is providing the maintenance and care of t...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to incidents of landlords seeking payments from tenants in excess of the rent supplement thresholds, if she believes such practices are wide-spread, the action she i...More Button

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs a...More Button

Rent supplement is calculated to ensure that the person, after payment of rent, has an income equal to the basic supplementary welfare allowance rate, less a specified weekly minimum contribution...More Button

The “top up” payments referred to fall into two specific categories. Where a person has an additional income above the rate of supplementary welfare allowance they are, in certain circumstances, ...More Button

The second type of top up payment can occur where the application to the Department declares a rent lower than that actually being charged by the landlord. There has been no evidence presented to...More Button

Any instance of false declarations should be reported to the relevant Department representatives who have specific legislative powers to deal with such offences. More Button

Disability Allowance Payments

Was asked: if she will arrange for a review of all agency arrangements for all persons in receipt of disability allowance living in residential care in view of concerns raised by Inclusion Ireland.More Button

I am aware that, in their pre-budget submission, Inclusion Ireland calls for a review of agency arrangements for all persons in receipt of disability allowance living in residential care and to imp...More Button

In relation to the disability allowance scheme specifically, the Regulations as set in Statutory Instrument Number 378 of 2009 and previous legislation governing agency arrangements are fully imp...More Button

Issues with the agency arrangements are raised with the Department from time to time and the Department endeavours to resolve them having regard to the best interest of the customer.More Button

If the Deputy or Inclusion Ireland have concerns about any specific case, cases or residential institution, they should forward the details to my Office and I will arrange to have it investigated...More Button

  Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 127.More Button

  Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 106.More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Was asked: if she will re-introduce the freefone number for callers to the central rents unit and allocate case officers to specific geographic regions. More Button

We are examining all the communication channels for the Rent Unit with a view to improving customer service. With the introduction of email addresses for the unit, customers now have access to the...More Button

The Department keeps the operational and organisational process of the Unit under review with a view to managing operational efficiency and maximising service to the customer.More Button

Social Welfare Code Issues

Was asked: if she will provide an update on any progress made and the nature of negotiations that she has had with energy and other suppliers with a view to receiving greater value under the household benefit...More Button

The household benefits package includes a free electricity or gas allowance, a telephone allowance and a free television licence. There are some 400,000 customers in receipt of the household benef...More Button

I appreciate the important role that these schemes play in promoting social inclusion and preventing isolation of older people and people with disabilities. All of the schemes operated by my Dep...More Button

Was asked: the legislation in place for persons who pay contributions while in the workforce and are in receipt of a social welfare payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I understand that the Deputy’s question relates to the issue of the payment of concurrent social insurance benefits to a person who is in receipt of a widow/er’s contributory pension.More Button

The social welfare system is designed to respond to a range of contingencies such as illness, unemployment, old age or widowhood. Within this wide-ranging system, a general principle is applied ...More Button

Child Care Services Provision

Was asked: the outcome of her visit to Sweden to examine child care; her plans to progress the model and proposals of the interdepartmental subgroup on school-age child care; and if she will make a statement ...More Button

Was asked: the progress that has been made to date on the development of her plan for a Scandinavian style child care system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 149 together.More Button

The role of the Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) on School-Age Child Care is to define the best model for the provision of school-age child care to meet the needs of the customers of the Department...More Button

Extensive work has been completed by the Group to quantify the level of school-age child care that is required to support the relevant social welfare income support recipients, in particular lone...More Button

I recently visited Sweden to study a number of items of interest to me. I am particularly interested in the Swedish childcare system and what Ireland can learn from that model. There are many a...More Button

The Swedish childcare model is a very comprehensive and expensive system. A more detailed examination of this and other international systems would be required to establish the most appropriate m...More Button

  Questions Nos. 137 and 138 answered with Question No. 110.More Button

  Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 117.More Button

Early Retirement Scheme

Was asked: her views on the impact that the early retirement scheme has had on the administrative functions of her Department; her plans to sanction the recruitment of additional staff; and if so, when, and t...More Button

Since 2009 just over 450 staff in my Department availed of early retirement schemes while other staff left or retired as normal. Obviously, this has had some impact on service delivery in my Depart...More Button

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, having regard to workloads, management priorities and the competing demands arising, with a view to providing an ...More Button

  Question No. 141 answered with Question No. 106.More Button

Employment Support Services

Was asked: if she will develop a clear strategy to increase awareness of the employment supports available to persons with disabilities; and her plans for further steps regarding same.More Button

My Department has a primary role in delivering a wide range of disability related supports, in relation to both income-support schemes and employment services for people with disabilities. These se...More Button

  Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 118.More Button

  Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 127.More Button

  Questions No. 146 and 147 answered with Question No. 117.More Button

Was asked: the total number of temporary, part-time or internship places created in the past two years from the various initiatives undertaken by Government; the extent to which such schemes can be augmented ...More Button

The Department of Social Protection funds and manages a number of interventions targeted at those on the live register or in receipt of certain social protection payments. Combined, some 35,400 pl...More Button

Disability Allowance Applications

Was asked: if she will consider making a liaison or support person available to those who need assistance making applications and appeals with respect to disability-related payments as recommended by Inclusio...More Button

It is the policy of my Department to standardise and simplify application forms. Plain English principles are applied to ensure that they are available in a simple, clear, easy to read format. My...More Button

The nationwide network of over 200 Citizens Information Centres also offers a drop-in service where callers can meet information providers face-to-face. Staff in these centres offer information, ...More Button

I am satisfied that the assistance and support available to customers, through my Department’s offices, through the Citizens Information Centres and the National Advocacy Service enables them to ...More Button

  Question No. 149 answered with Question No. 136.More Button

  Question No. 150 answered with Question No. 127.More Button

Was asked: the number of occasions on which applications for disability allowance and or invalidity pension have been refused and the refusal upheld on appeal have subsequently been awarded on for of new appl...More Button

A total of 3,047 disability allowance and invalidity pension appeals were disallowed in 2011. A system enquiry reports that an estimated 120 of those customers are currently in receipt of disabili...More Button

Departmental Functions

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the delays being experienced within her Department due to the failure to transfer files for appeals quickly when decisions in the negative for entitlements to pay...More Button

Significant resources and effort have been put into reducing backlogs and improving appeals processing times for appellants, including:

The assignment of 15 additional Appeals Officers (AO...More Button

Departmental Schemes

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the ongoing delays of over six months in the processing of disability, invalidity and carer's allowance applications and the difficulties it is causing for member...More Button

There has been a significant increase in the number of new claims received in all these three schemes over the past 3-4 years. A major service delivery modernisation project has been undertaken to...More Button

I am pleased to say that the number of IP claims awaiting decision has decreased from 7,267 at the end of May 2012 to 4,560 at the end of October 2012 and continues to decrease. The new process ...More Button

The current average time taken to process new DA applications is 17 weeks. Following the full deployment of the new system later this month, a similar business process improvement initiative wil...More Button

Social Insurance Fund Deficit

Was asked: if she will consider introducing a third higher band of employer PRSI contributions on salaries of €100,000 or more; if she will outline the net effect that she believes such a policy would have on...More Button

I am most concerned about the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) and one of my key goals is to reform the system of social protection and to put it on a sounder financial footing for the fu...More Button

Dental Services Provision

Was asked: the full details of the free dental services currently available for persons based on PRSI contributions; the services available in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 in tabular form; if he proposes t...More Button

The dental benefit scheme was limited to a free annual examination in budget 2010, so from 1st January 2010 to date, one free annual examination is available to qualifying customers...More Button

  Question No. 337 answered with question No. 115.More Button

  Question No. 338 answered with Question No. 110.More Button

Carer's Allowance Applications

Was asked: the reason an application for carer's allowance has not been processed and decided on in respect of a person (details supplied) and when a decision will issue. More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 3rd February 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a d...More Button

  Questions Nos. 341 and 342 withdrawn.More Button

Was asked: when a carer's allowance will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 16th August 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department’s medical as...More Button

Was asked: when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their application for carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 31st May 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decis...More Button

Was asked: when an application for carer's allowance will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 2nd July 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 17th January 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once proces...More Button

Was asked: when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer's allowance.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 8 March 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed,...More Button

Was asked: when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for carer's allowance.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 13th September 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department’s medical ass...More Button

The person in question subsequently submitted further medical evidence for review on 17th July 2012. This medical evidence is awaiting medical assessment by a medical assessor. On completion of...More Button

Was asked: if carer's allowance will be expedited in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 24th February 2012. The medical assessment has been completed. The application is current...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork.More Button

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 27th March 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once proce...More Button

  Question No. 389 withdrawn.More Button

Was asked: when an application for carer's allowance was received in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a decision may be expected; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 22/12/11. The medical assessment has been completed. The application is currently with...More Button

  Question No. 394 answered with Question No. 391.More Button

Was asked: the reason for the delay in processing an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and the target time taken to process such applications.More Button

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 31 January 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processe...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and when a decision will be expedited.More Button

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 21 November 2011. The application is with a deciding officer for a decisi...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the backlog for carer's allowance payments; the number of outstanding applications; the average length of time each new claim takes to process from initial application to pay...More Button

 The number of outstanding applications as of 2 November 2012 is 9,411. It is taking on average 25 weeks at present to process applications. It should be noted that this is an average...More Button

Was asked: the length of time currently taken to process carer's allowance applications on average; the extent to which the situation has improved or otherwise over the past three years to date; and if she wi...More Button

The average time taken to process carer’s allowance applications at present is 25 weeks. It should be noted that this is an average time, with some applications being processed much quicker and so...More Button

I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer’s allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking appropriate action to resolve the situation.More Button

Carer’s allowance section has recently completed a major service delivery modernisation project to improve the efficiency with which it processes applications from clients for carer’s allowance. ...More Button

Following the completion of the modernisation project, an in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project was completed for the carer’s allowance scheme. This project focused on optimising o...More Button

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Was asked: the position regarding a review and appeal for invalidly pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 13 September 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process t...More Button

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 on social welfar...More Button

Departmental Offices

Was asked: her plans to close an office (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

There are no plans to close the Department’s offices at Castle Buildings, Tara St, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. The offices at Castle Buildings are scheduled to become fully integrated INTREO offices in...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Places

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2 can have their community employment scheme extended for another year; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The maximum term for participants in the community employment scheme has been set by my Department at three years for those under 55 years of age. As the person concerned has completed three years...More Button

During his term on the scheme the person concerned has undertaken training. This was funded by the scheme without incurring any costs to the person concerned. This training is carried out on an...More Button

If the person concerned wishes to engage in additional training opportunities and requires guidance, he should meet with an Employment Services Officer who can explore the options open to him.More Button

Was asked: the total number of persons currently on community employment schemes; the numbers of applications received in each of the past three years to date; the extent to which the necessary resources rema...More Button

There were a total of 22,276 participants and supervisors on Community Employment as on the 5th November 2012. My Department does not keep data from persons expressing an interest in taking up a C...More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Was asked: the measures she will take to resolve the issue where taxi drivers who are unable to work due to an injury for an extended period are asked to give up their car insurance, and so lose their licence...More Button

Apart from a number of excluded categories, anyone in the State who satisfies a habitual residency condition and a means test, has applied for any other benefit or allowances s/he may be entitled t...More Button

In order to qualify for the payment the Department must be satisfied as to the person’s income or potential income. All facts and evidence are taken into consideration and every case is fully in...More Button

The Department is advised that changing insurance from public to private for the purpose of receiving a payment does not result in the loss of the taxi licence. If the Deputy is aware of any ins...More Button

  Question No. 350 withdrawn.More Button

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 has not received any social welfare assistance in recent months; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Following an investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector, the claim for one parent family payment from the person concerned was disallowed as it was decided that she was not making a full and open ...More Button

A claim for supplementary welfare allowance was subsequently received from the person concerned. The Community Welfare Officer also investigated the case and was satisfied that the person concer...More Button

  Question No. 401 withdrawn.More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Was asked: when a decision on a jobseeker's allowance appeal will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 13th September 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process t...More Button

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 on social welfar...More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Appeals

Was asked: the reason rent allowance payment ceased in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and when it will be reinstated.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 1st November 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process...More Button

  Question No. 354 withdrawn.More Button

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Was asked: when a decision will issue on an appeal for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on the 11th May 2012. This application was referred to one of the Department’s Medical Assessors who found that the child was not m...More Button

  Question No. 356 withdrawn.More Button

Was asked: when a decision will issue on a domiciliary care allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 9th May 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the...More Button

Domiciliary Care Allowance Application Numbers

Was asked: the average processing time for rent supplement application from County Kildare; the number of applications for rent allowance currently awaiting processing from persons in County Kildare; the reas...More Button

Where all the required information is provided at the time of the initial application, claims should be processed without delay and the rent supplement will normally be approved by months end. Del...More Button

Was asked: the total number of applications for domiciliary care allowance received in each of the past three years to date; the number approved; the number rejected; the number of cases granted on appeal; an...More Button

The number of applicants for DCA that were received, awarded and refused in each year from April 2009 to August 2012 is set out in table 1.

Table 1 - Domiciliary Care Allowance app...More Button

Community Welfare Services

Was asked: the proposed changes to the delivery of the community welfare service in the Drumcondra area, Dublin 9; and the way these changes will directly affect local residents in receipt of the community we...More Button

Following the integration of the former community welfare service into my Department efficiencies have been achieved which allow for a reconfiguration of how services within the area concerned are ...More Button

To further consolidate this we are moving to a system where a number of community welfare units will operate together out of one location, in this instance the Marino Health Centre. This will a...More Button

The effect that this will have on local residents is that some clients will have to travel a longer distance to reach the Health Centre, and others a shorter distance but a more consistently-reso...More Button

This new service will be fully operational in Marino Health Centre from Tuesday 20th November 2012. More Button

  Question No. 359 answered with Question No. 115. More Button

  Question No. 360 withdrawn.More Button

Departmental Agencies Expenditure

Was asked: if she will provide in tabular form the amount currently being spent on, or budgeted for, by State agencies under her remit for spending on the areas of communications, public relations, consultanc...More Button

The information requested is currently being compiled within the Department and will be made available to the Deputy as soon as possible.More Button

Carer's Allowance Payments

Was asked: if she will provide a detailed breakdown of the assessment used in the weekly carer's allowance figure in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork.More Button

This application for carer’s allowance was awarded on 1st November 2012 and a letter issued to the person in question notifying them of the decision and how the rate was arrived at. The person in ...More Button

Family Income Supplement Applications

Was asked: in view of the significant delays within her Department with respect to the processing of family income support applications, if she will confirm the date a decision will be made on an application ...More Button

The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as pos...More Button

  Question No. 365 withdrawn.More Button

Disability Allowance Appeals

Was asked: the position regarding a disability allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 14; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 26th April 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that ...More Button

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 on social welfar...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be reached; and if she will make a statement on th...More Button

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. Unde...More Button

Back to Education Allowance Applications

Was asked: the amount by which means exceeded the guidelines in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

An application for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance was received from the customer concerned on 27 June 2012. The application was processed on 18 July 2012 and was disallowed as ...More Button

FÁS Training Programmes

Was asked: if unemployed persons who have taken up FÁS training courses are excluded from consideration for Tús supervisor positions within 12 months of completing the course. More Button

Was asked: if there has been a review of the Tús scheme at the end of its first year in operation; the insight into the workings of the scheme the review offered; if she will consider increasing the length of...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 375 and 392 together.More Button

Tús, the community work placement initiative, came into operation in the middle of 2011. To date 6,617 people have completed or are currently on work placements. This figure includes supervisor...More Button

I consider the engagement of 12-months to be adequate to meet the objectives of the initiative and to provide these work placement opportunities to as many of those on the live register. It is e...More Button

Tús is being delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta (Implementing Bodies) and participants are identified by the Department using a random selection...More Button

Eligibility for both participants and supervisory/team leader positions on Tús is confined to those on the Live Register for at least 12 months and in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance. These pro...More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the problems encountered by persons on jobseeker's allowance benefit who fill in casual workers weekly employment information forms; particularly as it relates to...More Button

Casual/part-time workers in receipt of a jobseeker payment receive payment on a weekly basis and this is based on the number of days which the customer has certified as unemployed in the previous w...More Button

Back to Education Allowance Eligibility

Was asked: if consideration will be given to offering back to education allowance to those taking part-time courses of study.More Button

The back to education allowance (BTEA) is a second chance education opportunities scheme that enables those in receipt of certain social welfare payments to continue to receive a payment while purs...More Button

A person wishing to pursue a part time education course, such as a Springboard course, may apply under the part-time education option (PTEO) of the back to education programme. PTEO allows them r...More Button

Was asked: if she will ensure that persons in receipt of back to education allowances are not cut off due to the fact that they cannot be permanently registered with their third level colleges because of the ...More Button

The back to education allowance (BTEA) is a second chance education opportunities scheme that enables those in receipt of certain social welfare payments to continue to receive a payment while purs...More Button

While provisional approval for BTEA may issue to an applicant, in order to award and put a BTEA claim into payment, certain information must be provided by the applicant. This includes written co...More Button

  Question No. 383 answered with Question No. 110.More Button

  Question No. 384 withdrawn.More Button

Fuel Allowance Applications

Was asked: her views on whether the fuel allowance payment should be restructured to allow for a sliding scale rather than a flat cut-off point, to prevent situations arising whereby a person who receives an ...More Button

My Department will spend almost €215 million in 2012 on the fuel allowance scheme benefitting some 400,000 people. The cost of this scheme has increased by over 160% since 2005 when 265,000 people ...More Button

Carer's Benefit Appeals

Was asked: when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their appeal for carer's benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 5th November 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the app...More Button

Child Benefit Eligibility

Was asked: if he will state which parent is entitled to child benefit in a situation where the parents have joint custody of the child; and the basis on which the decision is made.More Button

Child benefit is a universal payment made to the parents/guardians of children. As provided for in social welfare legislation, payment is normally made to the mother or step-mother of the qualifie...More Button

Family Income Supplement Eligibility

Was asked: the position regarding family income supplement in respect of separated parents who have joint custody of children (details supplied).More Button

The family income supplement scheme (FIS), which provides income support for employees on low earnings with families, is designed to preserve the incentive to take up or remain in employment in cir...More Button

To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight an...More Button

In the case of parents who are separated, a parent who is wholly or mainly maintaining a former spouse and child(ren) can qualify for FIS. However, only one FIS payment can be made in respect of...More Button

Where a question arises in determining the residence of a child for FIS purposes, an investigation of specific circumstances may be carried out and if the Deputy wishes to have a particular case ...More Button

Farm Assist Scheme Applications

Was asked: the position regarding assessment for the farm assist scheme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if she will calculate maintenance payments by the provider as an outgoing when assessing a persons means for a social welfare payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 391 and 394 together. More Button

The question of how maintenance payments are treated arises in the case of social welfare claims made by the person receiving the maintenance payment and also in the case of social welfare claims...More Button

In the second case, where a social welfare claimant is paying maintenance to another person, whether on a voluntary basis or on foot of a Court order, their means for social welfare purposes are ...More Button

Where a person has maintenance obligations on foot of a Court order and they find that they can no longer afford to meet those obligations, for example because their circumstances have changed, i...More Button

  Question No. 392 answered with Question No. 375.More Button

Invalidity Pension Eligibility

Was asked: the reasons a person (details supplied) has had invalidity pension terminated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The person concerned was disallowed invalidity pension following an assessment by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that she was medically unsuitable for payment.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal was registered in that office on 4th September 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departm...More Button

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 on social welfar...More Button

Departmental Staff Redeployment

Was asked: the number of officials by grade in her Department that will be working solely on the Presidency for the remainder of 2012; if redeployment or promotion has occurred; if they will be paid any addit...More Button

No additional staff members have been appointed to work solely on the planning of EU Presidency within my Department. The preparatory work is being done on a part-time basis by staff members who a...More Button

In terms of full-time staff, one Higher Executive Officer (HEO), an existing member of staff in the EU/ International Section, has been assigned full time to Presidency duties. A second HEO has ...More Button

One Assistant Principal (AP) was assigned to the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels for the duration of the Presidency and will also work on other on-going EU related matters on behal...More Button

No competitions were held for any of the above positions and no complaints have been received.More Button

Departmental Staff Promotions

Was asked: the date that internal promotional competitions were last held for promotion to principal officer, promotion to assistant principal officer, promotion to higher executive officer and promotion to s...More Button

Details in respect of the latest internal promotion competitions held in my Department are shown in the table.

More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Was asked: if she will review the decision to refuse jobseeker's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

If the person concerned wishes to have a review carried out of the decision to disallow her jobseeker’s allowance claim, she should submit a written request to this Department. More Button

Child Benefit Applications

Was asked: the total number of families in receipt of child benefit; the extent to which this number has fluctuated over the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The information requested by the Deputy is in the tabular statement. The number of families on child benefit has been broadly stable over the period.

Tabular statement

More Button

Social Welfare Overpayments

Was asked: the number of instances wherein an overpayment has been discovered in respect of particular social welfare payments in each of the past three years to date; the number of cases in respect of which ...More Button

Overpayments are generally defined as “money obtained contrary to or in excess of a valid decision”. An overpayment is any social welfare assistance or benefit payment which the person who receive...More Button

Carer's Allowance Application Numbers

Was asked: the number of applications for carer's allowance received in each of the past four years to date; the numbers granted, refused and granted and refused on appeal; and if she will make a statement on...More Button

Number of Carer’s Allowance Applications Decided/Awarded/Refused for the past 4 years.

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Mortgage Interest Relief Application

Was asked: the number of households currently in receipt of mortgage interest relief; the number of applications received in each year in the past three years to date; the number approved, refused, granted on...More Button

Mortgage interest supplement (MIS) provides short-term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of...More Button

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Was asked: if she will outline the opportunities that persons in lower grades of the public service have been afforded in contributing to the reforms of the public service as sought in the public service agre...More Button

Full implementation of my Department’s Action Plan under the Public Service Agreement involves major organisational change, including changes in structures, business processes, administrative, oper...More Button

- The integration of the Community Welfare Service (CWS), FÁS Employment and Community Services and Social Welfare services within an expanded Department of Social Protection (DSP);More Button

- The transfer of Redundancy and Insolvency Services (R&I) from the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation and the transfer of the Rural Social Scheme and the Social Inclusion from the Depart...More Button

- The development and piloting of new organisational structures and processes to deliver Intreo as part of the Pathways to Work initiative;More Button

- The development and ongoing roll-out of the Public Services Card.More Button

These changes involved the redeployment of c 2,000 staff and the integration of these staff into the organisation and grading structure of the Department.More Button

All of these initiatives are being delivered with significant input from all of the Department’s staff and the trade unions that represent them, mainly through meetings at local and national leve...More Button