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Burton, Joan

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Social Welfare Bill 2012: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)

I believe they have heard of it.More Button

There was no budget.More Button

When we pass this Bill tonight-----More Button

-----we will create 10,000 extra opportunities for people who are currently unemployed and locked out of the labour market. We will also be creating over 6,000 after-school care places.More Button

This is part of the vision to which we referred last year in the context of supporting communities that are in difficulty and that are suffering the worst effects of the deepest recession the weste...More Button

I wish, in all sincerity, to inform those Deputies on all sides who made interesting and valuable contributions that as I discuss these matters with mothers and fathers - some of them are in empl...More Button

I listened to the sincere complaints on the part of a number of Deputies to the effect that there was not more time available to devote to the debate on the Bill. I regret that this morning some...More Button

-----as a result of disputes relating to matters which do not relate to social welfare.More Button

I have been here early in the morning and have remained late at night in order to listen to Deputies' contributions to the debate the Bill. I have heard people complaining - I accept that some of ...More Button

Savings must be made from the social welfare budget. There are no easy options, particularly as every cut or change will affect someone now or in the future. If we do not balance our spending wit...More Button

For a second year, there have been no cuts in the core payment rates of social welfare. By maintaining the rates of primary social welfare payments, we are ensuring that people will not have to wo...More Button

-----including carer's allowance and disability benefit-----More Button

-----was among those which were most felt. People still remember those cuts and the suffering to which they gave rise.More Button

Our pensioners still recall the loss of the Christmas bonus under Fianna Fáil.More Button

Deputy O'Dea will be familiar with what occurred at that time.More Button

When that cut was made, Deputy O'Dea was very hurt by it.More Button

Deputies on all sides put forward strong views on the budget. It is difficult to take any income away from people, particularly those who are completely reliant on social welfare payments. Natu...More Button

I engaged in a careful consideration of the plans put forward by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin prior to the budget. I noticed that Fianna Fáil found €200 million in unspecified fraud savings. In th...More Button

I wish to refer to a proposal which I know to be very close to the hearts of those in Sinn Féin and which is continually put forward by them. I refer to the proposal for a social welfare amnesty...More Button

The Bill contains proposals to recover moneys that can go towards payments that are due not just to the social welfare system but also to pensioners and carers.More Button

Up to now, we have only been able to recover €2 per week from people. There has been a great deal of debate in respect of carers, those on disability allowance and jobseeker's benefit and pensione...More Button

Deputy McDonald and others in Sinn Féin have been very vociferous in attacking the Labour Party. They have a long history of complex involvement in civil strife and insurrection. Labour is a soci...More Button

Those in Sinn Féin may not always have followed that particular route but I welcome the fact that they are going to follow it now.More Button

However, they are ill placed to criticise any of the democratic parties in Dáil Éireann.More Button

Yes, really.More Button

Those parties have stood by the Republic down through the years and have pursued policies of non-violence. We will not discuss the matter any further. However, Deputy McDonald is not entitled to ...More Button

-----an explanation in favour of complex situations of inter-community violence. We do not have time to discuss this matter in detail but, as a social democrat, I have always believed in the ballo...More Button

Deputy Donnelly and others referred to core social welfare rates.More Button

Now.More Button

Social Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Continued)

I do not propose to accept these amendments. I am informed by the office of the Parliamentary Counsel that the Title, namely, the Social Welfare Bill 2012, is sufficient in terms of the various pr...More Button

A reference to "pensions" in the Title is only required where there are amendments to the Pensions Act 1990 included in the Bill, namely, changes to occupational and private pension schemes. The...More Button

Deputy Ó Snodaigh made specific reference to a number of amendments, which I hope we will have an opportunity to discuss in some detail later. There is a proposal in the Bill regarding the deduc...More Button

Many members will previously have been members of a local authority and will be aware of the large build up of arrears down through the years in some local authorities. Deputy Ó Snodaigh and I h...More Button

It was challenging to draft this and get the agreement of the Office of the Attorney General because, of course, people have to agree to an arrangement for payment. My impression during previous d...More Button

On the question of overpayments, I have a disagreement with Sinn Féin. At the moment it is often possible to recover only €2 per week in arrears from the basic primary social welfare payment of ...More Button

Where overpayments relate to errors or mistakes on the part of the Department, leeway is provided. The 15% referred to is the upper limit. I am anxious to send out a message that if people owe ...More Button

My apologies; I was a bit confused. I thought the Deputy was raising a substantive amendment.More Button

He can also oppose the section. It is a decision of the Ceann Comhairle's office.More Button

Deputies Halligan and Ó Snodaigh share a common concern about preventing people from getting into arrears and debt. The allocation to the Citizens' Information Board, including MABS, has increased...More Button

The reason for recovering more than €2 per week is to deal with people who have been scamming the social welfare system. For someone living beside tenants who have defrauded the system, €2 per w...More Button

I was shocked on becoming Minister to find that arrears amounted to €350 million over a lengthy period of time. These arrears were referenced in all the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor Ge...More Button

I move amendment No. 3:More Button

With regard to the situation in respect of lone parents, we had very detailed discussions on this last year. One of the most important reforms to the social welfare system is the effort to create ...More Button

The second big change in which I have been involved over the past year in terms of social protection has been the launch of the new type social welfare system. This is not a passive social welfa...More Button

With regard to this amendment, this is the reason that where we have lone parents whose children will age out over a number of years, we want to have appropriate facilities available for parents ...More Button

Essentially, what I want for lone parents whose children are surpassing the age at which their status in the social welfare system is defined exclusively by virtue of the parent being a lone pare...More Button

I want to move to an approach that sees them as parents and children, rather than using the kinds of label we have used in this country for many good reasons for over 40 years. Parents should have...More Button

In this amendment, I have sought to allow more time to make those services available to people such as lone parents so they can avail fully of the services offered to them. That is the purpose b...More Button

Insolvency Payments Scheme Applications

Was asked: when a claim under the insolvency payment scheme will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

A claim under the insolvency payment scheme was submitted on line on behalf of the person concerned on 25 October 2012 in respect of arrears of holiday pay and minimum notice. The Department is cu...More Button

  Questions Nos. 103 to 105, inclusive, withdrawn.More Button

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Was asked: if a decision has been made on a review of a domiciliary care allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Applications for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) were received from the person concerned in respect of two children on the 17th August 2012. These applications were referred to one of the Departm...More Button

As part of the appeal process, the files have been forwarded to another of the Department’s Medical Assessors for further consideration, including a review of any new information supplied. Upon ...More Button

Family Income Supplement Applications

Was asked: the reason for the delay in processing family income supplement applications in relation to claims that were lodged up to the end of October 2012 and the situation regarding processing claims lodge...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

FIS claims, both new and renewal, received on or after the 5th November 2012 are currently being processed on receipt.More Button

An in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has recently been completed for the FIS scheme. This project focused on optimising output, improving customer service and the elimination o...More Button

The outcome of this review is a detailed plan outlining the process required to manage both the continuous weekly intake and backlog claims clearance. This plan sees the current weekly new cla...More Button

This team including additional temporary resources has been identified and is already assigned and working on the backlog claims. In order to reduce the time it will take to eliminate the backlo...More Button

It is expected that the backlog will be fully eliminated by the end of March 2013. Claims which are approved by the backlog team will be backdated to the date of claim or the date of expiry of t...More Button

  Question No. 108 withdrawn.More Button

Family Income Supplement Eligibility

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 369 of 27 November 2012, regarding the report she is reviewing from the advisory group on tax and social welfare regarding cost-effective solutions as to how e...More Button

Was asked: if she has held discussions with the Revenue Commissioners with the aim of taxing certain benefits paid to high earners; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 111 together. More Button

In line with a commitment in the Programme for Government, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare last year, which has been asked to recommend cost-effective solutions as to ho...More Button

Achieving a better design of the overall system of child income supports raises complex issues about the effectiveness and efficiency of the full range of income supports currently provided to fa...More Button

Mortgage Arrears Rate

Was asked: further to her announcement on 6 September 2012 when she launched a scheme giving certain mortgage borrowers access to a consultation with an accountant worth up to €250, if she will confirm the nu...More Button

The Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service was established to provide the necessary supports to assist people in mortgage distress. The approach differentiates between mortgage informatio...More Button

  Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 109.More Button

Disability Allowance Appeals

Was asked: if she will expedite an appeal that was lodged last February in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 3 June 2011. The medical evidence supplied with her claim was referred to one of the department’s medical assessors who was of the opinion,...More Button

The person submitted further medical evidence which was referred to a second medical assessor who was also of the opinion that the person was not medically suitable for disability allowance. The...More Button

The person appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and submitted further medical evidence in support of the appeal. As part of the appeals process, the department referred all...More Button

Departmental Contracts

Was asked: if she will provide details of each service in her Department that is currently outsourced; the company that provides such services and the total cost for these services; the other services which m...More Button

It is not possible to provide the information sought by the Deputy in the time available. The details requested are currently being compiled and a response will be issued directly to the Deputy as...More Button

Respite Care Services

Was asked: if she will stop the cut to the respite care grant as it is affecting the marginalised such as families with a member with a disability. More Button

The Government had to make very difficult decisions in the course of Budget 2013. In order to protect core weekly payments which people receive such as pensions, disability and carer’s allowance w...More Button

The respite care grant is paid to approximately 70,000 people each year, with some 5,000 people in receipt of more than one grant as they care for more than one person. 52,000 people are in rece...More Button

It is important to note that the revised rate of the respite care grant of €1,375 will still be more than what it was in 2006 when the rate was €1,200. The estimated expenditure on carers in 201...More Button

Carers receive significant income supports from my Department, among the highest rates of income support in Europe. A person getting certain qualifying payments and also providing full-time care...More Button

The respite care grant is available to all full-time carers regardless of their means while the income disregard and means test for carers allowance is the most generous in the social welfare sys...More Button

I am aware the reduction in the respite care grant has implications for carers and their families; however, given the enormous pressures on the expenditure of my Department, I am not in a positio...More Button

Was asked: the number of recipients of the respite care grant in County Louth.More Button

The respite care grant (RCG) is an annual payment made automatically to people in receipt of carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit, or domiciliary care allowance from my Department. Other people who ...More Button

Was asked: the number of persons in County Tipperary in receipt of the respite care grant for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.More Button

The respite care grant (RCG) is an annual payment made automatically to people in receipt of carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit, or domiciliary care allowance from my Department. Other people who ...More Button

National Internship Scheme Numbers

Was asked: the arrangements that apply in relation to persons working on the JobBridge scheme (details supplied) in County Galway in terms of maternity benefit as confusion appears to reign as to whether it i...More Button

The legal status of an intern is provided for in legislation.

  An intern is a person who is availing of an internship under the National Internship Scheme. They are not an empl...More Button

Back to Education Allowance Payments

Was asked: if the parents of a person who is in receipt of the back to education allowance and who lives at home will be automatically disqualified from the household benefit package. More Button

The household benefits package (HHB) includes free electricity or gas allowance, telephone allowance and free TV licence. More Button

The package is available to all those aged 70 or over regardless of means and household composition and those in receipt of carer’s allowance who are living with the person they are caring for. More Button

Those between 66 and 70 must be in receipt of a qualifying payment from the Department or satisfy a means test and live alone or only with certain exempted persons. Those aged under 66 must be i...More Button

An exempted person includes dependent children under age 18 or under age 22 if in full-time education or a person who would qualify for the allowance in his or her own right.More Button

Being in receipt of a back to education allowance will not automatically disqualify someone’s parents from receiving household benefits. Without knowing the full circumstances such as the age of...More Button

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Was asked: the position regarding an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; 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 11th July 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeal...More Button

  Question No. 118 withdrawn.More Button

Was asked: the position regarding an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; 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 appe...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; 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 referred to an Appeals Officer on 28th November 2012, who will make a summary decision on...More Button

  Question No. 127 withdrawnMore Button

Community Employment Schemes Places

Was asked: how the additional 2,000 community employment schemes announced in budget 2013 will be allocated. More Button

The allocation of all these places will be in line with the overall Government strategy set out in Pathways to Work. The objective will be to ensure an equitable of places to where they are most n...More Button

The allocation will also take account of the necessity to secure value for money through the implementation of priorities and recommendations set out in the CE Financial Review published by my De...More Button

Mortgage Interest Supplement Appeals

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) in County Limerick was refused an oral hearing on their application for mortgage interest supplement; if her Department took all of the family's circumstances...More Button

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

Jobseeker's Benefit Applications

Was asked: if, in view of the recently announced reduction in jobseeker's benefit to nine months, she will consider a corresponding reduction in the eligibility period for entry to community employment scheme...More Button

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons (including those with a disability) with an o...More Button

My Department is currently reviewing the impact of this change on the eligibility of those on Jobs Benefit (JB) to access Community Employment. However, in the meantime, it should be noted that ...More Button

In addition to Community Employment, there are a number of training and work experience opportunities available to clients in receipt of JB. JB clients should contact their local DSP Employment S...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Was asked: the timeframe for the processing of an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath and the reason for the delay to date.More Button

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

Social Welfare Code Issues

Was asked: if PRSI was paid out of the early retirement farm scheme, whether this contributes to a social welfare entitlement. More Button

Under social welfare legislation, certain payments received by way of pension are excluded from income on which PRSI is charged. As payments received under the Early Retirement Scheme are regarded...More Button

Turbary Rights

Was asked: if the money provided to turf cutters under the compensation scheme for those affected by the cessation of turf cutting on raised bog special areas of conservation is assessed as means for the awar...More Button

Payments received by persons under European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 in compensation for loss suffered by the depreciation of an interest in the land to which he or...More Button

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Was asked: if temporary promotions or acting-up allowances have been a feature of the staffing arrangements for this EU Presidency; if she will confirm that her Department has been given sanction to make such...More Button

The Department of Social Protection has not sought sanction for any promotions or acting-up allowances in respect of staffing arrangements associated with the upcoming EU presidency.More Button