Houses of the Oireachtas

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

Go to oireachtas.ie

Varadkar, Leo

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Leaders' Questions (Continued)

In respect of the findings in the second report by Fennelly, the Minister has decided to refer the report to the Policing Authority, oversee the implementation of the recommendations in the conte...More Button

I have already dealt with the Deputy's question. I asked the sole member, Mr. Justice Fennelly, who was in charge of the commission to deal, in the first instance, with two elements of what was co...More Button

In the context of the second Fennelly report, the Attorney General was quite justified in bringing to the attention of the public - and to me, as Taoiseach - an extraordinary situation whereby hu...More Button

The commission of investigation is clear in its findings. These phone calls were unlawful in being taped, they were unconstitutional and they did not interfere, at the end of the day, with any c...More Button

I think Deputy McDonald is a little ahead of herself. As I understand it, the legal counsel is due before the Oireachtas committee in the next five minutes - it is just up ahead of us - to discuss...More Button

Deputy McDonald speaks of victory, loss and winning. She only sees things in such colours, whereby no one has to pay for anything. Deputy McDonald should believe me that water is a precious res...More Button

As I understand it, the committee at this point has agreed there should be a referendum on water and that it should be retained in public ownership by virtue of a vote on the Constitution. There...More Button

I would advise Deputy McDonald, with respect, to allow the Oireachtas committee to do its job. She should listen to the advice of the legal officer who is about to address the committee members ...More Button

I hope that a conclusion can be reached because for years and years, people have been able to and have paid for water. In the vast majority of cases, they have been happy to receive high-quality...More Button

The Deputy's party has a particular use of certain words like "sabotage".More Button

Deputy Paul Murphy sabotaged the Deputy's own party's view on this because Sinn Féin favoured water charges.More Button

The president and the leader said he would pay his water charges and everybody else nodded in unison. Then, the sound of marching in Tallaght changed Sinn Féin's view. Therefore, I ask the Deputy...More Button

The Minister, Deputy Coveney, did not address the Oireachtas committee. He did not interfere with the Oireachtas committee.More Button

He is perfectly entitled to send in correspondence. Now that they have become all lawful in the Sinn Féin Party, I am quite sure that they realise that the implications of some of the elements of ...More Button

A number of years ago, the Government made a decision to give Shannon Airport freedom to do its own business and it has improved greatly since then.More Button

The optimism I feel about Shannon is voiced by many people in business in the mid-west region. Deputy Harty will look at the increase in employment and investment in the greater region in recent y...More Button

The programme for Government sets out the objectives for the development of rural Ireland, with 135,000 of the 200,000 jobs to be in regional Ireland, with the programme announced last week by th...More Button

I am not sure the one-page advertisements in local newspapers which the Deputy mentioned are going to sway the people of the mid-west to travel to Dublin in order to fly to their destinations. P...More Button

Deputy Harty is well versed in the programme for rural development, which provides opportunities and, indeed, incentives for communities and regions to benefit from it. Clearly, the Deputy is awar...More Button

Deputy Murphy has raised a couple of issues. It is part of the programme for Government that there would be a sale of up to 25% of AIB. The Minister for Finance has made that perfectly clear on n...More Button

In respect of pay rates, the situation is that the cap remains and if the person to succeed the current chief executive comes from the internal panel, the cap will still remain in place. Bank of...More Button

Deputy Murphy has expressed an interest in this on many occasions but there is no economic reason to sell a share in AIB. We are not under economic pressure to do it. The Minister for Finance, th...More Button

As I stated, the cap remains in respect of salary if that person is from inside the bank. If the Bank of Ireland wishes to negotiate up to the level of the current chief executive with an effect...More Button

Brexit Issues

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, together.More Button

I discussed the political situation in Northern Ireland with Prime Minister May when I spoke to her by phone on 29 March. The main political parties in Northern Ireland have been invited to part...More Button

The talks have two objectives, first, to allow the political parties to reach an agreement on the formation of a new Executive, and second, to address the implementation of outstanding issues fro...More Button

It is critically important to see devolved government restored and working effectively in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, in particular in the context of Brexit. As a co-guarant...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 14, inclusive, together.More Button

As I have previously reported to the House, I have met with the head of the Commission Brexit task force, Mr. Michel Barnier, on a number of occasions, most recently on 2 March when I visited Bru...More Button

I see the President of the European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk, regularly at meetings of the European Council. My most recent bilateral meeting with him was in Brussels on 2 March. Over recent mo...More Button

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for European Affairs have both also been engaging in extensive outreach with EU partners, while other Government Ministers continue to engage wit...More Button

In all these meetings, we have highlighted and explained in detail our particular concerns arising from Brexit in relation to Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement, the Border and citizensh...More Button

Although we regret the UK's decision to leave the EU, we have been preparing solidly for a long time and we are ready for the negotiations ahead. We understand our concerns and have a clear sens...More Button

I have finalised a meeting with the leader of the Netherlands, Mr. Mark Rutte, and the Prime Minister of Denmark, Prime Minister Rasmussen. I think that is to go ahead on 21 April. We are the t...More Button

Are we going to take answers first?More Button

I will say to Deputy Howlin that the priorities he mentioned have all been referred to in the letter from Prime Minister May to Mr. Tusk triggering Article 50. They have been referred to extensive...More Button

I have seen reports ranging from low double digits to higher double digits. There has been no detailed discussion about these figures and no outcome has been agreed on it.More Button

Brexit Issues (Continued)

The last time I spoke to the Prime Minister, I expressed the hope that the politicians elected to the assembly would accept their responsibility and get on with putting together an Executive. I th...More Button

I also spoke to the Secretary of State, Mr. Brokenshire, in Derry at the funeral of the late Martin McGuinness. Although I do not speak for the Prime Minister in this, from my conversations with...More Button

It also provides for an Executive to be set up.More Button

I am nodding my head.More Button

I recognise what Deputy Haughey has been talking about. When free travel was introduced by his late father 50 years ago, the move was revolutionary. It was always seen as something that was very ...More Button

Deputy Haughey asked a question on Brexit and Deputy Howlin made another comment. I am unsure as to whether those involved are playing games now. It is a serious matter. However, let us follow...More Button

I hear different things.More Button

Why then are we having ultimatums?More Button

Why then are we having ultimatums about another election?More Button

If it is possible to do it, then let it happen. The traditional thing was always that the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach of the day would arrive in Belfast at the last minute. There wou...More Button

As far as I am concerned, we have co-guarantorship responsibility for the Good Friday Agreement.More Button

We will continue to see that this happens.More Button

It was not possible to get agreement on how to deal with the legacy issues of Northern Ireland. These are very serious and sensitive on both sides. It was not possible to deal with the question o...More Button

The essential point is-----More Button

The essential point is that two major parties have the biggest responsibility to sit down.More Button

I hear a great deal of talk about the willingness of Sinn Féin to form an Executive. I accept that. Is Deputy McDonald telling me that the DUP does not want to form an Executive? That is the cor...More Button

I can answer the question for Deputy Howlin. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Flanagan, has been up there all day. He has been up there for several weeks now, off and on, workin...More Button

Is Deputy Howlin suggesting that we go down the old road of incentives and offer a sweet?More Button

The people have voted. They voted for the parties. Their representatives are in Stormont. There is a requirement to put an Executive together so that we can have leadership from Northern Ireland...More Button

Am I supposed to go up there with the UK Prime Minister, Ms May, take the hands of the leaders and tell them to sit down and put this together? Surely, the Sinn Féin programme and the DUP programm...More Button

Deputy Howlin asked what else we can do. We will continue to be very active in this regard. As I said earlier to Deputy Micheál Martin, if it means that-----More Button

If I have to go up there with the UK Prime Minister, then I will do that.More Button

Deputy Martin made the point very clearly that following the collapse of the Executive, the situation is now that there is no leadership at Executive level in Northern Ireland. The Ulster farmers ...More Button

-----there is no singular voice. I am not asking for a singular voice. As Deputy Howlin rightly pointed out, there are a whole range of issues that are important to-----More Button

-----the DUP and to the Sinn Féin Party. There may not be a singular voice, but there must be an agenda that they want reflected in the actions taken for the people that they represent.More Button

It is true to say that Sinn Féin cannot continue not to accept that responsibility and to wait for somebody else to put the Executive together for it. It is time for parties to focus-----More Button

-----on the real issues and say that these are the things we can agree on, this is what we do not agree on, but here is the complete agenda. In so far as my job is concerned-----More Button

We will continue with our co-guarantorship of the Good Friday Agreement and help them where we can.More Button

One can bring a horse to water but one cannot make it drink.More Button

It is the methodology they are considering in regard to how one might arrive at what the charge would be in respect of participation in the European Union and contracted payments going forward when...More Button

What is going to happen? As the Deputy is aware, the divorce proceedings will be under way for two years and that means a determination of what might be due and the question of the issues the De...More Button

As the Deputy knows, under the Good Friday Agreement everybody in Northern Ireland is entitled to Irish citizenship and, therefore, European citizenship. The question is on how we deal with this...More Button

I will explain it. There have been over 400 meetings held-----More Button

What Deputy Burton seems to want here is that we would just employ numbers. I am giving her the first output, which is the triggering of Article 50 and the letter from the British Prime Minister. ...More Button

One can have big numbers but the outcome here is the first tranche of what we know we need, which is that our priorities are reflected in these documents.More Button

Gibraltar is in there and, obviously, there is a reference to Cyprus. Every Prime Minister and every government knows that we have a single peace process and that there is a unique situation here....More Button

Deputy Micheál Martin made the point to me before that if we need particular expertise brought in, it will be brought in and there will not be any objection. That is what will happen. As these ...More Button

We have 100 people in the permanent representation in Brussels. Their single focus now is Brexit and they are meeting officials every day about elements of this. The sections in every Department ...More Button

The Deputy made the point in a different way that the fact there is no Executive in Northern Ireland means its voice is not out there in the way we would like, as has been referred to by the Brit...More Button

That is why I am glad, for starters, that these issues are part of the written priorities from a European point of view. Michel Barnier had a meeting with the Irish Farmers Association yesterday...More Button

Deputy Micheál Martin, Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and the other leaders of the groups should note we are not hiding anything here. We issue the full up-to-date Brexit report on an as-needs-be basis....More Button

Of all the countries, Ireland is the best prepared. Every other country in Europe knows just how assiduously we have prepared for this. The first outcome is our references of our priorities in ...More Button

Citizens Information Services

Was asked: the future of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Citizens Information service in view of a motion in Dáil Éireann requesting the restructuring of these services be halted to allow for m...More Button

I am assured by the Citizens Information Board that its decision to restructure the governance arrangements of its delivery partners will not impact negatively on the front-line services they provi...More Button

The board fully acknowledge the tremendous contributions that members of local boards have made to the development of Citizens Information service and MABS companies over the years and appreciate...More Button

The board has not taken this operational decision lightly. It comes after almost five years of extensive analysis of options and a detailed consultation process. I am satisfied that the board w...More Button

Absolutely. I would like to allay the concerns of staff and volunteers in my discussions with the chairman of the board and the CEO. I have been assured on a number of occasions that all the loca...More Button

Citizens Information Services (Continued)

The next step in the consultation and implementation of what the board is planning is to establish what is being called a restructuring implementation group. That will carry out the cost-benefit...More Button

I do not know what the composition of the board will be. It would certainly make sense to have representatives of those organisations on it and I can certainly convey that to the chairman.More Button

I should say this is a decision of the Citizens Information Board, not a Government decision. There is a reason we have State boards, that is, so that some decisions can be made at arm's length....More Button

I have had discussions with the Chairman of the committee, Deputy Curran, and I understand the Oireachtas committee has held hearings and may put forward a set of alternative proposals. If those...More Button

Labour Activation Projects

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to ongoing issues in the JobPath scheme; when the next review will be conducted; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the experience of JobPath to date has been very positive.More Button

The most recent unemployment figures from the CSO show that the monthly unemployment rate in March 2017 stands at 6.4%. This is a decrease from 8.3% in March 2016 and 9.9% in March 2015, which i...More Button

In addition, the CSO's quarterly national household survey reports that there were 2.048 million people in employment at the end of 2016. Employment increased by over 65,000 or 3.3% in the year ...More Button

My Department recently published the results of an independent customer satisfaction survey, which indicates that jobseekers feel that they are receiving a good service and that JobPath has impro...More Button

Between 76% and 81% of customers were satisfied with the service provided and only between 5% and 8% expressed dissatisfaction. More than 90% of customers reported that JobPath staff made them f...More Button

An analysis of employment outcomes for JobPath participants shows they have a higher chance of securing and remaining in a job than participants with a similar duration of unemployment who were n...More Button

My Department will publish similar performance reports for each successive quarter as jobseekers complete their 12-month engagement period and the next set of results to be published in the comin...More Button

The preference of the Department absolutely is jobs first. The first thing we should try and get for somebody is a regular job as opposed to being on a scheme. A regular job is better paid, has t...More Button

What we are doing is a customer satisfaction survey. That is done quarterly. The success rates are also published quarterly. One should bear in mind that success is being in a regular job of m...More Button

I would point out though that this is a contract that runs until the end of 2019. We can have any review we like under the sun. The contract stands until the end of 2019 and then there is a two...More Button

I have already told the Deputy what reviews are being done and I have also explained to him that the contract runs until the end of 2019 regardless of any reviews. We would only consider cancellin...More Button

The customer satisfaction survey and the outcome results that show how many participants are moving into employment are published quarterly. The second quarterly report will be out in the next c...More Button

In terms of making money, it is important to bear in mind that these companies bore all of the start-up costs. Had the Department been obliged to set up that number of offices all around the cou...More Button

Labour Activation Projects (Continued)

It is a very good model from the point of view of taxpayers. They only get paid-----More Button

Absolutely. I have already released figures.More Button

They only get paid by results - the result being somebody taking up sustainable employment of more than 30 hours per week for which he or she is paid. They also only get paid if the person sustain...More Button

Labour Activation Measures

Was asked: the number of persons who have been subject to sanctions and penalties for non-engagement with employment and activation schemes or measures from 2014 to 2016, inclusive, and to date in 2017; and i...More Button

My Department is committed, under Pathways to Work, to incentivise the take-up of activation and job opportunities, including implementing sanctions for failure to engage with the activation proces...More Button

Even at a time of relatively low unemployment, there are still 300,000 people who come on and off the live register in a given year. Of those, perhaps 10,000 might be subjected to reduced payments...More Button

There are safeguards already. Under the previous regime, one's payments were stopped altogether if one was determined not to be genuinely seeking work. Under this regime, payments are only reduce...More Button

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Was asked: his plans to end inequalities in the State pension payment for women as a result of the 2012 changes and the calculation of contributions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The average pensions paid by my Department to men and women over 66 years of age are within 2% of each other. This is reflected in the consistent poverty figures for people over 65 years of age, w...More Button

The current rate bands applying to the State contributory pension were introduced from September 2012 by the then Minister, Deputy Burton, replacing previous rates introduced in 2000. These more...More Button

Was asked: his views on the fact that changes to the contributory State pension introduced in 2012 will result in tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of workers, receiving in some circumstances, a...More Button

The current rate bands applying to the State pension (contributory) were introduced from September 2012, replacing the rates introduced in 2000. The new rate bands reflect the social insurance con...More Button

Since the new rate bands came into effect, less than 2% of new contributory pensioners are paid a contributory pension at the minimum 40% rate of €95.20. Four years after their introduction, thi...More Button

Most people with a yearly average of 10-14 contributions may qualify instead for a non-contributory pension, the maximum rate of which is €227, or 95% of the maximum contributory rate. Over 70% ...More Button

Otherwise, they may claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult on their spouse's state pension, based on their personal means. This is up to €213.50, or 90% the rate of the contributory pension, an...More Button

Those who receive a 40% rate pension are generally, therefore, among the minority of pensioners with very significant household and personal means.More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: his plans to implement changes to the State contributory pension criteria to ensure that persons that had a break in their insurance contribution records while in receipt of farm assist due to peri...More Button

The farm assist scheme was introduced in 1999 to provide income support for low income farmers. It replaced the former smallholders’ unemployment assistance payment. In line with the then existin...More Button

Recipients of farm assist who had previously paid Class S social insurance had the option of paying voluntary contributions to maintain their social insurance record, provided they satisfied the ...More Button

I have no plans to amend legislation regarding the State pension (contributory), to award a maximum rate payment to pensioners who had such a period during 1999-2006 when they were exempt from PR...More Button

However, a person aged over 66 with limited PRSI contributions over the course of their life may claim a State pension (non-contributory) if they have an income need, and this entitlement is not ...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: his plans to amend the legislation and regulations for eligibility for the State contributory pension (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many persons have been den...More Button

The State pension contributory is one of a number of pensions the State pays to people over 66. At present, entitlement to the contributory pension is determined by means of a ‘yearly average’ cal...More Button

The home-makers scheme makes qualification for a higher rate of State pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme, which was introduc...More Button

Where someone does not qualify for a full rate contributory pension, they may qualify for an alternative payment. If their spouse has a contributory pension, they may qualify for an Increase for...More Button

The National Pensions Framework (2010) proposed that a “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) should replace the yearly average approach, for new pensioners from 2020. The aim of this approach is ...More Button

The forthcoming independent Actuarial review of the Social Insurance Fund will provide data that will allow officials to accurately cost and project various options available under the Total Cont...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility (Continued)

The contributory State pension is an entitlement built up through PRSI contributions, and is not impacted on by the means of the pensioner.More Button

The principle of the contributory State pension is that people will receive a fair return for the contributions they have made to the Social Insurance Fund by paying PRSI during their working lif...More Button

I did not mention the homemaker's scheme at all.More Button

Perhaps the person who writes Deputy Brady's scripts might give him option A, B and C and suggest that if the Minister says this he should use option A, for example.More Button

I am not sure which policy office prepares Deputy Brady's scripts - the one in Dublin or the one in Belfast - but he should ask for a few different options so that his supplementary questions might...More Button

There are different types of pension. There is the State pension, non-contributory, which is means tested and it is based on one's means; and there is the State pension, contributory, which is bas...More Button

I certainly do want to see the gender pension gap reduce and it is reducing. In 2014 the gap was 32%, which is a fall of 5% on two years previously, and the gap is lower than it is in the EU, whic...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Operation

Was asked: if he will amend the qualifying criteria for eligibility to participate on community employment and Tús schemes and in particular, the length of time a person has to be in receipt of a qualifying s...More Button

As the economic recovery takes hold and the overall level of unemployment continues to fall, the need to adapt employment programmes such as community employment and Tús to the changing circumstanc...More Button

The changes I am introducing will see the general qualifying age for CE reduced from 25 to 21 years, thus allowing more younger people to take part in CE schemes and it will be easier for previou...More Button

However, the length of time a person must be in receipt of a social welfare payment to qualify for CE or Tús remains at 12 months and I have no plans to change that. That ensures a person who be...More Button

The Deputy should note that the overall number of scheme places available in 2017 is 32,000. CE will continue to be the largest programme with 22,400 places in almost 1,000 schemes across the co...More Button

As part of the implementation of the new measures, my Department will consult with key stakeholders in the coming weeks about the implementation of the new arrangements which will commence therea...More Button

I would very much like to increase the materials and training grant and to increase the €22.50 top-up paid to participants in the schemes.More Button

Was asked: his plans to phase out crèche and play school service provision by community employment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department introduced a new Community Employment (CE) childcare strand in 2013 under which there is a dedicated childcare training programme leading to a major award at QQI Level 5 for CE partic...More Button

These changes are designed to provide a more tailored and valuable support to the provision of community childcare and achieve greater coherence between participation on CE and the job market. T...More Button

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: his plans to provide additional resourcing for QQI level six training for community employment participants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

A training grant is allocated to Community Employment schemes in respect of all approved places on a “per-place, per annum” basis. Training is identified in accordance with a tailored individual l...More Button

All expenditure must be accounted and vouched for by way of receipts. It is the responsibility of the scheme to ensure that they have obtained the best price and that they have achieved value fo...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: his plans for a two-stream approach to community employment; the changes that are planned in this regard; the responsibilities this will place on schemes; and if he will make a statement on the mat...More Button

As the Deputy may be aware, I published the Report of the Analysis of the Community Employment Programme on Friday 7 April. The Analysis of the Community Employment Programme was conducted by the ...More Button

Work schemes offer opportunities for the long term unemployed to gain valuable work experience and participate in training while they are paid an equivalent to their social welfare entitlement in...More Button

The report recommends that all CE places should be categorised into one of two strands, either activation or social inclusion. This categorisation will be based primarily on the work experience ...More Button

Department officials will be consulting with scheme sponsors and other stakeholders over the coming weeks in preparation for the new arrangements. More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Community Employment Schemes Operation (Continued)

However, these are budgetary matters and I am sure there will be competing priorities for the budget this autumn, as is always the case. They will certainly be on my ask list. I cannot guarantee ...More Button

During the recession, there was a major increase in the numbers on schemes. The CE scheme increased in numbers, while Tús, Gateway and JobBridge added to that. Logically, as the economy recover...More Button

The way it works is that anyone who has a start date for a CE scheme - and if that start date is within four weeks - can take that up ahead of any referral to a job provider such as Turas Nua or Se...More Button

Although I have seen many such cases, I do not want to see people who have been on the live register for years only wanting to take part in CE schemes all of a sudden when they are referred to Jo...More Button

Free Travel Scheme

Was asked: his plans to announce an increase in his Department's contribution to Bus Éireann to cover the real cost of free travel; and if he will make this announcement before the conclusion of talks between...More Button

Was asked: the methodology arrived at for calculating the contribution his Department makes to Bus Éireann and to private coach firms for free travel; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 49 together.More Button

The free travel scheme is a valuable support for older people, those with disabilities, carers and their companions. I am fully committed to its retention and I am keen to see more private bus o...More Button

My Department makes a block payment to the CIÉ group and the apportionment of payment between the three constituent companies, Bus Éireann, Bus Átha Cliath and Iarnród Éireann, is a matter for th...More Button

Payments to private travel operators participating in the scheme, new operators wishing to enter the scheme or existing operators seeking an increase in payment are determined by way of a survey ...More Button

First of all, it is not within the gift of my Department. Any money we spend on free travel is taxpayers' money. It says a lot about the Deputy's political philosophy that he sees taxpayers' mone...More Button

As regards how this impacts on Bus Éireann, the Deputy should bear in mind that it is not just about Bus Éireann or CIE. These payments are also made to Luas. A sum of €8.5 million is paid to p...More Button

Free Travel Scheme (Continued)

First of all, we only have a certain amount of money allocated in the budget for free travel this year, which is in the region of €77 million to €80 million. That is the envelope in which I can op...More Button

I am keen to come to a situation, if we can, whereby we are able to increase funding for free travel not just for commercial bus operators operating in the public sector, but also for those in th...More Button

Family Income Supplement

Was asked: his plans for reforms of the family income supplement scheme.More Button

The family income supplement, FIS, is an in-work support, which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings who have dependent children. FIS is designed to prevent in-work poverty for ...More Button

The programme for Government contains a number of commitments to improve the take-home pay of families on low incomes. One such commitment is the proposed working family payment targeted at low-...More Button

Family income supplement is one of the in-work supports that contribute to Ireland having one of the lowest at risk of poverty rates for working families among the EU's 28 member states. Recent ...More Button

I share the Deputy's concern. As is the case with any in-work payment, there is a worry that low pay might be subsidised and facilitated. That is a big issue in the United Kingdom where I think t...More Button

FIS is, of course, about more than pay. It is also about family size, so there are people on low pay who do not qualify for FIS because they have no children or only one. There are people on lo...More Button

My Department has given me an options paper on different options we could pursue in respect of the working family payment. I am considering that paper at the moment and I intend to share it with...More Button

I very much agree with what the Deputy has said. I look forward to engaging with the committee on this and talking to the various spokespeople in the run-up to the budget.More Button

Question No. 43 replied to with Written Answers.More Button

Unemployment Levels

Was asked: the measures he is taking to address the unemployment rate in County Wexford (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The official measure of unemployment comes from the quarterly national household survey. The most recent data show that unemployment has fallen from a peak of 15% in 2012 to 6.7% at the end of 201...More Button

The live register, which captures those registering for unemployment benefits, including people working part-time who draw partial unemployment payments, is an administrative record. While data ...More Button

Overall, the live register in Wexford has fallen by 37.5% in the period from 2012 to March 2017 compared with a reduction of 36.5% nationally. In the year to March 2017, the live register has fa...More Button

Unemployment Levels (Continued)

The Department has ten activation case officers and an activation support team in Wexford. These officers are based across the county and work closely with other stakeholders including the Waterfo...More Button

I did not claim, nor do I believe, that everything is rosy in the garden of Wexford. That is not what I said. I appreciate that there are long-standing problems in Wexford. As Deputy Walllace kn...More Button

There are other important things happening. Deputy Wallace will be aware of the investment in the Wexford road infrastructure which is crucial to driving economic growth. The very important Enn...More Button

Deputy Wallace will be familiar with the broadband plan produced the other day. There are a lot of yellow areas, that is, areas with no high speed broadband, in Wexford which will benefit from i...More Button

No one thing will solve all our problems. However, the vast majority of people in Wexford, certainly any I have talked to, welcome the substantial investment that has been made in the road network...More Button

The national broadband plan is particularly positive for Wexford as are the developments Deputy Wallace mentioned such as the courthouse and so on.More Button

We should invest more in Rosslare port. We are somewhat constrained by EU state aid rules and by the port being attached to Irish Rail. Part of the response to Brexit could be a recognition tha...More Button

Social Insurance

Was asked: his plans to reform PRSI.More Button

Was asked: the social insurance measures that are to be introduced in December 2017 for the self employed; the type of benefits that will be included; the amount which has been allocated for this extension; t...More Button

I do not know why that is so. The Deputy might pass that letter on to me. I would be interested to see it.More Button

It may concern a pre-1995 public servant who pays 0.9% rather than 15%. If the contribution is less than one fifteenth of the normal contribution, the benefits will be less.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 46 together.More Button

PRSI is just one element of a statutory payroll deduction system that includes three parts, income tax, USC, and PRSI, which between them have three different sets of thresholds and entry points,...More Button

Welfare and taxation systems which use income and other thresholds to trigger eligibility and payment rates will inevitably give rise to some unintended effects at the margins of these thresholds...More Button

As one example of how the system could be simplified and made more transparent, it might make sense to replace the USC and PRSI with one new PRSI-style charge: social insurance. This could in tu...More Button

We also need to make the system more equitable, particularly for self-employed people, and I have already started this process by implementing a number of important measures as part of budget 2017.More Button

Since March 2017, self-employed people have access to the treatment benefit scheme which includes free eye and dental exams and contributions towards the cost of hearing aids. These measures ben...More Button

Self-employed workers will be also be eligible for the invalidity pension from December 2017. This is a major reform as, for the first time, self-employed people will have access to the safety n...More Button

Was asked: if he will, in the case of permanently disabled persons who employ full-time or part-time carers, make them exempt from PRSI and employer contributions without any disadvantage to the rights of the...More Button

Where a carer is employed directly by a person requiring care services then PRSI contributions (employer and employee) are payable, at the appropriate PRSI Class - Class A. Such employees are trea...More Button

Exempting such employments from a PRSI liability while at the same time granting PRSI contributions and associated rights to benefits and pensions (as if the contributions had been paid) would re...More Button

Carers who work on a self-employed basis and contract their services to clients may, if they satisfy the necessary conditions of self-employment, be subject to the self-employed rate of PRSI of C...More Button

Social Insurance (Continued)

I will have to get back to the Deputy with the details on that. The self-employed will be able to apply for invalidity pension but not illness benefit. There is a difference between the schemes b...More Button

The costs for 2017 are €1.5 million; €23 million for 2018 and €38 million for 2019 but it is very much an estimate. We do not know for certain the number of people who have been paying PRSI at c...More Button

In terms of maternity benefit, maternity benefit flows from maternity leave so it is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Oireachtas to make a decision on maternity leave bu...More Button

I did not have a chance to follow the debate but I can see the compelling case that may exist for extending maternity leave and maternity benefit where a child is born prematurely. However, we w...More Button

In response to Deputy Penrose first, it does not have to be the case but it has always been the case that the benefit is aligned with the leave. If somebody gets X number of weeks statutory matern...More Button

In terms of the other benefits for the self-employed, I have asked my Department to do up some work on a system of jobseeker's benefit for the self-employed. It is a tricky one because it is ver...More Button

On short-term illness, we will examine that too. The order in which we are doing it is treatment benefit, invalidity pension, jobseeker's and then short-term after that.More Button

State Pensions

Was asked: his plans to alleviate the financial hardship that will be endured by many persons due to an absence of financial bridging in the social protection system and the time-limited nature of jobseeker's...More Button

There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers.More Button

Where a person exits the workforce before reaching State pension age they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes. Jobseeker’s payments are paid to eligible...More Button

People in receipt of a jobseeker's payment must engage with my Department's activation measures and can face sanctions if they fail to do so. However, from January 2014, these criteria were ease...More Button

Once a person has exhausted his or her entitlement to jobseeker’s benefit, he or she may be eligible for jobseeker’s allowance, subject to the means test and other qualifying conditions. However...More Button

State Pensions (Continued)

There are anomalies. The Government made the right decision to increase the pension age. It might not be popular but it was necessary. The State pension age in the 1970s was 70. Average life ex...More Button

The other scenario raised by the Deputy has come up previously. I do not yet know what the solution to it is. We need to come up with a solution for it. I know that some pension schemes and so...More Button

I am aware of the problem. We are looking for a solution precisely because of the reason mentioned by the Deputy, namely, the fact that this issue will become twice as frequent in 2021 and three t...More Button

Employment Support Services

Was asked: his views on the concerns that have been expressed regarding the moves towards increasingly using for-profit companies as opposed to not-for-profit companies for services such as employment activat...More Button

The State's public employment service is managed by my Department and delivered directly by its own Intreo service, as well as by contracted private companies such as the two JobPath companies, See...More Button

JobPath is a new contract model whereby the providers, which are private commercial enterprises, are paid by results. In other words, they are paid when they achieve sustained employment outcome...More Button

When JobPath was developed, fears were expressed that it would take over from or substitute for the local employment service. While I understand these concerns, this was not the intention and it...More Button

In fact, in addition to the service capacity offered by the local employment services, more than 600 staff are employed by the JobPath providers delivering a case management and advisory service ...More Button

I am certainly aware of allegations of cherry-picking but they do not stack up because it is my Department that decides who is referred to JobPath. This is very different from the model used in th...More Button

I do not really mind whether the service is provided by a private for-profit company, a private not-for-profit company or any other body. What I am interested in is value for the taxpayer and re...More Button

Employment Support Services (Continued)

The evidence that exists, which is there in the first quarterly report on the Department of Social Protection website, and there will be another quarterly report out in the next couple of weeks, sh...More Button

  Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 41.More Button

  Questions Nos. 50 to 62, inclusive, replied to with Written Answers.More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Was asked: the reason for the delay in the report on the impact of reduced jobseeker's payments for those aged under 26; his plans to end this discrimination; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Central Statistics Office latest monthly figures report that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for persons aged between 15 and 24 was 13.9% in March 2017. This is a significant decreas...More Button

Lower weekly rates for younger jobseekers were first introduced in 2009 and further extended in subsequent budgets. The rationale for these rates is to prevent young unemployed people from enter...More Button

The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, NUIM is undertaking a piece of research at the moment which is examining the effectiveness of the reduced rates in encouraging young jobseekers to av...More Button

With effect from last month, rates of jobseeker’s payments were increased for claimants of all ages as a result of measures introduced in budget 2017. I have no plans for any further increases i...More Button

I do not have the report so I cannot bring it forward at this stage. Once I have it I will certainly read it and bring it forward then. Changes I am making at the moment which the Deputy may be a...More Button

Cabinet Committees

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, Environment and Climate Action has responsibility for oversight of delivery of key infrastructure and associated policy, including commitments in the progra...More Button

  Questions Nos. 16 to 26, inclusive, resubmitted.More Button

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

My recent visit to Germany from 5 to 7 April included a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as extensive engagement with key trade, tourism and investment partners. The visit ...More Button

On Thursday afternoon, I travelled to Berlin where I had a very positive and constructive bilateral meeting with Chancellor Merkel in the Federal Chancellery. Our discussions included Brexit, th...More Button

Germany, like Ireland, has significant and complex trading links with the UK. We both agreed that these should be maintained with minimum disruption and that we should work together to protect j...More Button

More generally, on the future direction of Europe, I highlighted the importance we attach to maintaining EU27 unity, based on our core values, and the need for a balanced response to current chal...More Button

On Friday, I took part in a round table event organised by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce, which included representatives of the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce, German businesse...More Button

In all my meetings, I highlighted and explained Ireland's particular concerns arising from Brexit in relation to our trade and economy; Northern Ireland and the Peace Process; the Common Travel A...More Button

  Questions Nos. 28 to 35, inclusive, resubmitted.More Button

  Questions Nos. 36 to 42, inclusive, answered orally.More Button

Community Employment Schemes Administration

Was asked: his plans to allow the Tús scheme and the community employment schemes to retain current participants even if their term is complete in view of the fact that community groups are finding it difficu...More Button

Was asked: his plans to extend the time it is possible for participants to remain on the Tús scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: his plans for the Tús scheme and the community employment schemes in view of the fact that many community groups are finding it difficult to recruit participants and as a result community groups ar...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 50 and 70 together. More Button

As the Deputies are aware, my Department provides a range of activation supports and programmes catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. These ...More Button

These schemes provide part-time temporary work in local communities, as a stepping-stone back to employment. However, it is important to note that these placements are not full-time sustainable ...More Button

While the live register is falling, the level of support for work programmes has been maintained. The number of participants on work programmes rose from 25,000 in 2010 and, at the end of Decemb...More Button

It is in this context that the Department undertook a comprehensive review of CE and other employment schemes. Overall, it is planned to maintain the overall number of scheme places available in...More Button

Currently, participants can remain on Tús for 1 year and I have no plans to change this. More Button

The Government is very mindful of the large number of places involved in service delivery and other valuable services around the country. In advance of implementing the changes consultations with ...More Button

  Questions Nos. 44 to 49, inclusive, answered orally.More Button

  Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 43.More Button

Was asked: the position regarding his Department's review of the operation of the Tús and community employment schemes; the difficulties caused to these schemes as a result of these schemes being outsourced t...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department provides a range of activation supports catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. These supports includ...More Button

JobPath aims to place people into full-time sustainable employment. The period of engagement with the service for any individual is typically 52 weeks. During that time they receive intensive i...More Button

CE and Tús schemes are a stepping stone back to employment but are not full-time sustainable jobs. People who have completed their year long engagement with JobPath may, if eligible, apply to pa...More Button

In general, people are not allowed participate in two separate schemes at the same time. Given the need to manage the allocation of places to all schemes in an effective manner, my Department d...More Button

The Deputy will appreciate that the welcome reduction in the unemployment rate is a factor in recruitment to all programmes. However, I recently announced changes which will widen the range of p...More Button

I want to assure the Deputy that the work being done through programmes like CE and Tús is highly valued and recognised by Government and I believe that the changes I have outlined will affirm th...More Button

Was asked: if he will consider increasing the additional supplement provided to community employment participants in view of increased transport costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Deputy may be aware that under Budget 2017 every Community Employment (CE) participant received an extra €5 per week with effect from 13 March 2017 and those in receipt of an increase for a qua...More Button

Departmental Reports

Was asked: when the report on the consultation on bogus self-employment and disguised employment will be published; and the policy changes he plans to pursue.More Button

An interdepartmental working group, comprising officials from the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners, has been examining the issue of disguised...More Button

To inform the work of the group, a public consultation on the use of intermediary-type employment structures and self-employment arrangements and their impact on tax and PRSI, was undertaken in 2...More Button

Having said that it also has to be recognised that new, and legitimate, forms of working arrangements are emerging as the labour markets adapt to the opportunities presented by digitalisation, br...More Button

The consultation received 23 submissions from interested parties, including employers, trade unions, professional bodies and individuals. The working group is preparing a report which will prese...More Button

I look forward to seeing the report and I will then consider, along with my colleague the Minister for Finance, what changes might be required. More Button

Was asked: his views on the contents of his Department's report into seasonal workers in County Donegal and the barriers in accessing basic social welfare payments; and if he will make a statement on the matt...More Button

I gave a commitment at Dáil Report Stage of the Social Welfare Bill 2016 that I would ask my officials to examine the issue of jobseeker’s benefit and the treatment of part-time and seasonal worker...More Button

My intention is to present these reports to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection for its consideration shortly. The timeframe is ambitious but I am committed to producing the repo...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Was asked: if he will ensure that the contracts for new community employment supervisors will be of the same duration as existing contracts; and if he will address the situation regarding job security for the...More Button

Was asked: his plans regarding gratuity payments for community employment supervisors that have no pension entitlements; and if his officials will engage with the trade unions on this matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 86 together.More Button

Community Employment (CE) Supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector. The period for which a CE Sponsor contracts with the Supervisor is, therefore, a m...More Button

Supervisors (and participants) are excluded from the Section 9 provisions of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 as they are “employees with a contract of employment which has ...More Button

Given that CE Supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector, the State is not responsible for funding pension arrangements for such employees even where the...More Button

However, the Deputy should be aware that the issue of CE Supervisors’ pension provision is currently being looked at by a Community Sector High Level Forum which has been convened by the Departm...More Button

Maternity Protection Entitlements

Was asked: his plans to amend the rules on maternity benefit and maternity leave to allow for mothers of preterm babies by the time between the delivery date of the baby, the date the baby would have been del...More Button

Maternity leave is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality. Maternity Benefit is paid by my Department for the duration of statutory maternity leave and is based on paymen...More Button

The current entitlement to maternity leave is 26 weeks paid with 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave also available. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to increasing paid ...More Button

Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, my Department can make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure or an urgent needs payment (UNP) to ...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, Deputies Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan tabled a Private Members Motion which was discussed by the Dáil on Wednesday 5 April 2017. The motion called on the Government ~"...More Button

The Government did not oppose the motion, but in responding, signalled our intention to address the substantive issue in the context of the Family Leave Bill, which is being developed by my colle...More Button

Disability Support Services

Was asked: the role his Department is playing to address the reality that persons with a disability are less likely to get a job and more likely to leave employment even when their disability does not create ...More Button

In Ireland, people with disabilities of working age are only half as likely to be in work as their non-disabled peers. Employment is central to independence and social integration and offers the be...More Button

This Government is committed to helping more people with disabilities to enter the workforce and move from welfare to work. My Department provides a wide range of work related supports for peopl...More Button

These supports include the wage subsidy scheme, which is targeted at employers to encourage employment of people with disabilities and the EmployAbility service, which supports people with disabi...More Button

The overall direction of the Government’s commitment to improving the employment rate of people with disabilities is outlined in the Comprehensive Employment Strategy (CES) for people with disabi...More Button

As part of delivering the CES, an interdepartmental group was set up to identify any significant disincentives for people with disabilities in taking up or returning to work. Just last week, this...More Button

At the launch of the report, I announced that some of the recommendations are already being acted upon. The first change is that people on a long-term disability payment, including disability all...More Button

The full report, as well as Easy to Read and Plain English versions, is published and available on the Department’s website, www.welfare.ie More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Citizen Information Services

Was asked: his plans to promote local governance, management and independence of all MABS and CIS centres (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The board of Citizens Information Board (CIB) wants to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness of its services. It aims to do this by restructuring the governance arrangements fro...More Button

The Board fully acknowledges the tremendous contributions that members of local boards have made to the development of CIS and MABS companies over the years, and appreciates that some of these in...More Button

The reduced company model will better support direct engagement with and by CIB, to implement new initiatives consistently, and facilitate greater interaction with fewer boards. This in turn wil...More Button

Importantly, the changes will bring the CIS and MABS organisations more into line with modern public service governance guidelines and requirements where significant State funding is involved. T...More Button

In 2017, CIB is set to receive State funding of €54 million, of which €15 million is allocated to CIS services (including €13.1 million to the 42 local Citizens Information Services, €1.2 million...More Button

The valuable work carried out by the employees and volunteers working in CIS services and the employees of MABS services will continue as heretofore. The planned structural changes in no way th...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: if he will issue a policy directive to the Citizens Information Board to ensure that the MABS and Citizens Information Services are retained as they are to avoid any restructuring;; and if he will ...More Button

The Citizens Information Board (CIB), which has statutory responsibility for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and the Citizens Information Services (CIS), decided on 15 February 2017 t...More Button

As a statutory body, the Board has the sole right to make decisions on its day to day operations as it sees fit. It would not be lawful or appropriate for me, as Minister, to seek to intervene i...More Button

CIB has not taken this operational decision lightly. It follows almost 5 years of extensive analysis of options and a detailed consultation period with all stakeholders on the need for a more st...More Button

The decision reduces the number of individual local CIS and MABS company boards from ninety three (93) to sixteen (16). A new regional board structure will be put in place, which will comprise e...More Button

The changes will bring the CIS and MABS organisations more into line with modern public service governance guidelines and requirements where significant State funding is involved. The reduced co...More Button

In 2017, CIB is set to receive State funding of €54 million, of which €15 million is allocated to CIS services (including €13.1 million to the 42 local Citizens Information Services, €1.2 million...More Button

As the Deputy may already be aware, the Board of CIB is made up of people who represent people with a sense of community ethos, people with physical and mental disabilities, victims of abuse and ...More Button

I am satisfied that the Board of CIB, mindful of the fact that all the activities of CIS and MABS are entirely funded by the Exchequer, would not take a decision that would be detrimental either ...More Button

I am confident that the Board of CIB has made what it believes to be the most appropriate decision in the best interest of the citizens of Ireland, whom it serves. More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Was asked: if he will review FIS means testing with the rent allowance payment in view of the fact prior to 2012 FIS was not calculated when means testing for rent allowance; and if he will make a statement o...More Button

Was asked: if he will end the current situation in which child maintenance is included as a source of income in the calculation of rent supplement for lone parents; and if he will make a statement on the matt...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 87 together.More Button

Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting 44,800 recipients at a cost of €253 million in 2017. More Button

Rent supplement is a statutory means tested scheme which is payable at differentiated rates of payment taking into account the applicant’s means and their accommodation requirements. Rent supplem...More Button

The rent supplement assessment provides for a gradual withdrawal of payment as hours of employment or income increase. Income from employment and family income supplement (FIS) in excess of the ...More Button

Any changes to the conditions of the rent supplement scheme can only be considered in a budgetary context. I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputies. More Button

Social Welfare Code

Was asked: his plans for a basic income as outlined in the speech of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The speech referred to was made, not by me, but by my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Pascal O’Donohue.

  In his speech, Minister Donohue did not outlin...More Button

State Pension (Contributory)

Was asked: if a percentage of the €400 million surplus in the social insurance fund will be used to backdate pension payments to the 43,000 pensioners receiving lower pensions since the PRSI band changes anno...More Button

The social insurance fund (SIF) had a surplus of €453 million in 2016.More Button

It should be noted that as a result of demographic pressures, expenditure on pensions increases by approximately €1 billion every five years, and this is without taking account of any rate increa...More Button

The current rate bands for State pension (contributory) were introduced from September 2012, replacing the previous bands which had been in place since 2000. They more accurately reflect the soc...More Button

Entitlement is banded based on the average yearly contributions made during a working life. Those with a yearly average of 48+ contributions receive a 100% pension, where, for example, those wit...More Button

It is estimated that reverting the contributory pension rate bands, to the percentages effective from 2000-2012, would cost over €60 million next year, and this annual cost would rise at a rate o...More Button

Reforms and increases in the pension age have safeguarded the pension system and its core rates, despite huge demographic pressures and the economic crisis. By achieving this, even in such diffi...More Button

For those with insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for a State pension (contributory), they may qualify for a means tested State pension (non-contributory), the maximum personal r...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Public Services Card Provision

Was asked: if it is expected that his Department will meet the target of issuing 3 million public services cards by the end of 2017; the reason for the four-year delay in issuing these cards; and if he will m...More Button

To date, my Department has issued over 2.5 million Public Services Cards (PSC) and it is the Department’s intention, with the assistance of increased demand from other public bodies, to issue a fur...More Button

The issuance of PSCs is part of a large, complex, multi-year project called SAFE. The project aims to provide all public bodies with a substantial level of assurance as to the identity of custom...More Button

The SAFE project was initially developed by an interdepartmental committee in the early-mid 2000s. While at that juncture it was envisaged that the project would be rolled out by 2013, a range o...More Button

Firstly, arising from the economic downturn from 2008 onwards, my Department experienced a rapid and unprecedented increase in demand for services and customer numbers. As a result of then Gover...More Button

Secondly, these significant new demands, customer numbers and associated staff increases required the Department to upgrade and expand its central technical infrastructure which obviously took pr...More Button

Finally, plans for the PSC also included a free travel variant for those with that entitlement so that the insecure paper free travel pass could be replaced. The development of this variant of t...More Button

Given that these delays were outside the control of the project itself and its management, the project is on schedule to be completed with thin the 4-5 year period originally envisaged for its du...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Public Services Card Authentication

Was asked: the extent to which other public bodies can authenticate the public services cards; the regulation involving such data sharing; the level of privacy involved; and if he will make a statement on the...More Button

In conjunction with a number of other Government Departments a rules based standard for establishing and authenticating an individual’s identity for the purposes of access to public services called...More Button

Built on top of the PSC infrastructure, a new online identity service called MyGovID provides an easy-to-use, safe and consistent way to securely access online Government services.More Button

In addition to Social Welfare schemes, SAFE registration is now a requirement for both first time adult passport applicants in the state and for citizenship applicants. The Office of the Revenue...More Button

Section 262 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 provides the legal basis for the administration and exchange of PSI data. Persons are required by section 262(4) to provide their PPS Num...More Button

To ensure proper governance of PSI data and to ensure public bodies comply with the relevant provisions of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and data protection law, a Memorandum of Agree...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Departmental Staff Redeployment

Was asked: the extent to which adequate personnel remain available throughout his Department to ensure a speedy seamless process for dealing with all applications for various payments including means testing;...More Button

My Department, like all Government departments and agencies, is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget, which for this Department has in...More Button

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the ongoing need to respond to new and increasing demands ...More Button

Artists' Remuneration

Was asked: if he has had discussions with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs regarding the establishment of a specific social protection payment for artists; if there inter...More Button

One of the initiatives announced as part of the Creative Ireland Programmewhich was launched by the Taoiseach in December was that the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaelt...More Button

Pension Provisions

Was asked: the assurances he can give to persons living here receiving a pension payment from the UK as a result of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

It is important to state that the current arrangements for social security between Ireland and the UK have not changed. All social welfare payments, including pensions, continue to be paid as norm...More Button

Furthermore, social security arrangements between the UK and the EU27 also have not changed. The future operation of arrangements will, of course, be determined as part of the complex process of...More Button

Clearly, a key area of concern is the impact of Brexit on the current reciprocal arrangements for social security schemes, including pensions, and services between Ireland and the UK, including N...More Button

To that end, I have strongly emphasised the importance of this in my meetings with my counterparts in the UK and other EU member statesMore Button

In addition, as a member of the North-South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, I will take every opportunity to protect and advance this objective as will my ...More Button

There are 10,250 customers of the Department in receipt of British Retirement Pensions (BRP) who are in receipt of State pension non-contributory (SPNC). Separately there are 152 customers, who a...More Button

One-Parent Family Payment Eligibility

Was asked: his plans to raise the cut off age of the one-parent family payment to 14 years of age or to introduce additional measures to assist lone parents with children between the ages of 7 and 14, in view...More Button

The latest CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2015 shows that the deprivation rate for lone parent households fell from 58.7% in 2014 to 57.9% in 2015.

  The f...More Button

  Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 43.More Button

Was asked: if he will review the way maintenance is calculated for lone parents; the detail of the policy of cutting the income of lone parents that are not receiving maintenance from the absent parent; and i...More Button

My Department is not responsible for the calculation of maintenance payments between individuals. The arrangement of maintenance is a Family Law matter under the remit of the Department of Justice...More Button

It is important to clarify to the Deputy that there is no current policy to reduce payments to lone parents where they are not in receipt of maintenance from the absent parent. The one-parent fa...More Button

In cases where a maintenance arrangement is in place but ceases to be paid the lone parent can present relevant evidence to his/her local Intreo Centre and request that his/her payment is reviewe...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Was asked: the average time it takes for a file to be sent from the carer's allowance section in County Sligo to the social welfare appeals office in Dublin once the file has been requested by the latter; and...More Button

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has a disability such that they require that level...More Button

During 2016, the CA section which is based in my Department’s office in Longford, processed 31,881 applications. Each decision notice offered the recipient a right of review and appeal.More Button

When a person appeals a decision, the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO), which is independent of the Department, send a notice of the appeal to the CA section requesting a statement from the d...More Button

At that stage a different deciding officer reviews in full the original decision which is under appeal and any additional statement or evidence provided as part of the appeal. It is quite often ...More Button

This review can take some time and can sometimes result in a revised decision by the deciding officer which means an appeal is no longer required. In 2016, 751 such cases were successful on revi...More Button

The average time taken between my Department receiving these requests from the SWAO and issuing the statements to the SWAO was 44 days; this figure includes time spent re-investigating and review...More Button

Reducing this waiting time is a priority for my Department and we are working hard to make this happen. Operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed to...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Budget 2017

Was asked: the proposals announced for his Department in budget 2017 that have yet to be implemented; and when they will be implemented.More Button

My priority in Budget 2017 was to help ensure that everyone benefits from the recovery - including retired people, people with disabilities, carers, lone parents, farmers and people who are unemplo...More Button

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Expenditure

Was asked: the budget allocated for supplementary welfare allowance from 2014 to date; his views on whether the budget is sufficient to meet demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose...More Button

Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times

Was asked: if he will expedite waiting times for jobseeker's benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My 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 poss...More Button

The time taken by my Department to process applications depends on a number of factors, including the conditionality and relative complexity that applies to the relevant scheme. The quality and ...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. More Button

Housing Assistance Payments Data

Was asked: the number of persons or families that were in receipt of rent allowance that have moved to a HAP tenancy in 2017; the number in 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting some 44,800 recipients for which the Government has provided €253 million for in 2017.More Button

The strategic policy direction of my Department is to return rent supplement to its original purpose of being a short-term income support scheme. Under HAP, responsibility for the provision of r...More Button

Under the accelerated targets outlined in the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland the HAP target for 2016 was 12,000 and is 15,000 for 2017, with the aim to complete the...More Button

In general, persons who are in receipt of rent supplement for over 18 months are being requested to contact their local authority to have their housing needs assessed beginning the transfer proce...More Button

Officials in my Department continue to work closely with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and local authorities to facilitate the ongoing transfer of cases from...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Rural Social Scheme

Was asked: the changes made to the rural social scheme since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: his plans for the future of the rural social scheme and community employment; the impact these changes will have on current participants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the changes he has made to the rural social scheme since becoming Minister; if this scheme is now considered an activation scheme with a fixed term on it, as opposed to a supplementary work scheme,...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77, 85 and 359 together. More Button

The rural social scheme (RSS) is an income support initiative which provides part-time employment opportunities in community and voluntary organisations for farmers or fishermen who are in receip...More Button

The following changes have been made to the RSS since 2011:More Button

- September 2012 - the eligibility conditions that applied to an increase for a qualified adult of a rural social scheme participant were revised. From that date, the rate of increase for a quali...More Button

- January 2016 - the personal rate increased from €208 to €210.50 and jobseekers benefit was removed from the list of qualifying payments.More Button

- February 2017 - an additional 500 places on the RSS were made available with effect from 1 February 2017.More Button

- February 2017 - entrants to the RSS must be 25 years of age and over and a 6 year overall participation limit was introduced for new entrants. This ensures that a throughput of places is avail...More Button

- March 2017 - the personal rate of payment increased from €210.50 to €215.50.More Button

I have seen at first-hand myself from visits to various schemes around the country over the past few months how programmes like CE and the RSS deliver both for participants and for their communit...More Button

The Government’s commitment to these programmes is clearly demonstrated by the announcement of the additional 500 RSS places in Budget 2017, the first increase in places since 2006. Furthermore,...More Button

Was asked: his plans to change the structure and nature of the rural social scheme to include an element of training for the participants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The rural social scheme (RSS) is an income support scheme which provides part-time employment opportunities in community and voluntary organisations for farmers or fishermen who are in receipt of c...More Button

My Department also delivers community employment (CE) which is part of a range of schemes that are designed to break the cycle of unemployment and maintain work readiness, thereby improving a per...More Button

I have no plans to include a formal training element in the RSS scheme as there is an opportunity for training provided under CE, as outlined above. However, my Department is committed to contin...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

JobPath Implementation

Was asked: the oversight his Department has on the operations of the private companies contracted to operate the JobPath initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The JobPath service which is funded by the Department is delivered by two service providers, Turas Nua Ltd and Seetec Business Technology Company Ltd.

  The JobPath model has a n...More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the use of psychometric tests by operators of JobPath; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the administration of such tests using psychometri...More Button

Participants on JobPath receive intensive individual support to help them address barriers to employment and to find jobs. Each person is assigned a personal advisor who assesses their skills, ex...More Button

However, one of the resources available to jobseekers who are engaging with the JobPath service are some simple psychometric tools that can guide a client on how to exploit their abilities and tr...More Button

Was asked: if it is his Department's policy objective to place jobseekers in JobPath in preference over community employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Activation supports are provided for customers of my Department who are in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment. The activation services and schemes are provided directly by the Intreo Case Officers; ...More Button

My Department does not have a policy of referring jobseekers to JobPath in preference to CE Scheme. However, Jobseekers can only participate with one activation scheme or service at a time; this...More Button

The JobPath service is provided for jobseekers that have been unemployed for at least a year; Selection for JobPath is based on a random selection of eligible jobseekers who are not engaged with ...More Button

Each person referred to the JobPath service is allocated a personal advisor who provides intensive individual support and assistance. When a jobseeker with JobPath finds employment, they will b...More Button

The referral period for the JobPath service is typically for a year. At the end of the 52 weeks, Jobseekers who have not been successful in finding suitable employment may, subject to an assessm...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: the amount the JobPath programme has cost to date, including the entire tendering process, the use of economic research specialists and legal costs; the amount the programme will cost the taxpayer ...More Button

JobPath is a payment by results model which means that companies will not be able to fully recover their cost until they place sufficient numbers of jobseekers into sustainable jobs. Therefore the...More Button

The payments made are in respect of registration fees, paid for clients who have engaged with the service, and fees paid for sustained employment outcomes of 13, 26, 39 and 52 weeks duration. Th...More Button

The procurement process and the attendant costs and legal costs form part of my department’s normal business and as such would be included in the overall procurement budget.More Button

In advance of developing the service the Department retained the services of the non-profit Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (London) to advise on the JobPath model and the procurement pr...More Button

The Minister may terminate a JobPath contract by serving six months written notice on the contractor. In the event that the Agreement is terminated a payment will be made to the Contractor, the ...More Button

The Department also has the right to initiate reviews of the terms of the contract (including fees) in the event that contractor performance (including profitability of the contractor) provide re...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matters for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: the rationale for the basic requirement to be considered eligible to bid for JobPath that a company had a minimum turnover of €20 million per year, which excluded many local companies and voluntary...More Button

The Pathways to Work initiative launched in 2012 signalled the potential of contracting with third party providers to complement the existing capacity of the Department of Social Protection and tha...More Button

Given the nature of the resourcing requirement, that contracted service provision is common practice in EU/OECD countries and given that the use of contracted service provision was suggested by t...More Button

In November 2012, following a public procurement competition, the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (‘CESI’ a UK based leading not-for-profit company dedicated to tackling disadvantage and...More Button

Based on its knowledge of the operation of contracted employment services in other States, CESI provided advice with regard to the design of the JobPath model including detailed financial modelli...More Button

The JobPath contract model was designed over an extended period taking account of advice from Irish and international experts on contracting of employment services and inputs received following a...More Button

On 12 December 2013, the Department published a contract notice inviting tenders for the provision of JobPath services. The Tender documentation was published on www.etenders.gov.ie while inform...More Button

The Request for Tenders (RFT) details all aspects of the JobPath Service, including the fact that it is intended to function as a payment by results model. This means that all initial outlay exp...More Button

The RFT advised that the successful tenderers must have the ability to satisfy the Service Contract requirements in terms of scale and duration, and were therefore required to demonstrate a cash ...More Button

In line with Government policy, participation by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the procurement exercise was specifically referenced in the introduction to the RFT. Per paragraph 1.5 on ...More Button

The RFT did not, therefore, preclude the submission of tenders by any company, or amalgamation of companies, and it is not the case that the intention was to award contracts exclusively to large ...More Button

Contracts were awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender based on the following criteria (i) cost, (ii) implementation of services, (iii) delivery of services and (iv) con...More Button

It should be noted that the two companies can and do engaged with a range of other companies for the provision of various services and they employ some 600 people either themselves or through sub...More Button

Finally as in previous years, for 2017 the department has contracts in place with in excess of 60 companies for the provision of the Local Employment Service (LES) and Job Clubs. In addition, th...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

  Question No. 363 withdrawn.More Button

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 531 of 21 March 2017, the commercial sensitivities preventing the publication of individual payments to the JobPath companies Turas Nua and Seetec; and his vie...More Button

JobPath is a payment by results model and all initial costs and the ongoing operational costs are borne by the companies.

  Payments made to the service providers are only in res...More Button

Was asked: if his Department is given a detailed accounting by Seetec and Turas Nua, respectively, of the way the €25.2 million of public money given to those two companies in 2016 was spent.More Button

JobPath is a payment by results model. All initial set up costs and the ongoing running costs are borne by the companies.

  The companies are paid registration fees and job sus...More Button

Was asked: the fee paid to a company (details supplied) to conduct the customer satisfaction survey published in the January 2017 JobPath performance report.More Button

The survey of JobPath candidates formed part of a single contract covering a 2016 customer satisfaction survey of both JobPath candidates and of jobseeker users of standard Intreo services.
More Button

Was asked: the detail of discussions between his Department and the management of a company (details supplied) regarding the company's operation of the JobPath scheme and potential changes which might ensue i...More Button

Following the completion of a rigorous public procurement process, conducted in accordance with EU and national procurement rules, Turas Nua is one of two companies selected to provide the JobPath ...More Button

Was asked: if he will review a situation whereby a person (details supplied) who is on JobPath is disqualified from taking up a position on a community employment scheme; the reason being on JobPath and movin...More Button

The aim of the JobPath service, which is provided for jobseekers only, is to assist them in finding sustainable full time paid employment. Each person referred to the JobPath service is allocated ...More Button

This is in contrast to the Community Employment schemes that provide part-time employment and training opportunities in local communities as a stepping stone back to employment for people on a ra...More Button

Jobseekers can only participate with one activation scheme or service at a time; this is to allow the scheme and service providers time to work with the participants to achieve the best outcome f...More Button

The person concerned has been engaged with the JobPath service since February 2017 and has agreed a Personal Progression Plan with his personal advisor, which includes a schedule of activities, a...More Button

The referral period for the JobPath service is typically for a year. At the end of the 52 weeks, if the customer has not been successful in finding suitable employment may, subject to an assessm...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

  Question No. 390 answered with Question No. 337.More Button

Direct Provision Payments

Was asked: the way in which persons in direct provision having been granted asylum status can communicate with his Department using their hostel address; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Protection seekers are offered accommodation under the system of direct provision operated by the Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) of the Department of Justice and Equality. Those who accept d...More Button

Once a person has been granted status, they may apply for Department of Social Protection payments appropriate to their circumstances on the same basis as Irish citizens such as basic supplementa...More Button

People who have been granted protection and are seeking to establish eligibility for a social welfare payment should contact their local Department of Social Protection Intreo Centre for informat...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Was asked: the extent to which long waiting periods in respect of appeals affecting various social welfare payments can be addressed in the short term, with particular reference to the cumulative effect of ce...More Button

Appeal processing times are kept under constant scrutiny by the Chief Appeals Officer. The Deputy will be aware that significant effort and resources have been devoted in recent years to reducing ...More Button

For example, the time taken to process appeals requiring an oral hearing has reduced from 52.5 weeks in 2011 to 24.1 weeks in 2016 and 24.5 weeks to date in 2017. Processing times for appeals de...More Button

The quasi-judicial nature of the appeals system means that there are inevitable time-lags involved. The time taken is proportionate to the complexity of many of the issues under appeal which req...More Button

Basic supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) may be paid to a person who is awaiting the outcome of an appeal for their primary social welfare payment. Any persons who consider they may have an e...More Button

Continued entitlement to rent supplement is not linked to entitlement to other Department of Social Protection schemes, however the rent supplement claim may be reviewed following a decision to d...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Jobseeker's Benefit

Was asked: the progress made by his Department to address the situation whereby those who are on contracts which stipulate that they have to retire at 65 years of age are then forced to sign onto jobseeker's ...More Button

There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers.More Button

Where a person exits the workforce before reaching State pension age they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes. Jobseeker’s payments are paid to eligible...More Button

People in receipt of a jobseeker's payment must engage with my Department's activation measures and can face sanctions if they fail to do so. More Button

However, from January 2014 these criteria were eased for people aged 62 and over. They are still able to voluntarily avail of an array of supports, which are available from my Department if they...More Button

Someone claiming jobseeker’s benefit from a date after their 65th birthday continues to be eligible for that payment until reaching State pension age. While the State pension age is currently 66...More Button

These provisions have enabled these individuals to ease their transition into one of the jobseeker’s schemes until they become eligible for a State pension on their 66th birthday.More Button

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that those who are offered a place on a community employment, CE, scheme and then subsequently referred to JobPath are being denied the opportunity to pa...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department provides a range of activation supports and programmes catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. These ...More Button

The JobPath service is provided for jobseekers and the period of engagement with the service for any individual is typically 52 weeks. During that time, they receive intensive individual support...More Button

During the year, if a person is placed into a job they will continue to receive support for at least three months and up to an additional twelve months while in employment. Jobseekers who are en...More Button

CE schemes provide part-time temporary work in local communities, as a stepping-stone back to employment, for people in receipt of a range of social welfare payments including those on a long-ter...More Button

In general - and JobPath and CE are no exception - job-seekers are not allowed to participate in two employment activation supports at the same time. Given the need to manage the allocation of p...More Button

Any CE scheme that is experiencing difficulties in recruitment should contact their local DSP Intreo office for assistance.More Button

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) who is registered with Seetec is not allowed to apply for a community employment scheme; if the position will be changed to allow the person to do so.More Button

The aim of the JobPath service, which is provided for jobseekers only, is to assist them in finding sustainable full time paid employment. Each person referred to the JobPath service is allocated ...More Button

This is in contrast to the Community Employment schemes that provide part-time employment and training opportunities in local communities as a stepping stone back to employment for people on a ra...More Button

Jobseekers can only participate with one activation scheme or service at a time; this is to allow the scheme and service providers time to work with the participants to achieve the best outcome f...More Button

The person concerned agreed a Personal Progression Plan with his personal adviser on the 18th of January 2017 and is currently engaged with the service.More Button

The referral period for the JobPath service is typically for a year. At the end of the 52 weeks, if the customer has not been successful in finding suitable employment he or she may, subject to ...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: if a person can receive an extension to their community employment scheme if they are over 62 years of age; if this extension can be up until pension age; when this measure as part of community emp...More Button

The purpose of Community Employment (CE) schemes is to provide part-time temporary work in local communities, including opportunities for training and development as a stepping-stone back to employ...More Button

A pilot initiative was announced in December 2015 to enable those aged 62 and over to extend their participation beyond the standard maximum participation limits providing the eligibility conditi...More Button

I recently announced some changes which will widen the range of people who can take part in CE and these will commence following a consultation process with key stakeholders. As part of these pl...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: if he will extend community employment eligibility to self-employed jobseekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The eligibility for participation on the Community Employment (CE) programme is dependent on the individual circumstances of each person and the length of time s/he has been in receipt of a CE-qual...More Button

The aim of CE remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment and/or further education and training. The main cohort of CE participants is made up o...More Button

While it is possible for a self-employed person to meet the basic criteria of receipt of a CE-qualifying payment (specifically jobseekers allowance) for the requisite period of time (12 months), ...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

  Questions Nos. 387 and 388 withdrawn.More Button

School Meals Programme

Was asked: the estimated cost of increasing the school meals programme by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30% and 40% respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the way non-DEIS schools are selected to participate in the school meals programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 and 390 together.More Button

The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,460 schools and organisations benefiting over 200,000 children at a total cost of some €47.7 million in 2017. ...More Button

Based on the 2017 budgetary allocation of €47.7 million, the additional annual costs of expanding the school meals programme by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30% and 40% are €2.4 million, €4.8 million, €7.2...More Button

In recent years priority for new applications for funding had been given to schools which are part of the DEIS programme. From September 2016 additional funding is being provided to DEIS schools...More Button

Budget 2017 funding also provides for the inclusion in the scheme, from September 2017, of up to 245 new schools and 47,000 children. This includes support to schools being brought into DEIS for...More Button

My Department has liaised with the Department of Education and Skills, following the application of that Department’s new DEIS identification model to all schools, and selected schools for invita...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Maternity Benefit

Was asked: if financial assistance is in place for families of premature babies in relation to maternity and paternity benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The maternity and paternity benefit schemes both provide financial assistance to parents of newly born babies, including those born prematurely. The personal rate of payment is €235 per week. Addi...More Button

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

Was asked: the position regarding the free travel pass for pensioners who have permanent residence here and are citizens but out of the State for a number of months each year on missionary duties.More Button

The free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies...More Button

To receive a free travel pass a pensioner must be over 66 and permanently resident in the State. Where a person is out of the State for a number of months on missionary duties it is open to them...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Was asked: the number of households that have been taken off rent supplement as a result of being placed in emergency accommodation in 2016, by local authority, in tabular form; the savings made by his Depart...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he has identified the hardship caused where various payments are cut off, in some cases leading to homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341 and 393 together.More Button

Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting some 44,800 recipients for which the Government has provided €253 million in 2017. More Button

Statistics are not generally maintained for those exiting the rent supplement scheme, however I can assure the Deputies that every effort is made so that rent supplement tenants are supported by ...More Button

Continued entitlement to rent supplement is not linked to entitlement to other social welfare schemes, however the rent supplement claim may be reviewed following a decision to suspend or disallo...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.More Button

JobPath Data

Was asked: the number of job applications per week a person on JobPath's Seetec scheme will have to make; and the number of interviews they must attend.More Button

A jobseeker’s payment is conditional on a person seeking employment and being willing to take up suitable employment. To satisfy this condition, it is necessary for a person to take positive actio...More Button

Participants on JobPath receive intensive individual support to help them tackle barriers to employment and to assist them in finding full-time paid sustainable employment. Each person is assign...More Button

As each individual is unique and has difference requirements, there is no set number of job applications or interviews a customer must attend. Some customers who are further from the labour mark...More Button

Suitability of employment is a key factor when customers are encouraged to submit job applications and attend interviews. If customers are placed into unsuitable jobs they are less likely to rem...More Button

Was asked: the whole number totals used to calculate percentages for employment progression rates for unemployed persons on JobPath and not on JobPath, respectively, in the January 2017 JobPath performance re...More Button

Was asked: his views on the fact that persons unemployed for one to two years and referred to JobPath in July to September 2015 were 9% less likely to be in employment than persons unemployed for one to two y...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 372 and 373 together.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware JobPath is a new approach to employment activation designed to support long-term unemployed people and those most at risk of becoming long-term unemployed to secure an...More Button

Clients receive support for 52 weeks but this period may continue for up to 130 weeks e.g. where a person engages in further education/training (for up to 26 weeks) prior to securing employment a...More Button

The JobPath Performance Data Report referred to by the Deputy, was published in January 2017 and provides an interim assessment, in respect of the 1,266 people referred to the JobPath service in ...More Button

Section 2 of the report included a simple comparison, at a point in time based on the Department’s own payment systems’ data between long term unemployed people who were not engaged with JobPath ...More Button

It is planned to carry out a full econometric evaluation of JobPath when participant numbers will have reached a level to support a rigorous assessment of performance. This evaluation will contr...More Button

Data Protection

Was asked: his views on communications between an elected representative and Turas Nua regarding a person engaged with Turas Nua with the person's consent; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Public Representatives may seek information from the JobPath service providers on behalf of an individual with that individual’s consent. The process to be followed by the provider in this instanc...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Social Welfare Benefits

Was asked: his plans to reinstate a diet supplement payment; the way in which persons, particularly those in receipt of social welfare payments, are to manage these payments without the diet supplement paymen...More Button

Diet supplement, administered under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, is payable to qualifying persons, in receipt of the supplement prior to February 2014, who have been prescribed...More Button

Following the outcome of a review of the costs of healthy eating and specialised diets by the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute commissioned by the Department during 2013, the scheme has bee...More Button

Existing recipients continue to receive the diet supplement at the current rate of payment for as long as they continue to have an entitlement to the scheme or until their circumstances change. ...More Button

In cases of particular hardship, officials continue to have the legislative power to award a SWA payment in cases of exceptional need. I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Invalidity Pension Applications

Was asked: if an invalidity pension will be approved for a person (details supplied).More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27 February 2017. 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 in relation to s...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Was asked: the status of an appeal for a carer’s allowance by a person (details supplied); and if he 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 23 February 2017. 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 in relation to s...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Equal Opportunities Employment

Was asked: the annual cost of running the WALK PEER programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Labour Activation Programmes

Was asked: the precise criteria required for a person to transfer from JobPath to community employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Jobseekers can only participate with one activation scheme or service at a time; this is to ensure that the scheme and service providers have sufficient time to work with the participants and also ...More Button

However, jobseekers who on the date of their referral to JobPath already have a written offer with a start date within four weeks for CE will be facilitated to take up the placement. Additionall...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) who is working on a gateway scheme can transfer on completion of their term on this scheme to either the Tús scheme or the community employment scheme or any other sc...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, Gateway is a work scheme which aims to provide short-term work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than 24 months while, at the same time, carrying out benef...More Button

Gateway participants work for an average of 19½ hours a week and placements last for 22 months and cannot be extended. My Department has no input into the regular Local Authority recruitment pro...More Button

The person concerned commenced employment on Gateway on 10 August, 2015 and will be due to complete their 22 months contract in June 2017. A person cannot go directly from a Gateway scheme to Comm...More Button

If the person concerned is unsuccessful in finding full-time work after their engagement on Gateway, they should contact their local Intreo Office and make an appointment with a case officer to d...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Local Employment Service

Was asked: if it is his Department's policy to replace local employment service mediators; if so, his plans to replace them; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In 2016 LES providers were asked to increase the frequency with which they engage with jobseekers to enhance the quality of the services they provide. To facilitate this more intensive engagement,...More Button

Ireland’s Public Employment Service (PES) is managed by my Department and delivered directly by its own Intreo service as well as by contracted private companies i.e. the JobPath companies, the L...More Button

The LES engages primarily with long-term unemployed jobseekers but may also engage with short-term unemployed jobseekers where a local need arises. Jobseekers are referred directly to the LES by...More Button

For 2017 my Department has contracted 22 private contractors for the provision of LES in 26 locations. The funding for LES has been maintained at €20m and there is no plan at this time to reduce...More Button

Prior to the introduction of Intreo and JobPath my Department had a total of (circa) 300 case officers (including LES) working with over 460,000 people on the live register, i.e. a caseload of ov...More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Was asked: the status of an application for supplementary welfare allowance and one-parent family allowance in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned made an application for supplementary welfare allowance and one-parent family payment both of which were disallowed.

  Correspondence received from the pers...More Button

Youth Guarantee

Was asked: the amount of youth guarantee funding spent to date; and the amount of money drawn down from 2014 to 2016 and to date in 2017.More Button

Some elements of the programmes that contribute to Ireland’s response to the EU recommendation on a youth guarantee are part-funded by the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). Management of Ire...More Button

The YEI is integrated into ESF programming as a dedicated priority axis within the ESF co-financed Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020. PEIL includes proposed al...More Button

Seven actions were originally selected for YEI funding, namely the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance; JobBridge (now closed to new participants from October 2016); JobsPlus Incentive Scheme; Tús;...More Button

The YEI and related ESF funding is available for drawdown before the end of 2018, and while a claim for funding has not been made to date it is expected that the funding will be fully drawn down....More Button

I am informed that while no claim for funding has been made to date, the activities concerned are fully funded up-front by the Exchequer and there is therefore no resulting reduction or delay in ...More Button

Under the ESF Regulations, initial and annual pre-financing is provided by the Commission, resulting in receipts of €51.8m for the PEIL to date. Of this €51.8m, €28.3m relates to ESF advances an...More Button

I understand that the Department of Education and Skills expects that this designation work will be completed in the coming months and that it is proposed to commence the preparation of a first i...More Button

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Was asked: if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied); and if compensation the person received will be excluded from the calculations for disability allowance.More Button

Child Benefit Eligibility

Was asked: if he will change the guidelines of the child benefit payment to include 18 year olds who are still in school to be in receipt of the payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to thei...More Button

  Question No. 365 withdrawn.More Button

Departmental Properties

Was asked: the number of vacant buildings in his Department's ownership or control; the locations of same; and the length of time they have been unoccupied in each case.More Button

Was asked: the amount spent across his Department over the past five years on maintaining vacant or unused State-owned properties, including security arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 367 and 405 together.More Button

My Department currently has approximately 300 premises under its ownership or control. One of these premises, in Damastown Industrial Estate Mulhuddart Dublin 15, is unoccupied since March 2016....More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Was asked: the progress to date in the determination of an appeal in the case of a person (details supplied) in respect of an application for jobseeker's allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matt...More Button

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 28 February 2017. At the hearing it was agreed that additional informatio...More Button

The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision when the appeal has been determined.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 in relation to s...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

  Question No. 369 withdrawn.More Button

Community Employment Schemes Funding

Was asked: the position in regard to the equipment grant for community employment schemes; his plans to increase the rate payable under the grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Each Community Employment (CE) scheme has an individually-set weekly materials rate per participant based on a detailed appraisal of their actual annual expenditure levels in previous years. All c...More Button

All expenditure must be accounted and vouched for by way of receipts. It is the responsibility of the scheme to ensure that they have obtained the best price and that they have achieved value fo...More Button

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

Disability Allowance

Was asked: if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied) who was in receipt of disability allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Farm Partnerships

Was asked: when an application for a retrospective farm partnership will be approved for persons (details supplied).More Button

The Scope section of this Department approved the application for a retrospective farm partnership on 23 February, 2017 for the customers referred to by the Deputy.

  I hope this...More Button

Job Assist Scheme

Was asked: the number young persons under 25 years of age that commenced a JobBridge placement in 2015 and for the period the scheme was in operation in 2016, in tabular form. More Button

JobBridge was introduced in July 2011 in response to the sharp and dramatic increase in unemployment. A robust external evaluation of the scheme conducted by Indecon Economic Consultants in 2016 r...More Button

Momentum Programme

Was asked: the number of young persons under 25 years of age who commenced a Momentum programme in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form. More Button

The Momentum Programme is under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and is managed on behalf of DES by SOLAS. The programmes include on-the job training in the form of work e...More Button

Back to Education Allowance Data

Was asked: the number of young persons under 25 years of age that successfully applied for support under the back to education allowance scheme, excluding those on the momentum programme in 2015 and 2016, in ...More Button

The back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme is one of a range of activation supports and policies administered by the Department of Social Protection for their customers. The main focus of BTEA ...More Button

Back to Work Allowance Data

Was asked: the number of young person under 25 years of age that successfully applied for support under the back to work enterprise allowance scheme in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form. More Button

There are two schemes to assist people on certain social protection payments who wish to become self-employed, namely, the short term enterprise allowance (STEA) and the back to work enterprise all...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Data

Was asked: the number of young persons under 25 years of age who commenced a community employment placement in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form. More Button

As requested by the Deputy, the following table outlines the number of young persons aged under 25 years that commenced a Community Employment placement in 2015 and 2016.

More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Data

Was asked: the number of persons receiving a reduced 25 year old rate and a reduced 18 to 24 year old rate of jobseekers allowance respectively in the most recent month available and the corresponding month o...More Button

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.

  Recipients of a reduced rate Jobseekers Allowance payment by age and rate at the end of ...More Button

Social Welfare Schemes

Was asked: the reason there are now three schemes for the long-term unemployed (details supplied).More Button

My Department provides a range of activation supports for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. These supports include JobPath and employment programmes su...More Button

The JobPath service is provided for jobseekers only. JobPath aims to place people into full-time sustainable employment. The period of engagement with JobPath for any individual is typically 52...More Button

Employment programmes such as CE and Tús provide part-time temporary work in the communities, as a stepping stone back to employment, for people who are long term unemployed. However, CE and Tú...More Button

A person who is referred to JobPath, who has a start date for commencement on Tús or CE within four weeks, is not required to take up the place on JobPath. In addition people who have completed ...More Button

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

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Carer's Allowance Applications

Was asked: the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Carer’s allowance was awarded to the person concerned on 5 April 2017 and the first payment is due to issue to their nominated post office on 13 April 2017.

  Arrears of allowanc...More Button

Question No. 393 answered with Question No. 341.More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Delays

Was asked: the current backlog in respect of appeals for means-tested payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The average processing times to date in 2017 for appeals relating to means-tested payments are set out in the following table.

  Appeal processing times are kept under constant s...More Button

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Was asked: if he will ensure that provision is made whereby emergency payments are made available in cases of extreme hardship by way of exceptional needs payment or otherwise; and if he will make a statement...More Button

Was asked: the number of applications for exceptional needs payments to assist towards funeral costs in 2016; the number granted, refused and pending; the extent to which this compares with the previous year;...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which community welfare services remain readily accessible in all areas throughout the country with particular reference to meeting out of hours and emergency needs where necessary; a...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 395, 396 and 404 together.More Button

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is demand led and provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependan...More Button

People claiming supports under the SWA scheme generally only interact with the Department on an occasional basis, for example, when seeking an exceptional needs payment (ENP) or in claiming addit...More Button

My Department may provide an ENP to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. An urgent needs p...More Button

There is no automatic entitlement to an ENP, it is payable at the discretion of the Department’s representative, taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circu...More Button

Statistics are maintained relating to payments under the ENP scheme, however they are not maintained on the number of applications or the outcome of those applications. Some 2,900 ENPs for assis...More Button

Any persons who consider that they have an entitlement to assistance under the SWA scheme should contact my Department. I can assure the Deputy that the SWA scheme is kept under review to ensure...More Button

Treatment Benefit Scheme Data

Was asked: the degree to which dental and ophthalmic benefit have been availed of in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Dental and optical benefits claim numbers and the associated costs for the past 12 months (April 16 – March 17), are set out as follows: Dental - 318,500 claims; Optical - 171,500 claims.More Button

Rental Accommodation Scheme

Was asked: if he will undertake to review and amend by way of legislation, if found necessary, the situation whereby a person following family law issues may find themselves out of the family home on foot of ...More Button

The Department operates a range of statutory means tested schemes, taking account of the income a claimant has in terms of cash, property (other than the family home) and capital. The combination ...More Button

The rent supplement scheme is supporting some 44,800 tenants for which the Government has provided €253 million for in 2017. The scheme is generally available to people whose means are insuffici...More Button

The Department has no role in financial and other settlements made between couples on separation, divorce or otherwise. Any capital owned by a person involved in such a settlement is assessed in...More Button

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

Pensions Data

Was asked: further to previous parliamentary questions in this regard, his proposals to address issues whereby persons who opted out of the workforce to rear their children or for whatever reason, who now fin...More Button

The State pension contributory is one of a number of pensions the State pays to people over 66. The rate of payment to a person is related to the number of contributions made over the years into t...More Button

Entitlement levels are calculated by means of a ‘yearly average’ calculation, where the total contributions paid or credited are divided by the number of years of the working life. Payment rates...More Button

The home-makers scheme makes qualification for a higher rate of State pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme, which was introduc...More Button

My Department has estimated that the annual cost of extending the Homemakers scheme to allow people to avail of the full 20 years currently allowed under the scheme, encompassing periods prior to...More Button

Where someone does not qualify for a full rate contributory pension, they may qualify for an alternative payment. If their spouse has a contributory pension, they may qualify for an Increase for...More Button

Following on from the proposal in the National Pensions Framework (2010) that a “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) should replace the yearly average approach, for new pensioners from 2020, offi...More Button

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.More Button

State Pensions Payments

Was asked: the extent to which he can address the anomalies of the situation whereby persons with a mixture of PAYE and self-employed contributions may find themselves entitled to only a reduced rate of pensi...More Button

All applications for state pension (contributory) must be assessed under the eligibility conditions set out in social welfare legislation. This provides that where an appli...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals

Was asked: the applications for various social welfare payments which are most commonly refused on application and referred to appeal or oral hearing; the number of cases subsequently rejected or approved on ...More Button

The tables that follow provide the details which have been requested by the Deputy in respect of 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017.

  The schemes with the highest number of appeals ...More Button

Tables ctg



Number and Outcome of Appeals...More Button

Youth Unemployment Measures

Was asked: the extent to which the various youth unemployment alleviation measures have resulted in successful full-time job placements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold.   First, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create ...More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Was asked: the extent to which the self-employed can qualify for various social welfare supports now and in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Self-employed people who earn €5,000 or more in a contribution year, are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4%, subject to a minimum annual payment of €500.More Button

This provides them with access to the following benefits: State pension (contributory) and widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension (contributory), guardian’s payment (contributory...More Button

Core to the Programme for Government is improving the position of the self-employed generally, including the commitment to introduce an enhanced PRSI scheme for the self-employed.More Button

Making progress on this commitment has been one of my key priorities since becoming Minister in this Department. On Budget Day, I was pleased to announce a number of important measures which wil...More Button

From the last week in March, the self-employed now have access to the treatment benefit scheme which includes free eye and dental exams, and contributions towards the cost of hearings aids. Trea...More Button

More significantly, self-employed contributors will be eligible for the invalidity pension from December 2017. For the first time, this will give the self-employed access to the safety net of Sta...More Button

The self-employed will also benefit from the further increase in Earned Income Tax Credit announced by my colleague, the Minister for Finance, as well as the extension of entrepreneurship support...More Button

All of the self-employed improvements were introduced without any increase in the 2017 rate of PRSI contribution paid by self-employed workers.More Button

I plan to continue extending cover for the self-employed to other benefits on a phased basis in future Budgets. In this regard, in 2017, my Department will carry out detailed work to establish ho...More Button

  Question No. 404 answered with Question No. 395.More Button

  Question No. 405 answered with Question No. 367.More Button

Workplace Relations Commission

Was asked: the adjudications and the findings of the Workplace Relations Commission in respect of public bodies in each of the years 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017, that have not been accepted by his Depart...More Button

There have been no adjudications or findings of the Workplace Relations Commission in respect of my Department or the bodies that come under its aegis during the period in question, that have not b...More Button