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Doherty, Regina

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


State Pension (Contributory)

Was asked: if the total contributions approach to calculating entitlement to the contributory pension will come into effect in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The introduction of a total contributions approach, TCA, to establishing the level of entitlement for all new State pension (contributory) claims was signalled by the then Government in the nationa...More Button

Consultation is a very important part of the development and design of any new pension system. With this in mind, I launched a public consultation on the design of TCA on 28 May 2018 to which a ...More Button

Shortly afterwards all Oireachtas Members were invited to a detailed briefing by my officials in Leinster House. The consultation was open for more than three months and the Department received ...More Button

Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process, my Department is now designing the scheme and I intend to bring a proposal to Cabinet shortly setting out that design. Once the...More Button

I cannot say what the Deputy has asked me to say because it is not true. Although there are no guarantees in life and obviously anything could happen between now and 2020, the Government's ambitio...More Button

Many submissions were made for a variety of options to be included and we are looking at all of them. I hope what we will provide to Cabinet to rubber-stamp, hopefully, will be all encompassing....More Button

Was asked: when application forms for the State pension (contributory) review will be made available; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension...More Button

Wherever possible reviews will be processed using information already held by my Department.  In some cases additional information is being requested to ensure people receive the best rate possib...More Button

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

Was asked: the extent to which women or men who have insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for qualification for the old age pension are now being accommodated; and if she will make a statement ...More Button

A person is required to have 520 contributions paid to qualify for the State Pension (contributory).  It is reasonable to require people who seek a contributory pension to have made at least 10 yea...More Button

For those who do not qualify for the State Pension (contributory) (SPC), there are other State pension payments available.More Button

Notably, they may qualify for the State Pension (non-contributory) which is a means-tested payment (based on their share of household means) with a maximum payment of 95% of the SPC.  If their sp...More Button

Consequently, if a person does not receive a State pension after pension age, they have significant means and have made little or no contribution to the Social Insurance Fund over their working l...More Button

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

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a review of their pension payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension...More Button

Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in these reviews.  Additional information will be requested in writing from pensioners in relation to unexplained gaps in...More Button

An examination of the person's social insurance record has found some unexplained gaps in their social insurance record.  A request for information about time spend out of the workforce for paren...More Button

On receipt of the requested information, the person’s state pension (contributory) pension rate will be reviewed and they will be informed of the outcome in writing.  If an increase is due, it wi...More Button

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

State Pension (Contributory) (Continued)

I would be very comfortable if the Deputy said to his constituents what I say to mine, namely, that our intention is to introduce it in quarter 3 of 2020. That intention and the roadmap for pensio...More Button

Social Welfare Rates

Was asked: if she will consider the proposals put forward in the Social Welfare Commission Bill 2018 in order to ensure the adequacy of social welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Commission Bill 2018, sponsored by the Deputy, seeks, among other things, to establish a commission to monitor and make recommendations on social welfare rates at least once a ye...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that ideas of benchmarking and indexation of social welfare rates are not new. For example, previous studies were conducted by the Commission on Social Welfare in 1986, ...More Button

In our roadmap for pensions reform, which was published on a snowy day last March, the Government committed to examine and develop proposals to set a formal benchmark target of 34% of average ear...More Button

My Department is currently considering options to implement this commitment by examining previous studies on benchmarking and indexation, international experience and a range of potential benchma...More Button

In terms of the wider application of indexation of social welfare payments generally, section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 provides that, as Minister, I will...More Button

In this context, my Department met with numerous interested stakeholders during quarter 1 of 2019 to solicit views on how the adoption of benchmarking and a system of indexation might work for so...More Button

In addition, I propose that the issue will be considered at my Department's pre-budget forum on an official basis in July. The forum includes representatives from the community and voluntary sec...More Button

It never ceases to amaze me when I read things in the newspapers which I am supposed to have said or done but which are nowhere close to anything I have said or done at all. They either fail to ac...More Button

I apologise for that. I was talking too much and ran out of time. The launch of the national action plan for social inclusion is pencilled in for 22 May 2019. The Taoiseach is going to launch it...More Button

If it were, I would be leaving it very late at 22 May. People will have already made up their minds by then.More Button

Social Welfare Rates (Continued)

Can I answer the Deputy's other question?More Button

As I said to Deputy Brady last week, I am very happy to sit down with him to discuss the Bill. I know I was supposed to call him this week. I am actually more concerned about getting consensus in...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Was asked: her plans for community employment schemes; her further plans to address pension entitlements for supervisors and assistant supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Community employment, CE, is the largest employment programme administered by my Department.  It was initially established in 1994 to enhance the employability of unemployed persons by providing wo...More Button

-----and assistant supervisors. I sound like a broken record when I say this-----More Button

We are all well aware, as are the CE supervisors and assistant supervisors I have met over the past months, that they are employees of their host companies, and as such-----More Button

-----I have no role in determining their pension.More Button

When it was established, it was not to look after people who may have difficulties from a social inclusion perspective. That just evolved. It has evolved in that way and is effective because of t...More Button

-----asking for people to stay on a scheme for another year. We need to recognise the valuable contribution they give.More Button

I will answer this in the politest way I possibly can. When the Labour Court passed down the judgment in 2008, Deputy O'Dea was sitting at the Cabinet table, and he continued to sit at it for a fu...More Button

That is not the answer.More Button

I have responded. I responded on a number of occasions, telling the Deputy that-----More Button

I am committed to finding a solution to-----More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Was asked: the reason for the backlog and delays in issuing social welfare payments; and the further reason for the delay of six months in relation to appeals.More Button

The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all the people who apply for the different schemes, ensuring that applications are processed as quickly as possible and that decisions ...More Button

In general, social welfare schemes such as these with a number of complex qualifying conditions can and do take longer to process.  Before a decision can be made for example, on entitlement to do...More Button

It is also the case that in order to register their claim and establish an early entitlement or claim date, many people submit a claim without giving all the necessary supporting documentation on...More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times (Continued)

The Department is currently processing domiciliary care allowance claims within ten weeks and invalidity claims within seven weeks. Disability allowance claims are taking 14 weeks on average whi...More Button

I wish to reassure the Deputy that claims processing is kept under active review with all possible steps being taken to improve processing times. This includes significant additional resources, ...More Button

The first thing I need to say to Deputy Smith is with regard to the lady she referred to. If Deputy Smith gives me her details I will intervene personally.More Button

I need to put on record that anyone or everyone who is waiting for a decision for a payment for any of our schemes is entitled to apply for community welfare through our supplementary welfare all...More Button

If Deputy Smith wishes to give me the details of the lady later on, I will intervene.More Button

I am not disputing the numbers cited by Deputy Smith. What I am saying is that we have taken several steps to try to remedy the difficulty we have with regard to a number of issues relating to t...More Button

The first point is that we need to put more staff in the area. We have a cap on our staff. It is only when staff resources become free in one section because they are no longer required that th...More Button

We have a full complement of medical officers. We are not in a recruitment phase. It is not the case that if we had more medical officers it would make it easier or quicker. It is a question of ...More Button

I did not say that anyone is entitled to social welfare assistance. I said anyone who has means and who is in need of social welfare assistance can get supplementary welfare allowance on a weekl...More Button

Local Employment Service

Was asked: to outline the timeframe for the upcoming tendering process for the future provision of employment services nationally; the reason active consideration will not be given to a public procurement pro...More Button

With respect, before I start reading out my prepared reply I have a question. When did we have the interaction during which I told Deputy Pringle that a payment was my preferred model?More Button

I call on Deputy Pringle to take it back, because it is not the case. That is one of a suite of measures that we offer as part of the State. It does not make it better, but it certainly does not ...More Button

We use a number of contracted models to procure public employment services to supplement the service provided directly by case officers as part of Intreo. Local employment services, job clubs an...More Button

My Department and I are currently considering how the services provided for the next generation of people who require activation will be maintained after 2019. In addition, in line with the reco...More Button

I wish to assure the Deputy that we are going to do everything we can within EU procurement rules to ensure the continuity of the highly valuable services, including local employment services and...More Button

While the precise format of any future contracts has not yet been decided, what has been decided is that we would not have been able to reduce our unemployment when it was at its height and was h...More Button

Local Employment Service (Continued)

I hope I have been here long enough to prove the Deputy wrong. Last Thursday, I met representatives from the Irish Local Development Network, ILDN, jobs clubs and CV clubs, which are in all counti...More Button

The Deputy asked if I would ensure certain people apply for the tender. Nobody is stopping them from applying for the tender but I will make sure they get the support they need to ensure they ha...More Button

I do not know what the obsession is with trying to make everybody be the same.More Button

I am talking about the Deputy's comparison of local employment schemes with jobs clubs, Intreo and JobPath. We have a range of services because we have a range of people with different barriers to...More Button

In the near future, I want to see a rationalisation and the finalisation of our offerings in the form of activation services for the next generation and there will be a place for all our services...More Button

Employment Rights

Was asked: her plans to deal with bogus self-employment practices; and when legislation will come before Dáil Éireann on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if her plans to improve protections for persons trapped in bogus self-employment will include new legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: her plans to introduce legislation on bogus self-employed contracts; if so, the parameters of the planned Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: her plans to address issues in relation to bogus self-employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the proposals she recently brought to Cabinet regarding bogus self-employment; her plans to progress these measures; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 10, 14, 26 and 39 together.

  My job is to progress Government legislation and not to progress Opposition legislation. There is nothing stopp...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the potential for blacklisting in industries in which there is widespread use of fixed-term contracts; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I am aware that Deputy Boyd Barrett knows this but I will read my Department's reply for the benefit of those who do not. A fixed-term employee means a person who has entered into a contract of em...More Button

I am quite sure that lots of industries and companies in this country believe they are exceptional but none of them is above the law.More Button

Again, nobody is above the law. I ask the Deputy to call me later and we will progress this. I am not happy to hear the Deputy's allegation that people have been blacklisted following an appearan...More Button

  Question No. 8 replied to with Written Answers.More Button

Was asked: if she will review legislation for the protection of the rights of migrant workers engaged in seasonal work on short-term contracts of less than six months duration with a view to strengthening reg...More Button

Ireland has a comprehensive body of employment legislation, in respect of which the Workplace Relations Commission is mandated to secure compliance. More Button

Ireland’s employment rights legislation protects all employees, including migrant workers, who are legally employed on a contract of service basis.  This is specifically set out in Section 20 of ...More Button

Some employment legislation requires that a worker be employed for at least 1 year before they are in a position to take a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission.  This would include the Unf...More Button

Where an individual believes they are being deprived of employment rights applicable to employees they may refer a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) where the matter can be de...More Button

The Workplace Relations Customer Service Section can  be contacted at Lo-call: 1890 80 80 90 or via its website www.workplacerelations.ie. More Button

My Department continuously monitors existing employment rights legislation to ensure that it continues to be relevant and fit for purpose and is updated to reflect international developments at E...More Button

If the Deputy has evidence of specific instances of abuses concerning migrant workers, I would appreciate it if she would direct them to either the WRC or to my office.  More Button

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

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to allegations of abuse of workers on fixed-term contracts in episodic industries; if she has discussed the role she may play in vindicating the rights of these work...More Button

I am not aware of any specific allegations of abuse of workers on fixed term contracts in episodic industries.  I would urge the Deputy, if he has evidence of such abuse, to bring it to the attenti...More Button

Employment Rights (Continued)

Again, the Deputy-----More Button

I am happy to take the questions together.More Button

I ask Deputy Niall Collins to supply the details of the case to me before he leaves the Chamber. Nobody should be denied a PPS number. I will address the matter today.More Button

I am glad that we all can agree but I do not subscribe to the view of certain Deputies that I favour one set of organisations over another. I sit at monthly meetings with both our social partner...More Button

Deputy O'Dea just made a statement that I have finally come around to the view that there is a problem here but for as long as I have sat in this chair, almost two years, I have always acknowledged...More Button

I have the floor. I have always said that I do not know the size of the problem but whether it is ten people or 10,000 people, the legislation must be robust enough to protect them. We have a req...More Button

Potentially, I may consider a stand-alone issue because I have the same reservations as Deputy Clare Daly. I do not have authority over the WRC and I cannot subscribe to her views on it. When p...More Button

On the gaps in the legislation that currently exist, the legislation that I will bring to the House in the next couple of weeks will make the inspections more robust and the decisions that are ma...More Button

Child Benefit Payments

Was asked: the steps she is taking to implement the Programme for Partnership Government commitment on the monitoring of child benefit payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I thank the Deputy for his question. Child benefit is the main policy instrument for assisting families with the costs of raising children.More Button

Child Benefit Payments (Continued)

It is a universal payment, which I very much support. It is paid in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16, or to the age of 18 if they are in full-time education or have a disabili...More Button

The scheme operates a control programme aimed at ensuring that payment of child benefit is made where there is an ongoing entitlement and payment stops once this entitlement ceases.  Some 300,000...More Button

The Deputy refers to a commitment in the programme for Government to reform the monitoring of child benefit payments by amalgamating the two existing school attendance monitoring systems, current...More Button

I have already outlined the legal and data protection issues with regard to sharing data that prohibit doing what the Deputy has suggested, which was originally suggested in the programme for Gover...More Button

I totally appreciate the result the Deputy is trying to achieve, I just do not think this is the right method to do so. He is right; a phenomenal number of children, especially young boys, are abs...More Button

The answer to the Deputy's original question of whether child benefit has ever been stopped because of non-attendance at school is "Yes". The forms that are issued as a control measure must be b...More Button

  Question No. 10 answered with Question No. 6.More Button

Pensions Reform

Was asked: the status of her plans to introduce auto-enrolment; the stage plans are at; the next steps; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As stated in the roadmap for pensions reform, the Government proposes to implement a supplementary retirement savings system known as automatic enrolment, AE, by 2022.  This will see employees with...More Button

I launched a straw man public consultation process for an automatic enrolment retirement savings system in Ireland, which is a bit of a mouthful, last August as the basis for a national public co...More Button

In excess of 100 written submissions were received in response to the straw man from employer and employee representatives, pensions industry bodies, advocacy groups and genuinely interested indi...More Button

Overall, the responses to the straw man have been very positive and constructive.  In the vast majority of cases, our proposals were welcomed and nearly every stakeholder agreed with most of the ...More Button

My Department is continuing to analyse the substantial material collated from the consultation process in order to determine how the feedback received can assist with the design process.  Further...More Button

Pensions Reform (Continued)

The Deputy's submission is very welcome. The views he expressed in the submission were not unique and there are others who share his views, which will not surprise him. We both agree that 35% cov...More Button

My ambition is to have a document brought to Cabinet before the July recess and, as it is April now, it is not that far away. I will try to do it as early as I possibly can so we can have consid...More Button

That is my plan. Once the scheme is finalised, arising from the changes we will potentially make following the consultation process, I have no choice but to bring the memo to Cabinet as I do not h...More Button

To touch on some of the specifics raised by the Deputy, I would like to see some of the ideas he has. Unfortunately, it may not be easy to design and direct money specifically to a particular ar...More Button

I think I understand the question. The Strawman was designed to elicit conversation and discussion and it certainly has done that. There are a number of suggestions from the 100 written submissio...More Button

State Pensions Payments

Was asked: the timeframe for completion of the reviews being carried out into persons affected by the changes to the State pension (contributory) in 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if extra staff will be hired to ensure completion of the reviews of the cases of persons affected by the changes to the State pension (contributory) in 2012; and if she will make a statement on the...More Button

Was asked: when all the cases will be examined under the review of pensioners entitlements which follows the introduction of a total contributions approach method for assessing pensioners that became eligible...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 16 and 21 together.More Button

Since late September 2018, my Department has been planning and developing processes to review the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners born on or after 1 September 1946, wh...More Button

Reviews commenced on 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary regulations, which together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018 allow the ...More Button

As I stated at the outset, it will take a number of months to complete all the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records. In some cases, it is nec...More Button

What I have said previously and will repeat is that if we send out information requests to people and they do not reply to us, I have no intention of closing off the reviews. We will keep going ...More Button

Nobody was prioritised. Letters were sent out randomly and nobody was particularly selected because of their age, the length of time or anything like that.More Button

State Pensions Payments (Continued)

The ambition is for us to ensure that we carry out reviews of all 90,000 cases as quickly as we can. More Button

In response to Deputy Aindreas Moynihan regarding the staging of the recruitment, that is how long it took us to find staff. It certainly was not our ambition to start off with 60 staff, before ...More Button

  Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.More Button

Labour Activation Measures

Was asked: the timeline for the procurement process for future employment services; if a payments-by-results model for employment services will be sought despite the unsuitability of this model having been de...More Button

My Department is considering different options on the structure of any future contracts and potential models for the public employment service for the period post 2019.  My Department is progressin...More Button

The future model for the public employment service will be guided by the dual principles of providing all those seeking employment with the most appropriate assistance, while ensuring, on behalf ...More Button

While my Department will continue to consider appropriate payment models for the future procurement of contracted public services, I would like to remind the Deputy that, contrary to the assertio...More Button

I share the Deputy's wish that any new model should have the capacity to measure the distance travelled by those furthest from the labour market and this will be at the forefront of my Department...More Button

  Questions Nos. 9 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.More Button

Jobseeker's Payments

Was asked: the date for the publication of the report into the impact of reduced jobseeker's payments for persons aged 18 to 25 years of age which was due to be published two years ago; and if she will make a...More Button

Reduced rates for young recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) aged 18-25 were introduced on a phased basis to tackle high youth unemployment and prevent long term welfare dependency, and this is...More Button

There are a number of measures in place to assist young people into employment or training.  In 2013 the EU adopted a Council Recommendation to member states on a Youth Guarantee.  Under the Yout...More Button

Where young people do not find work quickly, additional supports are offered through places on employment and training schemes, which are closely aligned to the needs of the labour market.  I als...More Button

These policies have been effective in reducing both youth and long-term unemployment.  For example, the most recent data shows that Irish youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% in 201...More Button

As an input to our review of the impact of the changed payment rates the National University of Ireland, Maynooth undertook research which examined the effectiveness of the reduced rates in encou...More Button

  Question No. 14 answered with Question No. 6.More Button

Disability Allowance

Was asked: her plans to revise the method by which capital is assessed for those in receipt of disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Department operates a range of means-tested social assistance payments.  Social welfare legislation provides that the means test takes account the income and assets of the person (and spouse / ...More Button

The assessment of capital reflects the fact that there is an expectation that people with reasonable amounts of capital and property are in a position to use that capital or to realise the value ...More Button

Disability allowance (DA) has the most generous capital disregard of any scheme operated by the Department.  A recipient can have up to €50,000 in savings and still receive the full rate of payme...More Button

Any proposals to change the capital means assessment for means-tested social assistance schemes would have to be considered in the overall budgetary context.More Button

It should also be noted that people receiving Disability Allowance (DA) may also be eligible for secondary benefits such as free travel, fuel allowance, the household benefits package, living alo...More Button

In addition to this, DA recipients may also work and earn up to €120 per week without their payment being affected.More Button

  Question No. 16 answered with Question No. 12.More Button

JobPath Programme

Was asked: when the contracts with JobPath providers will expire; when a decision on the future of the scheme will be made; if the recent Dáil Éireann motion on the issue will be taken into account; and if sh...More Button

The JobPath employment service commenced in 2015 and under the terms of the contracts signed with the providers will run for a total of at least six years.  This is comprised of two phases; phase o...More Button

The process of procuring contracted public employment services for 2020 and beyond is still in its early stages and my officials are working to design a procurement model that will balance the ne...More Button

No decisions yet have been taken in this regard, but my Department is currently considering how best to adapt our employment services provision in light of the changing economic circumstances, in...More Button

The Government's position on the recent motion debated in the House on the JobPath service was clearly set out in my contribution at the time.  I note the views of the House on the matter.  Howev...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to incidences in which JobPath providers insist on seeking a commission for persons that sought work on their own accord after having attended an initial meeting wit...More Button

The JobPath service helps and supports people to identify and pursue suitable job opportunities themselves while their personal adviser will provide any appropriate support that the person may requ...More Button

JobPath fees are designed to cover the cost of the provision of a case management service.  Just as is the case with Intreo and the LES, the jobs secured by JobPath clients are not all secured on...More Button

Within the terms of the JobPath contract, a JobPath provider may submit a fee for any client who has started with the service who gains employment of over 30 hours per week and maintains it.  Pay...More Button

The JobPath providers are required to offer in-work support to the person for up to twelve months while they remain in employment.  This includes scheduled contact with the person as well as ad-h...More Button

A person is not under any obligation to provide employment or employer details to the JobPath provider but, if they wish to do so and avail of the in-employment support offered, all information w...More Button

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

JobPath Data

Was asked: the number of persons referred to JobPath since 2015; the number of those that have commenced employment which has been sustained for 12 months or more; and if she will make a statement on the matt...More Button

The primary purpose of JobPath is to provide a case management based, employment advice and counseling service to long term unemployed jobseekers.  This is the group of jobseekers that faces the mo...More Button

Between July 2015 and March 2019, some 216,546 jobseekers had commenced their engagement period with the JobPath service.  Of this number, 52% were over three years unemployed and a further 10% w...More Button

Some 48,792 had commenced employment during their engagement period with almost 13,000 sustaining full time employment for a period of 12 months or more.More Button

It should be noted that these figures are representative of the entire cohort of JobPath clients to date and all job starts in the same period.  Many clients who are still currently engaged with ...More Button

Between July 2015 and the end of December 2017 - a time period where the full impact of JobPath and job sustainment can now be measured - 146,776 jobseekers, mostly more than two years unemployed...More Button

Job sustainment performance across the entire cohort is expected to improve as more clients complete their engagement with the service and have the opportunity to reach 52 weeks in sustained empl...More Button

  Question No. 21 answered with Question No. 12.More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Was asked: the progress being made to address the entitlements of those whose profession is of a sporadic nature and the stress this causes for persons, for example, in the acting profession; and her plans to...More Button

The main social welfare supports for unemployed people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative full-time employment are the jobseeker’s allowance (JA) and jobseeker’s benefit (JB) sch...More Button

A pilot initiative to assist self-employed visual artists and writers who apply to my Department for JA was launched in June 2017.  The initiative involved collaboration between my Department and...More Button

My Department is currently reviewing this pilot and its findings will inform any decisions on the future and its extension to professional artists in other disciplines.   More Button

While actors, including those which are self-employed, are not in a position to access this pilot they may qualify for JA or JB provided they satisfy the conditionality of the scheme.  Both schem...More Button

I would advise that any person experiencing unemployment, including actors whose employment is of a sporadic nature, to engage with their local Intreo office for support.More Button

Was asked: her plans to introduce flexibility and support in the social protection system for persons with mental health difficulties; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection provides a range of income supports for those who are unable to work due to an illness or disability.  Entitlement to these supports is no...More Button

The Make Work Pay report for People with Disabilities, published in April 2017, identified the need for flexibility in both the income support and the health, namely medical card, systems.  This ...More Button

Anxiety in such circumstances can be particularly pronounced among those with mental health issues, given the episodic nature of such conditions.  While work is on-going, in line with recommendat...More Button

- a 'fast-track return to disability allowance' protocol has been put in place  should a particular employment opportunity prove unsuitable;More Button

- people who are participating on the partial capacity benefit scheme may return to illness benefit or invalidity pension if they find that they cannot continue to work;More Button

- people with a long-term disability who take up employment will retain their Free Travel Pass for a period of five years;More Button

- a “Benefits of Work” calculator for persons with a disability is now available on the Department's website to help people calculate the net benefit of entering or returning to work;More Button

- the requirement that work be of a ‘rehabilitative’ nature, where a person in receipt of Disability Allowance wishes to undertake employment, has been removed.More Button

The Department of Health also recently introduced a significant improvement to the medical card assessment process which will enable persons in receipt of a Disability Allowance payment to have a...More Button

In addition, the Department has also supported the HSE in its roll out of its Individual Placement Service, or IPS.  The IPS model of support is an evidence based approach to supporting persons w...More Button

Pension Provisions

Was asked: if she will review the operation of pension schemes for retired members of semi-State organisations; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that one fifth of these pensioners are on a pension ...More Button

My Department has no role in setting the level of pensions received by members of occupational pension schemes.  Pension increases for occupational pensions are entirely a matter for the scheme tru...More Button

If any individual has evidence that pension scheme trustees are not acting in the best interests of scheme members they should complain to the scheme trustees in the first instance.  If the compl...More Button

If a person does not qualify for a State pension (contributory) and does not have sufficient means, they may qualify for a means-tested State pension (non-contributory) instead.  This is paid at ...More Button

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

Was asked: the status of the IORP II directive; if she will apply for a derogation for self-directed pension schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The transposition of the IORP II Directive will result in significant improvements to the regulation and governance of funded occupational pension schemes in Ireland.  While the Directive provides ...More Button

The value of investments held in many schemes fell substantially during the financial crisis.  This highlighted the need for stricter regulation and greater protections, especially for small sche...More Button

Concerns in relation to this sector are particularly around the protection of the consumer and the money they have invested, the riskiness of investments, the charges that apply, and the standard...More Button

Under the Directive the underlying principle for capital investment is for schemes to invest in  accordance with the 'prudent person' rule and other specific rules set out.  It is recognised that...More Button

While small self-administered pension schemes may continue to invest in the Irish economy, including property and SMEs, the assets of the scheme must be properly diversified to avoid excessive re...More Button

Such diversification has been proven to reduce investment risk.  This approach will enhance consumer protection so that pension savers have adequate income for their retirement years. More Button

The Pension Authority advises that there are approx. 100,000 single member schemes and that c. 98% of these schemes are already compliant with the investment rules of the IORP II Directive.   More Button

Officials in my Department, supported by the Pensions Authority, are managing the transposition process of the IORP II Directive.  This is a substantial Directive and my Department is working tow...More Button

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

  Question No. 39 answered with Question No. 6.More Button

Working Family Payment Payments

Was asked: the steps she has taken or is planning to take to accelerate the payment process for the working family payment (details supplied).More Button

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.  WFP is payable for a 52 week period from award date and a pe...More Button

  Question No. 26 answered with Question No. 6.More Button

State Pensions

Was asked: her plans to set up a taskforce which would consider the appropriate level of pensionable age and make recommendations in view of the way in which pension age increases were agreed without consulta...More Button

One of the key parameters in any pension system is setting the age at which a State pension can be drawn.  To accommodate demographic ageing, all EU countries have undertaken, or have scheduled, re...More Button

A policy which sees Ireland linking the State pension age with life expectancy is a measure for Member States advocated at EU level and has also been recommended by the OECD.  This change will pr...More Button

Therefore, to put in place a fair, transparent and clearly understandable framework underpinning the State pension age, the Government committed in the "Roadmap for Pension Reform" published last...More Button

Any change to the State pension age after 2035 will be directly linked to increases in life expectancy.  This will begin with an assessment of life expectancy in 2022 to include a review of the p...More Button

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

Was asked: the status of the review under way of entitlement to an increased rate of contributory pension; the number of cases that remain to be reviewed; when the review will be completed; and if she will ma...More Button

Was asked: the status of progress in completing the reviews for those in receipt of reduced pension amounts; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 45 together.More Button

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pensi...More Button

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary regulations which together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows t...More Button

It will take a number of months to complete all the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.  One hundred and twenty one temporary staff have bee...More Button

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the pe...More Button

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

Was asked: if proposals (details supplied) will be considered for 2020 for contributory pension requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The State pension (contributory) is a PRSI-based pension, financed by contributions made by current workers and their employers, and paid to pensioners, at a rate based upon their PRSI record when ...More Button

It should be noted that while 10 years paid contributions is the minimum requirement needed to qualify for the contributory state pension, this does not qualify someone for the maximum rate.  The...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 exist...More Button

PRSI credited contributions (credits) are only awarded to former employees, to cover gaps in social insurance where they are not in a position to pay PRSI such as during periods of unemployment, ...More Button

The design of the new Total Contributions Approach to determining the rate of contributory pension to be paid for new pensioners from 2020, including the level of paid contributions required and ...More Button

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

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Was asked: if the possibility of increasing the financial thresholds for carer’s allowance will be investigated; if the introduction of discretionary assessments in cases of extreme extenuating circumstances,...More Button

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means tested payment, made to people who are providing full-time care and attention to elderly people or to people with disabilities and whose income falls below certain...More Button

The conditions attached to payment of CA are consistent with the overall conditions that apply to social assistance payments generally.  This system of social assistance supports provides payment...More Button

At the end of December 2018, there were 79,914 people in receipt of CA.  The projected expenditure on CA in 2019 is almost €840 million. More Button

Decisions on claims are made by deciding officers of the Department in line with current legislative provisions. More Button

The means test for Carer's Allowance is one of the most generous in the social protection system in that €332.50 of gross weekly income is disregarded in the calculation of means for a single per...More Button

Any changes to scheme criteria would have to be considered in an overall Budgetary context. More Button

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

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Was asked: if she will amend the Vote of her Department to include the full Christmas payment from budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Christmas Bonus payment is made to long-term social welfare recipients, such as pensioners, carers, people with disabilities, lone parents and long-term unemployed people who rely wholly or mai...More Button

School Meals Programme

Was asked: the stage of the proposals to provide a free hot meal to every school child; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children at a total cost of €57.6 million in 2019 representing ...More Button

As part of Budget 2019, it was announced that my department would commence a pilot scheme from September 2019, providing Hot School Meals in 36 schools for an estimated 7,200 children at a cost o...More Button

The Programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement by children.More Button

Research shows us the value of the provision of adequate and nutritious meals for a child’s health, learning, attention and educational achievement.  That is why I am providing funds to establish...More Button

Eligible primary schools will shortly be  issued with an invitation to submit an Expression of Interest to participate in the pilot from September 2019.  Funding of €2.90 per meal will be provide...More Button

Following the conclusion of the pilot at the end of the 2019/2020 academic year, an evaluation of the pilot scheme will be carried out.  If successful, my Department would hope to work with the D...More Button

Telephone Support Allowance

Was asked: the estimated cost of full restoration of the telephone allowance including to those who may qualify but do not live alone; and her plans to address the issue in the next period. More Button

The telephone allowance scheme was an element of the household benefits package (HHB).  The decision to discontinue the telephone allowance was estimated to provide annual savings of €48 million at...More Button

The cost of the telephone allowance scheme had risen significantly each year, as the number of eligible customers grew.  At the end of September 2013 before it was discontinued, there were almost...More Button

The value of the telephone allowance before it was discontinued was €9.50 per month (equivalent to €114 per annum).  Therefore, the cost of restoring the allowance at this level in 2019 might be ...More Button

While the telephone allowance was an important measure for vulnerable persons, the nature of the market has been transformed in recent years with deregulation, mobile services and bundled service...More Button

Any decision to restore the telephone allowance would require additional funding for the HHB scheme and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.  More Button

Separately, the new telephone support allowance (TSA) which was announced in Budget 2018 is a weekly payment of €2.50.  The TSA is not the same as the Telephone Allowance that was part of the HHB...More Button

The primary objective of the TSA is to allow the most vulnerable people at risk of isolation, including the elderly and those with disabilities, access to personal alarms or phones for security. ...More Button

People who live alone would be considered among those most at risk of social exclusion, and this payment, along with the Living Alone Allowance, are also in part recognition of the greater challe...More Button

While the schemes operated by my Department are constantly reviewed, any decision to extend the scheme to people who are not in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance would have to be considered i...More Button

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

Disability Activation Projects

Was asked: the reason the budget for activation for persons with a disability is slightly lower in the 2019 Estimates than in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The 2019 Rev Estimate for Disability Activation Supports provides for an allocation of €15.3m in 2019.  This is an increase of €1.45m on the 2018 outturn which was €13.9m.

  The ...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Was asked: the extent to which efforts are being made to reduce the waiting time for the hearing of various social welfare appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decis...More Button

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer.  In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Departm...More Button

Accordingly, significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years.  As a result, appeal processing times in respect of all schemes improved between ...More Button

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with appeals officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de...More Button

In addition, a number of new Appeals Officers have joined the Appeals Office over the past 12-18 months, to replace staff leaving on retirement.  Given the complexity of the appeals process it ta...More Button

Finally, where a claimant has been refused a social welfare payment, regardless of the scheme involved, and is appealing that decision, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs it is o...More Button

If their application for supplementary welfare allowance is refused, they can also appeal that decision.  The supplementary welfare allowance appeal will be prioritised for attention within the A...More Button

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

Departmental Projects

Was asked: the consolidation project being undertaken by the Law Reform Commission on the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005; the cost of the project; the estimated timeframe for completion of same; and if...More Button

My Department has recently commenced working collaboratively with the Law Reform Commission for the purpose of preparing and publishing a Revised Version of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 200...More Button

The Law Reform Commission has prepared and published 360 Revised Acts covering a wide spectrum of legislative codes.  To date the Social Welfare Acts were excluded from this process mainly, I und...More Button

Following discussions between my Department and the Law Reform Commission a Departmental official is working with the Commission to publish the SWCA 2005 on a Revised basis.  The work is being un...More Button

It is envisaged that the work will take at least 12 months to complete.  Given that the work involved is being undertaken by an existing staff member of my Department and by existing staff of the...More Button

Social Welfare Overpayments

Was asked: the number of overpayments made in 2018; the number and percentage of same that were a result of fraud; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The majority of people in receipt of a payment from my Department receive what they are entitled to.  Nevertheless, my Department recognises that abuse of the welfare system is an on-going reality ...More Button

Was asked: the steps she continues to take to insure against the occurrence of overpayments that result in recovery and consequent hardship with particular reference to cases in which the overpayment was not ...More Button

Overpayments of social welfare assistance and/or benefit payments arise as a consequence of decisions made under the relevant sections of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended). More Button

Official or departmental error overpayments arise where a Deciding Officer has incorrectly applied legislation, or incorrectly calculated the rate payable, or failed to act on information receive...More Button

Recovery of any sum overpaid as a result of official or departmental error is assessed on a case specific basis.  In general, recovery will be sought where the customer is expected to have an awa...More Button

As part of the process of finalising a decision and assessing an overpayment, the Deciding Officer is required to engage with the person concerned to clarify any matters relevant to the determina...More Button

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

Illness Benefit Appeals

Was asked: if she will commission a review to ascertain the number of workers per year affected by the six-day waiting period while sick from work; and the estimated cost of restoring the waiting period to th...More Button

Illness benefit is a short term payment made to insured people who are unable to work due to illness.  The payment is funded by the social insurance fund (SIF) through the payment of PRSI contribut...More Button

Current arrangements provide that payment of illness benefit begins from the seventh day of the illness.  No payment is made for the first six days, known as "waiting days”.  Waiting days have be...More Button

Many employers pay sick pay during this period, however where an employee does not have an occupational sick pay scheme they may be able to avail of the supplementary welfare scheme, subject to n...More Button

When the current waiting day arrangements were introduced, it was projected that the full-year annual savings would amount to €22 million per year.  No specific research has been commissioned or ...More Button

National Minimum Wage

Was asked: the way in which she can address the potential impact to the hairdressing industry due to the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 and the abolition of training rates; and if she will mak...More Button

Legislation governing the national minimum wage is set down in the National Minimum Wage Acts 2000 and 2015.  These Acts provide for the setting of a national minimum wage (NMW) and also provide th...More Button

In September 2015, the Low Pay Commission was requested to examine the appropriateness of the subminimum rates as provided for in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 with regard, in particular, to...More Button

The Commission undertook a consultation process on this subject in line with its evidence-based approach to making recommendations to Government.  The consultation process was advertised national...More Button

A number of further contacts were made with the Federation inviting it to make a submission on this matter and to participate in the oral hearings to discuss the subject held by the Commission in...More Button

The Commission received 15 submissions in total, none of which came from the hairdressing sector.  The Irish Hairdressing Federation did not make a submission and did not participate in the oral ...More Button

The Commission's final report was published in February 2018.More Button

Having examined all available evidence and the submissions received, and having considered a range of options, the Commission recommended the abolition of training rates and the simplification of...More Button

The Low Pay Commission is an independent, authoritative body on matters relating to the national minimum wage and the I am confident that the Commission gave consideration to the impact of any re...More Button

The Commission’s recommendations were accepted by Government and the amendments to make the necessary legislative changes to the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 were implemented via the Employment...More Button

Certain apprenticeships are excluded from the remit of the National Minimum Wage and it is open to the Hairdressing sector to consider whether such an apprenticeship would be appropriate in that se...More Button

Farm Assist Scheme Administration

Was asked: if the level of red tape involved in the annual forms that applicants for farm assist are required to fill out and return will be reviewed; if the level of information that is required on an annual...More Button

Farm assist is a means-tested income support scheme for farmers.  To qualify for the payment, a customer must be a farmer, farming land in the State, aged between 18 and 66 and satisfy a means test...More Button

Following the Comptroller and Auditor General examination of the Farm Assist scheme in 2014 and the recommendations arising from that report the Department in response reviewed the annual declara...More Button

The means test for farm assist takes account of all income sources with certain disregards applicable to specific income sources.  Different rules apply to income from farming and other forms of ...More Button

Income and expenditure figures for the preceding year are generally used as an indicator of the expected position in the following year.  Details of any exceptional circumstances are also taken i...More Button

The annual farm assist review form is kept under ongoing review by my officials.More Button

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

  Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 31.More Button

Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals

Was asked: if a decision has been made on a jobseeker's benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned together with the relevant Departmental papers were received by that office on 29th March 2019. An appeal was...More Button

Back to Education Allowance Appeals

Was asked: when a response will issue in the case of a back to education allowance for a person (details supplied).More Button

This case has been reviewed by the Intreo Centre concerned and they have confirmed that the qualification referred to in this case, a Professional Masters in Adult and Community Education, is not o...More Button

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

State Bodies Data

Was asked: the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of her Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The statutory bodies with boards operating under the aegis of my Department are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Authority, the Pensions Council, the Low Pay Commission and the Social W...More Button

Invalidity Pension Payments

Was asked: if all arrears have issued in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Illness Benefit Payments

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) is not receiving one full payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Illness Benefit at a rate of €277 per week. She is currently paid up to date and is medically certified as unfit for work until the 30 June 2019.More Button

Ministerial Dialogue

Was asked: the status of her engagements with stakeholders as committed to in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 in relation to adequacy of social welfare payments; and if she will m...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that the issue of benchmarking and indexation of social welfare rates is not new.  For example, previous studies were conducted by the Commission on Social Welfare in 1986 ...More Button

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform, published last year, commits the Government to examine and develop proposals to set a formal benchmark target of 34% of average earnings for the state pension (co...More Button

My Department is currently considering options to implement this commitment, by examining previous studies on benchmarking and indexation, international experience and examination of a range of p...More Button

In terms of the wider application of indexation of social welfare payments generally, Section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 provides that I, as Minister, will...More Button

In this context my Department met with numerous interested stakeholders during quarter 1 2019 to solicit views on how the adoption of a benchmark, and a system of indexation, might work for socia...More Button

In addition I expect that the issue will be considered at my Department's Pre-Budget Forum in July.  The Pre-Budget Forum includes representatives from the  Community and Voluntary Sector, ICTU a...More Button

Any change to the current process of setting social welfare rates of payment would require Government approval and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.  This w...More Button

Gender Recognition

Was asked: the details of the 92 written submissions that emerged from the public consultation of the Gender Recognition Review group the report of which was published in June 2018; if the written submissions...More Button

A central  part of the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 was a consultation process that sought to have the broadest  possible level of input in relation to the operation of the Act since i...More Button

Social Welfare Appeals Status

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Was asked: if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding budget increases.More Button

On Budget Day, I announced a  general increase in the weekly rates of payment, building on similar increases introduced in Budget 2017 and Budget 2018.  A €5 increase in the weekly rates of payment...More Button

On Budget Day the Department advised that this general increase would come into effect on the week beginning 25 March 2019. This means increases for payments due on Friday of that week were appli...More Button

Carer's Benefit Applications

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

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention. An increased payment can be made where fu...More Button

Disability Allowance Appeals

Was asked: if eligibility for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matterMore Button

Disability Allowance Applications

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) will be offered disability allowance until their health has improved; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Was asked: the correct level of rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned is in receipt of the correct Rent Supplement payable, i.e. the rate applicable for a single person resident in the Kilcock area of County Kildare. 

  The Re...More Button

Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility

Was asked: if an exceptional needs payment will be facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Community Welfare Officer (CWO) with responsibility for the area in which the person concerned resides advises that no application for an exceptional needs payment (ENP) has been received from ...More Button

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Was asked: the level of jobseeker's allowance being paid in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

According to departmental records the person concerned has not made an application for Jobseeker's Allowance and therefore no allowance is being paid.  It is open to them to submit an application t...More Button

International Agreements

Was asked: the extent to which she has direct contact with other jurisdictions with which a bilateral arrangement for social welfare exists with particular reference to the need to ensure a smooth and expedit...More Button

Ireland has negotiated Bilateral Social Security Agreements with a number of countries.  The main purpose of these Agreements is to protect the pension rights of people who have worked and paid soc...More Button

Liaison arrangements are in place with the relevant authorities of the countries with which Ireland has Social Security Agreements in order to facilitate the operation of these arrangements.More Button

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind where there have been difficulties or delays and provides my office with details of it, I will have the matter examined.More Button

Social Welfare Appeals

Was asked: the steps she can take to ensure the minimum waiting time for dealing with appeals having particular regard to the hardship caused to those awaiting decisions over long periods resulting in some ca...More Button

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decis...More Button

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer.  In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Departm...More Button

Accordingly, significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years.  As a result, appeal processing times in respect of all schemes improved between ...More Button

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with appeals officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de...More Button

In addition, a number of new Appeals Officers have joined the Appeals Office over the past 12-18 months, to replace staff leaving on retirement.  Given the complexity of the appeals process it ta...More Button

Finally, where a claimant has been refused a social welfare payment, regardless of the scheme involved, and is appealing that decision, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs it is o...More Button

If their application for supplementary welfare allowance is refused, they can also appeal that decision.  The supplementary welfare allowance appeal will be prioritised for attention within the A...More Button

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

Was asked: the extent to which due process and natural justice remains paramount in the context of dealing with social welfare recipients whose cases come under review; and if she will make a statement on the...More Button

My Department is committed to ensuring that the principles of due process and natural justice are followed in all claim decisions.  This applies equally to decisions at initial claim stage and when...More Button

Unemployment Levels

Was asked: the extent of long-term unemployment here; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold.  The policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs have created an environment in which business can succeed and has led to the creation of almos...More Button

Community Employment Schemes Cessation

Was asked: if an extension of employment will be facilitated for participants in community employment schemes in which sponsors are anxious that they continue; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Community Employment (CE) is a positive initiative that enables the long-term unemployed to make a contribution to their communities whilst up-skilling themselves for prospective future employment....More Button

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Was asked: the extent to which progress continues to be made in addressing the issue by which women have been deprived of contributory pensions having retired from the workplace while raising their families d...More Button

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension...More Button

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary regulations which together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, which al...More Button

I have stated from the outset that it will take a number of months to complete all of the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.  In some cases...More Button

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the pe...More Button

Given the scale (90,000 pensioners) involved, the fact that each case requires close individual examination and that some cases are more complex than others, it would not be reasonable to expect ...More Button

I would urge anyone who has yet to provide additional requested information to the Department to do so as soon as possible so that their review can be processed.More Button

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

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Eligibility

Was asked: the extent to which she continues to ensure that undue hardship is not caused to recipients of social welfare payments in cases in which payments have been suspended while under review; and if she ...More Button

Basic weekly supplementary welfare allowance, or SWA, may be paid to customers awaiting the outcome of a claim or an appeal for a primary social welfare payment.  In certain circumstances, if a per...More Button

Staff in the Department are engaged with customers throughout the entire lifecycle of their claim, including on regular reviews for all schemes on an ongoing basis.  A person’s entitlement to a s...More Button

Review decisions are not delayed unnecessarily once all the information requested from the customer at the time of review is made available to my Department.  Payments are not suspended unless th...More Button

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Was asked: the number of applications for jobseeker's allowance received in each of the past five years to date; the number approved and rejected, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of applications for a State pension (non-contributory) received in each of the past five years to date; the number approved and rejected, respectively; and if she will make a statement o...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 344 and 345 together.

  The information requested by the Deputy is provided in tabular form. The figures for 2019 refer to January and February....More Button