Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 9 to 76, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, answered orally.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

85 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the level of interaction between her Department and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and local authorities on achieving savings in the cost of rent supplement by switching more tenants to the rental accommodation scheme. [1808/10]

Enda Kenny

Question:

124 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons claiming rent supplement more than 18 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1688/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 124 together.

There are currently over 93,000 tenants benefiting from a rent supplement payment — an increase of almost 26% since the end of 2008. Over 35,000 or 38% have been in payment for 18 months or more.

The Rental Accommodation Scheme or RAS, which was introduced in 2004, gives local authorities specific responsibility for meeting the longer term housing needs of people receiving rent supplement for 18 months or more. Details of these tenants are notified regularly by the Department to the local authorities. Local authorities meet the housing needs of these individuals through a range of approaches including the traditional range of social housing options, the voluntary housing sector and, in particular, RAS.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has advised that, at end November 2009, local authorities have transferred almost 9,000 rent supplement cases to private sector RAS units. An additional 4,000 rent supplement cases have been transferred to voluntary sector RAS units. Housing authorities have also transferred a further 11,000 recipients to other social housing options, making a total of over 24,000 transfers since 2005. Almost 7,000 recipients were transferred in 2008 with a further 6,000 transferred up to November 2009.

It is accepted that progress in relation to RAS was initially slower than expected. However the pace of delivery has improved significantly, and in 2010 a target has been set of transferring an additional 8,000 households from rent supplement. The number of unsold affordable housing stock around the country and the move to long term leasing by local authorities, creates an opportunity to accelerate transfers and the current market conditions should contribute to achieving further savings.

Rent supplement tenants are required to make a minimum contribution towards their rent. This contribution was increased by €11 to €24 in two phases in 2009 as a budgetary measure. This change allows for a better alignment with the contribution payable under the differential rent scheme applying to RAS tenants. This will encourage more people to take up RAS offers.

A Value for Money and Policy Review of RAS is being conducted by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Department and will commence this month. Officials of my department will participate in the review and will also continue to work closely with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and local authorities in ensuring that RAS meets its objective of catering for those on long term rent supplementation while enabling rent supplement to return to its original role of a short-term income support.

Social Welfare Fraud.

Liz McManus

Question:

86 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimated fraud rate within each scheme and the target savings she is setting for each scheme in 2010. [1793/10]

In order to identify fraud and error levels in schemes the Department carries out detailed fraud and error surveys on individual schemes. These surveys provide evidence based indicators for the levels of fraud and error within those schemes at that particular time.

As reported by the Comptroller and Auditor General the percentage of expenditure resulting from fraud identified in these surveys ranged from 0% for pensioners, to 0.1% for Illness Benefit, 0.8% for the Family Income Supplement, 1.8% for Child Benefit, 2.3% for the Disability Allowance and 6.4% for the One Parent Family Payment. A fraud and error survey is currently underway on Jobseeker's Allowance and the results of that will be available by quarter 2, 2010.

Although the level of fraud on most schemes is very low, within schemes, some categories of claimants can be a much higher risk than others and when these are identified the Department moves to address the issue.

Because of the resources involved, the Department's goal is to carry out fraud and error surveys on each of the major schemes every two years. This frequency is considered reasonable having regard to the need to consider the impact of measures taken to address issues raised in previous surveys.

The amount of money recorded as control savings by the Department at the end of 2009 was €484 million. This represented an increase of €8 million on 2008 figures.

In 2009 over 750,000 claims were reviewed, 20% more than the target for the year. The total control savings target for 2010 is €533m.

Additional savings are being sought on the One Parent Family and Illness Benefit payments, bringing the total targets for these schemes to approximately €100m and €110m respectively. A target of €110m has also been set for pensions, including additional savings on the non-contributory scheme.

Over €82million is being targeted on Child Benefit, approximately €81m is being targeted on jobseeker's payments and €16.5m is expected to be saved on carers payments.

The remaining sums are €17m on the Family Income Supplement, €10m on the Supplementary Welfare Allowance and €6m in the PAYE and PRSI areas.

The vast majority of people who seek a Social Welfare payment are doing so correctly and within their entitlement. However, I am determined to ensure that abuse of the social welfare system is prevented and is dealt with effectively when detected. To this end, the control programme of the Department is carefully monitored and the various measures are continuously refined to ensure that they remain effective. The 2010 targets take account of the extra anti-fraud powers provided in the Social Welfare Bill.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Billy Timmins

Question:

87 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the processing time for each individual social welfare office to deal with a claim for jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1713/10]

James Reilly

Question:

106 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average processing time in respect of a claim for jobseeker’s benefit to be dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1708/10]

Alan Shatter

Question:

112 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the processing time for each individual social welfare office to deal with a claim for jobseeker’s benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1709/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

119 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average processing time for a claim for jobseeker’s allowance to be dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1704/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 106, 112 and 119 together.

I fully appreciate that becoming unemployed and having to claim a jobseeker's payment is stressful enough in itself and that it is vital that people get access to financial supports as quickly as possible.

As Deputies will be aware, the number of people on the live register grew by over 45% in the 12 months to December 2009.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs has sought to manage this increase as well as it possibly can and to keep delays to a minimum. Improved processes and procedures have helped to increase productivity among existing staff, over 400 extra people have been assigned to claim processing since May 2008 and centralised units have been set up to relieve some of the pressure on the busiest offices.

The average processing times for claims decided in December was two weeks for jobseeker's benefit and just over six weeks for the jobseeker's allowance. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices. In December, 4 out of every 5 claims for jobseeker's benefit were processed within 3 weeks and 2 out of every 3 claims for the means tested payment jobseeker's allowance were processed within 6 weeks.

Processing times can vary depending on the complexity of the claim and the availability of the necessary documentation from the applicant and or their employer. In the case of jobseeker's allowance claims, carrying out means assessments and determining whether a claimant satisfies the Habitual Residence Condition can also take time.

Processing times can also vary from office to office due to the extent of the increased claimload, the number of staff vacancies, the duration of such vacancies and the turnover of staff in the office.

From time to time the average processing time for an individual office can vary considerably. This can occur where, for example, an office concentrates on clearing the claims that have been awaiting a decision the longest.

I am making available a tabular statement showing the average processing time for claims decided in December for each local and branch office. Claims for branch offices are decided in their parent local office.

While I know that processing times are still too long in some areas, it should be noted that the additional resources and process improvement measures that have been put in place are having an impact. For example, the number of jobseeker's claims awaiting a decision on 9th January last was 30% lower than in July.

While every effort is made to ensure that applications are processed as quickly as possible, anyone who is under financial pressure while awaiting a decision on their claim for a jobseeker's payment can apply for supplementary welfare allowance which is subject to a means test and other qualifying conditions. It is open to anyone who is not satisfied with the decision on their claim to appeal that decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

I assure the House that the Department will continue to prioritise reducing the unacceptable delays in deciding welfare claims that are evident in a small number of offices.

Jobseeker Processing Times (In Weeks) December 2009

JB

JA

Achill

0.03

0.46

Apollo House

0.81

2.00

Ardee

4.26

9.15

Arklow

0.78

3.57

Athlone

2.88

3.58

Athy

1.65

7.89

Balbriggan

3.24

8.59

Ballina

2.19

7.47

Ballinasloe

1.34

5.12

Ballinrobe

1.36

7.55

Ballybofey

0.79

3.65

Ballyconnell

4.70

5.72

Ballyfermot

0.97

3.92

Ballymun

2.08

3.17

Ballyshannon

0.91

3.31

Baltinglass

1.12

7.87

Bandon

4.01

6.26

Bantry

1.73

6.93

Bantry Co

0.89

1.81

Belmullet

0.81

2.26

Birr

1.42

4.30

Bishop Square

2.04

9.26

Blanchardstown

1.31

9.19

Boyle

1.80

9.25

Bray

1.33

3.79

Buncrana

4.21

5.52

Cahir

1.05

2.47

Cahirciveen

2.48

3.77

Carlow

0.38

2.69

Carrickmacross

1.83

5.59

Carrick-On-Shannon

1.80

2.96

Carrick-On-Suir

2.80

9.22

Carrigaline

1.77

4.59

Cashel

0.94

3.63

Castlebar

1.91

4.86

Castleblayney

1.27

3.49

Castlepollard

6.95

19.62

Castlerea

2.03

11.62

Cavan

2.41

8.19

Claremorris

1.85

11.68

Clifden

2.00

3.75

Clonakilty

4.13

5.24

Clondalkin

2.76

5.86

Clones

0.96

4.77

Clonmel

0.65

2.54

Cobh

0.78

1.36

Coolock

2.51

4.73

Cork

1.67

5.49

Dingle

1.56

3.57

Donegal

1.34

3.94

Drogheda

2.81

10.25

Dundalk

0.90

2.17

Dunfanaghy

0.86

1.85

Dungarvan

2.73

9.46

Dungloe

1.75

1.77

Dun Laoghaire

1.74

7.03

Edenderry

2.19

13.24

Ennis

1.46

4.75

Enniscorthy

2.47

7.85

Ennistymon

3.11

2.93

Fermoy

2.44

6.24

Finglas

1.23

3.48

Galway

3.65

10.64

Gorey

3.04

5.22

Gort

2.20

8.49

Kells

2.36

8.63

Kenmare

1.78

3.09

Kilbarrack

1.86

4.57

Kilkenny

0.64

4.28

Killarney

0.87

8.44

Killorglin

1.59

4.76

Killybegs

0.83

2.71

Kilmallock

1.48

2.88

Kilrush

2.95

3.98

King’s Inns St

1.25

2.78

Kinsale

3.96

9.03

Letterkenny

0.68

2.99

Limerick

3.07

8.91

Listowel

0.92

4.29

Longford

2.68

11.67

Loughrea

1.70

6.50

Macroom

3.64

5.61

Mallow

1.82

3.47

Manorhamilton

1.89

0.41

Maynooth

3.04

6.87

Midleton

2.79

5.46

Monaghan

1.23

4.18

Muine Bheag

0.83

5.05

Mullingar

2.46

15.52

Navan

2.27

15.29

Navan Road

2.55

7.68

Nenagh

1.13

3.54

Newbridge

1.71

6.63

Newcastle West

1.31

3.13

Newmarket

5.00

3.65

New Ross

3.28

5.97

Nutgrove

0.71

1.84

Portarlington

0.87

8.11

Portlaoise

2.07

6.39

Rathdowney

3.00

9.23

Roscommon

1.65

5.02

Roscrea

0.98

2.81

Skibbereen

2.24

6.35

Sligo

1.52

7.67

Swinford

2.02

11.52

Swords Lo

2.52

3.24

Tallaght

1.44

5.70

Thomas Street

1.21

3.03

Thomastown

3.07

9.22

Thurles

1.06

4.48

Tipperary

1.59

3.20

Tralee

2.08

3.87

Trim

3.58

10.71

Tuam

1.19

10.51

Tubbercurry

0.71

0.90

Tulla

2.57

2.61

Tullamore

1.27

8.06

Tullow

1.09

6.66

Waterford

4.04

5.27

Westport

1.40

1.29

Wexford

1.01

4.67

Wicklow

1.65

3.96

Youghal

1.09

7.12

Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Shane McEntee

Question:

88 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding the waiting times to access the Money Advice and Budgeting Service money advisers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1691/10]

Responsibility for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) transferred to the Citizens Information Board (CIB) in 2009 and will provide strong management support to the local voluntary MABS companies. MABS assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. The role of money advisors is to help clients to assess their financial situation, make a budget plan and deal with creditors. MABS is now dealing with increasingly complex debt situations in respect of clients who are presenting with multiple creditors/debts. It is important that people coping with debt difficulties take early action and approach MABS for help and guidance. This can be the first positive step for people in addressing debt difficulties.

There are 52 independent MABS companies operating the local MABS services from 65 locations throughout the country, with national support provided by the MABS NDL. In addition, the MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and the MABS website can be accessed 24 hours a day atwww.mabs.ie. The helpline dealt with 24,000 callers in 2009 and 11,000 in 2008. The number of calls received in 2009 remained constant throughout the year at 6,000 per quarter. Some 19,000 new clients approached MABS for assistance in 2009. This compares with 16,600 new clients in 2008 and 12,734 in 2007.

In 2009, funding of almost €18m was allocated to MABS and included provision for 19 additional money advisers, bringing the total number of staff to 271. The MABS funding for 2010 is included in the CIB allocation of €46.2m.

All MABS companies operate an appointment system for clients. Clients with urgent difficulties are prioritised for attention and are dealt with promptly. Less urgent cases are referred to the MABS Helpline and to the MABS website in the first instance. Over 90% of callers to the Helpline find that their money management and budgeting issues can be resolved with the assistance of the helpline advisor. Some 10% of callers are referred to the local MABS for assistance.

From first point of contact to first appointment with a money advisor the average waiting time is currently 4.5 weeks. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices. During the waiting period, clients are assessed and those in need of immediate assistance are given a priority appointment, others are provided with assisted self-help to ensure that they have taken steps to assess their situation and if appropriate they are supported to take holding action with their creditors.

I am satisfied that the additional resources provided to MABS will assist them to meet the demand for their services.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

89 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the action she is taking to improve processing times for all social welfare claims. [1801/10]

The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. To this end, operational processes and procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed in all areas of the Department. These reviews are supported by modern technology, the potential of which is continuously harnessed. Claims are processed in the most efficient and expeditious way possible, having regard to the eligibility conditions that apply to each scheme.

Processing times vary across schemes because of both the volume of applications and the differing qualification criteria. For example, means assessments are required for all of the social assistance schemes; medical examinations are required for illness related schemes and customers must also satisfy the habitual residence conditions. In the case of the insurance based schemes, it may be necessary to ascertain details of foreign insurance records.

It should also be noted that many factors outside the Department's control can impact upon claim processing times e.g. the supply of relevant information by the customer, employers or other third parties.

From January 2009, new processing targets, based on processing 90% of claims within a particular timescale, varying from scheme to scheme, were introduced for all schemes.

Specific process improvements have been introduced across many areas of the Department. Some recent examples of these are as follows:

Jobseeker’s

A range of process improvement initiatives to deal with the increased volume of Jobseeker's claims has been introduced. In addition, five Local Office Support Units have been set up around the country to support the processing of claims. The number of claims awaiting a decision as of the 9 January 2010 was 58,800. This is huge reduction on the 82,000 that were pending in July and illustrates that the additional resources that have been assigned to local offices coupled with the range of process improvement initiatives are having a positive effect.

State Pensions

In order to ensure that entitlement to a pension is decided by the due date all pensioners are advised to apply at least three months in advance of pension age and people are pro-actively invited to claim. In addition, a desk assessment process has been introduced in State Pension Non-Contributory, whereby claims are processed and decided based on the information provided by the customer on their application form without recourse to investigation by a Social Welfare Inspector.

Automated processing and Online Application Forms

To ensure that claims are processed as efficiently as possible and that customers receive their entitlements in a timely manner all application forms have been designed to facilitate the use of scanning and automated processing. An online facility to enable applications for a number of schemes, i.e. State Pension (Contributory) and Household Benefits, to be completed and submitted online, has been implemented. This facility will be extended to other schemes in the coming months. The objective is to enable people to access services at a time and place that best suits their needs. The use of online application forms reduces the administrative burden for customers and facilitates efficient processing of claims by the Department.

Overall, I appreciate the need to ensure that people can receive financial support from the Department as early as possible and I assure the House that we continuously strive to improve processing times in all schemes. In the meantime, it is important to remember that people who have urgent income support needs can apply for the means tested supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) and that more than 95% of basic SWA applications are decided on and paid within a week.

Willie Penrose

Question:

90 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when she plans to reform the back to education allowance to make it more compatible with the Central Applications Office application process for third level courses and the academic year. [1798/10]

The back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme is designed to help those in receipt of a social welfare payment to improve their employability and job-readiness by acquiring additional educational qualifications. It is a second chance education opportunities scheme that recognises the special difficulties that people on social welfare can face when attempting to gain a foothold in the labour market. It is designed to remove the barriers to participation in second and third level education.

The scheme enables eligible people who have been getting a social welfare payment to continue to receive a payment while pursuing an approved full-time education course. The scheme is self-selecting in nature and responsibility for securing a place on an approved course rests with the applicant. Once a place has been secured, an applicant can check with the Department as to whether the other eligibility criteria for participation in the back to education scheme are fulfilled. Payment under the scheme covers the relevant academic year and the scheme caters for approved courses where the starting date is not aligned to the standard academic year.

In order to qualify for participation, an applicant must be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for 3 months if pursuing a second level course or 12 months if pursuing a third level course. The qualifying period for access to third level courses is reduced to 9 months for those who are participating in the national employment action plan process or engaging with the Department's facilitator programme.

People who are awarded statutory redundancy may access the scheme immediately, provided an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study.

The requirement to be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for a minimum period has always been a feature of the back to education scheme. A waiting period is considered essential to confer entitlement to income support for an indefinite period and is considered necessary in the context of targeting scarce resources at those who need it most.

The number of participants in 2008/2009 academic year was 11,646. Final figures for the current academic year are not yet finalised. However, the number of people on the scheme at the end of November 2009 was 20,418 which is 88% higher than the figure of 10,854 at the end of November 2008.

The back to education scheme has been subject to review and modification over the years to ensure that it continues to assist those furthest from the labour market. The qualifying conditions will continue to be monitored in the context of the objectives of the scheme and the changing economic circumstances.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

91 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the details of the planned vouched fuel allowance scheme for low income families to offset the increases in fuel costs associated with the introduction of the carbon tax. [1795/10]

Ulick Burke

Question:

110 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the action she will take to alleviate the impact of the carbon tax on lower income households that are more likely to rely on higher carbon fuels and to live in badly insulated homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1655/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 and 110 together.

The household benefits package is payable throughout the year to almost 380,000 pensioners, people with disabilities, and carer households to assist them with their heating, light and cooking costs. This scheme cost approximately €200m in 2009.

In addition, the national fuel allowance scheme assists householders on long-term social welfare or health service executive payments with meeting the additional cost of their heating needs during the winter season. The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's heating expenses. It is not intended to meet those costs in full and must be seen in the context of the overall level of income available to the family.

In Budget 2009, the duration of the payment was increased by an extra 2 weeks to 32 weeks, while the weekly value of the allowance was increased by €2 to €20 a week, or €23.90 in designated smokeless areas. This compares with just €14 and €17.90 respectively in 2006.

Proper household insulation is absolutely vital in tacking fuel poverty. Initiatives such as the Warmer Homes Scheme, operated by Sustainable Energy Ireland, under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources have a very valuable role to play in that regard, as does funding from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to improve the quality of existing local authority housing. Considerable progress has been made in this area in recent years.

The Government has announced its intention to introduce a carbon tax, which will come into effect on heating products from May 2010 and on solid fuels at a date to be set by commencement order.

Before the tax is applied to fuels for home heating, arrangements are being made to assist those most at risk of fuel poverty.

In his Carbon Budget Statement, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, outlined details of €130 million in funding for insulation, €76 million of which will be used to assist low income families. The Government is also conscious that families at risk of fuel poverty will need extra income support to meet the increasing costs of fuel as a result of the carbon tax.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has overarching responsibility for the energy portfolio and has convened an Inter- Departmental/Agency Group on Affordable Energy to coordinate and drive Government policy in this area. The objective is to ensure a shared understanding of the challenges and actions underway and to ensure a fully cohesive strategic approach to delivery of affordable energy initiatives and programmes.

The Inter Departmental/Agency Group has been asked to draw up an Energy Affordability Strategy for consultation early in 2010. This strategy will set out existing and future approaches to addressing energy affordability and will have regard both to the impact of the carbon tax on low income households and the range of supports outlined above in making its recommendations.

As part of its work, the Group will make recommendations as to the precise package of measures, including in the area of income support, that should be put in place to assist those at risk of fuel poverty in advance of the implementation of the carbon tax on home heating products.

Social Welfare Fraud.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

92 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding fraud control measures put in place by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1677/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

101 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the savings made in 2009 by her as a result of fraud detection; if she achieved her departmental target; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1480/10]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

116 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her estimate of the fraud detection rate arising from calls from members of the public. [1794/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 101 and 116 together.

The prevention of fraud and abuse of the social welfare system is an integral part of the day-to-day work of the Department. A key objective of the Department's control strategy is to ensure that the right person is paid the right amount of money at the right time.

The Department processes in excess of 2 million claims each year and it makes payments to over one million people every week. The vast majority of people are receiving the entitlement due to them.

Welfare fraud is theft. It is a serious crime and the Department is doing everything that it can to crack down on people who abuse the system. There are over 620 staff working in areas related to control of fraud and abuse of the welfare system.

The level of fraud on most schemes is very low. As reported by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the percentage of expenditure resulting from fraud identified in the Department's Fraud and Error surveys was 0% for pensioners, 0.1% for Illness Benefit, 0.8% for the Family Income Supplement, 1.8% for Child Benefit and 2.3% for the Disability Allowance.

Nonetheless, the Department is conscious that in a small number of schemes, some groups of claimants present a higher risk than others and we have made changes to address this. For example, a number of individual surveys have highlighted a high level of risk that non-Irish nationals could claim welfare payments to which they are no longer entitled after they have left the State. Having identified this risk, the Department has sought to minimise it by removing the option to receive payments by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) for new claimants of jobseeker payments.

Targeted control measures have also been put in place in relation to other customer segments in schemes where any form of high risk has been identified. Since the department started the cross-border operations, the percentage year-on-year increase in people signing on for jobseeker's payments in virtually all of the border offices had reduced.

Fraud detection systems have also been improved through data matches with organisations such as the Revenue Commissioners on commencement of employment data, the General Registrars Office on Marriages and Deaths information, and many other organisations including the Departments of Justice, Environment, Education and other state bodies. In addition, a data matching programme is now in place to ensure that relevant information available in one area of the Department is applied to all schemes.

Greater emphasis was also placed last year on prevention of fraud and error at the claim application stage. While this is of course the most cost effective mechanism of reducing unwarranted welfare expenditure, it should be noted that savings achieved in this way are not included in the published figures for control savings.

For 2009, the Department set a target of reviewing almost 620,000 individual welfare claims. In fact over 750,000 reviews were actually carried out last year — 20% more than the annual target. The total fraud and error savings recorded for the year was approximately €484 million. While this was lower than the target set for 2009, it represented an increase of €8 million on the 2008 figure.

In considering the level of savings recorded in 2009, it is important to note that the final average live register figure for the year, at 395,500, was significantly lower than the 440,000 that had been predicted when the annual target was set. Also, while it is difficult to identify exactly why the above-target number of reviews did not generate higher savings, it may be partially due to decreased opportunities for people to work and claim. Increased emphasis on preventing unwarranted claims at the initial application stage may also have led to a reduction in the number of claims having to be stopped after they have gone into payment.

It is also worth noting that the 2009 control savings from several schemes were ahead of target. These include Child Benefit, One Parent Family Payment, Illness payments and Pensions.

The number of anonymous reports from members of the public has increased dramatically in the past year, with over 6,400 reports made at end 2009 compared to approximately 1,000 reports made in 2008. Each report is followed-up and savings are included in the savings reported within the individual scheme areas.

The Department is committed to ensuring that social welfare payments are available to those who are entitled to them. In this regard the control programme of my Department is carefully monitored and the various measures are continuously refined to ensure that they remain effective. As Deputies will be aware, the recent Social Welfare Bill included extra anti-fraud powers for the Department.

Social Welfare Code.

Denis Naughten

Question:

93 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No 62 of 11 November 2009, if a final decision has been taken as to the appropriate response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1481/10]

The earlier question, to which Deputy Naughten makes reference, asked about "plans to review the habitual residence condition rules or the existing legislation in view of the recent decisions of the appeals office regarding cases by asylum seekers".

Section 15 of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act 2009, passed by this House on 15 December 2009, provided for an amendment to the habitual residence provisions to deal with this matter. The new provisions list those who have a legal right to reside in the State and those who do not have such a right, and state that those who do not have such a right shall not be regarded as habitually resident for the purposes of any claim for social welfare.

A deciding officer or appeals officer may not therefore rule that a person, who has been refused permission to remain in the State, or whose application has not yet been determined, satisfies the habitual residence condition. Where a decision is given granting permission to remain, the question of whether that person is habitually resident will be made in the light of the factors set out since 2007 in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act. The determination will be made with effect from the date that permission is granted, or from the date of application for the payment in question if the application was not lodged until after that date.

Social Welfare Benefits.

John O'Mahony

Question:

94 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons on a national, county and local social welfare office basis awaiting for their application for jobseeker’s allowance and benefit to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1719/10]

The total number of jobseeker's awaiting a decision on their claim at 9th January 2010 was 58,878. A table showing the breakdown between Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) and Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) claims at each local office is as follows. This information has been compiled from data that is maintained on a Local Office catchment area basis and these figures do not correspond exactly with county boundaries.

Over the past number of months the Department has introduced a range of process improvement initiatives to deal with the increased volume of claims which include:

A more streamlined procedure for claimants moving to jobseeker's allowance when their jobseeker's benefit expires.

A streamlined process for people who had a claim in the previous two years.

Application forms for the jobseeker schemes are now available on the Department's website. This means that anyone who wants to make a claim can print the form at home and bring it to the local office completed. This helps reduce queuing times.

More straight-forward procedures for providing evidence of identity and address have been introduced

The process for casual employees has been streamlined and the employee can now self certify on a weekly basis without recourse to the employer. A compensatory periodic control measure has been introduced for employers.

One of the most significant initiatives introduced recently aimed at reducing queuing times and waiting times, involves the customer attending the office by appointment at which time the claim is taken and decided. This system has already been introduced in 20 offices. The Department plans to extend it up to a further 25 offices and over the next few weeks it will be introduced in Cavan, Clonmel, Ennis, Tralee, Arklow, Wexford, Finglas, Navan Road, Kilbarrack, Swords and Dun Laoghaire.

I realise the importance of getting claims decided as quickly as possible and I want to assure the Deputy that staff in local offices and in the Department's inspectorate are doing all they can to reduce the numbers of claims awaiting a decision.

JA/JB Claims Pending by Local Office at January 9th 2010.

Local Office

JA

JB

Achill

4

0

Apollo House

137

53

Ardee

287

163

Arklow

145

100

Athlone

354

312

Athy

247

125

Balbriggan

557

204

Ballina

381

173

Ballinasloe

267

63

Ballinrobe

111

42

Ballybofey

161

80

Ballyconnell

97

77

Ballyfermot

223

74

Ballymun

130

61

Ballyshannon

65

30

Baltinglass

146

70

Bandon

157

104

Bantry

152

70

Bantry CO

32

14

Belmullet

33

23

Birr

169

122

Bishop Square

1038

280

Blanchardstown

1528

258

Boyle

101

52

Bray

197

103

Buncrana

538

219

Cahir

49

68

Cahirciveen

45

44

Carlow

154

62

Carrickmacross

147

55

Carrick-on-Shannon

174

77

Carrick-on-Suir

154

80

Carrigaline

252

145

Cashel

54

44

Castlebar

226

139

Castleblaney

119

43

Castlepollard

218

72

Castlerea

367

111

Cavan

565

239

Claremorris

233

92

Clifden

52

28

Clonakilty

124

80

Clondalkin

1026

346

Clones

53

37

Clonmel

103

40

Cobh

49

42

Coolock

522

337

Cork

2867

424

Dingle

30

48

Donegal

60

84

Drogheda

851

381

Dun Laoghaire

603

378

Dundalk

258

100

Dunfanaghy

69

57

Dungarvan

205

145

Dungloe

78

86

Edenderry

304

85

Ennis

522

319

Enniscorthy

503

191

Ennistymon

135

111

Fermoy

182

153

Finglas

358

182

Galway

1726

460

Gorey

386

273

Gort

151

98

Kells

216

112

Kenmare

43

35

Kilbarrack

285

195

Kilkenny

340

104

Killarney

437

119

Killorglin

50

38

Killybegs

26

27

Kilmallock

163

168

Kilrush

132

89

King’s Inns Street

416

207

Kinsale

113

53

Letterkenny

263

82

Limerick

1637

1167

Listowel

173

74

Longford

618

220

Loughrea

316

77

Macroom

184

169

Mallow

164

176

Manorhamilton

16

36

Maynooth

691

483

Midleton

327

140

Monaghan

160

157

Muine Bheag

127

35

Mullingar

852

308

Navan

1017

248

Navan Road

991

360

Nenagh

188

124

New Ross

348

211

Newbridge

1069

357

Newcastle West

140

159

Newmarket

164

361

Nutgrove

145

202

Portarlington

390

89

Portlaoise

337

249

Rathdowney

142

59

Roscommon

95

50

Roscrea

79

47

Skibbereen

137

72

Sligo

415

122

Swinford

233

76

Swords

396

347

Tallaght

1111

313

Thomas Street

279

72

Thomastown

129

84

Thurles

158

84

Tipperary

78

72

Tralee

240

245

Trim

513

282

Tuam

472

70

Tubbercurry

22

23

Tulla

93

156

Tullamore

179

88

Tullow

128

42

Waterford

1096

510

Westport

77

69

Wexford

414

241

Wicklow

48

57

Youghal

98

37

40,401

18,477

Róisín Shortall

Question:

95 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way she intends to achieve the €20 million projected savings on rent supplement as announced in budget 2010; and if these savings are based on the 2009 estimate, the 2009 outturn or otherwise. [1806/10]

Rent supplement is payable to people who are unable to meet the cost of renting private accommodation and is intended as a short-term support. There are currently over 93,000 tenants benefiting from a rent supplement payment — an increase of 26% since the end of 2008. The provisional outturn on Rent Supplement for 2009 is €507.68 million. Budget 2010 provided for expenditure of €509m in 2010, after the achievement of €20m savings.

Rent limits are set at levels that enable eligible households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to the different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the state.

It is essential to ensure that state support for rent supplemented tenants, who form a substantial section of the rental market, does not give rise to inflated rental prices with particular negative impact on those tenants on lower incomes, including people in low paid employment. The Government is determined to ensure that reductions in rent levels generally in the year to date result in savings for the taxpayer.

Maximum rent limits are prescribed in regulations and are time limited so that they can be adjusted in the light of rent levels generally. The most recent regulations cover the period 1 June 2009 to 31 May 2010. Rent limits can, however, be reviewed at any time. Notwithstanding rent limits, the Community Welfare Service may, in certain circumstances, exceed the rent levels as an exceptional measure to meet special needs. Equally the Community Welfare Service also pays below prescribed rent limits in the light of rent levels in the local rental market.

Budget 2010 provided for €20m savings in the rent supplement scheme arising from a review of the maximum rent limits. To this end, the maximum level of rent supplement payable by the State will be reviewed early in 2010 on the basis of the latest data available on general trends in rental prices.

The review will be conducted with reference to analysis of rents recorded with the Private Residential Tenancies Board, the CSO private rent index and data from the Daft.ie property website. The maximum rent limits payable will then be adjusted and new limits will apply in respect of all new tenancies or renewals of tenancies from April 2010.

Indications are that rents in the private rented sector continue to fall since limits were reviewed in 2009. Based on current information available about decreases in rent levels, the Department expects the rent review to lead to savings of €20 million.

Social Welfare Code.

James Bannon

Question:

96 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to change the one parent family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1647/10]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

127 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when she plans to end the cohabitation ban for lone parents. [1804/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

720 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to change the one parent family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2060/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

787 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to change the criteria for lone parents benefits; when these changes will take effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1941/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96, 127, 720 and 787 together.

The Government discussion paper, "Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents," put forward proposals to tackle obstacles to employment for lone parents and other low income families. These included proposals for the extension of the National Employment Action Plan to focus on lone parents, focused provision of childcare and the introduction of a new social assistance payment for low income families with young children.

The current duration of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is not in the best interests of the recipient, their children or society. Social welfare supports for lone parents should be designed to: Prevent long term dependence on social welfare income support and facilitate financial independence. Recognise parental choice with regard to the care of young children but with the expectation that parents will not remain outside of the labour force indefinitely. Change the expectations surrounding receipt of the OFP, introducing an expectation of participation in education, training and employment, with supports provided in this regard.

Income supports are only one element of the supports required by those parenting alone. Other co-ordinated supports and services required include access to childcare support, education, training and activation measures. These must also be addressed by the relevant Departments and Agencies if lone parents are to be enabled to access employment.

It has not been possible to progress the proposals as outlined in the Government discussion paper, including the removal of the cohabitation rule, due, in part, to current economic conditions. These proposals have, however, informed deliberations regarding the scheme. The Government is considering various options for limiting the length of time for which the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) can be paid (including the age of the youngest child). Any such changes would be phased in over a period of years for existing recipients to enable lone parents to access education and training and to prepare for their return to the labour market.

Social Welfare Appeals.

David Stanton

Question:

97 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of applications received for domiciliary care allowance from April to December 2009, inclusive; the number refused; the number appealed to the social welfare appeals office; the number of same for which the decision was overturned on appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1779/10]

David Stanton

Question:

125 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of domiciliary care allowance applications received by her Department each month from April to December 2009 inclusive; the number of these claims which were refused each month; the number of same for which appeals were submitted; the reason children were judged not to be eligible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1780/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 97 and 125 together.

Domiciliary Care Allowance is payable in respect of children who have a disability so severe that it requires the child needing care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. The care and attention received must be given by another person, effectively full-time so that the child can deal with the normal activities of daily life. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.

Eligibility for Domiciliary Care Allowance is not based primarily on the medical or psychological condition, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind necessitating the degree of extra care and attention required. Each application is assessed on an individual basis taking account of the evidence submitted by the applicant.

In the period 1st April 2009 to 31st December 2009 a total of 3,389 applications were received, of which 2,823 cases have to date been fully processed by the Department. Of these applications, 1,031 were awarded and 1,792 refused as they were deemed not to be eligible for Domiciliary Care Allowance. 566 applications are still to be decided. The tabular statement sets out the number of applications received and the number of applications processed each month from April to December 2009. During 2009, decisions made on 564 claims were reviewed at the applicants request as new or additional medical evidence was available, of these 117 claims were subsequently allowed.

Where claims are deemed to be ineligible on medical grounds, it is because it is considered that the requirement of care and attention and/or supervision is not substantially in excess of another child of the same age who does not have a disability. Where a person is not satisfied with the decision of a Deciding Officer they may appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

There were 836 appeals of Domiciliary Care Allowance decisions received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 which variously consisted of appeals in relation to the commencement date of the claim, satisfying the Habitual Resident Condition or meeting the medical criteria for the scheme. The Social Welfare Appeals Office made decisions on 11 cases in 2009 and overturned the decision in 6 cases.

All claims that have had the original negative decision revised have been processed by the Department and payment has issued to the customers.

Number of DCA Applications received and processed per month from April 2009 to December 2009

Month

Applications Received

Claims Awarded of the 2,823 processed to date.

Claims Refused of the 2,823 processed to date.

April

155

7

8

May

399

48

84

June

482

124

145

July

499

136

249

August

301

139

259

September

496

123

212

October

366

214

420

November

394

156

241

December

297

84

174

Total

3,389

1,031

1,792

Job Facilitators.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

98 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the additional supports given to job facilitators to deal with the increased demand for access to support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1726/10]

Facilitators work with social welfare recipients to identify appropriate training or development programmes which will enhance the skills that the individual has and ultimately improve their employment chances, as well as help them to continue to develop personally. They work in close co-operation with other agencies and service providers including FÁS, VEC, other education and training providers and the local and community and voluntary sector. In addition, they provide advice and support to customers who wish to access the back to education scheme, the back to work scheme, and the short term enterprise allowance scheme of the Department.

The facilitator service is available locally to all social welfare recipients via the local network. Facilitators are assigned to cover a geographical area. They hold open clinics and meet with people who have been referred either by the social welfare local office, the employment support section or by other agencies.

Since September 2008, 23 additional facilitators have been appointed. The number of facilitators currently in place is 63. It is envisaged that this number will increase to 70 in the coming months.

Carer’s Strategy.

Michael Creed

Question:

99 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the future plans she has for carers following the decision not to publish the national carer’s strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1734/10]

The Government is acutely aware and appreciative of the contribution made by carers. It was for that reason, that when resources were available, we invested heavily in improving social welfare rates and services for all those who are reliant on the State for income support.

Over the past decade, weekly payment rates to carers have greatly increased, qualifying conditions for carer's allowance have significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carer's benefit, half-rate carer's allowance and the respite care grant have been introduced and extended. Where people are caring for more than one person they receive a higher payment. This equates to the personal rate for a person with the same means who is caring for one person plus 50% of the maximum personal rate. Recipients with children also receive a qualified child increase in respect of each child.

Following this year's Budget, the carer's allowance rates for carers over 66 years of age have not been changed and remain at €239. The rate of carer's allowance for someone under 66 is €212.

Since the introduction of the carer's allowance in 1990 payments to carers have been increased and expanded. Carer's allowance was increased in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by 12.1%, 6.5% and 3.3%, respectively. As a result, even with the reductions announced in last year's Budget for carers under 66, the weekly rate of payment for the carers allowance is still almost 20% higher this year than in 2006 and more than 147% higher than in 1997.

The means test for carer's allowance has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse's earnings. Since April 2008, the income disregard has been €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 per week for a couple. This means that a couple with two children can earn in the region of €37,200 and qualify for the maximum rate of carer's allowance as well as the associated free travel and household benefits. A couple with an income in the region of €60,400 can still qualify for a minimum payment, as well as the associated free travel, household benefits package. These levels surpass the ‘Towards 2016' commitment to ensure those on average industrial earnings continue to qualify for a full carer's allowance.

From June 2005, the annual respite care grant was extended to all carers who are providing full time care to a person who needs such care, regardless of their income. The rate of the respite care grant has also been increased to €1,700 per year in respect of each care recipient since June 2008.

During 2008, an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, with secretariat support provided by my Department, undertook work, including a public consultation process to develop a National Carers' Strategy. However, because of the prevailing economic situation, it is not possible to set targets or time limits which could be achieved. In that context, rather than publishing a document which did not include any significant plans for the future, the Government decided not to publish a strategy. This position remains unchanged.

Affordable Energy.

Joe Costello

Question:

100 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the involvement of her Department on the inter-departmental group on affordable energy. [1785/10]

The Department of Social and Family Affairs assists social welfare recipients with heating costs, both through their basic payments and through the fuel allowance scheme and the household benefits package of electricity and gas allowances. These schemes have been improved significantly in recent years.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has overarching responsibility for the energy portfolio and convened an inter-departmental /agency group on affordable energy, in June 2008, to coordinate government policy in this area. The group, which is co-chaired by the Social Inclusion Division of this Department, comprises officials of the departments of the Taoiseach, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Health and Children, Social and Family Affairs, the Commission for Energy Regulation, Sustainable Energy Ireland, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland and the ESB and Bord Gáis. Officials of the Department of Social and Family Affairs who have responsibility for the fuel allowance and household benefits schemes participate in the group. The objective of the group's work is to ensure shared understanding of the challenges and actions underway and to ensure a fully cohesive, strategic approach to the delivery of affordable energy initiatives and programmes.

The group has been asked to develop an affordable energy strategy encompassing the policies and initiatives required to improve energy affordability in Ireland. As part of its terms of reference, the group will seek to identify an appropriate methodology for the measurement and reporting of energy poverty in Ireland and to assess the extent of energy poverty in Ireland. I am advised that the group will commence its deliberations this month with a view to finalising the strategy following a period of consultation.

Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 92.

Social Welfare Fraud.

Noel Coonan

Question:

102 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she is satisfied with the method of recording and calculating fraud control savings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1664/10]

Liz McManus

Question:

128 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to change the methodology by which savings on fraud and overpayments are calculated by her Department. [1792/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 128together.

Control savings are calculated by applying validated multipliers to the difference in the rate of payment before and after the control activity. Multipliers used in assessing control savings estimate the total future savings to the Department of a revocation or reduction resulting from a control action. The multiplier used is based on the average amount of time the person whose payment is stopped will remain off the books before returning. This time varies from scheme to scheme.

There is a comprehensive control guideline which sets out:

(a) What constitutes a control saving in the various control activities;

(b) The various multipliers to be used in determining saving;

(c) The method of reporting reviews and savings.

Control Division carry out on-going validation exercises to ensure control savings are recorded correctly. There are no plans to change this method of identifying savings.

Departmental Funding.

Pat Breen

Question:

103 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the funding made available to the humanitarian assistance scheme for flood claims; the number of applications for support; the average time it takes to process an application; the number of applications refused support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1652/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

769 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the value to date of urgent needs payments paid to flood victims; the number of applicants involved; the corresponding figure for payments under the humanitarian assistance towards flood damage scheme; if the humanitarian scheme will consider permanent housing relocation payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1618/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

775 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her proposals to address the issues of hardship arising from recent flooding with particular reference to a simplification of assessment and process of applications for supplementary or emergency assistance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45570/09]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

780 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide additional emergency funds to help defray the extra energy costs incurred by persons affected by the recent flooding; if any relief is available to persons carrying third party insurance whose cars were damaged in the recent icy conditions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1866/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

785 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of families that have applied for a payment under the humanitarian assistance scheme or an exceptional urgent needs payment; the number of applications that have been approved and paid out; the details of the average and total payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1899/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 103, 769, 775, 780 and 785 together.

In recognition of the devastation suffered by people in many areas of the country as a result of the flooding from November 2009 onwards, the Government set up a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme to provide income tested financial support to people who have suffered damages to their homes not covered by insurance. An initial sum of €10 million has been set aside by the Government for this purpose.

The Department and the Community Welfare Service of the HSE are working with the various statutory and other agencies also working in this area, to ensure that the humanitarian assistance scheme will go towards alleviating the hardship which many hundreds of families have had to endure.

Community Welfare Service staff throughout the country have been providing support to families since this flooding occurred. Up to the 8th January 2009 they had already made over 1,748 payments to 1,038 individuals to the value of €652,000. The average payment per individual is €628, with the largest payment to an individual in excess of €8,000. All payments to those affected by the flooding are being provided for under the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

While the timescale for determining applications for Humanitarian Assistance claims is dependant, among other things, on the availability of the required information, there is no backlog of undecided claims. According to the information available from the HSE, as of 8th January 2010, there were approximately 50 applications currently being assessed. Only one claim refused.

Payments have been provided for emergency financial and other assistance to cover items such as clothing, food, bedding, heating, hire of dehumidifiers and emergency accommodation needs. The Community Welfare Service will continue to make these payments as long as there is a requirement to do so. Such emergency payments under the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme are made without delay and without regard to the household income as the primary objective of these payments is to address the person's immediate needs.

As the flood waters have receded in some areas, individuals are now in a better position to assess the extent of the damage to their homes. In these cases, payments have been made in respect of essential household items such as carpets, flooring, furniture and white goods. Assistance is also available for structural repairs to homes not covered by household insurance.

Very few large scale claims have been made at this stage as homeowners have not yet established the cost of repair. In many cases, they are awaiting builder's estimates. It is expected that large scale claims will be received over the coming weeks. These claims will take somewhat longer to process as they will require verification of the loss and the possible use of a loss assessor.

The level of payment available under the aid scheme to any qualified individual depends on the severity of the damage to that person's home and the extent of the loss experienced as well as household income and general family circumstances. The scheme provides hardship alleviation as opposed to full compensation. As on previous occasions, commercial or business losses are not covered by the scheme nor are losses which are covered by household insurance. The repair of cars damaged in the recent icy conditions is also not covered by the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

The question of permanent housing relocation payments is a housing issue to be dealt with by the relevant housing authorities. However, the Community Welfare Service will continue to work with any families in this position to ensure that the objectives of the humanitarian aid scheme are fully achieved in their case.

Applications under the scheme are being income tested to ensure that available assistance is prioritised for those who are most vulnerable. The basic objective of the income test is to determine the household's capacity to meet the costs of restoring their home to a habitable condition. All household income is considered when determining entitlement to payment.

Detailed guidelines have been provided to the HSE in relation to the income test. These guidelines also contain a list of the type of goods/appliances that are generally covered by the scheme and what replacement value should typically be attributable to each item. This list is not exhaustive and is intended as a guide only. The Community Welfare Service has full discretion to make payments at a higher level than a strict application of the income test would warrant in any individual case where it considers it appropriate to do so. This income test and guidelines simplify the assessment process and to allow for the speedy processing of applications.

People seeking assistance should contact their local Community Welfare Office. Further information and applications forms in relation to the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme are available from the Community Welfare Service in the affected areas and from the Department's website (www.welfare.ie) and the HSE’s website (www.hse.ie).

Social Welfare Benefits.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

104 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when she will publish the outcome of the review of mortgage interest supplement. [1788/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

113 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to amend the mortgage interest supplement scheme; if she will make the revised guidelines publicly available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1697/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 113 together.

The mortgage interest supplement scheme provides support for people who have difficulty meeting their mortgage repayments and whose means are insufficient to meet their needs. The scheme provides a short-term income "safety net" within the overall social welfare system to ensure that people do not suffer hardship due to loss of employment or other changes in circumstances.

A supplement in respect of mortgage interest only may be paid to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. There are currently over 15,100 people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement, an increase of almost 87% (7,000) over the numbers in payment at the end of December 2008.

The assessment for the mortgage interest supplement scheme provides for a gradual withdrawal of payment as earnings increase. Those availing of part-time employment and/or training opportunities can continue to receive mortgage interest supplement subject to their satisfying the standard means assessment rules.

A review of the administration of the mortgage interest scheme is progressing. The main purpose of the review is to examine how the scheme can best meet its objective of catering for those who require assistance on a short-term basis where they are unable to meet mortgage interest repayments on their sole place of residence.

The review group includes representatives from this Department, the Community Welfare Service, the Departments of Finance, and Environment, Heritage and Local Government together with a representative from the Office of the Financial Regulator. The group is examining trends in programme and administrative costs, the impact of the Financial Regulator's statutory Code of Practice on Mortgage Arrears on the mortgage interest supplement scheme and legislative and operational issues arising, including the cap on hours of employment. The review is also considering whether alternative approaches to achieving the scheme's objectives are warranted in the light of recent changes in the economic climate and the mortgage market. The full review should be complete and available for publication by the end of Q1 2010.

Guidelines on certain operational issues for community welfare officers administering the scheme, were updated in June 2009. The guidelines are available on the Department's websitewww.welfare.ie

Social Insurance.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

105 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when she will provide legislation for the planned PRSI exemption for employers who take on a person who has been on the live register for six months or more. [1797/10]

It is proposed that legislation for the PRSI Job Incentive scheme will be brought before the Houses of Oireachtas in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in spring of this year.

Question No. 106 answered with Question No. 87.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Joe McHugh

Question:

107 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she is satisfied with the capacity of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service to negotiate on persons’ behalf with financial institutions and sub-prime lenders in relation to mortgage arrears; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1696/10]

The money advisers throughout the country focus on providing assistance, advice and intense support to people who have financial difficulties. The money adviser works out a budget and negotiates on behalf of the client with all creditors, including financial institutions and sub-prime lenders, to secure better terms for the client in managing the repayment of their debts. Where required by the client, the money adviser can assist with setting up a special account with a local Credit Union into which an agreed amount of money is lodged regularly and from which each month the money adviser makes the repayments to the creditors on behalf of the client. In 2009 some 2,618 special accounts were set up with the local Credit Unions.

Focused training programmes designed to equip money advice staff and local management boards to meet the demands on the services are provided by MABS NDL, the national support company. In addition, MABS NDL has introduced a number of community education and other initiatives to assist the services in managing their increased caseloads. These include a money management education programme for people facing redundancy to inform them about managing on a reduced income and how to avoid getting into debt.

Under the statutory code of conduct on mortgage arrears published by the Financial Regulator, all financial institutions including the banks and sub-prime mortgage lenders must, where circumstances warrant it, refer a borrower in difficulty for guidance to a local MABS office or to an appropriate alternative.

An operational protocol ‘Working Together to Manage Debt' is in place and is the result of almost 2 years work by MABS NDL and the Irish Banking Federation (IBF), the main representative body for the banking and financial services sector. The Protocol applies to all client debts, including mortgage debt owed to the major lending institutions in Ireland and includes a commitment that no legal action will be taken as long as there is compliance by the client with an agreed repayment plan.

Last year an additional 19 money advisers were recruited by MABS between September and December, bringing the number of MABS staff to 271. The additional advisors have been appointed to MABS companies throughout the country.

I am confident that the MABS is well equipped to provide a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Departmental Schemes.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

108 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason back to work education allowance scheme is available to persons who are pursing higher diploma courses but not Masters courses; her plans to address the limitations with this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1786/10]

The objective of the back to education allowance scheme is to equip people on social welfare payments with qualifications that will enable them to obtain employment in the labour market. The scheme covers courses of education from second level to Higher Diploma level in any discipline (level 8 in National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)) and to a Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary and Secondary Teaching, level 9 in NFQ) which add significantly to a person's employability. Other postgraduate qualifications (level 9 or level 10) are not included.

The possession of qualifications at level 9 or above in the NFQ is not regarded as a prerequisite to re-entering the workforce. A small number of cases have arisen where a college has granted an exemption from the requirement to hold a primary degree and has admitted a person to a Master's course on the basis of relevant life experience. In the context of the ongoing review of the operation of the scheme, it was decided to extend entitlement to BTEA in these instances on an exceptional basis.

The focus of the back to education allowance is on providing assistance to the highest possible number of those in greatest need in terms of meeting the requirements of a modern labour market. People in possession of a third level qualification have already achieved a high level of academic attainment which should impact positively on their employment prospects. There are no immediate plans to extend the scheme to cover Master's courses in general. The scheme will continue to be monitored in the light of the changed economic circumstance in order to ensure that it continues to meet its objectives.

Social Welfare Code.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

109 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the action she is taking to progress the introduction of a unified means test. [1811/10]

The Department administers a number of social assistance schemes to meet the income support needs of certain people. The associated means tests are designed to reflect the particular circumstances of these individuals and their families as well as the different life cycle stages. Over the years, various developments in means testing have led to the system becoming complex and difficult for the individual to comprehend. The Department would wish to move to a simpler more unified approach to means testing, especially for those of working age.

As a separate but related exercise, the Department is currently examining the feasibility of introducing a single social assistance payment for people of working age. The review will examine the rules and conditions, including the means testing rules, that currently apply and the various supports available to people of working age with a view to ascertaining how these could be rationalised in the context of a single payment to meet the objective of supporting people back to work, education and/or training and other development opportunities, as appropriate. It is expected that the feasibility report will be finalised by early 2010.

An inter-departmental working group was established in March 2009, on foot of a recommendation in the Task Force ReportTransforming Public Services, to undertake a detailed study on the feasibility and value of introducing mechanisms to simplify the provision of means information to all public bodies. This working group is chaired by a senior official of this Department. While the group is not examining a proposal for a unified means test, its work will include consideration of all possibilities in relation to simplifying and achieving other efficiencies across all public bodies with regard to means testing arrangements. The work of the group is progressing well.

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 91.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Phil Hogan

Question:

111 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average time it takes to process social welfare appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1684/10]

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that during 2009 the average time taken to process all appeals (i.e. those decided summarily and by way of oral hearing) was 24 weeks. However, if allowance was made for the 25% most protracted cases, the average time fell to 15.8 weeks. This represents an increase of 2 weeks in the time taken to process appeals when compared to 2008, but must be seen in the context of an increase of 46% in the number of appeals received during 2009.

The processing time for appeals covers all phases of the appeal process including the submission by the Department of its comments on the grounds for the appeal, further examination by the Department's Medical Assessors in certain illness related cases, further investigation by Social Welfare Inspectors where required and circumstances may also arise where further information is sought from the appellant.

To deal with the increased workload being experienced by the Social Welfare Appeals Office, two additional Appeals Officers were appointed during the year. However, the Chief Appeals Officer and five experienced Appeals Officers retired during 2009. Although their positions have now been filled these retirements impacted on the processing of appeals.

The matter of assigning additional Appeals Officers is kept under constant review but any consideration of extra assignments must be taken in the context of overall government policy on civil service numbers.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 87.
Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 104.

Fuel Poverty.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

114 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she has plans to develop a national fuel poverty strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1775/10]

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, which has overarching responsibility for the energy portfolio, has convened an inter-departmental/agency group on affordable energy, to coordinate government policy in this area. The group comprises officials of the departments of the Taoiseach, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Health and Children, Social and Family Affairs, the Commission for Energy Regulation, Sustainable Energy Ireland, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland and the ESB and Bord Gáis. Officials of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, that has responsibility for the fuel allowance and household benefits schemes, participate in the group and it is co-chaired by the Social Inclusion Division of the Department.

The objective of the group's work is to ensure shared understanding of the challenges and actions underway and to ensure a fully cohesive strategic approach to the delivery of affordable energy initiatives and programmes.

The group has been asked to develop an affordable energy strategy encompassing the policies and initiatives required to improve energy affordability in Ireland. As part of its terms of reference the group will seek to identify an appropriate methodology for the measurement and reporting of energy poverty in Ireland and to assess the extent of energy poverty in Ireland. The group will commence its deliberations shortly with a view to finalising the strategy following a period of consultation.

Pension Provisions.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

115 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when she will publish the national pensions framework. [1791/10]

As Deputies are aware, the Green Paper on Pensions outlined the challenges facing the Irish pensions system in the years ahead, including the sustainability of the system over the longer term in light of demographic change and the adequacy of contribution levels and benefits. The consultation process which followed publication of the Green Paper reflected the wide range of views and interests held by individuals and organisations throughout the country. While there was no consensus on ways to respond to the challenges facing our pension system, it was clear that there were significant issues and problems that people wanted addressed.

Since the Green Paper was published in October 2007, the economic environment has changed considerably and the Government need to ensure that any decisions we make in the pensions area will be robust enough to withstand the challenges which will arise in the future. We must make decisions now to ensure the adequacy of retirement incomes for this and future generations while, at the same time, develop a system which is affordable and sustainable for the State and for those who sponsor and provide pension schemes.

In the past 18 months or so the Government has taken a number of steps to respond to the immediate difficulties facing pension scheme members, particularly members of defined benefit schemes. These include the establishment of a pensions insolvency payment scheme and a reordering of wind-up priorities so that, in any defined benefit wind-up situation, employees and former employees who have not yet retired may still receive a large proportion of their benefits. Legislation to support these measures was passed in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009. The Government has also introduced provisions to allow for more flexible restructuring of pension benefits and stronger regulation regarding remittance of pension contributions. We have also protected people in receipt of the State Pension by retaining the rates of pension and other social welfare payments for older people in the recent Budget.

The Government is aware that the wider and longer-term pensions policy issues require a comprehensive and co-ordinated response and we have been considering a number of options to address the challenges facing our pension system. Uncertainty in the economic climate has increased the complexity of the decisions we must make but it does not prevent or deter the Government from making these vitally necessary decisions. However, it does require us to give very careful consideration, and it is precisely because the development of the framework involves decisions on such a wide range of future and complex issues that we have been spending a considerable amount of time working on it. I hope to be in a position to publish the framework shortly.

Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 92.

Social Insurance.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

117 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the action she is taking to deal with the eight month delaying in processing PRSI refund applications. [1781/10]

The Department endeavours to process applications for refunds of PRSI as efficiently as possible. However, the volume of applications for refunds of PRSI has increased dramatically in recent years; some 23,400 applications were received in 2009 compared to 14,000 in 2008 and 9,000 in 2007. The increased volume of applications has inevitably given rise to a delay in processing refund applications.

In order to speed up the processing of refund applications, the processes and procedures in the section have been reviewed and appropriate changes implemented along with new technical supports. Furthermore, in December 2009, an additional five staff were assigned to the area on a temporary basis to help clear the number of applications on hand. The Department is also continuing to examine ways of making better use of modern technology, e.g. payment of refunds by electronic fund transfer, online applications and enhancement of the current calculation functionality.

The additional staff, more streamlined processes and procedures and technical supports have already shown positive results. In December 2009, refunds were processed for about 265 applicants per week compared with about 160 per week in October and November 2009.

With the implementation of further process improvements and technical supports, I am confident that further improvements will be made in the processing of applications for refunds.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the steps she has taken or proposes to take to streamline and speed up the process of applications for various social welfare payments with particular reference to means testing and assessment with a view to eliminating concerns, anxiety and hardship for those who find themselves unemployed, ill or otherwise dependent on a social welfare payment; if her attention has been drawn to the procedures in place in some respects; if she will acknowledge the need for a prompt and caring response in such cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1778/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

813 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the steps she has taken to address the delays in the process of application for social welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2183/10]

I propose to take Question No. 118 and 813 together.

Every effort is made to process claims for social welfare payments as quickly as possible. Staff in the Department are aware of the concerns of claimants who find themselves in need of a payment. Delays can occur in the processing of claims where additional information is required or where all documentation is not to hand. On means-tested schemes it may be necessary for the person to be visited in their home by a Social Welfare Inspector for the purpose of assessing the means and this can add to the time involved in finalising the claim. Cases involving self-employment or property (other than the family home) can also take longer to investigate.

The Deputy will be aware of the particular difficulties presented due to the huge rise in unemployment in the past 18 months or so and the pressure this has brought to bear on the network of local offices and in the inspectorate. To alleviate some of this pressure since May 2008, some 400 extra staff have been assigned to local offices, new Central Support Units and the Departments Inspectorate. At the same time the Department has been examining all aspects of the work associated with the processing of claims and streamlining them wherever possible without, of course, compromising scheme controls.

One of these streamlining initiatives, which is being trialled at present, relates to customers who are applying for jobseeker's allowance on the termination of their jobseeker's benefit entitlement. In any of these cases where there are no elements of self-employment or property involved in the means assessment, the person will self-certify the various components of their means and a decision will be made by the Deciding Officer without the need to refer the claim to an Inspector. As a control measure a certain proportion of these claims will be selected at random and will be referred to an inspector for verification of the declaration of means. It is expected that this initiative will be rolled out to the network of local offices in the coming months. In the State Pension Non-Contributory area a desk assessment process has been introduced whereby claims are processed and decided based on the information provided by the customer on their application form. This initiative has removed the requirement on Social Welfare Inspectors to investigate all claims and has led to a reduction in processing times for claims received under the scheme. Over the past year some 40% of all claims for State Pension have been fully processed by desk assessment. It is hoped to extend this initiative to other means-tested schemes. Anyone who is under financial pressure while awaiting a decision on their claim can apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance from the Community Welfare Officer which is subject to a means test and other qualifying condition.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 87.

Public Service Identity Cards.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

120 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the details on the public service card with photo ID to be rolled out from 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1659/10]

Legislative provisions in relation to the introduction of the Public Service Card have been included in Section 263 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended by Section 32 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007).

These specify that the Minister for Social and Family Affairs may issue a Public Service Card in the format that she deems fit, with the person's name, personal public service number, photograph, signature, card issue number and card expiry date to be inscribed on the card. Provision is also included for the person's name, personal public service number, date of birth, sex, all former surnames (if any) of the person's mother, photograph, signature and card expiry date to be electronically encoded on the card. In addition, provision is made for any other information that may be prescribed to be either inscribed or electronically encoded on the card.

There is still a number of outstanding parts of the project that need to be undertaken. Decisions regarding the final design of the card will be taken as part of this process. It will be necessary to develop a technical infrastructure within the Department to support the management and administration of the cards. Procurement for this development has just commenced. In addition, the managed service provider has significant preparatory work to undertake. For example it will be necessary to develop a secure site for the personalisation of the cards. These processes are expected to take several months to complete and, accordingly, it is not anticipated that cards will begin to issue before the latter half of this year.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

121 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimated number of families eligible for the family income supplement; the number of families in receipt of the family income supplement; her views on the low uptake of the family income supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1667/10]

The Family Income Supplement is designed to provide support for people with families who are on low earnings. This preserves the incentive for them to remain in employment in circumstances where they might only be marginally better off than if they were claiming other social welfare payments. FIS is a central element of a programme of reforms targeted specifically at addressing child poverty.

There are currently some 25,963 people in receipt of a weekly FIS payment. In 2009 the Department received 46,542 new and renewal FIS claims compared to 42,940 in 2008 and 37,861 in 2007 — an increase of over 8% on 2008 and over 22% on 2007.

With regard to the level of take up, it is not possible to estimate from administrative sources the number of families who would be eligible but do not apply for their FIS entitlements. Accordingly the department completed a research project in 2008 to examine factors behind the level of take up for the scheme.

This research project included a survey of over 3,000 families which appeared to satisfy conditions for receipt of FIS. From over 1,000 valid responses received the survey identified that only 23% might actually be eligible.

The research also found that overall awareness of Family Income Supplement among potential recipients is high with nearly three in four claiming to have heard of the scheme. Despite high levels of awareness, there was a lack of awareness and understanding of the eligibility requirements with only one in three claiming to be aware of the qualifying criteria for FIS.

The report recommends that the Department needs to ensure that information about the scheme is advertised in a focused way with the eligibility and qualification criteria communicated as clearly as possible. The Department is addressing this by ensuring such information is highlighted as part of its ongoing information strategy.

Social Welfare Code.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the methodology used to determine whether partnership exists or is established to qualify for widows, widowers or old age pension entitlement in respect of the surviving partner or spouse in the case of the self employed with particular reference to those who have made contributions in respect of one or both partners over a ten year period; if her attention has been drawn to the number of such persons who do not qualify; if she intends to ease the qualification entitlements with a view to ensuring that the surviving partner will in all cases qualify for widows, widowers or old age pension even when self employed contributions were made in respect of one person only; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1777/10]

Spouses who operate in a commercial partnership may be brought into the social insurance system, subject to meeting some of the general criteria outlined as follows:

There is a written partnership agreement

Each partner writes cheques on the business accounts in their own right

There is a joint business account

It is apparent to those doing business with the partnership that a partnership exists

Business accounts and activities are in joint names of the partners

Each partner makes a significant contribution to the running of the business

The business is owned jointly by the partnership

The profits and losses of the partnership are shared by each partner

The business stationery reflects the existence of a partnership.

Applications received in Scope Section are forwarded to Social Welfare Inspectors who interview the parties concerned and report back to Scope Section. A Deciding Officer subsequently issues a formal decision on whether a partnership exists or not. To date, of 579 applications finalised, 508 cases have been approved.

When approved, both spouses may incur a liability to pay self-employed PRSI contributions and must discharge their liability before the contributions can be awarded. The person(s) concerned can then apply for pension or benefit in the normal way. Widows and widowers can qualify for one of a number of different schemes depending on their particular circumstances.

The widow(er)'s contributory pension is available to those who satisfy the necessary PRSI contribution conditions, either on their own record or that of the deceased spouse and, therefore, there are no disqualifications from entitlement to pension where relevant PRSI contribution conditions are satisfied.

In relation to the widow's contributory pension, the pension is automatically awarded, provided all other qualifying conditions are satisfied, where the late spouse was in receipt of either a state pension (transition or contributory) which included an increase for a dependent spouse (or would have but for the fact that the spouse was in receipt of state pension non-contributory, blind pension or carer's allowance).

While there are no plans to further ease the qualifying conditions at present, any further reforms to the state pension (contributory) will be addressed in the forthcoming national pensions framework.

To qualify for a state pension (contributory), a number of minimum qualifying conditions must be met. A person must have at least 260 paid social insurance contributions, a yearly average of at least 10 contributions paid or credited since entry into social insurance, and must have entered social insurance at least 10 years before state pension age. In addition, self employed contributors must have a minimum of one year's paid self employed contributions before reaching age 66 and have all self-employed liability, payable by them paid. From 6 April 2012, a minimum of 520 paid contributions will be required.

These conditions have been designed to ensure that those qualifying for payment have an adequate and sustained history of contributions to the social insurance fund over their working lives. The requirements for minimum pensions have been eased over the years and a number of special pensions were introduced.

Job Facilitators.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

123 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of job facilitators; the average waiting times to access support from a job facilitator; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1723/10]

The number of facilitators currently in place is 63. It is envisaged that this number will increase to 70 in the coming months. The facilitator service is available locally to all social welfare recipients via the local network. Facilitators are assigned to cover a geographical area. They hold open clinics and meet with people who have been referred either by the social welfare local office, the employment support section or by other agencies.

In the current economic climate the demand for the facilitator service is elevated. Actual waiting times for individual facilitators, which vary nationwide, are not available. An appointment can be made by contacting the facilitators directly or via the appropriate local office. Facilitators make every effort to contact customers as quickly as possible.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 85.
Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 97.

Social Welfare Code.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

126 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason the back to education allowance does not cover participants in the labour market activation programme; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that participants who start a course in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit but who subsequently move to jobseeker’s allowance at a reduced rate are faced with financial hardship particularly when they have dependants; if her further attention has been brought to the fact that there is no cost of attendance allowance; and if she will immediately review the terms of the scheme. [1805/10]

The Department's back to education programme includes the back to education allowance (BTEA) and the part-time education option (PTEO). The back to education allowance is a second chance educational opportunities scheme for people on welfare payments who wish to participate in full time education and who would not other wise be able to do so. The allowance is paid at a standard weekly rate equivalent to the maximum rate of the social welfare payment that qualifies the applicant for the scheme. In addition, an annual cost of education allowance of €500 is payable.

In a joint initiative announced last year between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority, 1,500 part-time undergraduate places and 1,000 part-time postgraduate places are being provided to people who are unemployed and on the live register for at least 6 months or have an entitlement to statutory redundancy.

A jobseeker who wishes to participate in a part-time course may do so under the Department's part-time education option (PTEO). Participants may continue to receive their existing social welfare entitlements provided they continue to satisfy all the existing terms and conditions of their jobseeker scheme including availability for work. Approval to undertake a course must be obtained in advance from the local social welfare office.

Participation in a part-time course does not attract any increase in the rate of payment, a cost of education allowance or any extension of the payment period. A participant whose entitlement to jobseeker's benefit ceases during the period on the course is eligible to apply for jobseeker's allowance, entitlement to which is based on a means-test. Someone who qualifies for that allowance at reduced rate would therefore have existing assessable means. In such a case, the combination of the existing means and the reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance awarded would normally exceed the rate payable to a participant who qualifies for maximum rate of jobseeker's allowance.

The back to education programme will continue to be monitored in the light of changing economic circumstances to ensure that it continues to meet its objectives.

Question No. 127 answered with Question No. 96.
Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 102.

Social Insurance.

Joan Burton

Question:

129 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the action she is taking to improve the recovery rate of employer PRSI arrears. [1783/10]

Contributions due to the Social Insurance Fund are collected in the main by the Revenue Commissioners, together with income tax due. The Department's Inspectorate, appointed under Section 250 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 is responsible, inter alia, for ensuring that employers and self employed people comply with the Act in relation to Pay Related Social Insurance contributions.

Employer compliance, in this regard is monitored through inspections which include detailed examinations of employers' records to ensure that correct PRSI payments are being made in respect of all employees. In addition, any irregularity in a customer's PRSI record detected at claim processing stage or reported directly by the customer, is referred to the Inspectorate for follow up action.

The Department currently employs some 403 Social Welfare Inspectors throughout the country whose duties involve the investigation of eligibility to a broad variety of means tested schemes, as well as ensuring compliance by employers in regard to PRSI matters. Of the 403 Inspectors 86 are assigned to the Department's Special Investigation Unit and also work with the Revenue and the E.T. & E. Inspectorate in carrying out joint investigations of employment records of employers.

Employer inspections carried out by the Department's Inspectorate are comprehensive and involve:

detailed examination of employer records to ensure that accurate records of employees are being maintained and that correct PRSI payments are being made in respect of all their employees and that the correct PRSI class is being applied;

checks to ensure that employees are not concurrently working and claiming social welfare payments;

outlining employers responsibilities with regard to Social Welfare legislation and where Revenue staff are part of the inspection team, tax legislation;

general advice and information to employers on matters such as the operation of the PRSI system, incentives available to employers, the correct classes of contributions, employees' entitlements etc.

Where PRSI undercharges are established, the Inspector sets out PRSI arrears/underpayment in respect of each employee for each tax year and issues a demand to the employer for payment. Should the employer fail to respond satisfactorily, a statutory demand will issue by registered post and the employer given 14 days to respond. If the employer fails to respond the case is considered for prosecution.

The Department is committed to delivering an effective and efficient regime of employer inspections, and ensuring that PRSI deductions and remittances are made in an accurate and timely manner.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Joe Costello

Question:

130 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to temporarily increase the rate of fuel allowance to offset the significant increase in fuel costs during the recent prolonged cold weather. [1784/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

723 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her plans to use the increased VAT revenues arising from increased fuel consumption during the recent prolonged cold weather to provide a once off increase in fuel allowance to poor families. [2064/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 723 together.

The Department's role is to assist social welfare recipients with heating costs, both through their basic payments and through the fuel allowance scheme and the household benefits package of electricity and gas allowances.

The national fuel allowance scheme assists householders on long-term social welfare or health service executive (HSE) payments with meeting the cost of their heating needs during the winter season. The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. It is not intended to meet those costs in full.

Fuel allowance is payable for 32 weeks a year. The standard allowance is €20 a week while the rate in smokeless zones is €23.90 a week. The scheme benefits almost 318,000 people a year at an estimated cost of €217 million in 2009.

Electricity and gas allowances under the household benefits package, are payable throughout the year to almost 380,000 pensioners, people with disabilities, and carer households towards their heating, light and cooking costs at an estimated cost of €200m in 2009. The electricity allowance covers standing charges plus VAT and up to 2,400 units of electricity in each billing period.

The gas allowance covers a cash equivalent amount. Up to 30% of customers availing of the electricity allowance consistently carry forward unused units to the next billing period.

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, administered by community welfare officers, can be used to assist people in certain circumstances with specific heating needs due to infirmity or a particular medical condition. Heating needs can also be met under the exceptional needs payments provisions of the scheme where a person is unable to meet such needs out of his/her resources. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment.

Since the onset of the adverse weather conditions, community welfare officers have provided assistance to people to purchase additional fuel, heaters and clothing and also towards the payment of heating bills and for repairs arising from burst pipes. Over €72,000 has been paid out since 1 January 2010 in respect of such claims. Assistance will continue to be provided towards the payment of heating bills for those in need.

The exceptional needs payments scheme is considered to be the appropriate response to heating needs arising from the recent cold weather. Community welfare officers are best placed to deal with the situation having local knowledge and taking individual circumstances into account.

An increase in the fuel allowance, irrespective of need, would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in the light of resources available for improvements in social welfare payments generally.

Commission on Taxation.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

131 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she has completed her deliberations and her conclusions on the Commission on Taxation report. [1810/10]

The Commission on Taxation's report directly addresses a number of areas within my Department's broad area of responsibility, most notably in relation to the social insurance system, the taxation of retirement savings and social welfare benefits including Child Benefit.

Given the very diverse nature of the issues which arise, I do not intend at this stage to present a single set of detailed conclusions around the relevant Commission's recommendations. I envisage that the proposals of the Commission will be considered on an ongoing basis in the light of emerging policy in these areas. For instance, in relation to retirement savings, the pension elements of the Commission on Taxation report are being considered in the context of the development of the National Pensions Framework. In relation to Commission's recommendation in relation to the taxation of Child Benefit, the Government decided not to tax this payment in the recent Budget.

Employment Statistics.

Michael McGrath

Question:

132 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number of persons in employment in the public sector and in the private sector, including persons working part-time. [1054/10]

The table shows the estimated numbers of full-time and part-time employees in the public and private sectors in the second quarter of 2009, the latest period for which information is available. The figures are based on the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS). As this is a survey of enterprises, persons with more than one job may be counted twice in the figures but the effect of this on the estimates is expected to be very low.

The EHECS figures do not include self-employed persons or enterprises with less than three employees. Estimates from the quarterly national household survey indicate that there were 330,000 self employed persons in the state in the second quarter of 2009, in addition to the number of employees given in the table.

Persons in Full-time and Part-time employment by Sector, Quarter 2 20091

Full-time

Part -time

Apprentices

Total

Total Private Sector

880,200

338,700

29,300

1,248,200

Total Public Sector

331,700

83,300

3,300

418,300

1Results for Quarter 2 2009 are subject to revision.

Michael McGrath

Question:

133 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number of employees who work in businesses with fewer than ten employees. [1055/10]

The latest annual Business Demography statistics were published in June 2009 with respect to the year 2007. In 2007 there were 254,679 persons employed in active enterprises with less than 10 employees. Business Demography coverage is limited to NACE Rev 1.1 sectors C — K and does not include the non-traded service sectors or other community, social and personal services.

Employees in Active Enterprises with less than 10 employees

Employees in Active Enterprises (Number)

2006

2007

NACE sectors (C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K)

250,091

254,679

Mining and quarrying (C)

462

486

Manufacturing (D)

15,560

15,874

Electricity, gas, and water supply (E)

190

207

Construction (F)

70,798

72,084

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and personal household goods (G)

68,788

69,222

Hotels and restaurants (H)

24,771

25,205

Transport, storage and communication (I)

11,752

12,123

Real estate, renting and business activities (K)

57,770

59,478

*NACE code 74.15Activities of holding companies is excluded from sector K.

Departmental Staff.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

134 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of constituency staff working for the Ministers of State in his Department in 2008 and 2009; and the cost involved. [47935/09]

The number of whole time equivalent staff in the constituency office of the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State in my Department in 2008 and 2009 was 4. The total salaries including overtime and allowances paid to staff in the constituency office was €200,078 and €166,769 in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

The Minister of State for European Affairs does not have a constituency office in my Department.

Disability Statistics.

Phil Hogan

Question:

135 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Taoiseach if he will consider the inclusion of a question in the 2011 census in order to fill a void in the statistics that relates to the disability autism or autistic spectrum disorder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47936/09]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

149 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Taoiseach when the content of the Central Statistics Office census 2011 is expected to be approved by him; the interdepartmental procedure for compiling such content; his views on the inclusion of autistic spectrum disorder as a category question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48497/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 149 together.

The Government at its meeting on 11 December 2009 agreed to the topics to be included in the questionnaire for the 2011 census.

As part of the preparatory work for the 2011 census the CSO conducted a public consultation by inviting members of the public and various interest groups to make submissions on the topics to be covered, and on the outputs to be produced. A notice to this effect was published in the national press in September 2008 seeking submissions, and all government departments were contacted for their input.

A Census Advisory Group was set up in Autumn 2008 to consider the submissions received and advise on the questions to be tested in a pilot survey planned to be carried out in April 2009. The Census Advisory Group was representative of central and local government, the social partners, universities, research bodies and other users of census data along with the relevant CSO personnel.

Over 90 submissions covering 31 topics were received in total, among them submissions on the subject of disability, and in particular on the subject of autism. A specific sub-group was convened to consider the disability questions on the census form. This sub-group was composed of representatives from the National Disability Authority, the Equality Authority, the Disability Federation of Ireland and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies. The proposal to list specific disabilities within the disability question, namely to make specific reference to autistic spectrum disorder, or downs syndrome, in the category ‘A learning or intellectual disability' was considered at the second meeting of the group.

The group concluded that it would not be appropriate, nor would there be enough room on the census form, to list all individual disabilities. However, in order to go some way towards accommodating this request the existing (2006) category ‘A learning or intellectual disability’ was split into two categories ‘An intellectual disability’ and separately ‘A difficulty with learning, remembering or concentrating’ for testing in the pilot survey. The group felt that this approach narrowed the categories and thus helped address the issue of autism, while allowing the question to remain as inclusive as possible.

The new wording of the disability questions which were tested in the Census Pilot Survey in April 2009 were as follows:

Census Pilot Survey 2009 — wording of Disability questions (Form B)

14Do you have any of the following long-lasting conditions or difficulties?

(a)

Blindness or a serious vision impairment

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(b)

Deafness or a serious hearing impairment

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(c)

A difficulty with basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(d)

An intellectual disability

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(e)

A difficulty with learning, remembering or concentrating

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(f)

A psychological or emotional condition

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(g)

A difficulty with pain, breathing, or any other chronic illness or condition

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

15If ‘Yes’ to any of the categories specified in Question 14, do you have any difficulty in doing any of the following?

(a)

Dressing, bathing or getting around inside the home

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(b)

Going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctor’s surgery

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(c)

Working at a job or business or attending school or college

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

(d)

Participating in other activities, for example leisure or using transport

Yes [ ]

No [ ]

Live Register.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

136 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of persons unemployed on 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007 in each district office (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48233/09]

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The table contains monthly Live Register information for each local social welfare office in County Wexford, from January 2007 to December 2007 inclusive. It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance.

Persons on the Live Register (Number) County Wexford by Local Office, January — December 2007

County

Date

Total Persons

Wexford County

Jan-07

6,889

Feb-07

6,868

Mar-07

6,724

Apr-07

6,587

May-07

6,440

Jun-07

6,730

Jul-07

7,060

Aug-07

7,002

Sep-07

6,705

Oct-07

6,706

Nov-07

7,042

Dec-07

7,511

Enniscorthy

Jan-07

1,722

Feb-07

1,738

Mar-07

1,736

Apr-07

1,721

May-07

1,713

Jun-07

1,792

Jul-07

1,843

Aug-07

1,879

Sep-07

1,797

Oct-07

1,832

Nov-07

1,876

Dec-07

1,930

Gorey

Jan-07

1,234

Feb-07

1,236

Mar-07

1,247

Apr-07

1,214

May-07

1,205

Jun-07

1,253

Jul-07

1,326

Aug-07

1,323

Sep-07

1,244

Oct-07

1,205

Nov-07

1,268

Dec-07

1,319

New Ross

Jan-07

1,208

Feb-07

1,255

Mar-07

1,207

Apr-07

1,189

May-07

1,163

Jun-07

1,281

Jul-07

1,367

Aug-07

1,319

Sep-07

1,277

Oct-07

1,276

Nov-07

1,324

Dec-07

1,403

Wexford

Jan-07

2,725

Feb-07

2,639

Mar-07

2,534

Apr-07

2,463

May-07

2,359

Jun-07

2,404

Jul-07

2,524

Aug-07

2,481

Sep-07

2,387

Oct-07

2,393

Nov-07

2,574

Dec-07

2,859

Paul Kehoe

Question:

137 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of persons aged under 25 years unemployed each month from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 for each district social welfare office (details supplied); the gender of each person unemployed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48234/09]

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The table contains monthly Live Register information for those aged under 25 in each local social welfare office in County Limerick by gender, from January 2008 to December 2008 inclusive. It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance.

Persons under 25 on the Live Register (Number) County Limerick by Local Office, Month and Sex, January-December 2008

Month1

Males Under 25 years

Females Under 25 years

Total Persons Under 25 years

Limerick County

Jan-08

1,169

716

1,885

Feb-08

1,272

728

2,000

Mar-08

1,348

763

2,111

Apr-08

1,342

736

2,078

May-08

1,423

815

2,238

Jun-08

1,573

935

2,508

Jul-08

1,600

1,010

2,610

Aug-08

1,737

1,091

2,828

Sep-08

1,718

1,045

2,763

Oct-08

1,753

1,014

2,767

Nov-08

1,905

1,074

2,979

Dec-08

2,082

1,147

3,229

Kilmallock

Jan-08

127

82

209

Feb-08

131

74

205

Mar-08

137

75

212

Apr-08

144

74

218

May-08

167

77

244

Jun-08

199

103

302

Jul-08

197

101

298

Aug-08

210

97

307

Sep-08

214

101

315

Oct-08

229

101

330

Nov-08

266

102

368

Dec-08

285

114

399

Limerick City

Jan-08

879

521

1,400

Feb-08

954

544

1,498

Mar-08

1,008

582

1,590

Apr-08

1,002

551

1,553

May-08

1,051

619

1,670

Jun-08

1,157

699

1,856

Jul-08

1,177

763

1,940

Aug-08

1,277

837

2,114

Sep-08

1,263

796

2,059

Oct-08

1,279

767

2,046

Nov-08

1,380

809

2,189

Dec-08

1,491

858

2,349

Newcastle West

Jan-08

163

113

276

Feb-08

187

110

297

Mar-08

203

106

309

Apr-08

196

111

307

May-08

205

119

324

Jun-08

217

133

350

Jul-08

226

146

372

Aug-08

250

157

407

Sep-08

241

148

389

Oct-08

245

146

391

Nov-08

259

163

422

Dec-08

306

175

481

1State figures for October to December 2008 have been revised but revisions have not yet been applied to data contained in this table.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

138 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of persons who were unemployed on 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007 in each district office (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48235/09]

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The table contains monthly Live Register information for each local social welfare office in County Limerick, from January 2007 to December 2007 inclusive. It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance.

Persons on the Live Register (Number) County Limerick by Local Office, January-December 2007

Total Persons All Ages

Limerick County

Jan-07

7,278

Feb-07

7,375

Mar-07

7,252

Apr-07

7,227

May-07

7,243

Jun-07

7,967

Jul-07

8,421

Aug-07

8,362

Sep-07

7,395

Oct-07

7,286

Nov-07

7,630

Dec-07

8,236

Kilmallock

Jan-07

871

Feb-07

871

Mar-07

821

Apr-07

855

May-07

828

Jun-07

884

Jul-07

928

Aug-07

937

Sep-07

822

Oct-07

814

Nov-07

872

Dec-07

976

Limerick City

Jan-07

5,347

Feb-07

5,434

Mar-07

5,362

Apr-07

5,338

May-07

5,400

Jun-07

6,020

Jul-07

6,349

Aug-07

6,282

Sep-07

5,526

Oct-07

5,468

Nov-07

5,704

Dec-07

6,123

Newcastle West

Jan-07

1,060

Feb-07

1,070

Mar-07

1,069

Apr-07

1,034

May-07

1,015

Jun-07

1,063

Jul-07

1,144

Aug-07

1,143

Sep-07

1,047

Oct-07

1,004

Nov-07

1,054

Dec-07

1,137

Departmental Staff.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

139 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed by his Department on 1 January 2009; the number of staff employed by his Department on 10 December 2009. [48236/09]

George Lee

Question:

147 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the number of Civil Service staff in his Department; the number of these staff who hold an economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a post graduate economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a PhD in economics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48319/09]

Joan Burton

Question:

163 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach the number of whole time equivalents serving in his Department in the grades of Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General, higher principal officer, principal officer, higher assistant principal officer, assistant principal officer, higher executive officer, executive officer, staff officer and clerical officer on 1 January 1998, 1 January 2007 and the latest date for which figures are available. [1953/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 139, 147 and 163 together.

Statistics in relation to whole-time equivalent staff numbers in my Department are compiled at the end of each calendar month. On 31st December 2008, there were 211.96 whole-time equivalent staff in my Department, while on 31st December 2009, there were 198.1 whole-time equivalent staff in my Department, that is 13.86 fewer whole-time equivalent staff of year end.

It is not possible to give an accurate breakdown for the grades requested who were serving in my Department on 1st January 1998. The earliest records held in my Department in the format requested only go back to 2000. The information requested in relation to the grades who were serving on 31st December, 2001, 31st December 2006 and 31st December, 2009 is set out in the table.

Grade

Number of WTEs serving on 31st December, 2000

Number of WTEs serving on 31st December, 2006

Number of WTEs serving on 31st December 2009

Secretary General

2.0

2.0

1.0

Deputy Secretary

0.0

0.0

0.0

Assistant Secretary

5.0

4.0

5.0

Principal Officer (higher)

6.0

9.5

5.6

Principal Officer (standard)

2.0

3.0

10

Assistant Principal (higher)

16.0

18.8

9.65

Assistant Principal (standard)

2.5

6.4

12.6

Higher Executive Officer

17.5

24.4

22

Executive Officer

11.5

23.8

22.6

Staff Officer

10.5

9.0

9.93

Clerical Officer

46.0

48.6

41.1

While a number of staff in my Department hold primary degrees and post graduate qualifications in a range of subjects, including economics, the specific information requested by the Deputy is not available.

Live Register.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

140 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of persons aged under 25 years who were unemployed each month from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 for each district social welfare office (details supplied); the gender of each person unemployed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48237/09]

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The table contains monthly Live Register information for those aged under 25 in each local social welfare office in County Wexford by gender, from January 2008 to December 2008 inclusive. It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance. It should be noted that the Live Register includes only those aged 17 years and over.

Persons aged under 25 on the Live Register (Number) in County Wexford by Local Office, Gender and Month, January-December 2008

Month1

Males Under 25 years

Females Under 25 years

Total Persons Under 25 years

Total Wexford County

Jan-08

1,099

707

1,806

Feb-08

1,149

751

1,900

Mar-08

1,198

746

1,944

Apr-08

1,190

724

1,914

May-08

1,273

747

2,020

Jun-08

1,403

823

2,226

Jul-08

1,448

916

2,364

Aug-08

1,490

948

2,438

Sep-08

1,484

906

2,390

Oct-08

1,563

950

2,513

Nov-08

1,707

994

2,701

Dec-08

1,854

1,005

2,859

Enniscorthy

Jan-08

310

193

503

Feb-08

317

193

510

Mar-08

327

195

522

Apr-08

345

189

534

May-08

361

195

556

Jun-08

407

222

629

Jul-08

436

256

692

Aug-08

437

268

705

Sep-08

432

244

676

Oct-08

443

249

692

Nov-08

479

250

729

Dec-08

511

250

761

Gorey

Jan-08

196

105

301

Feb-08

193

126

319

Mar-08

215

127

342

Apr-08

208

128

336

May-08

216

131

347

Jun-08

244

150

394

Jul-08

261

174

435

Aug-08

267

174

441

Sep-08

266

158

424

Oct-08

284

173

457

Nov-08

295

184

479

Dec-08

324

183

507

New Ross

Jan-08

183

140

323

Feb-08

192

151

343

Mar-08

206

147

353

Apr-08

204

140

344

May-08

229

143

372

Jun-08

245

160

405

Jul-08

241

179

420

Aug-08

268

185

453

Sep-08

256

173

429

Oct-08

274

172

446

Nov-08

298

179

477

Dec-08

335

181

516

Wexford

Jan-08

410

269

679

Feb-08

447

281

728

Mar-08

450

277

727

Apr-08

433

267

700

May-08

467

278

745

Jun-08

507

291

798

Jul-08

510

307

817

Aug-08

518

321

839

Sep-08

530

331

861

Oct-08

562

356

918

Nov-08

635

381

1,016

Dec-08

684

391

1,075

1State figures for October to December 2008 have been revised but revisions have not yet been applied to data contained in this table.

Departmental Agencies.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

141 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach the breakdown, by programme, agency or other institution, of the programme changes that will be made by his Department to achieve the savings estimated for his Department in budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48238/09]

Richard Bruton

Question:

159 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach the savings outlined in the Report of the Special Group on Public Numbers and Expenditure Programmes which were accepted in budget 2010 for his Department in tabular form; the savings which will be achieved in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1262/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 159 together.

The total allocation for my Department in the Estimates set out in the Budget Book for 2010 is €28,818 million. This is an overall decrease of 11.8% on the 2009 Revised Estimate allocation.

The following table details the programme changes to achieve the savings by my Department in the 2010 budget.

Agency/Programme

Savings Achieved

Description

€000

NESDO*

1,205

Expenditure reduction as a result of a review informed by the Value for Money Report

Commemoration Initiatives

70

Forum for Peace and Reconciliation

5

Subhead closed

Tribunal of Inquiry (Dunnes Payments)

1

Subhead closed

National Forum on Europe

360

Discontinued as a result of the 2009 Supplementary Budget

Newfoundland and Labrador Business Partnership*

300

Future work will be supported by existing staff within my Department

Commission of Investigation

1

Subhead closed

Active Citizenship Office*

56

Future work will be supported by existing staff within my Department

Total Savings

1,998

*Covered by the Report of the Special Group on Public Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, whose recommendations were taken into account.

Smart Economy.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

142 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach the actions taken by him to implement the proposals set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48239/09]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

148 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach the actions taken by him to implement the proposals set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47883/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 and 148 together.

The Government's Smart Economy Framework for sustainable economic renewal was produced in December 2008. Implementation is the responsibility of relevant Ministers but is overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal, which I chair. Some examples include:

market testing of the Innovation Fund proposed is currently being undertaken by the NTMA, testing the best way to design the Fund with venture capital companies and other stakeholders;

tax changes to support the Smart Economy include an improved R&D tax credit, new tax arrangements for IP, tax incentives for start-up companies and to encourage venture capital companies to locate in Ireland;

the Innovation Alliance announced by Trinity and UCD to create a critical mass of research activity and dramatically increase the commercialisation of research outputs;

major new technology initiatives to support the Smart Economy including, development of a new International Content Services Centre and making Ireland the leading location for energy efficient data centres, like the Microsoft Centre I opened last September;

a smart metering initiative is being rolled out and there is an electric vehicles plan to have 10% of all vehicles powered by electricity by 2020. Progress is also being made towards our ambitious renewable energy target of 40% by 2020, including investment in new ocean wave technology research;

the Green Enterprise Group has reported with detailed proposals for the creation of new jobs and businesses in the Greentech area. As a result of that report, we are pressing ahead with ideas like the Green IFSC and Green Enterprise Zones; and the home insulation initiative which delivered in over 30,000 homes in 2009 is being increased dramatically with new funding for 2010.

a review of our Capital Programme to realign our capital investment — which is still over 5% of GNP — with the goals of the Smart Economy has been undertaken and as a result we will invest over €600m in the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation this year, even at a time of great budgetary pressure.

The Smart Economy Framework is a comprehensive strategy, covering not just innovation and R&D, but all aspects of our economic renewal strategy. The Government expects to publish an overall progress report within the next month. Responsibility for individual measures rests with relevant Ministers, to whom any specific questions should be directed.

Departmental Agencies.

Richard Bruton

Question:

143 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach the number of agencies under his remit who process entitlement payments; the number of staff who process entitlement payments broken down by agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48253/09]

None of the agencies under the remit of my Department process entitlement payments.

Richard Bruton

Question:

144 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach the number of agencies under his remit that have a role in carrying out inspections; the number of staff involved in the carrying out of inspections broken down by agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48270/09]

None of the agencies under the remit of my Department carry out inspections.

Richard Bruton

Question:

145 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach the number of agencies under his remit that have a role in the issuing of licences; the number of staff involved in the issuing of licences broken down by agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48287/09]

None of the agencies under the remit of my Department have a role in issuing licences.

Richard Bruton

Question:

146 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach the agencies under his remit who have a role in the collection of payments; the number of staff involved in the collection of payments broken down by agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48304/09]

None of the agencies under the remit of my Department have a role in the collection of payments.

Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 139.
Question No. 148 answered with Question No. 142.
Question No. 149 answered with Question No. 135.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

150 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach the progress made in establishing the innovation fund Ireland as proposed in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy; the total outlays from this fund to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47884/09]

Introduction of ‘Innovation Fund Ireland' is a commitment ofBuilding Ireland’s Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewaland the Renewed Programme for Government. It aims to ensure greater availability of venture capital to help achieve our vision for transforming Ireland into the innovation and commercialisation hub of Europe by supporting innovative SMEs and help scale indigenous companies. It is also an objective to use the Fund to help attract leading Venture Capital companies to locate their European operations here.

Since the fund was announced the relevant Departments and Agencies have been working to design a detailed structure for establishing the Fund, which raises a number of complex issues which need to be resolved.

In particular, we want to ensure the design and operation of the Fund best reflects inputs from people with experience of venture capital markets, including the members of the Innovation Taskforce.

As agreed in the recent programme for Government, market testing is underway to engage with potential participants amongst US and other relevant Venture Capital companies as well as other Stakeholders. This process which should be completed towards the end of this month will provide the basis for putting the most suitable legal and financial structures in place to operationalise the Fund.

It is important to recognise that the Innovation Fund is just one aspect of the overall strategy to increase a world class innovation system, so it is important that it is brought forward as part of a coherent approach. For example, it will complement the existing seed and venture funds operated by Enterprise Ireland as well as the forthcoming Report of the Innovation Taskforce.

Live Register.

George Lee

Question:

151 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the number of persons on the live register in September 2007 broken down by gender in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48483/09]

George Lee

Question:

152 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the number of persons aged 15 years to 24 years on the live register in September 2007 broken down by gender in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48484/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

The following table contains live register information as requested for each geographical county. It should be noted that the Live Register includes only those aged 17 years and over.

Total persons and persons under 25 on the Live Register by County and Sex, September 2007

County

Males Under 25

Females Under 25

All persons under 25

Total Males

Total Females

Total Persons

Cavan

303

239

542

1,479

1,040

2,519

Donegal

1,018

795

1813

4,931

3,439

8,370

Leitrim

121

100

221

745

564

1,309

Louth

881

521

1402

4,073

2,565

6,638

Monaghan

235

194

429

1,248

900

2,148

Sligo

275

172

447

1,225

690

1,915

Laoighis

315

244

559

1,417

1,012

2,429

Longford

303

202

505

1,403

864

2,267

Offaly

376

310

686

1,790

1,276

3,066

Westmeath

533

394

927

2,284

1,717

4,001

Galway

1,126

861

1987

5,535

3,864

9,399

Mayo

542

386

928

2,898

1,940

4,838

Roscommon

185

100

285

852

558

1,410

Dublin

5,278

3,065

8343

26,136

14,386

40,522

Kildare

687

460

1147

3,324

2,411

5,735

Meath

328

249

577

1,820

1,361

3,181

Wicklow

549

299

848

2,726

1,653

4,379

Clare

461

301

762

2,329

1,745

4,074

Limerick

1,002

744

1746

4,662

2,733

7,395

North Tipperary

257

199

456

1,255

996

2,251

Carlow

292

246

538

1,336

937

2,273

Kilkenny

311

229

540

1,520

959

2,479

South Tipperary

404

293

697

1,821

1,142

2,963

Waterford

792

498

1290

3,838

2,363

6,201

Wexford

793

644

1437

3,822

2,883

6,705

Cork

1,867

1,207

3074

10,029

6,198

16,227

Kerry

616

438

1054

3,517

2,441

5,958

George Lee

Question:

153 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the number of persons on the live register in the areas of Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council, Waterford City Council, Waterford County Council, Cork City Council and Cork County Council in September 2007 and September 2009 broken down by gender in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48485/09]

George Lee

Question:

154 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the number of persons aged 15 to 24 years on the live register in the areas of Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council, Waterford City Council, Waterford County Council, Cork City Council and Cork County Council in September 2007 and September 2009 broken down by gender in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48486/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 and 154 together.

The basis of the area classification used in the collection of Live Register data is the Department of Social and Family Affairs local office of registration. The areas served by Local Employment Offices do not correspond to specific geographic boundaries. Therefore, registrants at a given local office do not necessarily come from a particular region or area which can be precisely delineated. For example, the figure for the Cork City Local Office of Registration refers to all persons signing on in the Cork city office but may include persons resident outside the boundaries of Cork City. Consequently data from the Live Register are not considered to provide an exact breakdown of claimants by local authority administrative areas.

The following table contains Live Register information for each local social welfare office in the counties and cities requested, with a breakdown by gender and the age group under 25 years. For that age group, it should be noted that the Live Register includes only those aged 17 years and over.

Total persons and persons under 25 on the Live Register by County and Local Office, September 2007 and September 2009

Month

Male Under 25

Total Male

Female Under 25

Total Female

Total Persons All ages

Galway County

Sep-07

1,126

5,535

861

3,864

9,399

Sep-09

3,240

15,477

1,992

8,729

24,206

Ballinasloe

Sep-07

137

568

85

351

919

Sep-09

379

1,653

194

828

2,481

Clifden

Sep-07

70

362

51

222

584

Sep-09

132

706

90

373

1,079

Galway City

Sep-07

664

3,285

521

2,168

5,453

Sep-09

1,826

8,533

1,230

4,994

13,527

Gort

Sep-07

45

254

39

285

539

Sep-09

153

846

71

513

1,359

Loughrea

Sep-07

81

397

70

325

722

Sep-09

277

1,512

185

918

2,430

Tuam

Sep-07

129

669

95

513

1,182

Sep-09

473

2,227

222

1,103

3,330

Dublin County

Sep-07

5,278

26,136

3,065

14,386

40,522

Sep-09

13,709

68,533

7,950

34,546

103,079

Nth Cumberland Street

Sep-07

609

3,178

378

1,837

5,015

Sep-09

..

..

..

..

..

Navan Road

Sep-07

294

1,721

208

852

2,573

Sep-09

761

4,325

502

2,209

6,534

Thomas Street

Sep-07

257

1,535

141

589

2,124

Sep-09

508

3,022

299

1,325

4,347

Apollo House (Tara Street)

Sep-07

97

729

59

362

1,091

Sep-09

298

1,780

165

1,075

2,855

Ballymun

Sep-07

279

1,008

152

491

1,499

Sep-09

524

1,949

297

856

2,805

Kilbarrack

Sep-07

238

1,334

108

777

2,111

Sep-09

726

3,520

340

1,720

5,240

Ballyfermot

Sep-07

256

922

131

383

1,305

Sep-09

651

2,297

321

854

3,151

Finglas

Sep-07

394

1,541

196

774

2,315

Sep-09

921

4,137

493

1,847

5,984

Bishop Square

Sep-07

365

2,302

204

1,118

3,420

Sep-09

1,032

5,858

659

3,013

8,871

Blanchardstown

Sep-07

421

2,091

306

1,383

3,474

Sep-09

1,115

5,661

677

3,023

8,684

Coolock

Sep-07

321

1,489

201

840

2,329

Sep-09

850

3,617

444

1,707

5,324

Kings Inn Street

Sep-07

..

..

..

..

..

Sep-09

905

5,136

591

2,492

7,628

Tallaght

Sep-07

617

2,492

344

1,244

3,736

Sep-09

1,554

6,786

886

2,886

9,672

Clondalkin

Sep-07

602

2,367

355

1,327

3,694

Sep-09

1,411

6,653

854

3,120

9,773

Nutgrove (Rathfarnham)

Sep-07

170

1,039

91

844

1,883

Sep-09

582

3,237

302

2,005

5,242

Balbriggan

Sep-07

141

864

109

607

1,471

Sep-09

562

3,048

329

1,692

4,740

Swords

Sep-07

..

..

..

..

..

Sep-09

485

2,679

321

1,638

4,317

Dun Laoghaire

Sep-07

217

1,524

82

958

2,482

Sep-09

824

4,828

470

3,084

7,912

Limerick County

Sep-07

1,002

4,662

744

2,733

7,395

Sep-09

2,930

14,247

1,686

6,941

21,188

Kilmallock

Sep-07

102

495

75

327

822

Sep-09

404

1,691

182

843

2,534

Limerick City

Sep-07

772

3,549

543

1,977

5,526

Sep-09

2,067

10,222

1,245

4,986

15,208

Newcastle West

Sep-07

128

618

126

429

1,047

Sep-09

459

2,334

259

1,112

3,446

Waterford County

Sep-07

792

3,838

498

2,363

6,201

Sep-09

1,909

9,681

1,167

4,934

14,615

Dungarvan

Sep-07

80

564

50

334

898

Sep-09

288

1,486

170

700

2,186

Waterford City

Sep-07

712

3,274

448

2,029

5,303

Sep-09

1,621

8,195

997

4,234

12,429

Cork County

Sep-07

1,867

10,029

1,207

6,198

16,227

Sep-09

5,350

28,903

2,974

14,660

43,563

Bandon

Sep-07

59

349

31

224

573

Sep-09

190

1,087

86

457

1,544

Bantry

Sep-07

11

152

13

150

302

Sep-09

137

722

58

452

1,174

Bantry (SWLO)

Sep-07

5

50

2

73

123

Sep-09

39

178

15

133

311

Carrigaline

Sep-07

62

412

41

265

677

Sep-09

274

1,614

120

848

2,462

Clonakilty

Sep-07

25

222

26

252

474

Sep-09

106

798

66

499

1,297

Cobh

Sep-07

52

233

31

131

364

Sep-09

124

653

63

358

1,011

Cork City

Sep-07

1,158

5,399

653

2,559

7,958

Sep-09

2,681

13,604

1,541

6,398

20,002

Dunmanway

Sep-07

19

92

14

109

201

Sep-09

..

..

..

..

..

Fermoy

Sep-07

120

592

76

408

1,000

Sep-09

347

1,697

190

882

2,579

Kinsale

Sep-07

14

237

25

313

550

Sep-09

91

771

71

575

1,346

Macroom

Sep-07

37

271

30

246

517

Sep-09

227

1,167

108

559

1,726

Mallow

Sep-07

97

529

70

290

819

Sep-09

338

1,713

190

784

2,497

Midleton

Sep-07

84

631

72

428

1,059

Sep-09

259

1,985

158

1,072

3,057

Newmarket

Sep-07

47

275

46

216

491

Sep-09

221

1,173

115

601

1,774

Skibbereen

Sep-07

24

169

17

184

353

Sep-09

141

700

76

432

1,132

Youghal

Sep-07

53

416

60

350

766

Sep-09

175

1,041

117

610

1,651

1State figures for September 2009 have been revised but revisions have not yet been applied to data contained in this table.

George Lee

Question:

155 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the number of persons in the labour force broken down by gender in each county according to the 2006 Census; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48487/09]

The Census of Population 2006 shows the number of people in the Labour Force as 2,109,498 on Census Night. The table shows the breakdown by gender and County.

Persons, males and females aged 15 years and over in the Labour force in each County and City, 2006

Geographic Area

In the Labour Force

Persons

Males

Females

Carlow

24,337

14,569

9,768

Dublin

629,001

345,939

283,062

of which

Dublin City

274,310

149,691

124,619

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

92,836

50,751

42,085

Fingal

130,816

72,711

58,105

South Dublin

131,039

72,786

58,253

Kildare

97,719

56,378

41,341

Kilkenny

43,042

25,191

17,851

Laois

32,643

19,449

13,194

Longford

16,400

9,864

6,536

Louth

54,140

31,188

22,952

Meath

83,920

49,395

34,525

Offaly

34,134

20,417

13,717

Westmeath

38,649

22,492

16,157

Wexford

61,782

36,767

25,015

Wicklow

62,369

36,143

26,226

Clare

54,775

32,087

22,688

Cork

232,873

136,119

96,754

of which

Cork City

55,296

31,333

23,963

Cork County

177,577

104,786

72,791

Kerry

66,576

39,482

27,094

Limerick

88,566

51,613

36,953

of which

Limerick City

24,482

13,930

10,552

Limerick County

64,084

37,683

26,401

North Tipperary

31,733

18,951

12,782

South Tipperary

39,174

23,379

15,795

Waterford

51,424

29,751

21,673

of which

Waterford City

22,176

12,528

9,648

Waterford County

29,248

17,223

12,025

Galway

114,403

65,720

48,683

of which

Galway City

37,883

20,149

17,734

Galway County

76,520

45,571

30,949

Leitrim

13,781

8,181

5,600

Mayo

57,517

34,073

23,444

Roscommon

27,556

16,594

10,962

Sligo

29,545

16,607

12,938

Cavan

30,840

18,735

12,105

Donegal

65,092

38,356

26,736

Monaghan

27,507

16,427

11,080

State

2,109,498

1,213,867

895,631

Parliamentary Counsel.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

156 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if the recruitment of Parliamentary Counsel from other jurisdictions has raised any difficulties in achieving a uniform drafting style for legislation. [48538/09]

A small number of Parliamentary Counsel from other jurisdictions have been recruited to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government to provide legislative drafting assistance given the historical lack of qualified drafters in the State. They are all experienced in their home jurisdictions and are carefully chosen by the senior staff in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government having regard to their experience and expertise. They are required to conform to the same drafting conventions and legal requirements of all parliamentary counsel working in that Office.

Labour Force Statistics.

George Lee

Question:

157 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the labour force in the third quarter 2007 broken down by gender and region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48581/09]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of estimates relating to the labour force. The data requested by the Deputy are presented in the table in respect of the third quarter of 2007.

Labour Force Estimates by Sex and Region, Quarter 3 2007

In Employment ’000

Unemployed ’000

In Labour Force ’000

Unemployment Rate (%)

Participation Rate (%)

Q3 2007

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Border

129.0

93.8

222.8

8.7

5.1

13.8

137.7

98.9

236.6

6.3

5.1

5.8

71.6

51.7

61.6

Midland

75.8

51.2

127.0

2.6

2.2

4.9

78.4

53.4

131.9

3.4

4.2

3.7

76.2

52.3

64.3

West

120.8

85.0

205.8

5.2

4.9

10.0

126.0

89.9

215.9

4.1

5.4

4.7

74.4

53.2

63.8

Dublin

341.9

285.0

626.9

19.5

10.2

29.7

361.4

295.2

656.6

5.4

3.5

4.5

74.6

58.1

66.1

Mid-East

147.4

109.8

257.2

6.2

4.3

10.5

153.6

114.1

267.7

4.1

3.7

3.9

78.8

58.8

68.8

Mid-West

100.8

71.6

172.4

6.0

4.1

10.1

106.8

75.7

182.5

5.6

5.4

5.5

73.0

52.0

62.5

South-East

131.4

93.6

225.1

7.0

5.0

12.0

138.5

98.6

237.1

5.1

5.1

5.1

73.0

52.5

62.8

South-West

178.7

133.9

312.6

6.9

5.3

12.3

185.7

139.2

324.9

3.7

3.8

3.8

73.2

54.6

63.8

State

1,225.9

923.9

2,149.8

62.2

41.1

103.3

1,288.1

965.0

2,253.1

4.8

4.3

4.6

74.3

55.0

64.6

Data may be subject to future revision.

Data may be subject to sampling or other survey errors, which are greater in respect of smaller values or estimates of change.

Reference period: q1=Jan-Mar, q2=Apr-Jun, q3=Jul-Sep, q4=Oct-Dec.

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

George Lee

Question:

158 Deputy George Lee asked the Taoiseach the details of the labour force in the third quarter 2009 broken down by gender and region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1038/10]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of estimates relating to the labour force. The data requested by the Deputy are presented in the table in respect of the third quarter of 2009.

Persons aged 15 years and over in employment, unemployed, in labour force, unemployment rate and participation rate by region and sex — Q3 2009

In Employment ’000

Unemployed ’000

In Labour Force ’000

Unemployment Rate (%)

Participation Rate (%)

Q3 2009

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Border

107.6

89.2

196.8

23.4

8.6

31.9

131.0

97.7

228.7

17.8

8.8

14.0

66.9

49.4

58.1

Midland

61.3

48.6

109.9

13.7

5.2

18.9

75.0

53.9

128.8

18.3

9.7

14.7

71.2

51.4

61.3

West

101.7

87.0

188.7

19.6

11.1

30.7

121.4

98.1

219.4

16.2

11.3

14.0

71.5

56.6

63.9

Dublin

290.6

262.8

553.4

46.1

22.5

68.5

336.7

285.2

621.9

13.7

7.9

11.0

71.1

56.7

63.7

Mid-East

130.8

103.9

234.7

21.8

10.1

31.9

152.6

114.0

266.5

14.3

8.9

12.0

76.2

56.2

66.1

Mid-West

83.9

69.7

153.6

17.8

6.8

24.5

101.7

76.5

178.2

17.5

8.8

13.8

69.0

52.4

60.7

South-East

110.4

92.1

202.5

24.6

11.6

36.1

135.0

103.6

238.6

18.2

11.2

15.1

69.9

52.6

61.2

South-West

153.7

129.2

282.9

25.1

12.1

37.2

178.8

141.3

320.1

14.0

8.6

11.6

70.6

53.8

62.0

State

1,040.0

882.4

1,922.4

192.0

87.9

279.8

1,232.0

970.3

2,202.3

15.6

9.1

12.7

70.9

54.3

62.5

Data may be subject to future revision.

Data may be subject to sampling or other survey errors, which are greater in respect of smaller values or estimates of change.

Reference period: q1=Jan-Mar, q2=Apr-Jun, q3=Jul-Sep, q4=Oct-Dec.

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 141.

Departmental Expenditure.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

160 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the purpose of the hire of a hotel room (details supplied) on 30 September 2008 and two rooms on 11 November 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1379/10]

As the Stewards House, Farmleigh was not available to the Taoiseach on the dates in question, the costs incurred relate to the Taoiseach being unable to return home due to Dáil and other official commitments.

Question No. 161 answered with Question No. 1.

Ethics in Public Office.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

162 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach the details of each gift, favour and hospitality received, both over and under the value of €650, since May 2007 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1516/10]

The receipt by office holders of gifts of goods or services is regulated by the Ethics in Public Office Acts. Issues of compliance with the Acts are matters for the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC). The particular arrangements to be observed by office holders in respect of gifts of goods or services are set out in theCode of Conduct for Office Holders issued by the SIPOC.

Statements made annually by office holders must include all gifts of goods and services which exceed €650 in value. These statements are published inIris Oifigiúil and are available on the Houses of the Oireachtas website. Records are not maintained by my Department in relation to gifts of lesser value received from time to time.

Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 139.

Departmental Staff.

Denis Naughten

Question:

164 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in his Department, broken down by division and section, annually since 2007 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2174/10]

In accordance with the business needs of my Department, divisions and sections change from time to time. The tables give a breakdown of the staff working in the various divisions in my Department since 2007 to date in 2010. As statistics in relation to whole time equivalent staff numbers in my Department are compiled at the end of each calendar month, the current position is as at 31st December, 2009.

Position as at 31st December, 2007

Divisional breakdown (Department of the Taoiseach)

Staff Numbers (whole-time equivalent)

Government Secretariat and related

37.0

Private Offices (Taoiseach, Government Chief Whip & Minister of State Roche)

39.5

Northern Ireland

7.0

European and International Affairs

11.0

Economic and Social Policy

12.5

Social Partnership

12.5

Public Service Modernisation

21.5

The Knowledge Society and eGovernment

9.0

Corporate Services

69.8

Position as at 31st December, 2008

Divisional breakdown (Department of the Taoiseach)

Staff Numbers (whole-time equivalent)

Government Secretariat and related

33.3

Private Offices (Taoiseach, Government Chief Whip & Minister of State Roche)

40.8

Northern Ireland

9.5

European and International Affairs

18.4

Economic and Social Policy

17.8

Social Partnership

9.0

Public Service Modernisation

18.5

Corporate Services

64.6

Position as at 31st December, 2009

Divisional breakdown (Department of the Taoiseach)

Staff Numbers (whole-time equivalent)

Government Secretariat and related

39.6

Private Offices (Taoiseach, Government Chief Whip & Minister of State Roche)

34.8

Northern Ireland

9.9

European and International Affairs

8.6

Economic and Social Policy

10.3

Social Partnership

8.6

Public Service Modernisation

21.5

Corporate Services

64.8

Census of Population.

David Stanton

Question:

165 Deputy David Stanton asked the Taoiseach when he will publish call for tenders for printing of the census 2011 forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2203/10]

The printing contract for the 2011 census was part of a comprehensive census tender which was published on etenders in April 2009. The tender covered the software solution for the processing system, which was based on the system used for the 2006 census, the provision, installation and commissioning of the necessary hardware to carry out the processing and the printing of the census forms and enumerator record books. Following an open public tender the contract was awarded to a UK company, CACI UK Ltd in July 2009. The printing of the census forms and enumerator record books was sub-contracted by CACI to an Irish based printer DCK Ebrook.

Job Losses.

Finian McGrath

Question:

166 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [48329/09]

While the decision of SR Technics to move operations from Ireland is regrettable, the relocation of companies, and with them jobs, is a reality of the modern global economic environment for a highly developed economy such as Ireland. This shift in the structure of international trade poses challenges to economic policy makers in all developed countries, not just Ireland. It must be remembered that Ireland also experiences the benefits resulting from globalisation as new markets and business opportunities open up for Irish companies.

The Government, through IDA Ireland, is committed to continued marketing of Ireland as a location for companies interested in establishing aircraft maintenance and aviation engineering businesses. The decision by Aer Lingus to undertake line maintenance operations, previously contracted to SR Technics, is a commercial decision, which is solely a matter for Aer Lingus. As regards any financial assistance provided to a company for establishment of operations in Malta or any Member State, the application and monitoring of exemptions to the general prohibition on State Aid in the EC Treaty rests exclusively with the European Commission.

The current Irish law in the area of "transfer of undertakings" is theEuropean Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 — Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No. 131 of 2003. The Regulations implement the mandatory (i.e. mandatory to transpose) provisions of EU Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 which is aimed at safeguarding the rights of employees in the event of a transfer of an undertaking, business or part of a business to another employer as a result of a legal transfer (including the assignment or forfeiture of a lease) or merger. Section 21 of the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 transposed a provision of the European Directive relating to the information to be provided by the original employer to the new employer.

Complaints relating to alleged contravention of the Regulations on Transfer of Undertakings can be brought in the first instance to a Rights Commissioner and, on appeal, to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. An application to a Rights Commissioner can be made by the employee, or by a representative (including a trade union representative) by contacting the Rights Commissioner Service of the Labour Relations Commission, Tom Johnson House, Haddington Road, Dublin 4, or phone 01 6136700.

Community Employment Schemes.

Martin Ferris

Question:

167 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason community employment schemes are having their wages cut by 5.5% in comparison to cuts in jobseeker’s allowance for those of that age group at 4.1%. [48465/09]

Michael Ring

Question:

169 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason the reduction in community employment scheme payment was higher than the cut in jobseeker’s allowance in view of the disincentive this may be to those who are working on the scheme (details supplied). [2002/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 and 169 together.

The Community Employment Scheme participant payments are comprised of their Social Welfare entitlement and a weekly allowance. The Jobseeker's Allowance was reduced by 4.1% in the December budget while the CE allowance was reduced by from €24.40 to €20 per week. The cuts in CE were necessary to fund increased activation measures in 2010 including an additional 500 CE places to bring the total number of CE places to 23,300.

National Minimum Wage.

Mary Upton

Question:

168 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will give a commitment that the minimum wage will not be targeted as part of an agenda to drive down wages here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48603/09]

The Government continues to monitor wage movements in the labour market, and related developments in Employment Regulation Orders, Registered Employment Agreements and Social Welfare rates, so as to ensure that the National Minimum Wage, at its current rate, is not having an adverse effect on vulnerable workers and enterprises in a time of rising unemployment and declining nominal wages.

The guiding principles that inform adjustments to the level of National Minimum Wage under the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, require account to be taken of the likely impact of any proposed change on employment, unemployment, overall economic conditions and national competitiveness.

Question No. 169 answered with Question No. 167.

Departmental Expenditure.

George Lee

Question:

170 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 114 of 17 November 2009, if further details are now available; when she expects examination and collation of the returns received in October 2009 to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48241/09]

The Government Decision of 19 May 2009 regarding the reduction of payment periods by Government Departments to 15 days included a requirement for Departments to report quarterly to my Department on their performance in meeting this target. These reports are to be submitted by the 15th day of the month following the end of the quarter. The Reports provide details of invoices paid within 15 days, between 16 and 30 days and over 30 days. The first returns by Departments cover the period 15 June to 30 September 2009.

Tables 1 and 2 contain the payment details received from Government Departments. In summary, these returns show a total of 62,860 payments were made by Departments in the above period amounting to €1.92bn; 49,890 payments totalling approximately €1.76bn were paid within 15 days. These payments represent 80 % of total payments made by Departments; in value terms 91% were paid within 15 days. A further 17% or almost 11,000 payments were made between 16 and 30 days and overall, 97% of payments during the period amounting to €1.86bn were paid within 30 days. Although there was some variation between the performances of individual Departments, 5 Departments were paying in excess of 90% of invoices within 15 days, a further 7 Departments were paying in excess of 83% of invoices within 15 days, while the remaining three had paid almost 50% of their payments within 15 days.

Some 9 Departments had paid between 98% and 100% of their invoices within 30 days and a further 5 had paid between 93% and 96% of their invoices within 30 days, while the remaining Department had paid 87% of invoices within 30 days. It is evident from the returns received, that Departments are playing their parts in assisting the cash flow of their suppliers, many of whom are Small and Medium Enterprises. The new procedures and processes introduced are having an impact in assisting Irish SMEs cash flow in the current difficult economic environment and I welcome this development. Future quarterly returns will show the overall consistency of Departments in meeting the 15-day payment requirement and any changes in the performance of individual Departments.

Prompt Payment Figures From Returns from Government Departments For the Period 15 June 2009-30 September 2009

TABLE 1

Government Departments

% No. of payments within 15 days

No. of Payments within 15 days

% of overall Total value paid within 15 days

Value of Payments within 15 days

%

%

Transport

98

4,348

100

685,528,088

Health and Children

98

1,278

100

122,705,387

Defence

92

9,959

90

34,978,685

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

91

645

94

1,622,023

Finance

91

890

92

4,988,640

Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

89

10,220

88

23,839,408

Arts, Sport & Tourism

87

500

98

4,644,701

Foreign Affairs

87

1,732

86

7,259,005

Enterprise, Trade and Employment

85

1,699

99

41,989,012

Education and Science

85

4,734

98

181,848,232

Environment, Heritage and Local Government

84

5646

73

354,502,221

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

84

969

98

115,587,358

Social and Family Affairs

52

3,137

96

130,055,768

Taoiseach

47

233

80

2,069,541

Justice, Equality & Law Reform

45

3,900

88

43,708,489

Total

49,890

1,755,326,559

TABLE 2

Government Departments

No. of payments within 30 days

No. of payments within 30 days

Value of overall total value paid within 30 days

Value of payments within 30 days

%

%

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

100

703

100

1,721,903

Transport

100

4,425

100

686,005,133

Health and Children

100

1,303

100

122,755,401

Arts, Sport & Tourism

99

570

100

4,732,167

Finance

99

970

99

5,395,130

Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

99

11,317

99

26,802,795

Foreign Affairs

98

1,958

99

8,340,111

Justice, Equality & Law Reform

98

8,407

100

49,335,544

Defence

98

10,665

95

37,169,992

Environment, Heritage and Local Government

96

6,479

89

433,939,549

Education and Science

96

5,346

100

184,765,623

Enterprise, Trade and Employment

95

1,913

100

42,435,723

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

94

1,088

100

117,835,278

Taoiseach

93

459

99

2,544,361

Social and Family Affairs

87

5,226

99

135,341,483

Total

60,829

1,859,120,192

Departmental Investigations.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

171 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 3 of 17 September 2009, if the report mentioned was sent to the bodies concerned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48242/09]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

172 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 3 of 17 September 2009, if the report mentioned was sent to the bodies concerned; if not, the reason for same; and if this will now be rectified. [48246/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 172 together.

I can advise the Deputy that the position as outlined in the reply given on 17 September last remains largely unchanged. As outlined at that time, following the successful appeal to the Supreme Court in this case, judgment was issued on 30th April 2009. The final step in the legal process is the granting of a final perfected Order by the Supreme Court which the Court asked the Minister to prepare. A draft Order has been prepared and is with the Office of the Chief State Solicitors Office for presentation to the Supreme Court. The Order, when perfected, will contain the definitive list of the parties to whom the report may be circulated. I am therefore not currently in a position to circulate this report until the Order has been perfected. Upon delivery of the perfected Order, I will ensure that the contents of the report are promptly brought to the attention of the parties specified in the Order.

Departmental Staff.

George Lee

Question:

173 Deputy George Lee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of Civil Service staff in her Department; the number of these staff who hold an economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a post graduate economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a PhD in economics; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48312/09]

Some 1,056 civil servants are currently employed in my Department and the Offices under its aegis. This equates to 988.98 in fulltime equivalent terms. A number of the staff of my Department have studied economics, or economics-related subjects, prior to joining the Department. As my Department does not currently have a comprehensive record of the educational qualifications achieved by staff prior to joining the Department, I am not, therefore, in a position to answer the question fully at present. However, it is envisaged that a comprehensive skills audit of the staff of my Department will be undertaken in the near future as part of the development of longer-term workforce planning in the Department.

Information on the number of staff whose qualifications in economics were funded by my Department is given below. In common with other Government Departments, my Department operates the Refund of Fees Scheme. Under the Scheme, fees for approved courses of study undertaken by staff members in their own time are repaid on successfully completing their examinations. Courses are approved based on their relevance to the business needs of the Department. The number of staff currently working in the Department who have attained third-level qualifications in which economics formed part of the course of studies, and who were refunded their course fees by the Department is as follows:

Number

Primary Degree

35

Post-graduate qualification

5

Ph D

Nil

In addition, my Department has sponsored 15 staff to participate in the Diploma and M.Sc programmes in economic policy analysis. To date 8 staff have successfully completed the Diploma programme and 7 staff have completed the M Sc programme. The Department also has access to considerable economic expertise through its Agencies such as Forfás, IDA and Enterprise Ireland. Economics is but one of the areas of expertise required to assist the Department to achieve its strategic mission. Consequently, my Department has sponsored its staff to pursue relevant qualifications across the range of studies relevant to the work of the Department.

National Minimum Wage.

Finian McGrath

Question:

174 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [48331/09]

The matter referred to in the Deputy's question is a call from the Restaurant Association of Ireland for the abolition of the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) system and the reduction in the minimum wage in the Catering sector to €8.65 per hour. The Government is committed to upholding the arrangements for the making of the Employment Regulation Orders under the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) system. The Government has undertaken to provide for the modernisation of the existing system through the implementation of a series of measures, including the introduction of new legislation. This commitment is being met within the framework of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009 which has recently passed all stages in the Seanad.

It is the parties represented on a JLC that are best placed to address the impact of the economic crisis on employment levels and the viability of services in the relevant sector. This shared capacity for co-operation has already been demonstrated by the employer and trade union interest in the catering sector when agreement was reached in 2009 to fix a uniform set of terms and conditions in the sector, including the harmonisation of the Sunday premium to time plus one third.

I intend to bring forward proposals to include in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009 a provision providing for the inclusion of an inability to pay provision in future Employment Regulation Orders. I consider such a provision to be necessary in order to reconcile the current demands of both trade unions and employers through continuing to modernise and streamline the JLC system, while also alleviating the pressures that employers facing financial difficulty currently experience. The final details of this provision have still to be settled and I intend to introduce an amendment to the Bill in the Dáil to give effect to this objective.

Job Creation.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

175 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of State aided jobs which have been created in County Meath since 1998; the breakdown of same by job description and location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48350/09]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the industrial development agencies. Data is compiled on an annualised basis and is aggregated at county level. Therefore, information on individual locations or breakdown by job description is not available. As companies provide data on a confidential basis, for statistical purposes only, information on individual companies is not disclosed for reasons of client confidentiality. Details of the number of IDA supported jobs created in County Meath, for the period in question is set out in the following tabular statement.

Enterprise Ireland monitors the employment trends in the companies it supports through the Annual Employment Survey, conducted in conjunction with Forfás. The results of this survey are released each January. In 2009 total employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies in County Meath was 3,787. Enterprise Ireland does not collect statistics on employment by job description, and employment numbers are collected on a county basis only. Gross employment gains by Enterprise Ireland client companies in County Meath, for the period in question, are illustrated in the following tabular statement.

Statistical information on job creation in companies supported by the County Enterprise Boards is held by the Department on an individual board basis rather than by specific locations within the Board's locality. Figures in respect of 2009 will not be available until early February 2010. Statistical information in relation to jobs created in companies supported by Meath County Enterprise Board, for the period in question is presented in the following tabular statement.

Jobs created in IDA supported companies in County Meath 1998-2009

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

114

116

145

73

62

35

65

149

55

111

83

24

Jobs created in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in County Meath 1998-2009

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

363

313

722

483

260

507

405

597

973

396

282

291

Net number of jobs created in CEB supported companies in County Meath 1998-2009

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total 1998-2008

243

139

259

-15

148

-128

46

92

84.5

2

-39

830.5

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

176 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of State aided jobs which have been created in County Louth since 1998; the breakdown of same by job description and location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48351/09]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the industrial development agencies. Data is compiled on an annualised basis and is aggregated at county level. Therefore, information on individual locations or breakdown by job description is not available. As companies provide data on a confidential basis, for statistical purposes only, information on individual companies is not disclosed for reasons of client confidentiality. Details of the number of IDA supported jobs created in County Louth, for the period in question is set out in the following tabular statement.

Enterprise Ireland monitors the employment trends in the companies it supports through the Annual Employment Survey, conducted in conjunction with Forfás. The results of this survey are released each January. In 2009 total employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies in County Louth was 4,541. Enterprise Ireland does not collect statistics on employment by job description, and employment numbers are collected on a county basis only. Gross employment gains by Enterprise Ireland client companies in County Louth, for the period in question, are illustrated in the following tabular statement.

Statistical information on job creation in companies supported by the County Enterprise Boards is held by the Department on an individual board basis rather than by specific locations within the Board's locality. Figures in respect of 2009 will not be available until early February 2010. Statistical information in relation to jobs created in companies supported by Louth County Enterprise Board, for the period in question is presented in the following tabular statement.

Jobs created in IDA supported companies in County Louth 1998-2009

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

162

351

1012

155

179

39

101

150

289

198

121

34

Jobs created in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in County Louth 1998-2009

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

579

319

268

537

269

214

508

469

427

661

447

318

Net number of jobs created in CEB supported companies in County Louth 1998-2009

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total 1998-2008

179

182

258

-11

189

45

78

220

54

-95

14.5

1,112.5

Job Losses.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

177 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will expect to receive their state redundancy payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48551/09]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

I can confirm that my Department received a statutory lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 15 September 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer. This claim awaits processing. The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing rebate applications submitted by post from April 2009 and those filed online from May 2009, so that the waiting time is approximately 8 to 9 months depending on the manner of filing the application. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from July 2009.

Given the unprecedented increase in Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department since late 2008 it has proved impossible to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims with a cumulative figure for 2009 of 77,001. This figure exceeds the claims lodged for 2008 (40,607) by 90% and 2008 was, of itself, an exceptional year as compared with earlier years when claims received were of the order of 25,000. Efforts continue to be made by my Department to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community.

Measures already taken include: the reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands. The current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 52.5. There has also been the prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in the Redundancy Payments Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours; the establishment of a special call handling facility to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses who are naturally concerned about their payments, using the facilities and cooperation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), with the centre having received an average of 12,500 calls per month this year with an estimated 60% relating to redundancy payments; the provision of better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website; engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against outstanding tax liabilities with the Revenue Commissioners.

The Tánaiste and I continue to monitor closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and we are currently looking at ways in which additional resources can be allocated to the area in the first quarter of 2010.

Job Creation.

Mary Upton

Question:

178 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to develop a hub for game development here; her further plans to explore this area as part of the smart economy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48607/09]

Enterprise Ireland is the lead government agency responsible for the development of indigenous enterprise. It supports companies employing 10 or more people and start-up companies which have the potential to employ 10 or more people and reach or exceed €1m in exports over three years. Enterprise Ireland offers a comprehensive range of services, including both financial and non-financial supports, to companies with a business strategy that encompasses the elements required for business success.

Enterprise Ireland has been very active in the digital sector through ongoing funding support for third level institutions, start-up companies and also established and scaling companies. Enterprise Ireland has labelled the digital sector TIME (Telecom Internet Media and Edutainment). The sector consists of approximately 350 EI client companies and growing. Approximately 60 companies have a high profile having closed significant deals (between €200k and €12m) with telecom operators, such as Telefonica, Sprint and Vodafone and also with media/entertainment companies including Nickelodeon, CBBC, Disney and Facebook. The establishment of Facebook's European headquarters here in Ireland, follows the positive trend set by Google, Microsoft, eBay and Intel.

In relation to developing a hub for game development, Enterprise Ireland has funded or co-funded the majority of incubator/hub space in Ireland for early stage business. Incubator space for start-ups in the Gaming/Entertainment sector is focused in Dublin and provided by the Digital Depot located in Thomas St and Media Cube in Dun Laoghaire's Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Both centres provide spaces for over 50 digital related companies. Other incubator centres around Ireland have assisted in developing successful digital companies over the last number of years.

However, while the prospect of a dedicated hub focused on just gaming/entertainment has been investigated, the Digital Hub approach appears to be the preferred approach at the moment. Enterprise Ireland will continue to monitor and influence changes in strategic focus of the digital hubs as new business models emerge. Enterprise Ireland's new Software Strategy document (launched in 2009) has highlighted the importance of specific clusters with internet/gaming clusters as one of the clusters highlighted for growth. Enterprise Ireland continues to support the games sector in Ireland and actively engages with the companies involved with regard to clustering and sectoral development.

Semi-State Bodies.

James Bannon

Question:

179 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether it appropriate that the new chief executive officer of FÁS should be given a €60,000 car; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48614/09]

The Director General of FÁS is provided with a car by FÁS in accordance with the terms of his contract of employment.

Job Creation.

Joe McHugh

Question:

180 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on a possible enterprise start-up (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1007/10]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses.

Subject to certain eligibility criteria new and developing micro-enterprises may qualify for financial support from the CEBs in the form of priming, expansion/development and feasibility/innovation grants. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow. All of the CEBs operate to the same criteria in relation to the assistance which they can offer i.e. they can support the establishment and/or the development of enterprises provided that the projects have the capacity to achieve commercial viability and which over time may develop into strong exporting entities.

However, I would stress that priority is given to projects in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It is considered inappropriate to support other areas such as retail enterprises, personal services (e.g. hairdressers, gardeners, etc), professional services (accountants, solicitors, etc) lacking export potential, construction, as it is considered that these enterprises generally give rise to unacceptable deadweight (where projects would have proceeded anyway) and/or displacement (where the projects simply displace business from other players in the market) concerns.

In order to more fully explore the range of options that may be available to them the company are advised to contact their local CEB to discuss their business needs with the relevant staff of the Board. Contact details for individual CEBs can be found by accessing the following website: www.enterpriseboards.ie.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

181 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 12 November 2009, the further discussion she has had with the industrial development agencies with a view to securing replacement jobs in the Waterford Constituency. [1014/10]

As stated in my previous reply, IDA Ireland continues to actively promote the Waterford region to overseas investors. Currently there are 31 IDA Ireland supported companies in Waterford City and County employing approximately 5,960 people. Clear evidence of a transition to more knowledge based and higher value activity is seen in the resilience of companies such as Bausch & Lomb, Honeywell, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as newer additions to the county's portfolio, such as Citi Hedge Fund Services, Genzyme and Sun Life Financial.

Key interventions in support of attracting investment in recent years have been the development of the Waterford Business & Technology Park (28 hectares), the Dungarvan Business Park (additional 14 hectares developed) and a large scale 55 hectare Greenfield site in Belview, specifically targeted for larger scale utility intensive overseas investments. A further 20 hectare site (Knockhouse lands) adjacent to the Genzyme facility on the Kilmeaden road in Waterford City is also available for Greenfield investment. In addition, Enterprise Ireland and the Cork County Enterprise Board offer a range of supports to businesses to facilitate them in the creation and retention of jobs, and to assist those wishing to start their own business.

Job Losses.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

182 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 10 December 2009, the position regarding the European globalisation adjustment fund application containing proposals for the co-financing of a range of measures including occupational guidance, training, upskilling, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities for a total of 653 workers who were made redundant at companies (details supplied) in County Waterford. [1015/10]

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was submitted to the European Commission on 25 September 2009. The application has been circulated by the Commission's EGF Unit in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities to other relevant Directorate Generals within the Commission for consideration. Thereafter, and subject to any further clarifications required, the application will be placed before the College of Commissioners for approval. The application must also be considered and approved subsequently by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. This procedure can, as in the previous case of the application lodged by Ireland on behalf of redundant DELL workers, take a significant period of time to complete.

Consumer Rights.

Joe McHugh

Question:

183 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on an advertisement (details supplied) that is currently being run by the Consumer Agency; if she will take steps to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1022/10]

The protections afforded consumers in circumstances where they purchase goods which turn out to be faulty are set out in the Sale of Goods legislation, principally the Sale of Goods Act 1893 and the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, and also in the European Communities (Certain Aspects of the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 11/2003 refers). The essential protection provided in Irish law in cases of breaches of a condition under a sales contract, such as instances concerning the sale of faulty goods, entitles a consumer to reject the goods and repudiate the contract. Where the consumer has paid for the goods then he or she may sue for damages and /or seek recovery of the price paid.

Notwithstanding the essential right of consumers to reject faulty goods and seek recovery of the price paid, provisions were inserted into the Sale of Goods legislation allowing consumers who purchase goods which turn out to be faulty a choice of remedies. This choice affords the consumer the opportunity on the one hand to seek a remedy to the fault or a replacement of the goods whilst still retaining the entitlement to reject the goods or have them repaired elsewhere where the seller fails or refuses to facilitate the request. In practical terms the consumer is afforded the right to "cure" the defect without losing the right to reject. Thus the consumer has a second chance to reject where the seller fails to facilitate the request for repair or replacement.

Insofar as the European Communities (Certain Aspects of the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees) Regulations 2003 are concerned, these Regulations added a broader dimension to the palate of remedies available to Irish consumers. It is important to point out, however, that these remedies are in addition to and not in substitution for the protections afforded consumers under the Sale of Goods legislation. The Regulations essentially require that goods delivered under a contract of sale to a consumer must be in conformity with that contract. The Regulations provide that goods are in conformity with the contract for sale if they comply with the description given by the seller, are fit for the purposes for which such goods are normally used, demonstrate the quality and performance which are normal in goods of the same type and which the consumer can reasonably expect etc. The Regulations further provide that where there is a lack of conformity in relation to a contract for the sale of goods, the seller shall be liable to the consumer for any lack of conformity and that the consumer is entitled to a range of remedies, including that the goods are brought into conformity, free of charge, by repair or replacement, or an appropriate reduction is made in the price, or the contract is rescinded with regard to those goods.

As regards the suggestion that there is a 30 day limit on vendors' liability in respect of refunds, I am not aware of the provenance of that suggestion. It may be that the 30 day limit may refer to the returns policy operated by some retailers, whereby they allow consumers to return goods, which are not faulty, within a particular period subject to certain conditions. I would wish to assure the Deputy, however, that there is no such limit in relation to the statutory protections afforded consumers in instances where they purchase goods which turn out to be faulty, indeed any policy which would seek to limit those protections would not be binding on the consumer.

I am satisfied, therefore, that the information campaign being run by the National Consumer Agency is not misleading and indeed is providing useful and timely advice to consumers as to their rights in instances where they purchase goods which turn out to be faulty.

Community Employment Schemes.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

184 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will cut the amount received by participants on community employment schemes beyond what was reduced as a result of social welfare cuts in budget 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1210/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

191 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding plans of FÁS to cut payments to community employment participants; the impact that this will have on the rural social scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1398/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 184 and 191 together.

As part of Budget 2010 a number of savings were identified in relation to Community Employment (CE). These changes were mainly in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Welfare payments and certain FÁS Allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. The FÁS training allowance for Community Employment and Job Initiative participants has been reduced from €24.40 and €48.80 per week to €20 and €40 per week respectively. In addition, new entrants to FÁS training programmes will only be paid an allowance if they had been entitled to Job Seekers Allowance or Job Seekers Benefit.

The funding in respect of training and materials for those on CE programmes will be reduced from €1,500 to €750 per head per annum. These savings will allow for an increase of 500 CE places bringing the total number of places available to 23,300. The changes in CE do not have implications for the Rural Social Scheme which is under the aegis of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

This Government will continue to support the positive role of CE in meeting the needs of long-term unemployed persons while at the same time providing essential services to communities. I am keeping the operation of the Scheme under constant review in the context of the current difficult unemployment situation.

Job Initiative.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

185 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will provide details of the activation fund announced in budget 2010 that is intended to assist those who have lost their jobs, in the construction and other sectors, secure work, education or training; if the fund has commenced; the way in which an application is made; the amount approved to date in 2010; if the community sector can access this fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1248/10]

The Labour Market Activation Fund announced in the Budget 2010 is intended to provide additional effective training and education opportunities to the unemployed through a market-driven and innovation seeking mechanism. It will specifically target the low skilled, the under 35s and those suffering from structural unemployment in the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors. The Government has made €20 million available for the Labour Market Activation Fund in 2010 and it is expected that a call for proposals will issue in the coming weeks with successful proposals starting to come on stream as soon as possible. All sectors of the economy including the public, private and community and voluntary sectors will be able to submit their proposals.

Departmental Expenditure.

Richard Bruton

Question:

186 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the savings outlined in the Report of the Special Group on Public Numbers and Expenditure Programmes which were accepted in budget 2010 for her Department in tabular form; the savings which will be achieved in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1255/10]

Details of savings arising out of recommendations in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes which are incorporated in my Department's Estimate for 2010 are provided on the table. In addition to the savings outlined on the table, further savings will be realised in 2010 through the reduction in staff numbers and in pay levels across my Department and its agencies. The 2010 Budget Day Estimates for my Department included an indicative provisional adjustment to public service pay of €39.658 million, to be apportioned across my Department, its Offices and its agencies in the Revised Estimates Volume.

My Department is continuing to examine all of the proposals made by the Special Group in respect of my Department and its agencies, to determine the scope for the implementation of the recommendations and for the achievement of further savings going forward. Some proposals, such as the rationalisation of agencies, may be quite complex to implement and may require legislative provision if they are to be achieved. There are also a number of recommendations in the report affecting my Department which will require cross-Departmental consideration. However, my Department will examine these proposals and will also look at alternative ways of finding savings which meet the general thrust of the Special Group report.

Recommendation in the Report of the Special Group

Saving in 2010

Comments

€m

Reduce IDA capital and administrative costs, including rationalisation of regional offices in Ireland and shared services

0.857

Administrative costs have been reduced by €857,000 for 2010. The question of rationalisation of offices requires further consideration.IDA’s Capital allocation for 2010 is directly related to its legal commitments. However, €10m was cut from the agency’s budget in 2009 on a once-off basis.

Enterprise Ireland — efficiency saving in administration.

3.024

Enterprise Ireland’s administrative budget has been reduced by €3.024m for 2010.

Cease fundingFÁS Services to Business and Skillnets

6.000

Reduction of €6 million has been made in 2010 Estimates for FÁS’s Services to Business

Abolish FÁS training allowances for participants who do not qualify for Jobseekers Benefit/Allowance

3.200

This recommendation is being implemented in Budget 2010

Formally merge the functions of theRegistrar of Friendly Societies and Companies Registration Office and secure additional efficiencies

0.146

The CRO and the RFS currently operate on a shared office basis. Legislative change is required to formally merge the bodies. The Department is currently reviewing the Industrial and Provident Societies (co-operatives) and Friendly Societies legislation. In the meantime, administrative efficiencies of €140,000 have been identified for 2010.

Savings in Corporate Services; reduction in Administrative Budget.

0.468

Non-Pay savings of €468,000 and substantial Pay savings in the Administrative Budget will be reflected in the Revised Estimates Volume.

Total

13.695

Semi-State Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

187 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will explain the term one time staff vendors with respect to purchases made by FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1319/10]

The term referred to by the Deputy relates to a sundry costs account maintained in FÁS. The account, which is operated on a vouched basis, is used for the reimbursement of costs to FÁS personnel for the purchase, by staff members in the first instance, of sundry items on behalf of the Agency.

Consumer Rights.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

188 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department has made representations to the European Commission regarding the fact that many retailers cannot purchase from suppliers’ sterling price lists and may only purchase goods from Euro price lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1321/10]

Responsibility in relation to the negotiation of commercial contracts between parties such as retailers and suppliers is essentially a matter for the contracting parties themselves. It should be appreciated that such negotiations are not homogenous in their nature and reflect the fact that considerations may apply in relation to negotiations between a supplier and a particular retailer that do not apply in relation to negotiation between that supplier and another retailer. Such considerations would include issues such as volume discounts etc. The Deputy will appreciate, therefore, that the fact that a supplier and a retailer may agree to contract for the supply of goods at a particular price does not necessarily mean that price will apply in respect of every negotiation between the supplier and other retailers for the supply of those goods given the variants that apply in relation to different negotiations.

In so far as competition law has an effect on business relationships in the grocery goods sector, Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002 and Article 101 of the Treaty prohibit agreements, decisions and concerted practices that have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition. Anti-competitive practices such as price fixing, limiting or controlling production and markets, market sharing, applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties (thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage) and making the conclusion of contracts subject to the acceptance of supplementary obligations are specifically prohibited.

However certain agreements or concerted practices entered into between two or more undertakings operating at different levels of the production or distribution chain, which relate to the conditions under which the parties may purchase, sell or resell certain goods or services within the State may fall outside the scope of Section 4 or Article 101. For example, non-exclusive distribution agreements whereby the supplier agrees with the buyer to supply the contract goods or services to the buyer for a certain territory but without any restriction on supplying other buyers within that territory are deemed to be outside the scope of section 4. It is also the case that certain agreements and practices can avail of a block exemption from competition rules, others require assessment on a case by case basis while hard-core anti-competitive practices (e.g. price fixing) is always prohibited.

Section 5 of the Act 2002 and Article 102 of the Treaty prohibits abuse of a dominant position. The creation or existence of a dominant position does not breach competition law, rather it is the abuse of that position that constitutes the breach. The Competition (Amendment) Act 2006 strengthens the provisions of the 2002 Act by prohibiting practices such as: the imposition of resale price maintenance in regard to the supply of grocery goods (resale price maintenance is the practice whereby manufacturers or suppliers specify the minimum prices at which their goods may be resold); unfair discrimination in regard to the supply of grocery goods. This is a reference to a supplier offering preferential terms to one buyer over another even though the transactions involved are equivalent in nature.

The legislation outlined above provides for the investigation of a breach by the Competition Authority and for prosecution on indictment by the Director of Public Prosecutions, which the Deputy will be aware are both independent bodies in the exercise of their statutory functions. Alternatively, aggrieved suppliers may take a private action for relief by way of injunction, declaration or damages including exemplary damages. Depending on the specific details of any individual case the EU Commission may also have a role.

With regard to the practices referred to in the Deputy's question, there may be jurisdictional considerations given that the practices may have a cross border dimension. I would urge the Deputy to bring any details of the practices concerned to the attention of the Competition Authority in order that the relevant competition body can be identified to follow up on the matter and to investigate if the said practices are in conformity with the provisions of competition law.

Job Losses.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

189 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way in which the moneys provided from the European Globalisation Fund for former Dell and associated workers will be allocated and monitored. [1322/10]

Pat Breen

Question:

192 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No 63 of 13 October 2009 the way the monies from the EU Globalisation Fund will be allocated to former employees of a company (details supplied); the timeframe involved for spending these funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1428/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 189 and 192 together.

Since the announcement of the DELL and related redundancies in Raheen in January 2009, FÁS has already provided guidance service and training courses to over 1,500 workers made redundant. Enterprise Ireland and the local Vocational Education Committees also continue to promote and offer their business advice, grant aid and educational services. A number of affected workers have already enrolled on training courses and in further and third level education at institutions in the Mid-West region to date.

The application for co-funded assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) towards the costs of a personalized package of occupational guidance, training, employment, entrepreneurship and educational measures for workers made redundant at the DELL plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick, and in ancillary enterprises, was made by my Department in mid-June 2009. It was subsequently approved by the European Union budgetary authorities in late December 2009. The transfer of EU funds is anticipated later this month. Provision has been made in my Department's Vote for the national financing element required. The timeframe permitted for eligible expenditure under the Fund is 24 months from the date of submission of an application, or from the date of commencement of relevant measures provided this is no later than 3 months after the application's submission. As such in the case of the DELL related application the latest date for expenditure is September 2011.

My Department will be the managing authority for EGF funding in the State while the Department of Education and Science, FÁS and Enterprise Ireland will be designated intermediate bodies for funds transfer, reporting and monitoring purposes. Approved funding will be made available to public beneficiaries delivering services on the ground to the eligible redundant workers. All intermediate bodies shall certify expenditure in their particular area of responsibility and report to my Department. All relevant EU and national accounting and auditing procedures and requirements must be adhered to by the relevant intermediate bodies and public beneficiaries.

It is imperative that the wide range of measures being provided to eligible redundant workers is co-ordinated in the most effective and efficient manner locally and regionally. To that end, I have charged FÁS to establish a dedicated EGF Co-ordination Unit in Limerick to ensure that all relevant supports across all service providers are coordinated on the ground in a timely, effective and efficient manner. The Unit shall act as the primary coordination agency for the Department in the implementation of the EGF programme for DELL worker related supports.

The EGF Co-Ordination Unit is now contacting all potential beneficiaries of the Fund from DELL and the other ancillary enterprises to outline the supports on offer. They are also inviting the workers to a 2 days information fair in Limerick early next month at which all service providers will be in attendance to explain their programmes and supports, to answer queries and to provide for course registrations. In parallel, a steering group is being established to include worker representative bodies in order to ensure that the views of the redundant workers and other key stakeholders are made known and fed into the implementation process.

The Minister for Labour Affairs will be meeting the DELL Redundant Workers Association as part of this process in the coming days. A review of the operation of the Fund shall be undertaken by the Department in June 2010.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

190 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to apply for funding from the European Globalisation Fund with respect to regions other than the mid-west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1323/10]

To date my Department has made two applications, and is in the process of finalising a third application, for assistance under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). These applications are in relation to major redundancies at the DELL plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick, the Waterford Crystal plant in Kilbarry, Co. Waterford and the S R Technics facility at Dublin Airport.

Strict eligibility criteria apply under the EGF Regulation in order for a Member State to sustain the making of an application for assistance under the Fund. My Department continues to monitor all relevant redundancy and related information sources on a national basis to ensure that where it is considered that a viable application can be made and sustained under the EGF, irrespective of geographic location, it will be duly made.

Question No. 191 answered with Question No. 184.
Question No. 192 answered with Question No. 189.

Task Force Report.

Pat Breen

Question:

193 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 222 of 16 September 2009 the status of the mid-west jobs task force report; when the final report will be finalised; the number of recommendations of the interim report which have been implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1430/10]

The wide range of recommendations in the Mid-West Task Force report cover both local and national issues. In that respect, the Government has been responding to the economic downturn generally and has taken numerous initiatives, for example in relation to competitiveness and cost competitiveness, industrial employment stabilization, and employment activation measures. All of these measures have benefited regions affected by or threatened with job losses, including the Mid West region. Workers in the Mid West are the subject of a substantial package assembled by the Government in response to the redundancies arising from developments at Dell in Limerick and knock-on effects in other companies in the region.

In addition, the State agencies IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development and the County Enterprise Boards have redoubled their efforts to stimulate industrial employment in the Mid West region. For example, IDA is supporting eight industrial projects with a job potential of 1,073 which were announced by multinational companies in the Mid West in 2008 and 2009 and are now being brought into operation.

The measures mentioned above are outlined more fully in an initial response to its recommendations which I sent to the Task Force in late September. Given the wide range of recommendations in the report, I have also brought the report to the attention of my colleagues in Cabinet and it is currently being further considered in a number of other Government Departments as well as in my own Department following the recent budget. I am very grateful for the work Mr Brosnan and the other members of the Task Force have undertaken to date. I shall continue to keep the Task Force informed on the Government's work on matters covered in the interim recommendations. The Task Force has identified a number of issues for further study in its Final Report which I look forward to receiving in the coming months.

Community Employment Schemes.

Jack Wall

Question:

194 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if changes have been made in community employment schemes following Budget 2010; if so, if a person can remain on a CE scheme longer than three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1462/10]

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a fixed term basis. CE helps unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.

Budget 2010 contained some changes to Community Employment Schemes however, the qualifying criteria and rules for participation remain unchanged. A number of savings were identified, mainly in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Welfare payments and certain FÁS Allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. The FÁS allowance for CE and JI participants will reduced from €24.40 and €48.80 per week to €20 and €40 per week respectively. In addition, new entrants to FÁS training programmes will only be paid an allowance if they had been entitled to Job Seekers Allowance or Job Seekers Benefit.

The funding in respect of training and materials for those on CE programmes will be reduced from €1,500 to €750 per head per annum. These savings will allow for an increase of 500 CE places bringing the total number of places available to 23,300. A person can remain on a CE Scheme for longer than 3 years if they are aged 55 years or over. In addition persons in receipt of the following disability-linked Social Welfare payments may be eligible for an additional 1 year's participation: Disability Allowance; Blind Pension; Invalidity Pension; Illness Benefit for 6 months or more.

Joe McHugh

Question:

195 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will, through FÁS, explore the possibility of developing community employment schemes on developing walkways and cycle routes on disused railway lines nationally in view of the fact that there are more than 400,000 persons unemployed here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1487/10]

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a fixed term basis. The purpose of CE is to help unemployed people to re-enter the open labour market by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.

Eligible projects are those which: respond to an identified community need; provide development for participants in areas involving heritage, arts, culture, tourism, sport and the environment; have the agreement of relevant trade unions; do not displace or replace existing jobs; offer valuable work experience for participants. FÁS would welcome proposals from Local Sponsors to carry out projects such as those mentioned by the Deputy. All proposals would be considered within allocated budgets and participant numbers.

Ethics in Public Office.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

196 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of each gift, favour and hospitality received, both over and under the value of €650, since May 2007 to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1509/10]

Under the Ethics Acts, gifts, favours and hospitality given to office holders and valued at over €650, must be included in the "Annual Statement of Registrable Interests" made to the Standards in Public Office Commission. During the period in question one gift, favour or item of hospitality valued in excess of €650 was received: Miniature Gilded Boat presented by the Minister for Foreign Trade of the United Arab Emirates during a Trade Mission to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in November, 2008. This gift was surrendered to the State and declared in my Statement of Registrable Interests submitted to the Standards in Public Office Commission. Gifts, favours or hospitality received under the threshold are not recorded because they are not subject to declaration.

Departmental Agencies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

197 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the charges levied or set by his Department or agencies for the provision of goods or services to individuals or businesses; if those charges have been changed during 2008 or 2009; the revenue in 2009 accrued from these charges; the anticipated income from such charges in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1592/10]

In the time available since this Question was tabled my Department has not been able to collect information on all the issues raised by the Deputy. In this regard, I would point out that my Department includes such Offices as the Companies Registration Office and the Patents Office, which provide several services for which charges are made. I will forward the information to the Deputy.

Employment Rights.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

198 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason former employees and pension holders of a company (details supplied) are not covered under the Protection of Employee Rights on Transfer of Undertakings Regulation 2003; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1642/10]

The current Irish law in the area of "transfer of undertakings" is theEuropean Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 — Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No. 131 of 2003. The Regulations implement the mandatory (i.e. mandatory to transpose) provisions of EU Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 which is aimed at safeguarding the rights of employees in the event of a transfer of an undertaking, business or part of a business to another employer as a result of a legal transfer (including the assignment or forfeiture of a lease) or merger. Section 21 of the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 transposed a provision of the European Directive relating to the information to be provided by the original employer to the new employer.

Complaints relating to alleged contravention of the Regulations on Transfer of Undertakings can be brought in the first instance to a Rights Commissioner and, on appeal, to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Any such case should be taken within six months of the date on which an employee considers that there has been a contravention of the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations. I understand that no complaint has been made to the Rights Commissioners Service in relation to this case. In accordance with the Transfer of Undertaking Regulations, it would be a matter for a Rights Commissioner to determine in law if any particular case does, in fact, constitute a transfer of undertakings situation. Thus, the circumstances of each individual case would have to be considered by a Rights Commissioner, in the first instance, in the light of all previous case law including European Court of Justice case law.

An application to a Rights Commissioner can be made by the employee, or by a representative (including a trade union representative) by contacting the Rights Commissioner Service of the Labour Relations Commission, Tom Johnson House, Haddington Road, Dublin 4, or phone 01 6136700.

Proposed Legislation.

John McGuinness

Question:

199 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on expanding the role of the registrar of friendly societies in line with the role and function of the certification officer in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1817/10]

As the Deputy will be aware I have directed my Department to extend the scope of the reviews of the existing legislation relating to industrial and provident societies (co-operative societies) and friendly societies to include the functions of the Registrar of Friendly Societies under the Trade Union Acts. The Deputy may also be aware that the McCarthy report made a recommendation in relation to the Office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and this too is being taken into consideration in the context of the reviews.

Our trade union legislation is very much based on the UK Acts, the principal Act being a UK Act of 1871, and whilst there have been some amending Acts in the intervening years the basic registry functions have remained relatively similar in the two jurisdictions. I would anticipate, insofar as the review of the legislation will consider the functions of the Registrar under the Trade Union Acts, that it will have due regard to the functions discharged by comparable regulatory bodies in other jurisdictions, in particular the UK, given the historic linkages.

Semi-State Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

200 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff working in FÁS; the number of staff grouped by grade; the number of staff employed on a temporary short term contract; the number of staff on a fixed contract; the number of staff involved in providing direct training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1857/10]

The table shows the number of staff working in FÁS broken down by grade. Of the total number indicated below 10.5 persons are employed on fixed term contracts and the remainder are permanent FÁS staff. A total of 456.75 persons are involving in providing direct training. Information on temporary staff is currently being compiled and will be communicated to the Deputy when it is available.

Grade

Total

1

1.00

3

5.00

4

25.00

5

2.00

6

88.00

7

136.84

8

786.53

9

150.46

10

197.04

11

569.14

13

94.39

Total

2,055.4

Leo Varadkar

Question:

201 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of FÁS premises; the number of FÁS premises grouped by function; the amount of rent paid by FÁS in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1858/10]

The current total number of FÁS owned or leased premises is 130. This number breaks down by function as follows:

FÁS-owned main Training Centres: 17

FÁS-leased main Training Centres: 2

FÁS-leased main Training Centre sites: 1

FÁS-leased temporary Training Centre satellite units: 45

FÁS-leased Head Office premises: 5

FÁS-owned Head Office sites: 1

FÁS-leased Employment Services Offices: 54

FÁS-owned Employment Services Offices: 2

FÁS-leased Community Services/Service to Business premises: 3

The information above excludes leased Employment Services temporary "clinic" type premises, Local Employment Service premises and all Community Training Centre type premises. The provisional estimated rent for 2009 is €10.805m.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

202 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of training courses provided directly by FÁS; the number of training courses sourced by FÁS in other educational institutions and in the private sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1859/10]

I understand that FÁS is currently collating the information requested by the Deputy. I will write to the Deputy again once this has been completed.

Job Losses.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

203 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on her application for funding under the European globalisation adjustment fund for former employees at a company (details supplied); when a decision will be made on the application; the structures she is putting into place to disperse funding allocated to former employees under the European globalisation adjustment fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1879/10]

Last October, my Department submitted a provisional application to the European Commission seeking co-financing support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The application relates to the provision of a personalised package of training, educational and entrepreneurial supports to workers made redundant at SR Technics. The Commission has recently sought additional information in relation to the application which my Department is currently preparing. State agencies such as FÁS, Enterprise Ireland and local Vocational Education Committees have made, and continue to make, the full range of their employment, training, guidance and advisory services available to workers made redundant at S.R. Technics.

Redundancy Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

204 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their redundancy payment. [1884/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

206 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their redundancy payment. [1886/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 and 206 together.

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that my Department received statutory lump sum claims for the individuals concerned and some former employees of the company on 26 November 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer. These claims await processing.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing rebate applications submitted by post from April 2009 and those filed online from May 2009, so that the waiting time is approximately 8 to 9 months depending on the manner of filing the application. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from July 2009.

Given the unprecedented increase in Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department since late 2008 it has proved impossible to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims with a cumulative figure for 2009 of 77,001. This figure exceeds the claims lodged for 2008 (40,607) by 90% and 2008 was, of itself, an exceptional year as compared with earlier years when claims received were of the order of 25,000. Efforts continue to be made by my Department to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community.

Measures already taken include the reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands. The current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 52.5; the prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in the Redundancy Payments Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours; the establishment of a special call handling facility to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses who are naturally concerned about their payments, using the facilities and cooperation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). This centre has received an average of 12,500 calls per month this year with an estimated 60% relating to redundancy payments. There has also been the provision of better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website and engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against outstanding tax liabilities with the Revenue Commissioners. The Tánaiste and I continue to monitor closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and we are currently looking at ways in which additional resources can be allocated to the area in the first quarter of 2010.

Michael Ring

Question:

205 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be awarded their statutory redundancy. [1885/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that my Department received a statutory lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 4 August, 2009 claiming inability to pay on behalf of the employer. This claim awaits processing.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing rebate applications submitted by post from April 2009 and those filed online from May 2009, so that the waiting time is approximately 8 to 9 months depending on the manner of filing the application. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from July 2009.

Given the unprecedented increase in Redundancy Payment claims lodged with my Department since late 2008 it has proved impossible to maintain the customer service targets that previously obtained. The scale of the challenge is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims with a cumulative figure for 2009 of 77,001. This figure exceeds the claims lodged for 2008 (40,607) by 90% and 2008 was, of itself, an exceptional year as compared with earlier years when claims received were of the order of 25,000. Efforts continue to be made by my Department to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community.

Measures already taken include the reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands — the current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 52.5; the prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in the Redundancy Payments Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours; the establishment of a special call handling facility to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses who are naturally concerned about their payments, using the facilities and cooperation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). This centre has received an average of 12,500 calls per month this year with an estimated 60% relating to redundancy payments. There has also been the provision of better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website and engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against outstanding tax liabilities with the Revenue Commissioners.

The Tánaiste and I continue to monitor closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and we are currently looking at ways in which additional resources can be allocated to the area in the first quarter of 2010.

Question No. 206 answered with Question No. 204.

Michael Ring

Question:

207 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive payment under the insolvency payment scheme. [1887/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department received an application under the Insolvency Payments Scheme on 27 November 2009 for Arrears of Wages, Holiday Pay and Minimum Notice on behalf of the person concerned and some former employees of this company.

The impact on business of the severe economic circumstances currently pertaining has resulted in a significant rise in the level of company receiverships and insolvencies. Consequently, an increasing number of claims are being submitted to the Insolvency Payments Section, with 21,411 new claims lodged in 2009 — a 78% increase over the volume received in 2008. My officials endeavour to process all claims as quickly as possible and claims are dealt with in order of date of receipt. Current processing times indicate that the individual's claim should be paid by end February/beginning of March, however my Department is constantly endeavouring to achieve earlier completion and payment dates.

Semi-State Bodies.

Michael Ring

Question:

208 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of site visits to County Mayo conducted by Industrial Development Authority in 2008 and in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1904/10]

I have been informed by IDA that in the years 2008 and 2009 there was a total of 4 site visits by potential investors to County Mayo. During 2009 there was one visit to Ballina, while in 2008, there were two visits to Westport and one visit to Claremorris. For reasons of commercial sensitivity and client confidentiality, details of the potential investors involved are not disclosed.

Michael Ring

Question:

209 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons currently employed in Industrial Development Authority supported companies in a location (details supplied); the comparison figures for each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1905/10]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the industrial development agencies. Data is compiled on an annualised basis. The numbers of persons employed in IDA supported companies in County Mayo in each of the past five years is set out in the following tabular statement.

Table showing the number of people employed in IDA supported companies in County Mayo in each of the years 2005 to 2009.

Year

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Numbers employed

3,038

2,973

3,004

3,010

2,992

Industrial Development.

Michael Ring

Question:

210 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding a project (details supplied) in County Mayo; the number of units that are available at that location; the number of units that have been occupied; if there is any active interest in the location by investors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1906/10]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio, including the creation and development of business parks, are day-to-day operational matters for the agency and not matters in which I have a function.

I have been informed by IDA that the Westport Business and Technology Park consists of 14.88 hectares of which 9.56 hectares are available for investment projects. One unit has been built on the park and is currently occupied. There are no other units available on the Park. IDA continues to market the Park to potential investors but, in the final analysis, it is the investor who decides where to locate.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

211 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way a person on a FÁS course with child dependants is to be compensated for the cut in child benefit. [2055/10]

Budget 2010 provided an increase of 14.6% in the weekly child dependent allowance for qualifying participants on FÁS training and employment schemes.

Departmental Staff.

Denis Naughten

Question:

212 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff in her Department, broken down by division and section, annually since 2007 to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2167/10]

The table outlines the number of staff in my Department, broken down by division and section, annually since 2007 to date in 2010. The figures reflect the number of staff (full time equivalents) serving at the end of December each year and to date in 2010. In addition to the figures, my Department has 3 staff serving in the Irish Mission in Geneva.

Corporate Services Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Ministers & Secretariat

38.60

45.80

41.80

41.80

Secretary General

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Corporate Services

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Personnel Unit

31.40

30.88

24.90

24.90

PIAB Unit

2.10

2.60

1.00

1.00

Press Office & FOI Unit

8.00

7.80

6.00

6.00

Business Services Unit

26.00

26.83

22.23

22.23

Service Officers / Attendant/ Cleaners

47.00

47.00

48.00

48.00

IT Unit

25.73

27.80

28.00

29.00

Management Support Unit

11.80

12.60

10.80

10.80

Finance Unit

35.83

34.83

34.73

35.73

Internal Audit / ESF

11.70

15.00

18.00

18.00

Division Total

240.16

253.14

237.46

239.46

Competitiveness & International Affairs Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Bilateral Trade

7.23

7.60

5.50

5.50

Market Access

17.30

17.70

15.30

15.30

EU Affairs

8.60

9.80

8.80

8.80

Environment

3.60

3.60

3.00

3.00

Division Total

37.73

39.70

33.60

33.60

Enterprise & Agencies Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Enterprise & Agencies

11.60

14.40

9.80

9.80

Enterprise Policy and Standards

7.80

8.00

9.00

9.00

PSOP & Small Business

7.30

7.10

8.90

8.90

Local Enterprise

8.60

7.60

5.60

5.60

Sectoral Enterprise and E-Business

10.15

9.15

5.60

5.60

Division Total

46.45

47.25

39.90

39.90

Consumers, Competition & Commerce Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Company Law Administration

7.90

8.40

8.40

8.40

Company Law Financial Services and Legislation

9.00

9.10

7.60

7.60

Company Law Review

4.00

4.00

5.00

5.00

Office of the Director of Corporate Services

32.90

36.50

40.60

40.60

Companies Registration Office, Dublin

103.20

98.36

74.89

72.89

Companies Registration Office, Carlow

27.95

28.45

31.95

31.95

Registry of Friendly Societies

8.00

7.00

6.55

6.55

Competition and Consumer Policy

14.10

13.40

10.40

10.40

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs (NCA)

53.10

44.80

34.50

34.50

Division Total

261.15

251.01

220.89

218.89

Science, Technology and Intellectual Property Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Science Policy & Int. Research

6.80

8.50

7.50

7.50

National Programmes & Policy

6.30

9.10

6.80

6.80

Intellectual Property Unit

9.60

10.00

6.80

6.80

Patents Office

60.50

60.10

56.40

56.40

Division Total

84.20

88.70

78.50

78.50

Labour Force Development Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Employment and Training Strategy

9.00

8.80

8.80

8.80

Policy Unit on Employment

3.50

4.50

2.00

2.00

European Social Fund Policy & Op

14.00

13.00

8.00

7.00

Labour Market Policy

7.00

9.00

6.00

6.00

Work Permits

36.33

34.70

23.30

22.30

Division Total

70.83

71.00

49.10

47.10

Employment Rights and Industrial Relations Division:

Section

2007

2008

2009

January 2010

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Employment Appeals Tribunal

30.00

34.60

36.40

36.40

Health and Safety Policy / Liaison

5.00

5.00

4.00

4.00

REACH

2.00

2.00

2.00

2.00

Employment rights

10.80

8.80

8.80

8.80

Employment rights Compliance Legislation

5.00

5.00

5.00

5.00

NERA DUBLIN (Labour Inspectorate)

30.50

29.50

28.30

28.30

NERA CARLOW

62.20

59.83

55.33

53.33

NERA CORK

16.00

12.00

12.00

NERA SHANNON

14.00

13.00

13.00

NERA SLIGO

11.00

10.00

10.00

Information Unit

Redundancy Payments

20.20

23.20

57.20

56.20

Insolvency Payments

9.80

11.60

14.90

14.90

Industrial Relations

9.00

8.50

7.60

7.60

Labour Court

39.60

38.50

28.50

28.50

Labour Relations Commission

48.00

47.60

47.50

47.50

Division Total

273.10

316.13

331.53

328.53

Tax Code.

Mary Upton

Question:

213 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recently introduced carbon levy as a environmental measure in view of the fact that public transport operators have been forced to cut services due to reduced funding; his further views on whether this will force persons back into private cars thus negating environmental benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1062/10]

Mary Upton

Question:

214 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the carbon levy is appropriate as an environmental measure in view of the fact that it has not been accompanied by increased support for public transport to encourage a modal shift in behaviour but has instead been accompanied by further funding and service cuts by public transport operators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1063/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 214 together.

The Deputy must bear in mind that the emissions from the transport sector account for around 30% of non-ETS emissions. The carbon tax is about sending price signals to the sector as a whole. The carbon tax does not differentiate between private and public transport per se, however, the impact on public transport will be far less than on private transport by virtue of the fact that the higher cost of fuel is dispersed amongst more people, for example, using a bus compared to an individual in a car. Consequently, the carbon tax will be proportionately less for users of public transport which should be an incentive for its use. In addition, the carbon tax provides an incentive for both private motorists and providers of public transport to invest in fuel efficient cars and buses when they are making future purchasing decisions.

It should also be noted that the Government has invested record levels of public funds in developing transport infrastructure and services over the last decade. In particular, under Transport 21, over €3bn has been invested in public transport since 2006. In rural areas, in addition to the provision of more buses for Bus Éireann, the Rural Transport Programme funding has more than doubled since 2005, and funding levels in 2010 is being be protected at that provided in 2009 (€11m).

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

215 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will assist a person (details supplied) in County Cork in obtaining her P45. [1548/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an Officer from Roscommon District will call to the taxpayer's former employer, who is based in Roscommon, and will give priority to securing the outstanding P45.

Departmental Staff.

Michael Ring

Question:

216 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons that have applied for the position of Secretary General at his Department following recent advertisements; if a person has been appointed; when the appointment will be made; the location at which the secretary general will be located; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1891/10]

Fifteen persons applied for the post of Secretary General, D/Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. An appointment was made today Tuesday 19th January 2010. On foot of Government decisions on the Decentralisation Programme, the headquarters of the Department will move to Charlestown, Co Mayo and the person appointed Secretary General will serve at that location.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

217 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the policy regarding the term of office of Secretaries General; the policy regarding the renewal of such terms; if such renewals are consistent with the terms of the strategic management initiative and other policy documents in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1933/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

218 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the number of Secretaries General whose term of office as head of a Department or office has expired and whose term of office as head of a Department or Office has been renewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1934/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

219 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the number of Secretaries General whose term of office as head of a Government Department or office has expired and who have stepped down as head of that Department or office but remain as civil servants; if, in each instance, the salary of such persons is equivalent to or lower than a Secretary General who is currently the head of a Government Department or office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1935/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 to 219, inclusive, together. Secretaries-General are appointed for not more than 7 years and are obliged to retire at 60 years of age. If, on appointment as Secretary, a person is between 56 and 60 years of age, the Government may, at its discretion, (a) waive that person's obligation to retire at 60 and (b) permit the person to serve as Secretary for a period not exceeding 4 years in any case.

In the case of a Secretary-General appointed for not more than seven years, who has served a term of office before reaching 60, the Government should then formally decide on one of the following courses: to appoint him or her to an appropriate position (carrying the same remuneration) elsewhere in the civil service; to arrange for such an appointment (in agreement with the officer) in another area of the public service or in an international institution; to allow him or her to opt for early retirement on a voluntary basis with immediate pension and lump sum and a special severance gratuity of one half of annual salary on the term specified in Sections 6 and 7 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act 1963.

Secretaries General appointed for a seven year period may, during their fifth year of office, be invited to indicate their interest in a further appointment, either in their existing or another Department, for a total of ten years at the discretion of the Government.

Two serving Secretaries General have had their original terms extended and two Heads of Offices who are at Secretary General level have also had their terms extended.

Currently no Secretary General who has stepped down as head of a Department or Office remains as a civil servant.

National Asset Management Agency.

George Lee

Question:

220 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the purpose of the National Asset Management Agency meetings with county managers and if NAMA had been lobbying to have land rezoned to increase its value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2048/10]

George Lee

Question:

296 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the purpose of the National Asset Management Agency’s meetings with county managers; if the National Assets Management Agency will be lobbying to have land rezoned to increase its value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1931/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 296 together.

I am informed that NAMA officials held a meeting with local authority officials at the request of the latter. As NAMA had not acquired any assets, the meeting was limited to a discussion of general issues and did not focus on how NAMA would operate in detail.

As regards the matter of lobbying referred to by the Deputy, I can assure the House that NAMA has not been lobbying to have land rezoned in order to increase its value. Neither do I expect such lobbying to occur in the future.

Tax Code.

George Lee

Question:

221 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the changes to mortgage interest relief outlined in the budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48244/09]

Joe McHugh

Question:

262 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will explain the nature of all reliefs for first-time house buyers pursuant to budget 2010; if first time buyers receive just tax relief for seven years in total irrespective of the date of purchase; if reliefs for first-time buyers in certain categories of first--time buyers extended to 2017; if so, the reason therefore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1203/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 262 together.

The position in relation to mortgage interest relief is as I stated in my Budget speech on 9 December 2009. As a support to homeowners who may now find themselves in negative equity, I am extending mortgage interest relief up to the end of 2017 for those who took out qualifying loans from 2004.

To encourage those who want to buy a house over the next three years I will provide that qualifying loans taken out before 1 July 2011 will continue to get relief at current levels, and transitional arrangements will apply to loans taken out in the subsequent 18 months at a reduced level and duration.

It is my intention to abolish mortgage interest relief entirely by the end of 2017. Full details in relation to the new rates, ceilings, duration of the relief and other provisions required will be set out in the Finance Bill.

Pension Provisions.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

222 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if, further to his budget 2010 speech, he will apply the proposed public sector pension reforms to public servants who are due to retire in 2011 and beyond; if these proposed reforms will only apply to new public servants in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48276/09]

In the Budget I announced that there would be a new single public service pension scheme introduced for new entrants to the public service. Relevant legislation will be introduced in 2010 and the scheme will be in place by the end of the year.The introduction of a single pension scheme will provide a standard, consistent and efficient structure for the future management and control of public service pensions. As this reform is for new entrants, it will not apply to those who are currently in the public service.

The Budget also made clear that the Government will consider using the Consumer Price Index as the basis for post-retirement increases for both existing and future pensioners.

I would add that the term public sector is usually taken to comprise all those who are employed, both directly and indirectly, by a public body. The public service is, broadly speaking, the public sector less the commercial semi-state bodies.

Tax Collection.

Joan Burton

Question:

223 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an analysis of the numbers of individuals on interest returns made by financial institutions received by the Revenue Commissioners by county for the years 2007 and 2008 within the following bands, up to €10,000, between €10,001 and €25,000, €25,001 and €50,000, €50,001 and €100,000, €100,001and €200,000, €200,001 and €300,000, €300,001 and €400,000, €400,001 and €500,000, €500,001 and €600,000, €600,001 and €750,000, €7500,001 and €1,000,000 and in excess of €1,000,001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48295/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested is as follows, insofar as it is available.

Range of interest reported

Number of Records reported

2007

2008

<= 10,000

474,327

1,375,937

Between: 10,001 & 25,000

29,851

39,414

Between: 25,001 & 50,000

9,820

12,715

Between: 50,001 & 100,000

4,683

6,030

Between: 100,001 & 200,000

2,019

2,825

Between: 200,001 & 300,000

658

884

Between: 300,001 & 400,000

290

459

Between: 400,001 & 500,000

173

273

Between: 500,001 & 600,000

95

162

Between: 600,001 & 750,000

88

164

Between: 750,001 & 1,000,000

88

156

>= 1,000,001

211

417

Financial Institutions report each party to an account where the account is a Joint Account. This could mean that a joint account is included more than once i.e. for each of the parties.

The figures relate to all accounts not just those of individuals. The Financial Institutions do not classify the accounts into individuals, companies, trusts, charities etc.

A county-by-county breakdown is not provided. Financial Institutions made their returns to the Revenue Commissioners on behalf of their entire organisation. To provide a breakdown by county would require text analysis of address details reported which would be very labour intensive and, in any event, the results would not be accurate.

Departmental Staff.

George Lee

Question:

224 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the number of civil service staff in his Department; the number of these staff who hold an economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a post graduate economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a PhD in economics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48314/09]

At 31 December 2009 there were 606 people (560.78 wholetime equivalent) employed in my Department.

There are currently 57 officers who hold degrees in Economics and related disciplines, 44 who hold a Masters graduate qualification in Economics and related disciplines, and 2 officers who hold a PhD. Some officers will, of course, be included in more than 1 of these categories.

My Department has a long-standing policy of recruiting economists. Individuals with skills and qualifications in economics are employed at almost all levels in the Department. The Deputy will be interested to know that, of the last 7 appointments at Assistant Secretary level in the Department, 5 had Masters qualifications in economics or related disciplines, while 2 had primary degrees in economics or related disciplines.

Pension Provisions.

Pat Breen

Question:

225 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 141 of the 21 October 2009, if the report of the interdepartmental committee on the issues of ethical investment in the National Pensions Reserve Fund has been completed; if this report will be presented to the House of the Oireachtas in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48338/09]

Further to my reply to the Deputy on 21 October 2009, I understand that considerable progress has been made towards completion of this report. Many of the issues involved are of a complex nature and have required considerable discussion and consideration by members of the Committee and their respective Departments. The Committee is now finalising its report and I look forward to receiving it in the near future.

Decentralisation Programme.

John O'Mahony

Question:

226 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) who is on the central application facility transfer list for transfer to any Department in counties Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Roscommon and Longford; if the transfer will happen in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48344/09]

My Department does not hold details on the status of individual applications made through the Central Applications Facility (CAF). Responsibility for the implementation of the projects included in the decentralisation programme is a matter for the individual organisations concerned and these would be best placed to advise in relation to the status of applications made in respect of their decentralised or decentralising location.

I have forwarded the details you have provided to the relevant Government Departments and have asked each Department to provide you with an update in relation to any application made by the person concerned to that organisation, or to any agencies under its aegis, as soon as possible.

Public Procurement.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

227 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if the national public procurement operations unit has begun the process of implementing green public procurement principles into government procurement practices; if a timeframe has been drawn up for the implementation of EU directives 17 and 18 of 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48355/09]

The National Public Procurement Operations Unit (NPPOU) has begun the process of implementing green procurement principles by having a systemised referral of all procurement projects to a working group consisting of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Department of Communications Energy and National Resources and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The purpose of the referral is to identify policies and national targets that can be supported through the procurement process. This leads to the inclusion of green, social and commercial principles and objectives in the NPPOU's procurement strategies.

The NPPOU operates in full compliance under the terms of Directive 2004/18/EC. Directive 2004/17/EC applies to the utilities sector. The NPPOU has not acted in that sector to date. When it does so, the requirements of the Directive will be complied with fully.

Tax Code.

Michael McGrath

Question:

228 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to a query regarding the calculation of income tax liability (details supplied). [48366/09]

The position is that neither income levy nor employee PRSI are allowable deductions in arriving at an individual's taxable income for income tax purposes. However, the public sector pension-related deduction is an allowable deduction in arriving at an individual's taxable income for income tax purposes.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

229 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance the reason an increase in general taxation might lead to a reduction in revenues at this point in time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48369/09]

Budget 2009 and last April's Supplementary Budget introduced measures designed to yield around €3.8 billion in additional revenue in 2009. This was a considerable figure, particularly in the context of falling economic growth. A third set of increases in the tax burden over such a short period would have a negative impact on enterprise and on growth prospects in general for 2010. As I outlined in the Budget 2010 Statement in relation to tax increases, a limit had been reached and job creation would be impacted by further increasing the penalty on work and investment.

Public Sector Expenditure.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

230 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance the course of action recommended by the European Central Bank regarding the measures that need to be taken to reduce our borrowings by €4 billion in 2009, in terms of taxation policy, public sector bill, social welfare bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48370/09]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

232 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance the reason the cost of borrowing would increase under the agreement with the European Central Bank if action were not taken on reducing the social welfare and public sector bills, as opposed to a general increase in taxation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48372/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 and 232 together.

The Government has set out a multi-annual framework to restore sustainability to the public finances and to reduce the General Government Deficit to below 3% of GDP by end-2014. Over the course of 2008 and 2009 the Government has already taken significant action on curbing expenditure and raising revenue. Budget 2010 represented a further phase in the consolidation of the public finances and as I outlined in my statement on Budget day, taking account of the fact that there had already been tax increases in the previous two budgets, a limit had been reached and job creation would be impacted by further increasing the penalty on work and investment. Consequently, Budget 2010 delivered an adjustment of €4 billion (2½% of GDP) for 2010. The adjustment mainly focused on reducing expenditure, including measures to further reduce the public sector pay bill, reduce Social Welfare spending and also to reduce other Departmental spending including an adjustment on capital expenditure.

The measures taken to date by the Government, including those in Budget 2010, have been welcomed by the EU Commission and the European Central Bank.

On foot of these measures it is forecast that the General Government Deficit will stabilise in 2010 at the 2009 level. Failing to stabilise the deficit in 2010 and to progressively reduce it to below the Stability and Growth Pact limit by 2014 would necessitate further increases in borrowing. This would in turn lead to an unsustainable rise in our debt servicing costs. Debt servicing costs have a first call on available resources, therefore an increase in these costs impacts on the resources available for other priorities. This serves to underline the ongoing importance of the corrective measures to be introduced in the period to 2014 and the Government is determined to take the necessary action as set out in Budget 2010.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

231 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance the cost of the public sector and social welfare sector as a proportion of the overall State bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48371/09]

I take it that the State bill referred to is gross Voted current spending. The Public Service pay bill is estimated at €18,675 million in gross terms for 2010, or 34% of gross Voted current spending. Social Welfare expenditure, net of pay, is estimated at €20,879 million or 38% gross Voted current spending.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 230.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

233 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will explain the application of section 19 of the 1994 Finance Act; the rationale for the introduction of this section; if this section is still in force or has been subject to amendment; the number of applications made in each year since enactment under this section; the number of such applications approved each year since enactment; the cost to the Exchequer of this provision each year since enactment; the number of persons, businesses or organisations that have benefitted from this provision each year since enactment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48373/09]

Section 19 of the Finance Act 1994 (now section 236 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) allows a company to make a loan of an art object, being a work of art or a scientific collection, to an employee or a director, without that individual suffering an income tax charge on the loan as a benefit in kind or as a distribution.

The art object must be on display and available for viewing by members of the public in an approved building or garden, as defined in section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, which is owned or occupied by the individual and to which reasonable public access if afforded.

The section was introduced in the Finance Act 1994 following representations made by the Irish Georgian Society who were concerned about the possibility of art objects leaving the country. The Society suggested a tax relief for collections on view to the public in houses approved under section 482 and the then Department of Arts, Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht supported the proposal.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that only one taxpayer has ever made a claim under section 19 of the Finance Act 1994 and that the income tax exemption was granted to that taxpayer. The cost to the Exchequer of tax foregone cannot be determined as an individual who claims the exemption is not required to establish the cost incurred by his/her employer in relation to the loan of the art object.

The section remains in force.

Public Relations Contracts.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

234 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the cost of public relations incurred by Anglo Irish Bank in the past two years by company and contract price in each case; if tenders were sought; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Anglo Irish Bank is run on an arms length commercial basis by the Board of Anglo. Consequently, matters which relate to the normal commercial business of the bank, including public relations and other business services contracted by the bank, are a matter for the Board of Anglo.

Information on the bank's contracts and contracting processes are commercially sensitive and it would therefore not be appropriate to release such information. As the Deputy may be aware, comprehensive financial information on Anglo is published in bank's annual accounts in line with the requirements for publicly quoted companies. These requirements however, do not extend to the level of individual service contracts concluded by the bank.

Flood Relief.

Pat Breen

Question:

235 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the status of a report (details supplied); when he expects this report to be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48442/09]

Following flooding, in February 2008, of the railway line running between Limerick and Ennis at Ballycar, OPW Engineers met with Iarnród Éireann officials, at their request, to discuss the matter. The OPW's environmental consultants for the Ennis Flood Relief Scheme were subsequently requested to submit a costed proposal for a flood study of the area at Ballycar. A proposal and quotation to undertake a flood alleviation study of the flooding at Ballycar was subsequently received from the consultants. OPW has referred the consultants' study proposals to Iarnród Éireann for their consideration. As the body responsible for the maintenance and safety of the railway line network, any works relating to the permanent way that may be recommended by the consultants in their study would be a matter for Iarnród Éireann to implement.

Tax Code.

Joe Carey

Question:

236 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance if, in the interest of balanced regional development, the adjustments he will make in the Finance Bill to abolish the air travel tax applying to Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48463/09]

Michael McGrath

Question:

280 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount raised in 2009 by the travel tax; and the estimate of the amount expected to be raised in 2010. [1378/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 236 and 280 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that since the introduction of the air travel tax on 30 March 2009, it has yielded a total of €84.4 million in 2009. The expected yield for the full year in 2010 is approximately €125 million.

It should be recognised that tourists are only subject to the tax on their return journey. The additional €10 or €2 in the context of a much larger purchasing decision involving travel, hotel expenditures etc. should have only a limited effect on tourist numbers. The Government appreciates the airline industry continues to go through a difficult period. However, this difficult trading period arises primarily from weak world economic activity.

We currently face significant financial challenges and the air travel tax is an important revenue raising measure. The Government has tried to be as fair as possible in looking at areas for additional tax revenues. It is also worth noting that fuel used by commercial airlines is completely exempt from tax, so it's a sector that already has considerable preferential treatment. I have no plans to abolish the air travel tax.

Tax Collection.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

237 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons earning between €26,000 to €27,480; the amount of money raised by the Exchequer from the health levy from persons earning between €26,000 and €27,480 on a yearly basis; the amount that was raised in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48464/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the numbers of income earners with income between €26,000 and €27,480, estimated by reference to the income tax year 2009, is of the order of 60,500.

The amount of health levy payable by these income earners in respect of 2009 is estimated to be about €47 million; a breakdown on a geographical basis is not available.

The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2007, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2009. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Tax Code.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

238 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance the amount refunded under section 848A of the Tax Consolidation Act 1997 in 2008; the details of the amounts received, brought down, benefits, charities, overseas aid groups and religious congregations. [48540/09]

Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a scheme of tax relief for donations to eligible charities and other approved bodies. The precise arrangements for allowing tax relief on donations vary depending on whether the donor is a PAYE taxpayer, a person subject to self-assessment or a company.

For PAYE-only taxpayers, the relief is given on a "grossed-up" basis to the approved body rather than by way of a separate claim to tax relief by the donor. The claim is therefore made to the Revenue Commissioners by the approved body. In the case of a donation made by an individual who pays tax on a self-assessment basis, the individual claims the relief and there is no grossing up arrangement. In the case of a company, it will claim a deduction for the donation as if it were a trading expense and there is no grossing up arrangement

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, because of the different arrangements, as outlined above, for claiming the tax relief and the fact that the records maintained by them do not readily differentiate between the different types of charities and approved bodies availing of the relief, the detailed information sought by the Deputy cannot be easily compiled.

However, the following table sets out the estimated cost to the Exchequer of tax relief on donations to approved bodies and eligible charities, insofar as they are available, for the years 2007 and 2008. The figures shown for companies relate to accounting periods ending in 2007 and 2008. I am advised by Revenue that they are not yet in a position to provide data for 2008 in respect of self-employed donors, as all tax returns filed for that year have not yet been processed.

2007

2008

€m

€m

PAYE

25.3

29.5

Self-Employed

18.6

N/A

Companies

0.6

1.2

Public Sector Schemes.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

239 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48543/09]

As the Deputy will be aware the Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme was introduced as a once-off measure that was included in the Supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009. Following implementation on 30 April the measure was extended to staff in the different areas of the public service, including the local government sector and the HSE. The closing date for participation in this scheme has expired. There is no current proposal to extend the scheme.

Excise Duty.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

240 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to losses incurred by a small wholesaler of wines and spirits (details supplied) as a result of the downward change in excise duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48550/09]

The Deputy will be aware that some difficult choices had to be made in framing recent Budgets. The Government has over the past 18 months made very significant budgetary adjustments including those announced on 9 December last. Those reductions had to be made in many areas, including reductions in Social Welfare expenditure, cuts in public service pay rates and the deferral, reduction or withdrawal of various schemes, to mention just a few.

Despite having to make those considerable reductions in other areas, I nevertheless, following requests from the drinks industry, decided to make reductions in alcohol excise duty. The reductions were designed to provide some relief to the business community, but represent a significant concession which is projected to cost the Exchequer some €90 million in a full year. Consequently, to provide further relief to the drinks industry as is now being suggested is out of the question.

In that regard, I would also point out that in my Budget speech, I stated that "I expect the drinks industry to play its part in making the cost of alcohol more competitive. There was no burden placed on traders to reduce prices immediately following Budget night. I would hope that those involved in the drinks industry would be able to find some arrangement with individual traders, and between the various sectors of the industry, to balance out any effects of the excise reductions.

I want to take this opportunity to re-confirm that the reductions in excise duty apply to stock taken out of bond on or after 10 December 2009, and that no compensation will be given by the Exchequer to traders in respect of stock purchased before 10 December 2009.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

241 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of whole time equivalents serving in the grades of chairman, commissioner, assistant secretary general, higher principal officer, principal officer, higher assistant principal officer, assistant principal officer, higher executive officer, executive officer, staff officer and clerical officer in the Revenue Commissioners on 1 January 1998, 1 January 2007 and the latest date for which figures are available. [48582/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, historically, there were several departmental grade structures in Revenue which have, through a series of collective agreements in accordance with the C&A scheme, been integrated into the general service. Some departmental grades were still in existence in January 1998 but for the purpose of this reply, the nearest general service grade equivalent has been used throughout.

Grade

Jan 1998

Jan 2007

Jan 2010

Chairman

1.00

1.00

1.00

Commissioners

2.00

2.00

2.00

Deputy Secretary

1.00

1.00

0.00

Assistant Secretaries

14.00

15.00

15.00

Principal Officer (Higher scale)*

17.00

111.80

110.00

Principal Officer

107.00

35.00

5.00

Assistant Principal (Higher Scale)*

13.00

205.43

203.51

Assistant Principal

352.00

280.63

217.00

Higher Executive Officer/Administrative Officer

887.50

1,071.92

992.97

Executive Officer

1,345.00

1,832.09

1,762.66

Staff Officer

231.50

264.00

236.44

Clerical Officer

1,905.00

2,534.82

2,380.12

Clerical Assistant

818.50

*It should be noted that the Principal Officer and Assistant Principal Officer Higher Scale posts in 2007 and 2010 include posts provided in accordance with the provisions of pay agreements under the Programme for Competitiveness at Work (PCW) and under the agreements referred to above.

Joan Burton

Question:

242 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of whole time equivalents serving in the Public Appointments Service in the grades of secretary general, deputy secretary general, assistant secretary general, higher principal officer, principal officer, higher assistant principal officer, assistant principal officer, higher executive officer, executive officer, staff officer and clerical officer on 1 January 1998, 1 January 2007 and the latest date for which figures are available. [48583/09]

The following table contains the information sought by the Deputy in relation to the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

Public Appointments Service

Grade Title

01/01/1998*

01/01/2007

31/12/2009

WTE

WTE

WTE

Secretary General

0.00

0.00

0.00

Deputy Secretary

0.00

0.00

0.00

Assistant Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

Principal (Higher)

1.00

1.00

1.00

Principal

1.00

2.00

1.00

Assistant Principal (Higher)

2.00

2.00

2.00

Assistant Principal

3.50

5.00

3.50

Higher Executive Officer

22.60

18.40

15.03

Executive Officer

26.40

23.30

20.73

Staff Officer

12.70

9.90

8.80

Clerical Officer

60.55

65.05

42.40

Total

130.75

127.65

95.46

*As the PAS is only in existence since 2004, statistics are not available for 1998. I have, however, provided figures from the date of its existence as a separate body.

Tax Code.

Mary Upton

Question:

243 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated saving that would occur from the standardisation of all pension tax reliefs at 20%; his views on the recent report by the Economic and Social Research Institute that showed that €8 out of every €10 of tax relief in this area goes to the top 20% of earners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48600/09]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to individual pension contributions, the tax relief on which is allowed at the taxpayer's marginal tax rate, that is, at the standard or higher rate of income tax as appropriate in each case.

A breakdown of the cost of tax relief on employee contributions to occupational pension schemes is not available by income tax rate, as tax returns by employers to the Revenue Commissioners of employee contributions to such schemes are aggregated at employer level. An historical breakdown is available by tax rate of the tax relief claimed on contributions to personal pension plans — Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) — by the self-employed and others, to the extent that the contributions have been included in the personal tax returns of those taxpayers. The latest full historical data available in this regard is in respect of the tax year 2007.

There is, therefore, no statistical basis for providing definitive figures. However, by making certain assumptions about the available information, it is estimated that the full year yield to the Exchequer from confining tax relief to the standard rate of 20% in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, RACs and PRSAs would be about €500 million.

I assume that the ESRI Report referred to by the Deputy is that entitled Pension Policy: New Evidence on Key Issues published in November last. The Report deals mainly with the question of whether existing tax incentives for private pension provision would be better targeted to encourage improved coverage by allowing relief on contributions at the standard income tax rate or at a hybrid rate of 30% rate. While apparently seeing merit in both approaches, the Report favours tax relief on pension contributions at the standard income tax rate in conjunction with sustaining the State Pension and schemes to increase pension coverage among lower to middle income earners.

The recently published Renewed Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a single 33% rate for tax relief on private pension provision in the context of the National Pensions Framework. This would result in a reduction in the tax relief on pension contributions available to higher rate taxpayers and an additional incentive to pension savings for standard rate taxpayers. However, the full detail and timing of the introduction of this measure have yet to be decided. I will bear the ESRI Report in mind in the context of delivering on the Government's commitment in this area.

Mary Upton

Question:

244 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the average effective tax rate including all levies for a person earning €15,000, €25,000, €35,000, €45,000, €55,000, €75,000 and €100,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48602/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to a taxpayer on PAYE and paying the full rate of PRSI. On that basis, the effective average tax rates for the annual earnings as requested are set out as follows:

Single Person

Income

Effective Average Tax Rate

%

15,000

0.0

25,000

10.3

35,000

18.8

45,000

25.3

55,000

30.0

75,000

35.6

100,000

39.2

Married Person, One Income with Children

Income

Effective Average Tax Rate

%

15,000

0.0

25,000

4.9

35,000

11.0

45,000

15.2

55,000

21.6

75,000

29.4

100,000

34.6

These rates include income tax, PRSI, health levy and income levy, as appropriate.

Mary Upton

Question:

245 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the reason he did not impose a one off wealth tax on high net worth persons; his views on the fact that many high net worth persons are suffering in the economy, there are many who continue to be wealthy; if he will consider introducing a one off wealth tax as part of a call to patriotic action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48604/09]

As part of my recent Budget I announced a "domicile levy", full details of which will be announced in the Finance Bill. The levy of €200,000 will apply to Irish-domiciled individuals whose worldwide income exceeds €1 million and whose Irish-located capital is greater than €5 million.

Although all taxes and potential taxation measures are constantly reviewed in the context of the Budget and Finance Bill, I do not have any plans at present to introduce a Wealth Tax. One of the difficulties with such a tax is that asset values can fluctuate considerably over time and the potential yield from such a tax may not be significant in the current climate.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) are, in effect, taxes on wealth, in that they are levied on an individual or company when they dispose of an asset (CGT) or acquire an asset through gift or inheritance (CAT). The rate of both these taxes was increased to 25% in the 2009 Supplementary Budget.

Flood Relief.

James Bannon

Question:

246 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will receive compensation for extensive damage to their lands. [48615/09]

The Office of Public Works does not provide compensation for losses sustained to property as a result of flooding. However, in recognition of the devastation suffered by people due to the recent flooding, the Government has launched a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, which is being administered by the Community Welfare Service on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The aim of the scheme is not to provide compensation but rather to provide financial support subject to certain conditions to people who have suffered flood damage to their property. It is a matter for the individual concerned to apply direct to the Community Welfare Service for any Humanitarian Assistance.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food also launched a Fodder Aid Scheme of €2 million. The scheme requires farmers to demonstrate that the fodder was damaged, the extent of the damage and that it is necessary to purchase feed supplies to prevent animal welfare problems.

Tax Code.

Michael Creed

Question:

247 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he will review the impact of tax individualisation on a married couple, when one of the partners, due to a personal disability is not in a position to take up employment opportunities outside the house; his views on introducing some specific tax relief for persons in these circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48621/09]

As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No 81 of 17 December 2009, the position is that a married one income couple benefit from a standard rate band of €45,400 which is €9,000 higher than the band for a single person. They also have the benefit of the married person's credit in the amount of €3,660, which is double the single person's credit. Where the stay-at-home spouse in a married one earner couple cares for a dependent person, e.g. their child or an elderly relative, the couple may benefit from an entitlement to the home carer tax credit, which has a value of €900.

The Commission on Taxation considered the issues associated with tax individualisation in its 2009 report. The Commission concluded that the present arrangements with regard to band structure and credits which apply to married one-earner and married two-earner couples should remain in place.

With regard to the question of introducing a specific tax relief for persons in the circumstances outlined by the Deputy, the position is that tax relief provisions are reviewed regularly, particularly as part of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process.

Michael McGrath

Question:

248 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to the suggestion made in correspondence (details supplied) in relation to the administration of the research and development tax credit. [48642/09]

A tax credit of 25% of the incremental expenditure incurred by a company in an accounting period on Research and Development (R&D) activities can be offset against a company's corporation tax liability. Finance (No.2) Act 2008 contained a number of very significant enhancements to the R&D tax credit scheme including: an option to carry-back unused tax credits for set-off against a company's previous year's corporation tax payments, if there is insufficient corporate tax liability in the current year, thereby creating a tax refund; a further option, if unused tax credits still remain, to claim payment of the remaining unused credits which will be paid in instalments over a 3 year period.

Other positive changes made to the scheme in Budget 2009 and Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 include an increase in the rate of tax credit from 20% to 25% and the permanent setting of 2003 as the base year under the scheme. The scheme has been improved in most Budgets and Finance Acts since its introduction and the latest enhancements introduced in Budget 2009 and Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 will act to make the scheme one of the most competitive of its kind anywhere.

There are difficulties in allowing companies to offset the R&D tax credit against payroll taxes, not least the fact that these taxes are paid over to the Exchequer by companies on behalf of their employees on a fiduciary basis. Given the significant improvements already made to the scheme, notwithstanding the current difficult economic and fiscal environment which we face, I regret that I am not in a position at this time to agree to the suggestion contained in the details supplied with the question.

Pension Provisions.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

249 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if the cuts in pay provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2009 applies to employees of organisations funded under section 30 of the Health Act 2004 who currently qualify for a pension under the nominated Health Agencies Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48643/09]

Joan Burton

Question:

301 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that recently introduced public sector pay cuts only apply to those already subject to the public sector pension levy; if there are any instances where individuals are subject to the pay cuts but were not subject to the pension levy; if he will clarify the position in respect of the Health Service Executive funded posts in grant aided agencies which were not subject to the earlier pension levy and were not included in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2047/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 301 together.

The definition of a public servant in the legislation governing the pension levy and the pay reductions is the same. Therefore, in general the reductions in pay under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 will apply to employees who are paying the pension related deduction. However, there are a small number of situations where the pay reductions could apply to a public servant who was not subject to the pensions levy. The pay reductions apply to employees of public service bodies, whether or not the public servant is a member of a public service pension scheme or receives a payment in lieu. Furthermore, the income exemption threshold that applies to the pensions levy does not apply to the pay reductions.

Sections 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004 apply to HSE service providers and other bodies in receipt of funding assistance from the HSE. Organisations that are directly funded by the HSE under Section 38 of the 2004 Act are public service bodies, as defined in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act which provided for the pension levy deduction and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009, which provided for the reduction in public service pay. Employees in these bodies have access to public service pension schemes or, in a small number of cases, the state funds an employer contribution to a private pension scheme. The pension levy and the reduction in salary apply to all these employees. Accordingly, the pay reduction legislation applies to all members of the Nominated Health Agencies Superannuation Scheme.

Under Section 39 of the 2004 Act, the HSE provides a grant towards the overall costs of running certain organisations. Neither the pension levy nor the reduction in salary applies to such employees.

Decentralisation Programme.

Joe McHugh

Question:

250 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1008/10]

The Government has decided to defer the proposed decentralisation moves to Carlow and Mullingar for further consideration until 2011. Any matters relating to the sites in question will be clarified following that consideration.

Tax Collection.

Niall Collins

Question:

251 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons in tabular form analysed by county registered as tax exiles for the year 2006, 2007 and 2008; the amount of tax paid by these persons in each year to the Revenue here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1023/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners there is no register or list of so called ‘tax exiles' and there is nothing in Irish tax law that makes reference to ‘tax exile' status.

The taxation of individuals in the State is in line with that prevailing in most other OECD jurisdictions, that is to say (a) individuals who are resident in the State for tax purposes (based on the number of days presence in the State) are taxable here on their worldwide income; and (b) individuals who are not resident here for tax purposes pay tax here only on income arising in the State and on income derived from working here.

I am informed by Revenue that for the 2007 tax year (the latest year for which figures are available), 7,228 non-resident individuals filed Irish tax returns in respect of their Irish-source income or income derived from working here. The total amount of tax paid by these persons was €43m. For the 2006 tax year, 5,993 non-resident individuals filed Irish tax returns in respect of their Irish-source income or income derived from working here. The total amount of tax paid by these persons was €44.5m.

The equivalent figures for 2008 are not yet available. Returns for 2008 were due by 31 October 2009 or, in the case of returns made on ROS (Revenue Online System), by 16th November 2009. The data capture of information of these returns is currently under way and when completed will facilitate the compilation of statistics for 2008.

Many of the individuals that show on their tax return that they are non-resident in the State do not have an Irish address. It is not therefore possible to provide an analysis of the total number of persons claiming to be non-resident for tax purposes on a county basis.

It should be noted that many of these non-residents are foreign nationals or have a foreign domicile; and many of the non-resident Irish citizens or Irish domiciliaries included in this figure may have become non-resident for reasons unrelated to taxation, but who may have retained Irish investments (such as rental property). These individuals could not be categorised as ‘tax exiles' under any reasonable definition of that term.

Revenue Investigations.

Niall Collins

Question:

252 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if a person who passes information to the Revenue Commissioners which results in an investigation and possible tax liability by a third party will be assured that their identity will not be disclosed by the Revenue to the third party; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1024/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that where a person, who does not wish their identity to be disclosed, passes information to them, it is their policy to protect the identity of that person.

However there may be circumstances where disclosure would be ordered by a judge, for example, if the information triggers a criminal investigation and a prosecution, it may be a matter for the Trial Judge to determine whether the interests of a fair trial require disclosure of the name of an informant.

There is also strong protection under the FOI Acts for the non-release of the identity of a person who passes information to Revenue. However for completeness, it should be also noted that every FOI case is subject to review on appeal by the Office of the Information Commissioner and that in such circumstances a situation might possibly arise where Revenue might be obliged to disclose the identity of such a person.

It should also be noted that individuals always have the option to pass information to Revenue anonymously.

Courts Service.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

253 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 117 of 1 December 2009, the stage of the process that the proposed extension to the Waterford court house has reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1032/10]

The provision of court accommodation is, in the first instance, a matter for the Courts Service. Preliminary plans have been prepared for the refurbishment and extension of the Courthouse in Waterford, taking account of initial discussions with the Judiciary locally, staff, and court users. Further consultations regarding these plans will be undertaken in January 2010. It is intended to complete the planning process and to prepare tender documents in the course of 2010 with a view to work commencing on site in 2011, subject to the availability of resources.

Pension Provisions.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

254 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the proposed pensions insolvency payments scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1043/10]

Section 22 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 provides for a Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) for the making of payments to or in respect of the relevant pensioners of participating pension schemes.

I have recently signed the statutory instrument giving effect to PIPS from 1 February 2010 for a pilot period of three years. From that date, it is open to any pension scheme that meets the criteria to apply to participate. The principal qualifying conditions for PIPS are that the sponsoring employer must be insolvent (in accordance with the definition used in the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984) and the defined benefit pension scheme must be winding up in deficit.

Details of the application procedure and other guidance is being made available on my Department's websitewww.finance.gov.ie

Excise Duty.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

255 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the reason the duty drawback relief which on 9 December 2009 was to be made available to those holding stocks of alcoholic drinks was withdrawn, giving rise to substantial losses to those holding such stocks, even though a methodology had been agreed with the Revenue Commissioners for the taking and the verification of such stocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1050/10]

I want to draw to the Deputy's attention that, in relation to the reduction in excise duty on alcohol products announced in my Budget Statement of 9 December 2009, no excise duty relief was provided in respect of alcohol products released prior to 10 December 2009.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the communication regarding the excise duty drawback relief, was unauthorised and issued in error on Thursday 10 December 2009 by a Revenue officer to a small number of traders that were dealt with by that particular officer. As soon as the error was identified, the recipients were notified by lunch-time on Friday 11 December 2009 and the communication was withdrawn. The Revenue Commissioners also issued a clarification to all staff to the effect that there was no provision for the application of the reduced rates before midnight on 9 December; and that the previous rates of tax were to apply in all such cases. This clarification was also posted on the Revenue website. There is no provision in law to allow the refund of the difference in excise duty rates applicable pre- and post-Budget 2010.

Departmental Properties.

Michael McGrath

Question:

256 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the sale of a property to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1051/10]

OPW and the Purchaser agreed to carry out certain works on the premises prior to closing the sale. OPW has discharged its responsibilities, but the Purchaser has yet to carry out the works he agreed. OPW will complete the sale when the Purchaser has executed these works.

Public Sector Expenditure.

Niall Collins

Question:

257 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if his decision to cease performance bonus payments to certain grades in the civil and public service includes the cessation of such payments to local authority managers and directors of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1102/10]

I confirm that the scheme for the payment of performance awards in the local authorities has been terminated.

Tax Code.

Joe McHugh

Question:

258 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the VAT margin scheme that was introduced in budget 2010 imposes credit flow problems and cash flow problems on vendors of agricultural machinery, who heretofore traded via the special VAT scheme for used agricultural machinery; his further views on whether the new VAT margin scheme makes allowances for the seasonal nature of the agricultural machinery trade; if these considerations will be taken into account when structuring the Finance Bill 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1119/10]

The VAT Margin Scheme was introduced on 1 January 2010 in respect of second-hand means of transport and agricultural machinery. Under the Margin Scheme, dealers will account for VAT on their profit margin, that is, on the difference between the cost of acquiring the means of transport and agricultural machinery and its reselling price. This will apply to all second-hand means of transport and agricultural machinery sold on or after 1 January 2010.

Up to now all EU Member States applied the Margin Scheme to second-hand vehicles with the exception of Ireland and Denmark. When the Margin Scheme was introduced under the EU VAT Directive in 1994, Ireland, following strong representations from the industry, negotiated a derogation in the form of the Special Scheme which applied up until December last, which is also provided for under the VAT Directive. Introducing the VAT Margin Scheme brought Ireland into line with the vast majority of other Member States.

Although under the new Margin Scheme dealers may experience a cash-flow change where they will be no longer entitled to claim VAT input on the purchase of a second-hand vehicle, this is being compensated for by appropriate transitional measures. In this respect, second-hand vehicles or agricultural machinery acquired by dealers before 1 January 2010 and resold after 1 July 2009 are taxed on their resale price. In effect this means that there will be no clawback of VAT in the case where such vehicles or agricultural machinery are sold at a loss.

In addition, as part of the transition measures, for second-hand vehicles or agricultural machinery purchased from 1 January 2010, dealers will be entitled to claim VAT input credit on those vehicles for six months up to June 2010 at a reducing scale of 40% in the period January/February 2010, 30% in the period March/April and 20% in the period May/June.

It should be noted, as already stated, that moving to the VAT Margin Scheme brings the VAT treatment of second-hand means of transport and agricultural machinery in the State into line with the treatment applying in the vast majority of other Member States.

Public Sector Expenditure.

Joe McHugh

Question:

259 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the Departments and grades of the 600 managers and senior civil servants who will be exempted from the salary cuts outlined in budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1158/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

266 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance the rationale for reversing the pay cuts of senior civil servants who will now take much less of a wage cut than lower paid civil servants; the reason the final pensions should not be similarly affected irrespective of bonus cuts, like those struggling to make a living at the lower end; if his attention has been drawn to the anger amongst the general public as a result of harsh but necessary measures to reduce our growing deficit, but who feel additionally discriminated against as a result of this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1272/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 and 266 together.

The remunerations packages of Assistant Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries in the civil service and related grades in other parts of the public service included a scheme of performance-related pay which gave an average payment of 10% of salary. The related grades in other areas of the public service include groups at comparable levels in the local authorities, HSE, some State Bodies, Garda Síochána and Defence Forces. In 2009, it was decided this scheme would be terminated subject to discussion on the implementation of the decision with the relevant staff association.

In applying the recent reductions in pay, I considered that account had to be taken of the reduction in remuneration for Assistant Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and related grades arising from the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay. Otherwise, the total reduction in remuneration for these grades would have been greater than those for other public servants including higher paid groups at the level of Secretary General or above. I decided that the reductions should comprise both a reduction in the salary scale and the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay previously payable to the grades. The resulting adjustments including the effect of the termination of the scheme of performance-related pay produce significant reductions in remuneration of 14% in the case of the grade of Deputy Secretary and 11.8% in the case of the grade of Assistant Secretary. These reductions are higher than those applying to other groups at lower salary levels.

As regards pensions, the arrangements applying to these grades in 2010 are the same as those applying to all public servants under the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009.

Foreign Conflicts.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

260 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 215 and 223 of 16 September 2009, the reason the €41 million of imports from Israel in 2008 did not qualify for preferential duty; if he will give assurances that the reason was not due to the fact the these imports were of produce from Israeli settlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1162/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, in September 2009, in response to the parliamentary questions mentioned, the Tánaiste explained that it was not possible to state with any certainty the reasons a preferential duty was not claimed in respect of particular imports. Accordingly it is not possible to give the assurance that the Deputy seeks.

However, it may be helpful for the Deputy to note that, I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that apart from the possibility that the goods were the produce of non-qualifying settlements, there are a number of other reasons why preference might not be claimed. The goods may not qualify under the rules of origin in as much as that they may have been originally imported into Israel from another country or may have been manufactured in Israel using raw materials sourced in another country. It may also be the case that, in the case of particular imports, claiming preference would have no impact on the duty payable and the importers saw no necessity or commercial benefit in claiming preference to which they had a technical entitlement.

Pension Provisions.

George Lee

Question:

261 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Finance the protection that is provided to employees by legislation when a pension scheme (details supplied) is wound down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1195/10]

Section 22 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 provides for a Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) for the making of payments to or in respect of the relevant pensioners of participating pension schemes. The Act does not provide for the inclusion or exclusion of any particular pension scheme in PIPS.

I have recently signed the statutory instrument giving effect to PIPS from 1 February 2010 for a pilot period of three years. From that date, it is open to any pension scheme that meets the criteria to apply to participate. The principal qualifying conditions for PIPS are that the sponsoring employer must be insolvent (in accordance with the definition used in the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984) and the defined benefit pension scheme must be winding up in deficit.

Details of the application procedure and other guidance is being made available on my Department's websitewww.finance.gov.ie

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 221.

Flood Relief.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

263 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance when funding will be approved for the second phase of the Fermoy flood relief scheme in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1205/10]

Detailed design of the second and final phase of the overall Fermoy flood relief project, including the Fermoy South and South West schemes, is currently under way and is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2010, after which the procurement process for the appointment of a civil engineering contractor will be commenced. The contractor is expected to be appointed in late 2010 or early 2011. OPW has profiled expenditure for this scheme in its 2009-2013 budget for the flood relief programme.

Public Sector Remuneration.

James Bannon

Question:

264 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the number of public servants who received sanction from him to receive fees on top of their normal salary for sitting on state boards, commissions or other such bodies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 in each Department; the numbers in each grade who received permission; the number of applications that he rejected and the boards involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1234/10]

The general policy is that public servants should not receive additional remuneration for undertaking other duties in the public service, such as acting as chairpersons or directors of State-sponsored bodies or serving on commissions or other such bodies. The principle, usually referred to as the "one person one salary" principle, or OPOS, was first enunciated by the review body on higher remuneration in the public sector in 1972, and it has been a feature of the public service since then.

The review body on higher remuneration in the public sector subsequently recommended that payment of fees could be sanctioned in exceptional circumstances. This policy has been implemented on the basis that each of the following conditions must be met:

(1) that the duties involved are neither a part nor an extension of the officer's normal duties,

(2) that a rigid insistence on the principle of one person-one salary would deny scarce skills to the State,

(3) that payment is permitted for one additional appointment only,

(4) that the approval of the Department of Finance for additional payments is required in each case,

(5) that in no case should payment exceed the normal fee for the activity concerned, and

(6) that the duration of such payment should be limited to one term or five years whichever is greater.

Twenty one public servants received such a sanction in the years 2005 to 2009.

The personnel in question were five civil servants ranging in grade from clerical officer to assistant secretary, five employees of State bodies, four HSE staff, three local authority staff, two teachers and two lecturers.

The Boards in question were as follows:

Audit Committee of the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food

Equality Authority

Campus Stadium Ireland

Combat Poverty Agency

Dormant Accounts Board

E.S.B. Industrial Council

Health Service Executive

Heritage Council

Health Information and Quality Authority

National Library of Ireland

National Museum of Ireland

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Pensions Board

Property Registration Authority

As written instructions are available on the limited circumstances in which a public servant may receive a fee and as oral advice in provided, as required, applications for payments of fees to public servants are made only where the Department concerned considers that all the necessary conditions have been fulfilled.

However, during the period in question, five applications which were made for an exception to the OPOS principle were rejected. The boards in question were the Property Registration Authority and the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority. There are many other cases where public servants serving on State boards do not receive a fee but no application for an exception was made.

Separate arrangements apply to the chief executive officers of State-sponsored bodies and are incorporated in the code of practice for the governance of State bodies which is available on the website of my Department —www.finance.gov.ie

Departmental Expenditure.

Richard Bruton

Question:

265 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the savings outlined in the report of the special group on public numbers and expenditure programmes which were accepted in budget 2010 for his Department in tabular form; the savings which will be achieved in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1257/10]

As the Deputy is aware the report of the special group on public numbers and expenditure programmes outlined a wide range of proposals across all Departments, a number of which can only be achieved through restructuring over a number of years. The implementation of the proposals for my Department and the Offices under its aegis is ongoing, and initial progress has been made in this regard in budget 2010.

The savings outlined for my Department and the Offices under its aegis together with savings identified as being achievable in budget 2010 are set out in the following table.

Office

Annualised Savings Identified

Savings Accepted in Budget 2010

€m

€m

Valuation Office

2

1.031

Public Appointments Service

7.9

4.308

Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments

0.3

0.240

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

26.6

26.6

Office of Public Works

41.0

21.0

Office of the Minister for Finance

5.0

5.0

Total

82.8

58.179

21 recommendations were made by the special group in respect of the finance group of votes. At present, 14 of these have either been implemented or are in progress, with the remainder under consideration. €58.179 million is the projected 2010 saving arising from the recommendations that will be fully or partly completed in 2010. The remaining savings are expected to be achieved over a number of years.

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 259.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

267 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance if he will introduce a referendum facilitating a reduction in pay for members of the Judiciary, similar to other public servants; if he will outline a reason for not considering this option in view of the anger amongst members of the public who have had to suffer as a result of pay cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1273/10]

The introduction of referenda on the Constitution is a matter for the Government.

In its report late last year, the review body on higher remuneration in the public sector concluded that the Constitution precluded them from recommending a reduction in judicial pay. Had they not been so precluded, they would have considered a downward adjustment. For the same reason the pension levy was not applied to the Judiciary, though many judges have contributed an amount on a voluntary basis. As I indicated in budget 2010, the Chief Justice and the Presidents of the Courts have urged all judges to make appropriate voluntary contributions from salary in respect of the levy and I will make provision in the Finance Bill to facilitate these payments.

I also indicated that since the review body would have considered a reduction of judicial salaries, I have decided that there will be no increase in judges' pay during the lifetime of this Government. Future Governments may choose, as in the past, to continue this course of action.

Tax Code.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

268 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Finance if he will exclude the surcharge on undistributed investment income under section 440 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 to construction and manufacturing companies and allow these companies to use the funds from the franked investment income for productive investment in their companies and safeguard employment in the current difficult economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1286/10]

Section 440 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a surcharge of 20% on any investment and rental income of a close company which is not distributed within 18 months of the end of the accounting period in which that income was earned. Broadly, a close company is a company under the control of five or fewer participators (including associates), or of participators who are directors. Most Irish owned companies are close companies.

The purpose of the close company surcharge is to prevent avoidance of personal income taxation through the accumulation of income within a corporate structure. With company profits subject to the 12.5% rate of corporation tax there would be a strong incentive, in the absence of a surcharge, for persons to earn and accumulate their income within a company and thereby avoid income tax at the higher 41% rate.

Aside from the strong arguments for retaining the surcharge as an anti-avoidance measure, it would be invidious to remove or reduce the surcharge for particular sectors while retaining it for other sectors. Moreover, such an approach would have State-aid implications from an EU perspective, in that it would favour certain companies and sectors here over others. For these reasons, I would not propose to change the existing arrangements along the lines suggested by the Deputy.

Tax Collection.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

269 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Finance if he will arrange a refund of stamp duty to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1287/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant instrument for stamping was lodged by the solicitors acting for the person concerned on 29 June 2009, together with the appropriate payment of Stamp Duty.

To date, the Revenue Commissioners have not received an application for a refund of the duty paid. If the person concerned wishes to claim a refund he should apply in writing to the Dublin Stamping Office, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.

Banking Sector Investigations.

Michael McGrath

Question:

270 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on the progress of the investigations into certain transactions at Anglo Irish Bank; if he is satisfied with the progress and pace of these investigations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1308/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, several regulatory bodies are carrying out investigations of behaviour at Anglo Irish Bank including in particular, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Garda Fraud Office and the Financial Regulator.

While the agencies involved are independent in carrying out their functions, I understand that the investigations are proceeding satisfactorily and that considerable resources are being committed to the investigations, with a view to bringing these to completion as soon as possible.

In the case of the director of corporate enforcement, for example, considerable resources are committed to the investigations. I am informed that the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank is a primary focus of ODCE work at this time. I understand that some 16 full-time equivalent staff (or one-third of available personnel in the ODCE) are now supporting this investigation. These staff include gardaí and staff with accounting, administrative, IT and legal expertise.

However, investigations of this nature are by definition complex, and in particular the acquisition of potential evidence in such large-scale commercial investigations is a painstaking process. It is, of course, essential that each investigation proceeds fully and comprehensively to conclusion so that any wrong doing identified at Anglo on foot of these investigations can be fully and appropriately pursued, in accordance with the law.

The various regulatory bodies will make their reports in due course and I am of course anxious that these investigations are completed as swiftly as possible.

National Debt.

Michael McGrath

Question:

271 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the details of the amount of borrowing expected to be undertaken by the National Treasury Management Agency during 2010 and the current spread, in terms of basis points, between Irish and German government bonds of different duration. [1313/10]

Michael McGrath

Question:

272 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of the Irish national debt including the amounts owed attached to different debt instruments; the amount owed on bonds of varying durations and a breakdown of the debt which is the subject of a variable and fixed yield or rate of interest. [1315/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 271 and 272 together.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has advised that at end-2009 the national debt stood at €75.2 billion. Some €71.5 billion was outstanding in medium and long-term liabilities and €9.3 billion in retail saving scheme products. These amounts included a carryover of more than €5 billion in long-term funding available to finance the deficit in 2010.

The NTMA has announced that it plans to raise up to €20 billion in the bond market in 2010 — this is significantly less than the €35.4 billion raised in long-term funding in 2009. On 14 January last, the NTMA announced that it had raised €5 billion in a long-term syndicated bond issuance, this accounts for 25% of the funding programme for 2010.

The spread over Germany which Ireland pays on its bonds is usually measured in terms of the ten year bond. At end-2009 this spread narrowed to 1.45% compared to nearly 3% in March 2009. The NTMA advise that at close of business on Friday, 15 January, the spread on the ten year bond was 1.56%.

The NTMA advise that at end-2009 approximately 95% of the national debt was subject to fixed interest rates. The following table sets out the details in relation to the total medium and long-term debt that was outstanding at end-2009.

Table 1 — Medium and Long-Term Debt Outstanding at end-2009

€m

Irish Government Bonds

4% Treasury Bond 2010

790

8.5% Cap Stock 2010

7

4% Treasury Bond 2011

4,690

3.9% Treasury Bond 2012

5,545

8.75% Cap Stock 2012

31

5% Treasury Bond 2013

6,030

4% Treasury Bond 2014

8,594

8.25% Treasury Bond 2015

7

4.6% Treasury Bond 2016

7,281

4.5% Treasury Bond 2018

7,506

4.4% Treasury Bond 2019

7,700

5.9% Treasury Bond 2019

6,802

4.5% Treasury Bond 2020

8,875

5.4% Treasury Bond 2025

7,000

Total Irish Government Bonds

70,858

Medium/Long Term Loans/Swaps

665

Other Medium/Long Term Debt

5

Total Medium/Long Term Debt

71,528

Union Subscriptions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

273 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if it is the practice to deduct union dues from the payroll of civil servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1346/10]

It is the practice to deduct union subscriptions from certain staff associations. The general instructions covering deducting union subscriptions from civil servants pay are set out in circular 38/1977.

In 1977, the Minister for the Public Service accepted an agreed recommendation made by general council under the conciliation and arbitration scheme for the Civil Service. This recommendation concerned amendments to the deduction arrangements to enable the ordinary membership subscriptions of certain staff associations to be deducted from the pay of members.

The circular sets out the deduction arrangements and a copy of the circular is available onwww.personnelcode.gov.ie.

Tax Code.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

274 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if a general practitioner registrar working in the community and participating in a recognised training programme is eligible to claim work related expenses against income tax under schedule E under the category as non consultant hospital doctors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1347/10]

Schedule E flat rate expenses of non consultant hospital doctors are only available to non consultant hospital doctors employed in that capacity and paying tax under Schedule E (and within the scope of PAYE), in respect of expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties of the individual's employment. It is not possible to provide a more detailed answer based on the information supplied.

However, if the Deputy's question is in respect of any individual that has a doubt as to the tax deductibility of expenses actually incurred by him or her (and not reimbursed by his or her employer or another party), he or she may make a submission outlining the particular expenses to his or her local Revenue office which will examine the matter.

Tax Yield.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

275 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance his plans to allow alcohol distributors and wholesalers to claim back the excise paid on products in their warehouses prior to the reduction in excise duty in budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1348/10]

I want to take this opportunity to re-confirm that the reductions in excise duty apply to stock taken out of bond on or after 10 December 2009, and that no compensation will be given by the Exchequer to traders in respect of stock purchased before 10 December 2009.

The Deputy will be aware that some difficult choices had to be made in framing recent budgets. The Government has over the past 18 months made very significant budgetary adjustments including those announced on 9 December last. Those reductions had to be made in many areas, including reductions in social welfare expenditure, cuts in public service pay rates and the deferral, reduction or withdrawal of various schemes, to mention just a few.

Despite having to make those considerable reductions in other areas, I nevertheless, following requests from the drinks industry, decided to make reductions in alcohol excise duty. The reductions were designed to provide some relief to the business community, but represent a significant concession which is projected to cost the Exchequer some €90 million in a full year. Consequently, to provide further relief to the drinks industry as is now being suggested is out of the question.

In that regard, I would also point out that in my budget speech, I stated that "I expect the drinks industry to play its part in making the cost of alcohol more competitive. If I find this reduction has not been passed on to the consumer I will reverse today's reduction". There was therefore no burden placed on traders to reduce prices immediately following budget night. I would hope that those involved in the drinks industry would be able to find some arrangement with individual traders, and between the various sectors of the industry, to balance out any effects of the excise reductions.

Tax Code.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

276 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if companies and sole traders can claim VAT back on corporate dining; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1349/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioner that businesses that are registered for VAT are generally entitled to claim input credit for VAT charged to them on goods and services used in the course of their taxable activities, except where entitlement to input credit is expressly disallowed by legislation. Section 12(3) of the Value Added Tax Act 1972, as amended, provides for the disallowance of input credit in respect of VAT relating to certain expenditure, including expenditure incurred on food and drink for a VAT-registered person or such person's employees or agents. This means that companies and sole traders cannot claim VAT back on corporate dining.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

277 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if staff working in a press office or public relations may claim their expenses against income tax under schedule E under the category of journalists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1350/10]

The position is that section 114 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for an income tax deduction in respect of expenses incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily by an individual in the performance of the duties of his or her office or employment.

As regards the Schedule E flat rate expenses of journalists, these are only available to journalists employed in that capacity and paying tax under Schedule E (and within the scope of PAYE).

Finally, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that if an employee wishes to claim a tax deduction in respect of expenses wholly and exclusively and necessarily incurred (and not reimbursed by his or her employer or another party) in carrying out the duties of his or her employment, he or she may submit such a claim, including precise details of the expenditure, to his or her local Revenue office which will examine the matter.

Pension Provisions.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

278 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the number of retired public servants who have made a voluntary surrender of all of some of their pension; if they are former Oireachtas Members, retired civil servants, teachers, gardaí, doctors, judges, presidents, local authority officials and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1351/10]

The Minister for Finance has responsibility for the administration of Civil Service pensions and for pensions paid from the Central Fund. In these categories, to date a voluntary surrender of all or some of their pensions has been made by seven retired persons, comprising civil servants and retired former office holders who are no longer members of the Oireachtas or members of the European Parliament. Responsibility for the administration of other public service pension schemes is a matter for the respective Government Ministers and the relevant State bodies.

Tax Collection.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

279 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue collected from the health levy and the income levy in 2009; the estimate of same for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1362/10]

The income levy is collected by the Revenue Commissioners as a component of income tax. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that approximately €1.1 billion was collected from the income levy in 2009. In budget 2010, it was forecast that income tax receipts of €11,530 million would be collected in 2010. It is expected that the yield from the income levy will be of the order of €1.5 billion.

The 2009 outturn for the health levy was approximately €1.8 billion. The 2010 budget provided for an estimate of €2.4 billion. This estimate is subject to revision in the Revised Estimates Volume in light of the 2009 outturn.

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 236.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

281 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to provide a relocation grant for the victims of the flooding in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1394/10]

I understand that the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government does not operate a home relocation scheme to assist households who wish to relocate in the aftermath of a flooding event. I have no plans to introduce such a grant.

However, in recognition of the problems faced by people in many areas of the country due to the recent flooding, the Government allocated an initial sum of €10 million to fund a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme. The scheme is being administered by the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The scheme, which is means tested, is intended to provide emergency financial assistance to households who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs in the period immediately following flooding. The scheme covers emergency income support payments to those in need and damage to a person's home and its basic essential contents, such as: carpets, flooring, furniture, household appliances and bedding. Structural damage may also be considered.

Tax Code.

Denis Naughten

Question:

282 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to have Annex III of the EU VAT Directive amended to include road safety products and thereby reduce the rate of VAT applicable on such products; if he will review this situation in the context of the forthcoming 2010 Finance Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1400/10]

The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. Under the VAT Directive Member States may only apply the reduced VAT rate to those goods and services which are listed under Annex III of the VAT Directive. While Annex III provides for the reduced rate of VAT to be applied to children's car seats, it does not provide for the reduced rate to be applied to road safety products in general, which are subject to the standard VAT rate of 21%.

Regarding children's car safety seats, in Budget 2007 Ireland availed of the option under Annex III to apply the reduced rate of 13.5% to these products with effect from 1 July 2007.

In relation to amending Annex III, the Deputy will be aware that this could only be done in the context of an overall review at Community level of reduced rates. In May 2009, EU Council Minister's adopted a proposal to slightly expand the list of goods and services to which a reduced rate can apply under Annex III of the EU VAT Directive. The proposal primarily concerned reduced VAT rates for locally supplied labour intensive services, including housing, restaurant and catering services. The proposal does not, however, include road safety equipment in general in Annex III. In this context, it remains not possible for Ireland to apply a reduced rate to road safety products in general.

Flood Relief.

Phil Hogan

Question:

283 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance when construction work will commence on flood defence works at a location (details supplied) in County Laois, particularly in view of the urgency of this work, taking into account the reports already completed by relevant local authorities and State agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1499/10]

A Flood Risk Management Study of Portarlington identified a preferred option for a flood relief scheme.

In the light of the publication of the Guidelines for Planning Authorities "The Planning System and Flood Risk Management", it is incumbent on the Local Authorities to consider flood risk and development needs of the town. On completion of this examination, I expect the Local Authorities to revert to OPW to assist in advancing their priorities in relation to flood risk management.

Pending final decision regarding a full flood relief scheme, it is open to Laois and Offaly County Councils to apply for funding for minor mitigation flood relief measures under OPW's Minor Flood Relief Programme, which can be used to address immediate flood problems in the Portarlington area.

Registerable Interests.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

284 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance the details of each gift, favour and hospitality received, both over and under the value of €650, since May 2007 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1511/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, under the Ethics Acts, gifts, hospitality, etc given to office holders which are valued at over €650 must be included in the annual statement of registerable interests to the Standards in Public Office Commission. The legislation does not require any declarations in respect of gifts, hospitality, etc under €650. The information returned to the Standards in Public Office Commission is available on the Register of Members interests published on the Houses of the Oireachtas website. In line with the Acts, I will be forwarding my annual declaration in respect of 2009 to the Standards in Public Office Commission by the required date of 31 January 2010.

Court Accommodation.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

285 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance if the plans for the Waterford Courthouse were completed and received by the end of 2009 as was previously indicated; and if these plans are available for viewing. [1617/10]

The provision of Court accommodation is, in the first instance, a matter for the Courts Service. Preliminary plans have been prepared for the refurbishment and extension of the Courthouse in Waterford, taking account of initial discussions with the Judiciary locally, staff, and court users. Further consultations regarding these plans will be undertaken in January 2010. It is intended to complete the planning process and to prepare tender documents in the course of 2010, with a view to work commencing on site in 2011, subject to the availability of resources.

Flood Relief.

Denis Naughten

Question:

286 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if aerial surveys of flood affected areas in counties Roscommon and Leitrim have been completed, including hydrometric information; if this information has been provided to local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1619/10]

The Office of Public Works captured a considerable amount of aerial survey data for the River Shannon from Boyle to Athlone during the period of the flooding events of 2009. OPW has requested local authorities, in the areas affected, to submit all available information on the flood events of November 2009. In addition, OPW has received further relevant data from other State agencies and the EU and this information will be processed and made available. OPW is producing a number of copies of the data at present for distribution to relevant State bodies on request. A large number of requests for data have been received recently, and these are being processed at present. In due course, the available data will be publicly available on the following OPW website www.floodmaps.ie

Denis Naughten

Question:

287 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a statement (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1620/10]

I would like to take this opportunity to update the Deputy on my remarks to the House on November 24th, 2009 during the severe flooding that affected certain parts of the country at that time.

Since I spoke on that occasion, the Government has undertaken a number of initiatives to address the situation. The most pressing issue at the time was to provide assistance to those immediately affected and also to assist the Local Authorities in the post-flood clean-up. An initial sum of €10m was provided for a Humanitarian Aid Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, to alleviate the hardship caused. The Government also indicated that further funding would be made available, if required.

A further €2m was allocated for a targeted Fodder Aid Scheme to assist farmers who were experiencing a fodder shortage, which might have led to financial hardship and potential animal welfare issues on affected farms.

Funding of €14m was provided by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for the post-flood clean-up by Local Authorities.

In addition to these immediate initiatives, the Government has allocated €50m for flood risk management activities for 2010, which is administered by the Office of Public Works. This increased allocation will allow OPW to extend the number of Capital Works schemes already underway throughout the country. Within the overall allocation, I have also announced an increase for Minor Flood and Coastal Protection Works to be undertaken by Local Authorities in 2010. This Programme, which I initiated in 2009, has been increased initially to €6m and is to cater for works or studies which can be completed in 2010. OPW is currently seeking applications from Local Authorities and when the applications are received and evaluated the allocation may be reviewed.

OPW has undertaken a rigorous collection of data and information since the November 2009 floods and has already met with several local authorities to review the recent flood events and identify actions required. This may well lead to further areas where works can be undertaken by OPW, in addition to the major schemes already under construction in Clonmel, Co Tipperary; Mallow, Co. Cork; Fermoy, Co. Cork; Ennis, Co. Clare; Mornington, Co. Meath; and the River Dodder in Dublin, and the schemes at various stages of development which include Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Templemore, Co. Tipperary, Bray and Arklow, Co. Wicklow amongst others.

As the Deputy may be particularly interested in the River Shannon area, I can confirm that the Shannon Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study will be commissioned in mid-2010. This will identify the level of flood risk in the catchment as well as a prioritised plan of measures to address the risks identified. The study will involve all of the main stakeholders who have a role in the management of the Shannon, with a view to ensuring that all flood risk factors are managed in a co-ordinated way. Included in the Study will be the area of Ballinasloe which has been subjected to severe flooding since November. OPW has already met the local authority to identify interim measures to mitigate the flood risk in the town, and I met with them myself yesterday, 18 January, in Ballinasloe.

Finally, I would like to like to confirm that tender documents for the procurement of consultants to undertake a National Flood Warning System are currently being finalised with the relevant stakeholders and will issue shortly.

Tax Code.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

288 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties caused to the drinks distribution companies here as a result of the withdrawal of the drawback relief for duty paid stock already held on their premises on the night of Budget 2010, in view of the excise duty reductions announced that day; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the companies involved will lose millions as a result and may have to lay off staff; the solutions he is proposing to tackle the unintended difficulties of this action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1832/10]

The Deputy will be aware that some difficult choices had to be made in framing recent Budgets. The Government has over the past 18 months made very significant budgetary adjustments including those announced on 9 December last. Those reductions had to be made in many areas, including reductions in Social Welfare expenditure, cuts in public service pay rates and the deferral, reduction or withdrawal of various schemes, to mention just a few.

Despite having to make those considerable reductions in other areas, I nevertheless, following requests from the drinks industry, decided to make reductions in alcohol excise duty. The reductions were designed to provide some relief to the business community, but represent a significant concession which is projected to cost the Exchequer some €90 million in a full year. Consequently, to provide further relief to the drinks industry as is now being suggested is out of the question.

In that regard, I would also point out that in my Budget speech, I stated that "I expect the drinks industry to play its part in making the cost of alcohol more competitive. If I find this reduction has not been passed on to the consumer I will reverse today's reduction". There was therefore no burden placed on traders to reduce prices immediately following Budget night. I would hope that those involved in the drinks industry would be able to find some arrangement with individual traders, and between the various sectors of the industry, to balance out any effects of the excise reductions.

I want to take this opportunity to re-confirm that the reductions in excise duty apply to stock taken out of bond on or after 10 December 2009, and that no compensation will be given by the Exchequer to traders in respect of stock purchased before 10 December 2009.

Tax Collection.

James Bannon

Question:

289 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) in County Longford will receive a refund of emergency tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1845/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Sligo Revenue Office wrote to the Deputy on 11 January 2010 advising him that:

(a) a balancing statement for the year 2008 had issued to the person in question on 20 May 2009; and

(b) the Sligo Office had spoken to the person in question, also on 11 January 2010, asking him to forward a Form P60 for 2009 in respect of his employment with the relevant VEC.

On receipt of the latter, a review of 2009 will be undertaken at the earliest opportunity.

Flood Relief.

Michael Ring

Question:

290 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance when works at a location (details supplied) in County Mayo will commence. [1895/10]

The Office of Public Works is currently awaiting a response from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in relation to the ecologist's report regarding the proposed flood mitigation works.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael Ring

Question:

291 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a copy of the report that was completed on the Cairn Centre, Kiltimagh, County Mayo which was being looked at for decentralisation purposes. [1896/10]

The Office of Public Works completed a confidential technical report on the Cairn Trade Centre building in Kiltimagh for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. It is my understanding that this report has recently been furnished to the owners of the building, IRD Kiltimagh Ltd, by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Michael Ring

Question:

292 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the decentralisation proposals for the town of Claremorris, County Mayo; if a site has been purchased; if the decentralisation will proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1898/10]

In light of the budgetary constraints at this time and affordability issues, I have decided to defer proceeding with permanent accommodation in Claremorris for the Office of Public Works. This location, along with other deferred locations, will be considered as part of the overall review of the programme in 2011.

Customs Service.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

293 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if a second x-ray container scanner has been delivered to the Customs Service; if not, the stage of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1925/10]

A second x-ray scanner was delivered to the Revenue Commissioners in November 2009 and entered service following testing in December. In early January the new scanner was involved in the detection of the attempted illegal importation of some eight million cigarettes worth an estimated €3.1 million.

Revenue Cutter Service.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

294 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of revenue cutters that are currently in service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1926/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they currently have two cutters in service, RCC Suirbhéir (brought into service in 2004) and RCC Faire (brought into service in 2009).

Both vessels are involved on an ongoing basis in the patrol and monitoring of the State's maritime jurisdiction and adjacent waters. These patrol/monitoring activities are aimed at the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of prohibited and restricted goods (including narcotics) smuggled or illegally imported into, or intended to be exported out of, the State/E.U. They are also involved in servicing national and international Memoranda of Understandings and Mutual Assistance requests from other jurisdictions; servicing maritime call-outs; co-operating with other national enforcement agencies to combat drugs trafficking by sea and co-operating with international customs agencies to combat international drugs trafficking by sea.

Tax Code.

Michael Kennedy

Question:

295 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many persons who should still be entitled to mortgage interest relief since 2009 have been cut off from receiving same; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that the Office of the Revenue Commissioners website does not allow persons who have been cut off from mortgage interest relief to query the decision made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1927/10]

This is a matter in the first instance for the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. However, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in a limited number of cases, approximately 2,500 mortgage holders, who were entitled to continued mortgage interest relief in 2010, did not receive the recent payment due for January. This arose because of an error in the information provided by the Revenue Commissioners to lenders in respect of such customers.

The position is that the Revenue Commissioners are working with each financial institution to rectify the matter without delay. There will be no loss of relief to any customer affected by the error and there is no need for any action on the part of a mortgage holder. The Revenue Commissioners will rectify the situation with the financial institution involved or exceptionally, the mortgage holder will be contacted directly.

Question No. 296 answered with Question No. 220.

Customs Service.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

297 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of customs checks which took place at each airport, including small and private airports, here in 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1960/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Table below sets out the number of customs checks at the airports/aerodromes that have flights into and out of the State, on a scheduled or an on-going basis. The type of customs checks vary significantly depending on the type and origin of traffic and the level of risk in each case.

Some other aerodromes do have occasional flights into or out of the State when permission is usually given on a one off basis. These aerodromes, together with all other small aerodromes/airstrips where there is a possibility for flights to arrive from outside the State, are also subject to customs checks having regard to the level of risk at the aerodrome. However, it is not appropriate to publish details of the number of checks in each case as this could prejudice the control being applied.

2009

Cork

263,100

Donegal

75

Dublin

3,964,041

Galway

322

Kerry

3,200

Knock

1,380

Shannon

86,400

Sligo

72

Waterford

245

Weston

38

Note: In some cases the numbers provided are based on an extrapolation of figures as detailed statistics are not maintained for every type of check.

Capital Projects.

Joe McHugh

Question:

298 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all new national development projects from 2008 onwards that are designated for funding in Budget 2010; the funding that has been allocated to each of these projects in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2029/10]

Funding for individual projects is a matter for the relevant Government Departments, and the Deputy should forward queries about any such projects accordingly.

Pension Provisions.

Denis Naughten

Question:

299 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the assets and liabilities at 31 December 2009 of the covered pension funds listed in Schedule 1 to the Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2035/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is in preparation by the Bodies concerned but is not yet available.

Public Sector Pay.

Joan Burton

Question:

300 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the mechanism for calculating public sector pay cuts, announced in budget 2010, for those with a job-sharing work arrangement; if the percentage pay cut is calculated on the basis of actual gross income or on the basis of a full-time equivalent gross income; if his attention has been drawn to any anomalies arising from the method of calculation which would lead to individuals on identical gross incomes being subject to differing cuts in gross pay because one or other was in a job-sharing work arrangement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2045/10]

It is a well established principle that the pay of work sharers and those on atypical work patterns is calculated by reference to the whole time equivalent pay rate for the grade or post in question and the reduced pay rates are, therefore, calculated in this way. This practice is consistent with the legislation governing the conditions of employment of part-time workers.

Question No. 301 answered with Question No. 249.

Fiscal Policy.

Joan Burton

Question:

302 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on reports in a newspaper (details supplied) that the model of small and medium enterprises loan guarantees being operated successfully in the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions has been ruled out here; his further views on whether a risk sharing element of 25% to 50% on the part of the loan originating institution would ensure an appropriate alignment of interests between lender and guarantor; his views on whether such a scheme would allow for the easing of credit conditions for small and medium enterprises while minimising the impact on the capitalisation and capital requirements of the loan originating institutions; if he has studied the operation of such schemes in other jurisdictions and, if so, the conclusions he has drawn; if such a scheme has been costed here; if such a scheme has been recommended to him by a company (details supplied) contracted by his Department to survey the small and medium enterprise credit environment here and to make recommendations regarding the way this environment could be ameliorated; if he will give further consideration to the implementation of such a scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2154/10]

The Government has taken numerous measures to ensure the continued stability of the Irish financial system: the Guarantee scheme, nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank, recapitalisations and NAMA. These measures have facilitated continued lending to SMEs. Indeed, the recapitalisation of AIB and Bank of Ireland in February 2009 specifically encompassed commitments from the banks to provide additional capacity for SME lending.

The initial Independent Review of Credit Availability conducted by Mazars did not recommend the establishment of a risk sharing structure but rather that such a structure be considered. Risk sharing was assessed and it was clear that there were considerable obstacles to that approach, including the danger that such a scheme would detract from the ordinary process of credit and act as a further subsidy in the banking system. The Deputy will be aware that under the NAMA legislation I am issuing guidelines to all banks participating in NAMA who lend to SMEs, to ensure that SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises will have recourse to an independent, external review of decisions of credit refusal by the banks. I hope that banks not participating in NAMA or covered by the Government guarantee will also decide to participate. My aim is to have a simple, effective appeals process, run by people with experience and credibility. The banks must comply with the recommendations of the appeal process, or explain satisfactorily why they cannot do so.

In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all. Mr John Trethowan, an experienced banker with a demonstrated commitment to public and social service, is overseeing the establishment of this credit review system with initial administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Work has commenced on the logistical aspects of the review system and it is envisaged that this will be completed in the near future.

As the Deputy will be aware, there are many supports provided by the State to various parts of the business community. The Government continues at all times to seek to provide appropriate assistance and support to the generation of employment in the State.

Departmental Staff.

Denis Naughten

Question:

303 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in his Department, broken down by division and section, annually since 2007 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2169/10]

The following table sets out the breakdown of staff numbers in my Department for the periods requested. However, the Deputy should be aware my Department has undergone a number of organisational changes during this time, reflected in the number of Divisions, which currently stands at five. It is not possible to accurately reflect the section breakdown within these constraints.

Division

01/01/2007

01/01/2008

01/01/2009

01/01/2010

Budget & Economic

77.70

Budget, Finance & Pensions

164.20

Budget, Economic & Pensions

184.26

Taxation & Financial Services

68.23

Budget, Taxation & Economic

138.23

135.83

Financial Services

46.73

49.73

Public Service Management & Development

128.41

145.71

Sectoral Policy

92.63

103.43

173.01

143.11

Pay & Remuneration

54.55

50.85

26.70

Centre for Management & Organisation Development

82.22

77.60

Organisation, Management & Training

23.40

20.80

Corporate Services Division

82.20

82.30

68.43

59.00

Other

45.53

41.23

31.40

27.40

Total

622.43

628.70

612.91

560.78

Other includes senior management, CMO's office, ministerial staff, seconded staff, benchmarking and review bodies.

Preschool Services.

George Lee

Question:

304 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make an exception to the age criteria of the early childhood care and education preschool scheme and allow a child (details supplied) in Dublin 16 avail of the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48327/09]

I have responsibility for implementation of the free Preschool Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which was introduced this month. Children will qualify for a free pre-school year place when they are aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months at 1 September each year. The application of this age range is being interpreted as generously as possible to include children who are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months at 1 September each year. This means that in January this year children born on or after 2 February 2005 or on or before 30 June 2006 will qualify. Children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will be eligible for the free preschool year in September 2010. I understand that the child referred to by the Deputy will qualify for the free preschool year in September 2010, however, if his parents choose to send him to primary school at that time he will not be able to avail of the scheme.

The majority of children participating in the scheme would be expected to commence primary school between the age of 4 years and 3 months and 5 years and 6 months. The age range for eligibility under the scheme is designed to allow parents the opportunity to take up the free school place at a time that is more suitable to them. It is also necessary to the objectives of the scheme that the free preschool provision is delivered within a structure which supports the best delivery of preschool education. This requires a reasonably consistent age range of children attending and it is considered that the age range is appropriate.

Michael McGrath

Question:

305 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the future of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 20; if the school will be closing in the near future; if so, the implications for the staff at the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1122/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Child Care Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

306 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of grant funding allocated to a project (details supplied) in County Cork. [1383/10]

I have responsibility for the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006 — 2010 (NCIP), which includes the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS), as well as the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which came into effect earlier this month. I understand that the service referred to by the Deputy received approval for an NCIP capital grant amounting to €583,157 of which €291,579 has been paid to date and that this is in addition to capital grant funding amounting to €17,972 which it received under the previous investment programme, the EU co-funded Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000 — 2006 (EOCP). I also understand that the service has been approved for entry in 2010 into both the CCSS, which provides funding to community not for profit childcare services to enable them to provide childcare services at reduced rates to disadvantaged and low income families, and the ECCE scheme, which provides funding to pre-school services for the provision of free pre-school year places to children within the qualifying age range.

The service should have already received its initial 2010 ECCE payment, amounting to €11,223, from my Office and I understand that Pobal, who manage the day to day operation of the NCIP, is currently processing the service's initial 2010 CCSS payment. Following receipt of the service's January 2010 return under the CCSS and ECCE, the final amounts payable to the service in 2010 will be determined and further payments will be made as appropriate.

Medical Cards.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

307 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will grant an oral appeal hearing to a person (details supplied) in County Cork who is seeking renewal of their medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1864/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Prescription Charges.

Noel Ahern

Question:

308 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the workings of the new prescription charge scheme; when it will be introduced; if it needs legislation; or will it be done by ministerial order. [2353/10]

James Reilly

Question:

347 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons eligible for the drug payment scheme in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48514/09]

James Reilly

Question:

348 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons eligible for the general medical services and long-term illness schemes in 2009; the legislative changes required to introduce a new prescription charge; if she will include in this legislation a commitment not to increase the prescription charge of 50 cent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48515/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 308, 347 and 348 together.

Figures from the Health Service Executive indicate that as of 31 December last, 1,478,560 persons were covered by medical cards and 98,325 were covered by GP Visit Cards. A total of 1,587,448 persons held Drugs Payment Scheme cards. In addition, 64,267 persons availed of the Long Term Illness Scheme during 2009.

To address rising costs in both the GMS and Long Term Illness schemes, and to influence to some degree demand and prescribing patterns, a 50 cent charge per prescription item shall be introduced, subject to a monthly ceiling of €10 per family. The details will be set out in new legislation which is required to give effect to the introduction of prescription charges and the expected implementation date is 1st April 2010.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

309 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the date on which the fair deal scheme commenced for persons who are already in a nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48254/09]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme commenced on the 27th October 2009. Individuals who were in long-term nursing home care prior to that date can retain their existing arrangements or they can apply for the new scheme. For all new entrants to long-term nursing home care after that date, the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, is the single system of State Support for such care. The legislation provides that applicants to the scheme who were in an approved nursing home on the date the scheme commenced shall have their State Support backdated to that date. Moreover, the HSE's Guidelines on the Standardised Implementation of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme state that, subject to overall resources, people who enter nursing homes after the commencement of the scheme will have their support paid either from the date that the application was made or from date of admission to the nursing home, whichever is the later.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

310 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting time at Cork University Hospital for a consultation in the ophthalmology clinic; the guidelines whereby persons over 65 years will be seen as quickly as possible. [48255/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Staff.

George Lee

Question:

311 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children the pay bill for each job title for all staff employed by the Department in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48256/09]

George Lee

Question:

318 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the pay bill for each job title for all staff employed by her Department in 1997; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48272/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 311 and 318 together.

The total charge to the relevant subhead in my Department in 2008 in respect of pay was €32.010 million. The pay bills for relevant job titles are detailed in the following table, which is inclusive of arrears and historic payments made to certain individuals and other Departments.

Grade

Total

€m

Administrative Officer

0.845

Assistant Principal Officer

7.016

Assistant Secretary

1.295

Clerical Officer

3.568

Executive Officer

4.013

Higher Executive Officer

4.891

Principal Officer

3.887

Services Officer/Porter

0.475

Staff Officer

0.465

Secretary General

0.239

Ministerial Salaries

0.331

Special Advisors to Ministers

0.615

Ministerial Staffing (Non Civil Servants)

0.863

Other*

3.507

Total

32.010

*Includes payments made to the following non general civil service grades:

Chief Medical Officer

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Professional Accountant

Senior Statistician

Statistician

Pharmacist

Chief Environmental Health Officer

Nursing Advisor

Therapy Advisor

Dental Advisor

Senior Welfare Officer

Welfare Officer

Probation and Welfare Officer

Legal Advisor

Advisory Counsel (Grade III)

Head of Communications (Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs)

Research Officer (Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs)

Dental Advisor,

Nursing Advisor

Certain payments associated with the running of the Adoption Board e.g. members of the Board.

Due to the length of time elapsed since 1997 it is not possible to provide a detailed breakdown by grade of the pay bill for that time. The total charge to the subhead for pay in 1997 was €12.993 million. I understand that the Deputy is also seeking information on all job titles in the public health service in 1997 and 2008. I wish to advise that a list of all grades in the public health service, together with the numbers employed, for the years 1997 to 2008, along with a copy of the relevant salary scales, was provided to the Deputy in September 2009 in response to Question No. 30539/09. The actual pay expenditure by grade category for the public health service in 2008 was as follows:

Pay Expenditure 2008

Management/Administration Total

888,947,741

Medical/Dental Total

1,158,339,443

Nursing Total

2,500,654,072

Paramedical Total

866,327,240

Support Services Total

1,259,051,395

Maint./Technical Total

90,000,667

Superannuation Total

514,067,193

Pay Total

7,277,387,751

Notes: (i) Source: CRS System, Finance Directorate of the HSE. (ii) CRS data do not include data for a number of Disability agencies.

Medical Cards.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

312 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for an over 70 years medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [48257/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

313 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application under the State support nursing home subvention in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48258/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services.

Michael McGrath

Question:

314 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the criteria used by the Health Service Executive to determine if orthodontic treatment required by a child is covered by the Health Service Executive public orthodontic scheme for children. [48259/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Mental Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

315 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48261/09]

In 2008, €50m in additional funding was allocated to HSE as part of that years allocation under the Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006-2009. This funding given in the Budget was to meet the costs associated with a range of elements in the Multi-Annual Investment Programme. The Health Service Executive proposed to allocate the funding as follows:

Services for Persons with Intellectual Disability and those with Autism Residential/Community Care

200 additional residential places.

Day Care

467 additional day places.

Respite Care

53 additional respite places.

Services for Persons with Physical or Sensory Disabilities

Residential Care

80 additional residential places.

PA/Home Support hours

200,000 additional PA/Home Support hours

Disability Act

This will create 140 additional multidisciplinary team posts to provide assessment and ongoing intervention services to children with a disability and in particular with reference to the implementation of the Disability Act, 2005.

However during 2008, the HSE indicated that due to delayed start to some of these developments, it envisaged spending just €33m (out of the allocated €50m) in 2008. The remaining €17m was included in this Department's budgetary consolidation savings measures announced in the Dail in July 2008. In 2009, the full €50m was available to HSE as the full year costs of implementing the measures announced in the 2008 budget for the provision of disability services. As the remainder of the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

316 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the case being made by the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin for a new 235 bed hospital; if consideration is being given to the proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48266/09]

The development of a new National Rehabilitation Hospital needs to be considered within the context of a national policy for the delivery of rehabilitation services. My Department and the Heath Service Executive established a Working Group to develop a policy/strategy for the provision of rehabilitation services. Its terms of reference include the development of an appropriate policy framework for rehabilitation and a preferred model of care for the provision of rehabilitation services. The Working Group has met on a number of occasions to date and it is expected to complete its work early in 2010.

In the current economic situation, there is a need to ensure that all developments are planned and implemented to give best value for money and with the most appropriate mix of national, regional and local services. The proposal to develop a new National Rehabilitation Hospital at a capital cost in excess of €100m and a very substantial additional revenue requirement annually, must also be considered in the context of the current economic climate, available funding and competing priorities for limited funding. The National Rehabilitation Hospital has submitted a business case for the development of a new rehabilitation hospital to the Health Service Executive. This submission and developments at the hospital will be considered in the context of capital and revenue funding available for the health services in 2010.

Health Services.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

317 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist in arranging an appointment for a child (details supplied) in County Cork. [48267/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Question No. 318 answered with Question No. 311.

Departmental Staff.

George Lee

Question:

319 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a list of all job titles of employees employed by her Department in 2008; the jobs that are front-line staff; the jobs that are administrative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48273/09]

George Lee

Question:

320 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a list of all job titles of employees employed by her Department in 1997; the jobs that are front-line staff; the jobs that are administrative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48289/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 319 and 320 together.

The grade titles of employees serving in the Department of Health and Children at end December 1997 and end December 2008 are detailed in the table below.

The function of civil servants employed in my Department is to provide support to myself and the Government by:

advising on the strategic development of the health system including policy and legislation;

supporting their parliamentary, statutory and international functions;

evaluating the performance of the health and social services; and

working with other sectors to enhance people's health and well-being.

As such all staff employed in my Department could be considered to have administrative roles and functions, e.g. social workers in the Adoption Board. However, a number of these staff would deal directly with the public on a professional level.

Grade Titles Serving in the Department of Health and Children

31st December 1997

31st December 2008

Secretary General

Secretary General

Assistant Secretary

Assistant Secretary

Director

Director

Principal Officer

Principal Officer

Assistant Principal

Assistant Principal

Administrative Officer

Administrative Officer

Higher Executive Officer

Higher Executive Officer

Higher Executive Officer Systems Analyst

Executive Officer

Executive Officer

Staff Officer

Staff Officer

Clerical Officer

Clerical Officer

Clerical Officer Typist

Head Services Officer

Head Services Officer

Services Officer

Services Officer

Head Porter (Industrial Grade)

Head Porter (Industrial Grade)

Porter (Industrial Grade)

Porter (Industrial Grade)

Night Porter (Industrial Grade)

Personal Assistant (Ministerial)

Personal Assistant (Ministerial)

Personal Secretary (Ministerial)

Personal Secretary (Ministerial)

Special Advisor (Ministerial)

Civilian Driver (Minister of State)

Civilian Driver (Minister of State)

Chief Medical Officer

Chief Medical Officer

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Legal Advisor

Legal Advisor

Advisory Counsel Grade III PPC

Professional Accountant

Professional Accountant Grade 1

Senior Statistician

Statistician

Statistician

Pharmacist Health

Librarian

Therapy Advisor

Chief Pharmacist

Appeals Officer Long Stay Charges

Pharmacist

Office of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Head of Communications

Office of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Research Officer

Survey Officer Nursing Services

Senior Welfare Officer

Senior Welfare Officer

Welfare Officer

Welfare Officer

Probation and Welfare Officer

Social Work Advisor

Social Worker

Chief Environmental Health Officer

Chief Environmental Health Officer

Chief Nursing Advisor*

Nursing Advisor

Nursing Advisor*

Youth Health Promotion Officer

Palliative Care Advisor*

Dental Advisor*

Chief Architectural Advisor

Deputy Chief Architectural Advisor

Architectural Advisor

Principal Engineering Advisor

Engineering Advisor

Principal Quantity Surveyor

Quantity Surveyor

*On secondment to the Department of Health and Children.

A list of all grades in the public health service, together with the numbers employed (for the years 1997 to 2008), and a copy of the relevant salary scale was provided to the Deputy in September 2009 in response to Question 30539/09.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

321 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [48294/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Departmental Staff.

George Lee

Question:

322 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Civil Service staff in her Department; the number of these staff who hold an economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a postgraduate economics degree; the number of these staff who hold a PhD in economics; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48316/09]

There were 485.88 Whole Time Equivalents employed in my Department at 31st December 2009. As of now my Department's records do not include the information requested by the Deputy. However, my Department will shortly commence a comprehensive survey of all qualifications held by staff the results of which will be regularly updated. This information will inform future staff assignments and staff development programmes.

Adoption Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

323 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford. [48330/09]

The issue of the adoption of children of marriage is being considered by the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children (JCCAC). The Committee, which was established by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas in November 2007 is due to report at the end of January. The matters raised in that Report will then be considered by Government.

Services for the Homeless.

James Reilly

Question:

324 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding available for homeless services nationally for each year from 2000 to date in 2009; the amount of funding that will be allocated in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48356/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

James Reilly

Question:

325 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding available for homeless services in Dublin city for each year from 2000 to date in 2009; the amount of funding that will be allocated in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48357/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

James Reilly

Question:

326 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of all homeless facilities in Dublin city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48358/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

James Reilly

Question:

327 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of homeless facilities in Dublin currently unused due to a lack of funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48359/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

James Reilly

Question:

328 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children, in view of the Health Service Executive commitment to end long-term homelessness in Dublin by 2010, as outlined in the Homeless Agency Action Plan for Homelessness 2007 to 2010, her views on the progress made in tackling homelessness; if she is satisfied that homelessness will be eliminated in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48360/09]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for the provision of health services to homeless adults in the Dublin area and jointly funds the activities of the Homeless Agency with Dublin City Council and the local authorities serving County Dublin. Accordingly I am referring your question to the HSE, for a direct reply.

Departmental Funding.

Seán Connick

Question:

329 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Health and Children if the level of section 39 funding allocated per county is allocated on the basis of the population of the county; the basis on which it is allocated within each county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48431/09]

I have referred this matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Infectious Diseases.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

330 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if Lyme disease will be a notifiable illness in order to increase public awareness and assist in the speedy diagnosis and treatment of the disease; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48445/09]

Lyme disease (also known as Lyme borelliosis) is an infection caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted to humans by bites from ticks infected with the bacteria. The infection is generally mild affecting only the skin, but can sometimes be more severe involving other organs. Ramblers, campers and those who work in such areas especially if they come into contact with large animals are at greatest risk of being bitten by ticks and of going on to develop the disease.

Lyme disease is not a notifiable infectious disease in Ireland. This means that there is no legal requirement on doctors to report cases to their local Director of Public Health, so this makes estimates of incidence difficult. However, the schedule of infectious diseases is reviewed on a periodic basis and inclusion of Lyme disease will be considered in the future. A number of cases are diagnosed each year, but the true figure is unknown. However, research has determined that there are about 30 human cases per year in Ireland. In 2007, 71 specimens were confirmed positive for Lyme borreliosis, suggesting a crude incidence rate of 1.67 per 100,000 that year. A recent study in the west of Ireland at Galway University Hospital suggests that the disease incidence may be higher in the Galway area.

A fact sheet on Lyme disease, developed by the Vectorborne Subcommittee of the Scientific Subcommittee of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), is available on their website (www.hpsc.ie) to provide members of the general public and media with advice on minimising the risk of Lyme disease. In the future, this committee intends to publish Clinical Guidance on the management of Lyme disease and raising awareness of this condition among clinicians.

Prescription Charges.

Michael McGrath

Question:

331 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the application of the prescription charge for persons under the long-term illness scheme who may have multiple items on their prescription. [48452/09]

To address rising costs in both the GMS and Long Term Illness schemes, and to influence to some degree demand and prescribing patterns, a 50 cent charge per prescription item shall be introduced, subject to a monthly ceiling of €10 per family. The details will be set out in new legislation which is required to give effect to the introduction of prescription charges and the expected implementation date is 1 April 2010.

Medical Cards.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

332 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [48498/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

333 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an over 70 years medical card review in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48466/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

James Bannon

Question:

334 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Longford will be admitted to hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48476/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Service Allowances.

James Bannon

Question:

335 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for mobility allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48478/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

336 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) will be given a follow-up appointment after their school eye-sight test; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48480/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Disabled Drivers.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

337 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not been called for a medical examination in respect of their application for a primary medical certificate under the disabled drivers and passengers tax concessions scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48499/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

338 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied). [48504/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

339 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when back to school and clothing allowance will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied). [48505/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure.

James Reilly

Question:

340 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of pay savings of €695 million as outlined in the health Estimates for 2010 including general pay reductions and higher reductions for those on higher pay on foot of the report of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration, a proposed further reduction in the fees payable to certain health professionals, and savings associated with the moratorium on recruitment and promotion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48507/09]

The Budget provision for the Health group of votes identified €659m in pay savings as decided by Government. This included almost €7m for my Department. Following the Budget, the HSE was provided by my Department, with an indicative breakdown of the pay savings including:

general pay reductions, and higher reductions for those on higher pay on foot of the recent Report of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration (€482m);

a proposed further reduction in the fees payable to certain health professionals (€45m);

and savings associated with the moratorium on recruitment and promotion (€103).

There will also be corresponding reductions in grants made by the HSE to agencies funded under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004 to reflect these decisions.

While the figures above give a high level breakdown of how the savings may be achieved, the actual distribution will be reflected in the final allocations made in the HSE Service Plan, when it is approved. The Health Estimate for 2010, provided for a range of measures designed to bring costs into line with what we can afford. At the same time, the Government is ensuring that sufficient resources are made available to respond to priority demographic and other needs, particularly in services for older people and cancer, and to support ongoing reform of our public health services.

Health Services.

James Reilly

Question:

341 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the dental treatment services scheme; the number of persons eligible for the DTSS for each of the past five years; the cost of the scheme for each of the past five years; the breakdown of the cost of the scheme for each of these years; the impact savings of €30 million will have on the treatments and services offered under the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48508/09]

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) was established in 1994 providing a range of dental services to medical card holders. The scheme is delivered by dental practitioners holding contracts with the HSE.

Year

Cost of the Scheme over last five years is as follows:

Number of Medical Card Holders at 31st December as follows:

Number of treatments over the last five years as follows:

2005

54,402,901.00

1,155,727

1,069,402

2006

55,448,432.00

1,221,695

1,095,919

2007

58,145,888.00

1,276,178

1,078.878

2008

64,158,290.39

1,352,120

1,195,945

2009

86,187,209.63

1,472,115 at 30 Nov. ’09

Not yet available

It has been decided to put a cash limit on Dental Treatment Services Scheme this year — based on the expenditure incurred by the scheme in 2008. My Department has asked the HSE to examine the means of achieving this and expects to have their proposals on the matter shortly. My Department has also asked the HSE to furnish the Deputy with a breakdown of the cost of the individual treatment items within the scheme for each of the above years.

Departmental Expenditure.

James Reilly

Question:

342 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the Health Service Executive economy savings of €106 million in view of the health Estimates for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48509/09]

James Reilly

Question:

354 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the €70 million will be allocated to address various demographic needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48521/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 342 and 354 together.

As the Deputy is aware under Section 31 of the Health Act, 2004 the Health Service Executive must prepare and submit its annual National Service Plan for the coming year for my approval. The National Service Plan (NSP) must indicate the type and volume of health and personal social services to be provided by the Health Service Executive for the financial resources provided in its Vote. As announced in the Budget there are a range of measures which the HSE must implement in the context of its Service Plan this year, in accordance with the government policies controlling public expenditure, including public sector pay. The savings referred to by the Deputy are part of those measures.

Also in the Budget it was announced that there would be additional funding made available for certain service development and demographic pressures. The details of the savings measures and the allocation of funds to meet demographic pressures will be set out in the Service Plan. The HSE submitted its 2010 NSP to me on 15th January. Under the Health Act 2004 I have 21 days in which to approve the Plan. In accordance with the Act, once the NSP is approved it will be laid before both houses of the Oireachtas and I will be in a position to inform the Deputy of the details then.

Departmental Agencies.

James Reilly

Question:

343 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of agencies funded by her Department; the funding provided to these agencies for each of the past five years, including 2009; the number of staff employed by these agencies for each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48510/09]

The agencies funded by my Department and the numbers employed by these agencies for each of the past five years including 2009 are detailed in the following tables.

Agency

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

National Council on Ageing

430,000

904,000

1,510,000

1,440,000

1,347,000

National Social Work Qualification

569,000

578,000

573,000

557,000

511,000

Irish Medicines Board

4,601,922

4,993,000

4,924,000

4,025,000

3,856,000

Post Graduate Medical and Dental Board*

0

10,362,000

9,795,000

8,744,000

7,088,000

Board for the Employment of the Blind (Blindcraft)

17,000

10,000

4,717,000

1,100,000

696,000

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

8,178,000

8,706,000

8,574,000

8,140,000

7,399,000

Food Safety Authority Ireland

18,032,000

18,505,000

18,712,000

17,430,000

17,159,663

Institute of Public Health

1,517,000

1,576,000

1,562,000

1,505,000

1,468,500

Health Information & Quality Authority

11,100,000

14,800,000

6,389,000

1,386,000

361,112

Irish Health Safety Accreditation Board**

0

0

843,000

2,464,000

2,342,000

Mental Health Commission

17,950,000

16,600,000

17,380,000

6,250,000

5,980,000

National Cancer Screening Service

57,300,000

42,452,000

30,419,000

13,693,000

10,606,000

National Council Professional Development of Nursing & Midwifery

4,285,000

4,473,000

4,200,000

4,350,000

4,220,000

Office of Tobacco Control

1,620,000

1,819,000

2,495,554

2,315,000

1,838,000

Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council

3,281,000

3,438,000

3,414,850

2,812,000

2,236,000

Childrens’Acts Advisory Board*

2,199,000

2,314,000

2,232,000

1,715,000

2,101,000

Women’s Health Council

500,000

658,000

654,000

631,000

609,000

National Treatment Purchase Fund

90,350,000

104,641,000

91,744,000

78,644,000

64,000,000

Food Safety Promotion Board

5,623,000

7,000,000

6,475,000

6,580,000

6,370,000

Health Research Board

35,241,000

36,885,000

36,085,000

30,353,000

27,147,000

Ombudsman for Children

2,310,000

2,409,000

2,080,992

1,266,268

1,018,997

National Cancer Research Board

2,477,000

3,037,000

2,165,000

1,720,000

1,870,000

Health and Social Care Professionals Council

595,000

315,000

0

0

0

Agency

WTEs Sep-09

WTEs Dec-08

WTEs Dec-07

WTEs Dec-06

WTEs Dec-05

National Council on Ageing and Older People

Subsumed into DoHC

9.00

12.30

15.80

15.30

National Social Work Qualifications Board

6.69

7.00

7.00

7.00

6.00