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 4, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 5 to 31, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 32 to 38, inclusive, answered orally.

Social Insurance

Deirdre Clune

Question:

39 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Social Protection the balance of the social insurance fund for each of the past ten years; the projected balance for the next three years; the expected deficit for 2010; the details on the way this deficit will be met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27898/10]

The Social Insurance Fund (SIF) operates under the terms of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. The Fund comprises a current account and an investment account. The Minister for Social Protection manages and controls the current account from which benefit payments are made, while the Minister for Finance, through the National Treasury Management Agency manages the investment account. To the extent that annual income is not required for benefit payments, this finance, together with any accumulated surplus from previous years is transferred to the SIF investment account.

Between 1999 and 2007, the fund had a surplus each year, ranging from €256 million in 2003 to €649 million in 2006. The accumulated surplus rose from €420 million in 1999 to €3,632 million in 2007. Deficits were recorded in 2008 and 2009, reducing the accumulated surplus to €892 million at the end of 2009.

The Fund's accumulated surplus is now exhausted. The operational deficit of the Fund for 2010 after the utilisation of the accumulated surplus of €892 million is estimated to be €1.55 billion, this will be borne by the Exchequer by means of a subvention from the Oireachtas — Vote 38.

It is forecast that the Social Insurance Fund expenditure will exceed its income in each of the years 2011 to 2013, with the deficit continuing to be borne by means of a subvention from the Exchequer. The Social Insurance Fund will continue to hold a capital asset over this period represented in the form of Department's headquarters property in Store Street, Dublin.

The table shows details of the receipts payments and the balance of the Social Insurance Fund for each of the past ten years.

Balance in Social Insurance Fund 1999-2009

Year

Receipts

Payments

Annual Surplus

Accumulated Surplus

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

1999

3,159

2,818

341

420

2000

3,726

3,291

435

855

2001

4,307

3.676

631

1,486

2002*

4,798

4,376

422

1,273

2003

5,089

4,833

256

1,529

2004

5,650

5,273

377

1,906

2005

6,159

5,665

494

2,400

2006

6,975

6,326

649

3,049

2007

7,834

7,251

583

3,632

2008

8,144

8,399

(255)

3,377

2009**

7,304

9,747

(2,485)

892

*€635 million was paid from the Fund to the Exchequer in accordance with section 7 of the Social welfare (No. 2) Act 2001.

**The SIF Account for 2009 is currently in draft format. The account will be subject to audit by the C&AG and the 2009 figures are therefore provisional.

Employment Action Plan

Martin Ferris

Question:

40 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated cost of the activation scheme contained in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010; and to make a statement including a detailed breakdown of same. [27970/10]

Martin Ferris

Question:

43 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the assessment of Aontas that the education and training providers will not have the capacity to meet the demand that will be created if the changes proposed by the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 proceed; if he has discussed this with the Department of Education and Skills; and the outcome of those discussion in terms of concrete actions and time frames. [27969/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 43 together.

The national employment action plan (NEAP) is the main welfare to work measure under which all persons between the ages of 18 and 65 years who are approaching 3 months on the live register are identified by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and referred to FÁS for interview with a view to assisting them enter/re-enter the labour market.

The provisions contained in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 will enhance the operation of the NEAP in two key areas. Firstly, in order to incentivise participation in training and education programmes provided under the Plan rates of jobseeker's payments and associated rates of supplementary welfare allowance are being reduced where a recipient unreasonably refuses to participate in a course of training arranged by this Department or FÁS, or fails to avail of an opportunity to participate in the NEAP.

Secondly, the one-parent family payment scheme is being amended with a view, inter alia, to providing lone parents with greater access to education, training and enabling services such as childcare provision in order to acquire the skills that they will need to gain employment.

When commenced, these measures will work in tandem with the integration of FÁS functions into the Department of Social Protection and initiatives such as customer profiling, as part of a strongly activation focused welfare system. In addition, the existing rural social scheme and community services programme will shortly transfer to my Department. Taken together these will ensure that long term systemic unemployment and welfare dependency will not take hold. In providing for these measures, we are determined that reductions in jobseeker's payment rates will only apply where there is a clear lack of engagement by the welfare recipient with an appropriate activation intervention. Any decision made in this area will be open to the independent appeals process.

In light of increased, demand the Government is now providing, through FÁS, a total of 128,000 training and activation places for the unemployed this year. This is a substantial increase on the approximate 66,000 places provided last year. There is a wide range of education and training opportunities available through my Department, the Department of Education and Skills and FÁS for lone parents and jobseeker's to strengthen their qualifications and skills base and to thus maximise their chances of meeting the requirements of the modern labour market and gaining employment.

When a lone parent claims jobseeker's allowance they will be actively engaged with under the NEAP, with referral to FÁS and access to the range of employment and training services offered by FÁS. They will be supported in this by the new scheme recently announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. This new Childcare Education and Training Scheme will provide free childcare for those attending FÁS and VEC courses. It is not anticipated that these measures provided for in the social welfare bill will lead to significant additional costs.

Social Welfare Benefits

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

41 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the assessment of the One Family organisation that the cuts he proposes making to the one-parent family payment scheme will worsen the poverty traps experienced by lone parents; and if he will accordingly withdraw the Bill. [27966/10]

Despite significant State spending on one-parent families the results have been poor in terms of tackling poverty and social exclusion and encouraging economic independence. Social welfare supports for lone parents should be designed to prevent long-term dependence on welfare and facilitate financial independence. The changes to the One-Parent Family Payment that are outlined in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2010, will help the Government to meet this social policy objective.

In their submission on the Bill, One Family, refer to issues in relation to rent supplement, to the supports that are required to move lone parents into employment and the issue that jobseeker's allowance is less conducive to combining a welfare payment and part-time work.

The rent supplement assessment provides for a gradual withdrawal of payment as hours of employment or earnings increase. Also, a person on rent supplement who is deemed by a local authority to be eligible to participate in the rental accommodation scheme may engage in full-time employment, subject to satisfying the standard means-test, and may still be paid rent supplement. In relation to childcare, the Government have made a major investment over the last decade in developing a childcare infrastructure which has resulted in some 65,000 childcare places in place this year.

There is a wide range of education and training opportunities available through my Department, the Department of Education and Skills and FÁS for lone parents to strengthen their qualifications and skills base and to thus maximize their chances of meeting the requirements of the modern labour market and gaining employment.

Lone parents will be supported to participate in education and training by the new Childcare Education and Training Scheme which will provide free childcare for those attending FÁS and VEC courses. Where a lone parent wishes to combine part-time work and still receive a welfare payment the family income supplement is available.

The proposed reform of the One-Parent Family Payment recognises that work, especially full-time work may not be an option for lone parents of young children. However, we believe that supporting parents to participate in education, training and the labour market, once their children have reached an appropriate age, will improve both their own economic situation and the social well being of themselves and their families.

Pension Provisions

Pat Breen

Question:

42 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details on the implementation of the national pensions framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27888/10]

The recently published National Pensions Framework is the Government's plan for pension reform. It encompasses all aspects of pensions, including social welfare pensions, private occupational pensions and public sector pension reform. Development of the framework was informed by the range of views raised during the comprehensive consultation process which followed publication of the Green Paper on Pensions. The aim of the framework is to deliver security, equity, choice and clarity for the individual, the employer and the State. It also aims to increase pension coverage, particularly among low to middle income groups and to ensure that State support for pensions is equitable and sustainable.

A technical implementation group was established in May to develop the legislative, regulatory and administrative infrastructure required to put the reforms into operation. It has held two meetings to date. In line with the Government decision, the group is chaired by the Department of Social Protection. The implementation phase is expected to take three to five years. The implementation group is cognisant of the current and emerging economic condition and will conduct extensive consultation on the many aspects of the framework before presenting final options to Government for decision. I am very pleased to be hosting a consultation forum in July which will mark the beginning of this process of engagement.

The group is developing a communications strategy to ensure that all stakeholders and interested parties are kept informed of the progress being made in implementing the framework.

Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 40.
Questions Nos. 44 and 45 answered with Question No. 37.

Social Welfare Fraud

Charles Flanagan

Question:

46 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is satisfied with the method of recording and calculating fraud control savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27923/10]

Tom Hayes

Question:

54 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection the fraud savings target for 2010; the fraud savings received to date; if he will provide an update on fraud control measures put in place by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27928/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 54 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. A four-pronged control strategy has been adopted by the Department, namely prevention of fraud and error at the initial claim stage, early detection through effective review of claims in payment, measures to deter fraud, and the pursuit and recovery of overpayments.

The rapidly changing economic environment with large increases in the levels of unemployed poses challenges for the prevention and effective management of fraud and control. The Department's response to these challenges has been to introduce new measures, which are evidence based, to target control activity at high risk categories of claimants.

Multipliers used in assessing control savings estimate the total future savings to the Department of a revocation of or reduction in a payment resulting from a control action. The multiplier used is based on the average amount of time persons who ceases to claim remain off payments before returning. This time varies from scheme to scheme.

Control Division carry out validation exercises to ensure control savings are recorded correctly. These involve an examination of the various control savings reported to ensure that savings are being compiled and calculated in the correct manner i.e. in accordance with the guideline for determining control savings. The methodology is kept under review. I am satisfied that control savings provide valid, useful and comparable measures of progress towards achieving results.

A target of €533.3 million was set for control savings in 2010. On the basis of what has been recorded to the end May 2010 control activity has yielded savings of €110.83million. However the work to rule measures in the Department have impacted on the reporting of the value of control activities.

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 the Department is carefully monitored and the various measures are continuously refined to ensure that they remain effective.

Social Welfare Appeals

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

47 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of decisions to refuse carer’s allowance that are overturned at appeal stage; the action being taken to ensure that the correct decision is made at the initial stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28009/10]

In 2009, 16,574 new claims for carer's allowance were received. Of those, 10, 798 (or just over 65%) were awarded and 5776 (or just under 35%) were rejected. In 2010 to date, 8,959 new carer's allowance claims have been received of which 5,806 (almost 65%) have been awarded and 3,153 (just over 35%) rejected.

Accurate statistics relating specifically to the outcome of appeals against refusals of carer's allowance are not kept. However, I have made available to the House, labelled Appendix 1, a table containing an extract from the Annual Report of the Social Welfare Appeals Office 2009, Statistical Trends — Table 3: Outcome of appeals by category 2009. This table details, in respect of carer’s allowance, the number of appeal cases dealt with in 2009 that were allowed, partly allowed, revised by deciding officer before appeal, disallowed and withdrawn. It refers to appeals against all types of decisions on carer’s allowance and it should be noted that it refers to carer’s allowance appeals dealt with by the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) during 2009. The full table and further details regarding the work of the SWAO is available on their website www.socialwelfareappeals.ie.

Deciding officers working in the department, including those dealing with the carer's schemes, make their decisions in line with the legislation governing the scheme and relevant guidelines and procedures. They receive training for the work they undertake. Their work is checked for accuracy by supervisory staff and all means decisions are checked by a supervisor. When an appeal is received, any new evidence supplied as part of the appeal is re-examined by a deciding officer who, if considered appropriate, will revise his/her decision. As the Deputy will see from the table in Appendix 1, in 2009 these re-examinations, in the light of new information supplied, resulted in a revised decision in 388 carer's allowance cases.

Where a revised decision is not considered appropriate, these cases are checked by a different deciding officer to confirm that the original decision was in accordance with the legislation and, then, forwarded to the SWAO for processing.

The Decisions Advisory Office (DAO) of the department has responsibility for ensuring that decisions made on social welfare claims are consistent and of good quality and that customers are notified of decisions in a form which is clear and understandable. They provide advice and guidance to deciding officers as required.

In the interests of consistency and good practice in decision making, regular meetings are held between the SWAO and the DAO. These meeting are a means of providing feedback from the SWAO to the department, and vice versa, as regards issues arising in the course of appeal cases.

Appendix 1 — Extract from Social Welfare Appeals Office Annual Report 2009 — Table 3: Outcome of appeals by category 2009

Allowed

Partly allowed

Revised DO Decision

Disallowed

Withdrawn

Total

Carer’s Allowances*

2,4418.7%

483.7%

38829.8%

57043.7%

534.1%

1,303

*This includes Carer's Allowance and Carers Benefit.

Social Welfare Benefits

John Perry

Question:

48 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Social Protection the processing time for each individual social welfare office to deal with a claim for jobseeker’s allowance to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27956/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

55 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the average processing time it takes for a claim in respect of jobseeker’s allowance to be dealt with to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27947/10]

James Reilly

Question:

66 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Social Protection the numbers 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 he will make a statement on the matter. [27958/10]

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

71 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Social Protection the processing time for each individual social welfare office to deal with a claim for jobseeker’s benefit to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27951/10]

Michael Noonan

Question:

85 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Social Protection the average processing time it takes for a claim for jobseeker’s benefit to be dealt with to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27948/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 55, 66, 71 and 85 together.

The national average processing times for jobseeker claims decided during May was 2.43 weeks for jobseeker's benefit and 6.58 weeks for jobseeker's allowance. Processing times can be affected by the requirements of the schemes such as the necessity for a means assessment or it may be necessary to ascertain details of foreign insurance records. I have made available a table showing the processing times at each local office during May.

The total number of jobseeker's awaiting a decision on their claim at 19 June was 48,261 and represents 9% of the total jobseeker claim load nationwide. As has previously been said in the House, when we look back over several years when the live register was at its lowest, there was always around 9% or 10% of claims awaiting a decision.

I think the Deputies will agree that over the past year or more the Department has made huge efforts to reduce processing times and the number of claims awaiting a decision. The current performance should be seen in the context that, in 2009 alone, local offices received over 670,000 jobseeker claims and so far this year they have received over 200,000 claims.

I have also made available to the House a table showing the breakdown of jobseeker's benefit (JB) and jobseeker's allowance (JA) claims awaiting a decision at each local office. These data have been compiled from data that is maintained on a local office catchment area basis and the figures do not correspond exactly with county boundaries.

I appreciate the importance of getting claims decided as quickly as possible and I want to assure the House that staff in local offices and in the Department's inspectorate are doing all they can to ensure that claims are processed as quickly as possible. There are still some offices where processing times and claims awaiting a decision are not as good as I would like. The Department will strive to reduce processing times and the number of claims awaiting a decision even further where we can, either through streamlining processes and procedures further or through the introduction of new technology to assist with claims processing much of which is well in development.

Table 1: Average processing times for Jobseeker claims, May 2010 (weeks)

JB

JA

Achill

0.12

0.93

Apollo House

0.71

2.29

Ardee

3.19

7.79

Arklow

0.91

1.80

Athlone

2.64

4.79

Athy

2.08

7.81

Balbriggan

4.07

13.29

Ballina

3.39

9.00

Ballinasloe

0.77

6.44

Ballinrobe

3.85

6.44

Ballybofey

1.30

3.71

Ballyconnell

4.26

7.49

Ballyfermot

1.68

3.62

Ballymun

2.01

2.81

Ballyshannon

1.22

3.61

Baltinglass

3.89

7.57

Bandon

3.67

7.03

Bantry

3.39

5.88

Bantry Co

1.40

5.24

Belmullet

1.06

2.45

Birr

1.45

5.00

Bishop Square

1.32

8.65

Blanchardstown

1.91

10.94

Boyle

4.21

8.94

Bray

1.76

3.63

Buncrana

2.48

5.55

Cahir

1.10

4.31

Cahirciveen

3.82

4.67

Carlow

0.63

4.33

Carrickmacross

2.07

6.23

Carrick-On-Shannon

1.39

2.93

Carrick-On-Suir

3.40

6.36

Carrigaline

1.16

7.92

Cashel

1.44

4.80

Castlebar

3.54

5.06

Castleblayney

2.13

5.13

Castlepollard

2.88

8.56

Castlerea

5.04

12.49

Cavan

2.29

7.00

Claremorris

5.63

12.97

Clifden

2.23

3.15

Clonakilty

2.98

6.65

Clondalkin

2.28

6.34

Clones

0.94

4.53

Clonmel

0.84

4.34

Cobh

0.43

1.77

Coolock LO

3.11

7.15

Cork

1.84

9.35

Dingle

0.80

2.44

Donegal

1.23

2.20

Drogheda

2.35

8.06

Dundalk

0.99

3.17

Dunfanaghy

0.97

1.63

Dungarvan

1.82

5.79

Dungloe

2.14

1.82

Dún Laoghaire

1.94

5.13

Edenderry

2.89

7.46

Ennis

2.63

5.60

Enniscorthy

3.75

8.87

Ennistymon

4.16

7.90

Fermoy

5.75

8.28

Finglas

1.21

3.18

Galway

2.84

11.33

Gorey

3.28

9.43

Gort

5.07

7.85

Kells

3.21

8.06

Kenmare

2.42

1.40

Kilbarrack

0.89

3.40

Kilkenny

1.92

3.27

Killarney

1.47

10.05

Killorglin

0.85

3.75

Killybegs

0.94

1.54

Kilmallock

1.69

3.28

Kilrush

4.21

7.08

Kings Inns Street Local Office

2.01

5.56

Kinsale

2.71

6.61

Letterkenny

0.62

3.70

Limerick

2.96

5.88

Listowel

2.93

6.97

Longford

5.41

12.48

Loughrea

3.12

9.35

Macroom

5.97

9.17

Mallow Branch Office

4.69

7.29

Manorhamilton

1.56

0.57

Maynooth

2.42

4.23

Midleton

3.35

6.07

Monaghan

3.43

4.04

Muine Bheag

0.72

5.89

Mullingar

4.42

13.15

Navan

5.28

11.56

Navan Road

1.65

10.25

Nenagh

2.49

4.22

Newbridge

1.91

7.65

Newcastle West

2.13

3.63

Newmarket

4.16

6.72

New Ross

1.62

5.68

Nutgrove

1.88

3.97

Portarlington

1.17

5.39

Portlaoise

2.72

7.06

Rathdowney

1.35

9.72

Roscommon

2.92

7.54

Roscrea

0.94

2.81

Skibbereen

1.81

4.81

Sligo

0.85

7.11

Swinford

2.75

10.81

Swords LO

3.50

4.94

Tallaght

1.88

4.86

Thomas Street

1.12

5.07

Thomastown

2.00

8.93

Thurles

1.35

3.66

Tipperary

2.24

4.17

Tralee

1.37

2.83

Trim

6.91

9.87

Tuam

1.81

10.67

Tubbercurry

0.93

0.92

Tulla

4.31

4.72

Tullamore Control Office

0.72

4.06

Tullow

1.68

4.62

Waterford

3.02

8.80

Westport

1.40

2.32

Wexford

4.14

7.21

Wicklow

1.48

2.47

Youghal

2.90

3.97

Table 2: Jobseekers claims awaiting a decision — 19 June 2010

Local Office

Parent Office

Type

Claimload

Pending

% Pending

Achill

Achill

SWLO

594

6

1%

Apollo House

Apollo House

SWLO

3,114

241

8%

Ardee

Drogheda

SWBO

2,844

288

10%

Arklow

Arklow

SWLO

3,819

93

2%

Athlone

Athlone

SWLO

4,716

428

9%

Athy

Newbridge

SWBO

3,130

295

9%

Balbriggan

Balbriggan

SWLO

5,355

810

15%

Ballina

Ballina

SWLO

4,224

330

8%

Ballinasloe

Athlone

SWBO

2,988

226

8%

Ballinrobe

Loughrea

SWBO

1,431

146

10%

Ballybofey

Donegal CO

SWBO

3,221

133

4%

Ballyconnell

Cavan

SWBO

1,514

165

11%

Ballyfermot

Ballyfermot

SWLO

3,888

134

3%

Ballymun

Ballymun

SWLO

3,292

141

4%

Ballyshannon

Donegal CO

SWBO

1,869

105

6%

Baltinglass

Newbridge

SWBO

1,764

139

8%

Bandon

Carrigaline

SWBO

1,829

188

10%

Bantry

Bantry CO

SWBO

1,516

132

9%

Bantry CO

Bantry CO

SWLO

427

30

7%

Belmullet

Belmullet

SWLO

1,408

87

6%

Birr

Athlone

SWBO

2,730

229

8%

Bishop Square

Bishop Square

SWLO

10,661

1,045

10%

Blanchardstown

Blanchardstown

SWLO

9,241

1,323

14%

Boyle

Longford

SWBO

1,276

153

12%

Bray

Bray

SWLO

6,017

506

8%

Buncrana

Buncrana

SWLO

6,042

561

9%

Cahir

Clonmel

SWBO

1,532

84

5%

Cahirciveen

Cahirciveen

SWLO

941

67

7%

Carlow

Carlow

SWLO

4,292

209

5%

Carrickmacross

Dundalk

SWBO

1,948

126

6%

Carrick-on-Shannon

Carrick-on-Shannon

SWLO

3,209

195

6%

Carrick-on-Suir

Waterford

SWBO

2,332

242

10%

Carrigaline

Carrigaline

SWLO

2,856

261

9%

Cashel

Clonmel

SWBO

1,396

97

7%

Castlebar

Castlebar

SWLO

2,958

435

15%

Castleblaney

Dundalk

SWBO

2,193

133

6%

Castlepollard

Mullingar

SWBO

1,655

237

14%

Castlerea

Ballina

SWBO

2,292

373

16%

Cavan

Cavan

SWLO

7,278

658

9%

Claremorris

Ballina

SWBO

1,803

176

10%

Clifden

Clifden

SWLO

1,471

39

3%

Clonakilty

Carrigaline

SWBO

1,523

145

10%

Clondalkin

Clondalkin

SWLO

11,431

1085

9%

Clones

Dundalk

SWBO

999

58

6%

Clonmel

Clonmel

SWLO

3,165

179

6%

Cobh

Cobh

SWLO

1,275

41

3%

Coolock

Coolock

SWLO

6,079

820

13%

Cork

Cork

SWLO

22,655

3289

15%

Dingle

Tralee

SWBO

856

37

4%

Donegal

Donegal CO

SWBO

1,668

88

5%

Drogheda

Drogheda

SWLO

9,304

1170

13%

Dún Laoghaire

Dún Laoghaire

SWLO

8,832

750

8%

Dundalk

Dundalk

SWLO

7,613

311

4%

Dunfanaghy

Dunfanaghy

SWLO

1,860

47

3%

Dungarvan

Waterford

SWBO

2,676

327

12%

Dungloe

Dungloe

SWLO

2,739

149

5%

Edenderry

Mullingar

SWBO

2,554

419

16%

Ennis

Ennis

SWLO

6,859

483

7%

Enniscorthy

Wexford

SWBO

5,285

583

11%

Ennistymon

Ennis

SWBO

1,919

139

7%

Fermoy

Mallow CO

SWBO

3,273

381

12%

Finglas

Finglas

SWLO

6,448

384

6%

Galway

Galway

SWLO

14,642

2,245

15%

Gorey

Wexford

SWBO

4,541

446

10%

Gort

Ennis

SWBO

1,782

210

12%

Kells

Navan

SWBO

2,307

346

15%

Kenmare

Kenmare

SWLO

806

34

4%

Kilbarrack

Kilbarrack

SWLO

6,228

478

8%

Kilkenny

Kilkenny

SWLO

7,213

402

6%

Killarney

Killarney

SWLO

3,308

207

6%

Killorglin

Tralee

SWBO

1,576

44

3%

Killybegs

Donegal CO

SWBO

1,529

65

4%

Kilmallock

Newcastlewest

SWBO

3,021

278

9%

Kilrush

Ennis

SWBO

1,718

153

9%

King’s Inns Street

King’s Inns Street

SWLO

8,764

616

7%

Kinsale

Carrigaline

SWBO

1,533

127

8%

Letterkenny

Letterkenny

SWLO

6,759

257

4%

Limerick

Limerick

SWLO

17,261

2,070

12%

Listowel

Listowel

SWLO

3,679

268

7%

Longford

Longford

SWLO

6,298

823

13%

Loughrea

Loughrea

SWLO

3,118

496

16%

Macroom

Mallow CO

SWBO

2,291

299

13%

Mallow

Mallow CO

SWBO

3,168

461

15%

Manorhamilton

Manorhamilton

SWLO

1,134

40

4%

Maynooth

Ballyfermot

SWBO

7,193

651

9%

Midleton

Carrigaline

SWBO

3,655

356

10%

Monaghan

Dundalk

SWBO

3,147

165

5%

Muine Bheag

Carlow

SWBO

2,051

143

7%

Mullingar

Mullingar

SWLO

5,809

860

15%

Navan

Navan

SWLO

6,517

1,194

18%

Navan Road

Navan Road

SWLO

7,361

1,177

16%

Nenagh

Thurles

SWBO

3,541

439

12%

New Ross

Wexford

SWBO

3,907

276

7%

Newbridge

Newbridge

SWLO

11,222

1,246

11%

Newcastle West

Newcastlewest

SWLO

3,913

256

7%

Newmarket

Listowel

SWBO

2,560

222

9%

Nutgrove

Nutgrove

SWLO

6,019

212

4%

Portarlington

Tullamore

SWBO

3,670

278

8%

Portlaoise

Kilkenny

SWBO

4,482

376

8%

Rathdowney

Kilkenny

SWBO

1,382

143

10%

Roscommon

Longford

SWBO

1,512

131

9%

Roscrea

Thurles

SWBO

1,628

151

9%

Skibbereen

Bantry CO

SWBO

1,676

147

9%

Sligo

Sligo

SWLO

5,384

463

9%

Swinford

Ballina

SWBO

2,152

228

11%

Swords

Swords

SWLO

5,233

515

10%

Tallaght

Tallaght

SWLO

11,847

795

7%

Thomas Street

Thomas Street

SWLO

5,481

332

6%

Thomastown

Waterford

SWBO

1,658

192

12%

Thurles

Thurles

SWLO

3,453

203

6%

Tipperary

Clonmel

SWBO

2,034

115

6%

Tralee

Tralee

SWLO

8,167

299

4%

Trim

Navan

SWBO

4,076

787

19%

Tuam

Loughrea

SWBO

4,441

503

11%

Tubbercurry

Sligo

SWBO

1,305

25

2%

Tulla

Ennis

SWBO

1,724

147

9%

Tullamore

Tullamore

SWLO

4,648

161

3%

Tullow

Carlow

SWBO

1,753

111

6%

Waterford

Waterford

SWLO

14,491

1,639

11%

Westport

Westport

SWLO

2,435

102

4%

Wexford

Wexford

SWLO

7,626

485

6%

Wicklow

Arklow

SWBO

2,451

91

4%

Youghal

Carrigaline

SWBO

2,057

129

6%

512,416

48,261*

*The figure of 48,261 (Pending) includes 776 Jobseeker's Benefit Credits Only claims.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

49 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to reform the one-parent family payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27914/10]

Ulick Burke

Question:

69 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Social Protection if he has conducted a review of the one-parent family payment; the details on the recommendations of this review; if he will publish this review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27893/10]

Willie Penrose

Question:

79 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection his policy regarding the ending of the ban on cohabitation for persons in receipt of one-parent family payment and the replacement of this payment with a parental allowance. [27971/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49, 69 and 79 together.

The Government discussion paper, "Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents", was published in 2006 and can be viewed at http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Policy/PolicyPublications/Families/ Documents/prop_lp.pdf.

It put forward proposals for the expanded availability and range of education and training opportunities for lone parents, the extension of the National Employment Action Plan to focus on lone parents, the focused provision of childcare, improved information services for lone parents and the introduction of a new social assistance payment for low-income families with young children.

The One-Parent Family Payment, by its nature, is not payable where the lone parent is co-habiting with the other parent of the child or with someone else as husband and wife. The Discussion Paper proposed that the category of lone parenthood would be abolished. Instead, a parental allowance would be made to all parents (living alone or with a partner) with young children on a low income, thus ending the co-habitation rule. It will not be possible for my Department to progress this aspect of the proposal due, at present, to the current economic climate.

These proposals have, however, informed deliberations regarding the One-Parent Family Payment scheme. The current One-Parent Family Payment provides long-term income support, until children are 18 years of age, or 22 years of age if in full-time education, to those who are parenting alone — with no systematic engagement with recipients by the State. At present, lone parents are not required to engage in employment, education or training as a pre-condition to receiving the payment. Such long-term welfare dependency and passive income support to individuals of working age are not considered to be in the best interests of the recipient, of his or her children or of society in general.

Despite significant State spending on one-parent families as well as improvements made to the One-Parent Family Payment over the years, the results have been poor in terms of tackling poverty and social exclusion and encouraging economic independence. A large proportion of lone parents and their children continue to experience poverty.

Social welfare supports for lone parents should be designed to:

prevent long-term dependence on welfare and facilitate financial independence;

recognise parental choice with regard to care of young children but with the expectation that parents will not remain outside of the labour force indefinitely, and

include an expectation of participation in education, training and employment, with supports provided in this regard.

To meet these social policy objectives, my Department has introduced changes to the One-Parent Family Payment in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2010 which are being discussed in the Oireachtas at present.

These changes will bring Ireland's support for lone parents more in line with international provisions, where there is a general movement away from long-term and passive income support.

National Carer’s Strategy

James Bannon

Question:

50 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the future plans he has for carers following the decision not to publish the national carer’s strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27885/10]

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 was 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.

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 carers.

Over the past decade, carer payment rates 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.

People caring for more than one person receive a higher rate of payment, equating to an additional 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 rate for carers over 66 years of age has not changed and remains 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 reduction announced in the last 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. The Government will continue to support carers within the resources available.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Joe Carey

Question:

51 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection the total number of clients dealt with by the monetary advice and budgeting service for each of the past five years; the total number of new clients to date in 2010; the average waiting time to access MABS services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27896/10]

Shane McEntee

Question:

64 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide an update on the waiting times to access monetary advice and budgetary services advisers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27938/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 64 together.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. The role of money advisers 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 and debts.

In 2005, MABS dealt with approximately 10,900 new clients. In 2006 the number was similar with 11,000 new clients seen by the service. This figure increased to 12,000 and 16,000 in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The number increased further to 19,000 in 2009. In the period January to May 2010 some 9,200 new clients have been seen by MABS. This represents a 9% increase in the number of new clients accessing MABS in 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.

Statistics on the number of new clients accessing MABS, and the profile of such clients, are compiled on a quarterly basis and can be found on the www.mabs.ie website.

In addition the MABS helpline has dealt some 49,700 calls since its launch in October 2007. Some 12,200 calls have been dealt with to date this year compared with 10,500 for the same period in 2009.

The Citizens Information Board, who has responsibility for MABS, is currently compiling information on the waiting times in each MABS office for the end of the 2nd quarter in 2010 which will shortly be posted to the www.mabs.ie website. Based on latest information available the average waiting time from first point of contact to first appointment with a money adviser is just over 4 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 MABS provides a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Social Welfare Benefits

Paul Kehoe

Question:

52 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons claiming rent supplement for more than 18 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27933/10]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

63 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the economic studies, if any, he has commissioned to examine the effect of rent supplement on the property rental market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28010/10]

Mary Upton

Question:

70 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to ensure a greater transfer of rent supplement claimants to the rental accommodation scheme. [28007/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52, 63 and 70 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. The Department closely monitors the property rental market but has not commissioned any economic study to date.

There are currently over 95,500 tenants benefiting from a rent supplement payment — an increase of over 58 per cent since the end of 2005. Over 37,800 have been in payment for 18 months or more.

The rental accommodation scheme (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 cases 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, the RAS.

Latest figures from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government show that a total of 27,240 transfers from rent supplement to local authorities have occurred since 2005: 14,833 rent supplement recipients to RAS and a further 12,407 recipients to other social housing options.

It is accepted that progress in relation to RAS was initially slower than expected. However the pace of delivery has improved significantly. In total, 14,000 recipients were transferred in 2008 and 2009; achieving the targets set for RAS transfers for these years. The target established for 2010 is for a further 8,000 rent supplement tenants to be provided with a housing solution by local authorities.

In consultation with the Department, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has approved a number of pilot programmes in different local authorities to increase the flow of transfers. These include allowing applicants for RAS to seek out their own properties which, subject to compliance with the normal conditions and the agreement of the landlord, may then be taken into the leasing programme. Approved housing bodies under the leasing initiative have also been advised that they can seek applicants for social housing support directly from households in long term receipt of rent supplement as part of a of choice-based lettings approach to allocations.

The Department continues to work closely with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and is represented on a number of RAS implementation groups. The purpose of these Groups is to ensure that the 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.

Question No. 53 withdrawn.
Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 46.
Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 48.

Departmental Staff

Michael Creed

Question:

56 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the total number of job facilitators; the average waiting times to access support from a job facilitator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27907/10]

Facilitators work closely with FÁS and other agencies, at national and local level, to identify appropriate training and developmental programmes for social welfare recipients of working age to enhance the skills those individuals have and, ultimately, improve their employments chances as well as helping them to develop personally.

The facilitator service is available to social welfare recipients at all local offices. Facilitators hold open clinics and meet with people who have been referred either by the social welfare local office or by other agencies. Arrangements to see the facilitator can be made by contacting the social welfare local office or the facilitator directly. In addition, cases are selected and referred to facilitators by employment support section.

The service was enhanced under the National Development Plan (NDP) Social and Economic Participation Programme. There are currently 63 facilitators in place, with a further 7 to be appointed, bringing the total in place to 70.

In the current economic climate the demand for the facilitator service is elevated. Facilitators generally have scheduled days when they are available in different locations across our network of offices and people wishing to meet with a Facilitator would be advised to call on one of those days — a centralised appointment system is not maintained. Accordingly waiting times for individual facilitators are not maintained. Facilitators make every effort to contact all interested customers as quickly as possible.

Public Service Card

Olwyn Enright

Question:

57 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details on the public service card with photo ID to be rolled out from 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27918/10]

The Department has developed, in conjunction with a number of other Government Departments, the specifications for a Public Service Card (PSC) under the Standard Authentication Framework Environment, or SAFE, programme. The specification provides for identification features, including a photograph. The aim is to develop a card that acts as a key for access to public services in general, identifying and authenticating individuals as appropriate and where required.

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 may issue a Public Service Card in the format that he or 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.

Over the past few years significant progress has been made on the implementation of the project including the selection of a preferred bidder to provide a managed service for card production and related bureau services. Technical specifications were finalised and the necessary organisational change was designed.

However, in view of the prevailing economic climate the project was suspended until formal sanction to proceed was received from the Department of Finance at the end of last year. A contract was agreed with the managed service provider from early January.

The remaining elements of the production project are expected to take several months to complete. Significant preparatory work has to be undertaken including decisions regarding the final design of the card and to develop a secure site for the personalisation of the cards. It will also be necessary to develop a technical infrastructure within the Department to support the management and administration of the cards. Procurement for this development has commenced.

The overall time for completion of initial deployment of a Public Services Card is dependent on the rate at which it will be possible to register all of those to whom it will be issued.

Features such as photographs and signatures and electronic card authentication are expected to minimise the rate of fraud and error arising from incorrectly identified and authenticated individuals.

The Public Service Card will replace cards currently in use, such as the Social Services Card and the Free Travel card with highly secure cards. Other Departments and agencies will also be in a position to use the card.

A further benefit of the Public Service Card will be the efficiencies that can be achieved by all agencies using the card. The time spent on establishing identity and authentication will be reduced leading to significant potential savings across the whole public sector.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 37.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

59 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will consider easing the qualification guidelines for back to education allowance having particular regard to the need to encourage further education in the current economic climate; if he has examined the prospects of increasing opportunities for back to education with a view to responding to the situation now emerging in a more realistic way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27881/10]

The back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme is a second chance education opportunities scheme designed to remove the barriers to participation in second and third level education by enabling eligible people on social welfare to continue to receive a payment while pursuing an approved full-time education course that leads to a higher qualification than that already held.

The back to education scheme covers courses of education from second level to higher diploma level in any discipline or to a graduate diploma in education (Primary and Secondary Teaching).

The potential for changes in certain areas was identified by my predecessor to the Joint Committee on Social and Family Affairs. These concerned duration, access to post-graduate courses, appropriateness of courses and progression. The final shape and scope of such changes are currently being finalised for the 2010/2011 academic year.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

60 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to ensure better value for money from the back to school clothing and footwear scheme. [28002/10]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible families to assist with the extra costs when their children start school each autumn. The allowance is not intended to meet the full cost of school clothing and footwear but only to provide assistance towards these costs. A person may qualify for payment of an allowance if they are in receipt of a social welfare payment (including family income supplement), or Health Service Executive payment, are participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education and training course and have household income at or below certain set levels.

A means test is applied to the scheme to ensure that limited resources are directed to those in greatest need ensuring maximum value for money. Apart from a number of exceptions, all household income, including welfare payments are assessable as means under the BSCFA scheme in accordance with the normal assessment for supplementary welfare allowance. The exceptions to these rules are that any income received in the form of family income supplement (FIS), higher level education grants or the first €120 earnings from employment of a rehabilitative nature is disregarded for the purposes of the BSCFA scheme.

BSCFA rates are €200 for children aged 2-11 and €305 for children aged 12-22, an increase of €80 and €115 respectively on the 2006 rates. In addition, the allowance is increased by €215 to €520 per annum payable for eligible 18 year olds, as a compensatory measure where child benefit is no longer payable. In Budget 2009, there was an increase of €50 in the income thresholds for entitlement to back to school clothing and footwear allowance. This has brought the income limits for the allowance for couples with one child to €563.60 and €410.10 for those parenting alone. The limit is increased by €29.80 for each additional child. The Government has provided €82 million for the scheme this year — an increase of €59 million since 2006.

The improvements in BSCFA rates in recent years are very significant when viewed in the context of clothing and footwear price trends. According to the Consumer Price Index for May 2010, the overall cost of clothing and footwear has fallen 12.6% over the past twelve months and by 27.3% since December 2006. Since December 2001, clothing and footwear costs have decreased by 37.8%.

I consider the back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme to be an important support for parents at a time of particular financial strain. I am satisfied that the improvements to the scheme in recent years, (and in particular the scheme improvements relative to the CPI trends), are providing a major boost to meeting the financial costs associated with returning to school. The adequacy of back to school clothing and footwear allowance payments will be kept under review.

Carbon Levy

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

61 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection the way he intends off-setting the impact of higher fuel costs on poorer households as a result of the introduction of carbon levies. [27993/10]

Damien English

Question:

68 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he 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 he will make a statement on the matter. [27916/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 68 together.

The Department of Social Protection assists low income households with heating costs through their basic payments, through the fuel allowance scheme and through the household benefits package of electricity and gas allowances. These schemes have been improved significantly in recent years.

The fuel allowance is paid for 32 weeks each year from end September to end April. In the 2009/2010 heating season over 340,000 recipients benefited from the allowance at a cost of over €231million.

Some 376,000 pensioners are receiving the household benefits package which provides 2,400 electricity units per annum (or the gas equivalent) over the year and it is estimated that some 140,000 of these households are receiving the fuel allowance and the electricity units /gas allowance under the household benefits to assist with the heating and other energy requirements. The household benefit package cost €184million in 2009.

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 and the Housing Adaptation Grants for older people and people with disabilities. Considerable progress has been made in this area in recent years.

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 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 Inter Departmental/Agency Group has been asked to draw up an Energy Affordability Strategy. 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 was asked to 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. These recommendations will be considered as part of the overall strategy to deal with energy affordability which will include supports for low income households.

Price Inflation

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

62 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the fact that prices, as measured by the consumer price index, have risen each month since February 2010 driven principally by housing and energy costs; and his views on whether it is unacceptable to cut social welfare rates and schemes in this context. [27963/10]

Budget 2009, announced in October 2008, provided for increases of between 3% and 3.8% in weekly welfare rates of payment. At that time, it was expected that inflation for 2009 would be 2.5%. However, in 2009, prices declined by an average of 4.5%. Budget 2010 provided for reductions in weekly welfare rates of between 3.5% and 4.2% for persons of working age.

I fully appreciate that changes made in the welfare area are not easy for people but believe that if the Government had not taken the steps to reduce overall public expenditure and restore stability to the public finances, we would have run the risk of making the economic and social situation far worse for everyone, including welfare recipients.

While there has been some increases in inflation in recent months, consumer prices are back at March 2007 levels. However, the lowest weekly rate of payment for those aged between 25 and 66 is currently over €10 higher than in 2007.

Social welfare changes for 2011 will be considered later this year in the context of next year's budget preparations, having regard both to needs, including the impact of movements in prices, and to the resources available to meet those needs.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 52.
Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 51.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Shane McEntee

Question:

65 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is satisfied with the capacity of monetary advice and budgetary services to negotiate on persons behalf with financial institutions and sub prime lenders in relation to mortgage arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27939/10]

The money advisers working with MABS companies 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 clients 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. The Citizens Information Board, who has responsibility for MABS on behalf of the Department, continues to monitor the training needs of MABS employees to ensure a high quality service is provided. 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 appointed to MABS companies throughout the country. They have been fully trained in the application of money advice work and the relevant codes and legislation relating to mortgage debt.

I am satisfied that MABS provides a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances. I am confident that the money advisers are trained and equipped to deliver this important service to the members of the public who require it.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 48.
Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 38.
Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 61.
Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 49.
Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 52.
Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 48.

Pension Provisions

Brian O'Shea

Question:

72 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the concerns expressed by the Pensions Board regarding its capacity to carry out its functions adequately due to a shortage of staff and a lack of key skills. [27990/10]

The Pensions Board is a regulatory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection. The statutory role of the Board is to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act 1990. This involves the regulation of occupational pension schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts and the provision of advice to the Minister for Social Protection on pension matters generally.

The operations of the Pensions Board are financed by annual fees payable to it by occupational pension schemes and by providers of Personal Retirement Savings Accounts. As at 1 June 2010 the Board had 37.6 whole time equivalent permanent positions and one temporary position, giving a total staff complement of 38.6. I recognise that it is important that the Pensions Regulator has sufficient resources to carry out his functions. The question of additional resources is currently being examined by the Department of Finance.

Proposed Legislation

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

73 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans, if any, to introduce whistleblowing legislation as a means of dealing with social welfare fraud. [27995/10]

"Whistleblowing" is usually interpreted to mean the reporting in good faith of a breach or potential breach of the law and the protection of the person concerned against penalisation by the entity about which the report has been made. In the context of social welfare, the Central Control Section of the Department accepts reports of possible fraud offered by members of the public in relation to the Department's schemes. Reports are accepted online at www.welfare.ie, by phone or in writing. All reports investigated are dealt with in confidence. A member of the public may give details anonymously.

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. The number of anonymous reports from members of the public received to the end of May 2010 was 4,397, an increase of 200% on the number of reports in the same period in 2009. At present whistleblowing legislation is, therefore, not being considered.

Social Welfare Benefits

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

74 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the definition of suitable employment for the purposes of determining if a claimant of jobseeker’s allowance has been made an offer of employment that is in fact suitable. [27965/10]

In order to qualify for jobseeker's allowance, a person must satisfy certain conditions, including being available for and genuinely seeking work. In determining whether a customer has refused an offer of suitable employment, Deciding Officers of the Department have regard to these availability and genuinely seeking work conditions particularly.

The steps which people are expected to take to seek work will vary from person to person. In determining whether steps taken to seek employment have been reasonable, the Deciding Officer considers all the circumstances of the case including the nature and conditions of the employment sought, the individual circumstances of the customer and the local economic environment.

Particular matters which must be taken into account are the person's skills, qualification and work experience, the period of unemployment, the efforts made in previous weeks to seek employment, the availability and location of job vacancies, and the person's family circumstances.

A customer may be regarded as not being available for work if he or she places unreasonable restrictions on the nature of the employment sought, the hours of work, the rate of pay, the duration of the employment, the location of the employment, or any other unreasonable restrictions on the conditions of employment which he or she is prepared to accept.

In cases where a Deciding Officer is of the opinion that the person has placed unreasonable restrictions on the nature of employment sought, the person may be interviewed to clarify the position. The customer may demonstrate that the restrictions are not unreasonable and that he or she has a reasonable prospect of getting full-time work despite such restrictions.

These same conditions are also applied in determining whether a person has been made an offer of suitable employment.

Pension Provisions

Bernard Allen

Question:

75 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Social Protection if, in view of the national pensions framework, his attention has been drawn to the fact that people face the prospect of spending up to three years in retirement without the State pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27883/10]

The challenges facing the Irish pension system are significant. In particular, the task of financing increasing pension spending will fall to a diminishing share of the population. There are currently six workers for every pensioner and this ratio is expected to decrease to less than two to one by 2050.

Increasing State pension age is one of the ways in which we can sustain the pensions system and also maintain the value of the State pension at 35% of average earnings. People are living longer and healthier lives with average life expectancy set to rise even further in the future, up to 89 years for women and 83 for men. People will still, therefore, be spending at least the same amount of time in retirement as they are today, even with a later State pension age.

Therefore, as announced as part of the National Pensions Framework, the State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the removal of the State pension (transition), thereby standardising State pension age at 66. This means that the last group of people to receive the State pension (transition) will be those who reach 65 years of age in 2013. State pension age will be increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

The details and timeframes for these changes are set out in the National Pensions Framework, which was published on 3 March 2010. An implementation group chaired by my Department has been established to develop the legislative, regulatory and administrative infrastructure required to put the necessary reforms into operation.

In addition to the changes being made to State pensions, both employees and employers must be encouraged to change their attitudes to working longer. At the workplace level, employers must seek to retain older employees and create working conditions which will make working longer both attractive and feasible for the older worker. Where this is not possible and people leave paid employment before State pension age, they will be entitled to apply for another social welfare payment until they become eligible for a State pension, as is the current situation.

Social Welfare Code

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

76 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to update guidelines regarding the habitual residency rule to ensure a consistent approach by all deciding officers; his plans to amend the habitual residency rule to provide greater weight to the length of previous residency by the applicant. [28005/10]

The determination of a person's habitual residence is made in accordance with Section 246 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended. The most recent amendment was introduced by Section 15 of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act 2009 which provided that only persons who have a right to reside in Ireland can be regarded as being habitually resident in the State.

Following the passing of that Act, the operational guidelines of the Department were examined and all necessary changes on foot of this legislation were incorporated and updated on the Department's website on 8 February 2010.

The Department's operational guidelines on habitual residence emphasise the need for consistency and any cases of apparent inconsistency which come to notice are examined with a view to ensuring that the guidelines, together with the ongoing support and training resources, adequately address any areas of uncertainty.

Regarding the weight given to previous residence in determining habitual residence, the legislation specifically directs the deciding officer to "take into consideration all the circumstances of the case, including, in particular, the following:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person's employment;

(d) the person's main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances."

These five specified factors have been derived from European Court of Justice case law which examined the concept of habitual residence in the context of social welfare benefits. The Department's guidelines go on to point out that "No single factor is conclusive. The evidential weight to be attributed to each factor will depend on the circumstances of each case. It is necessary to weigh up all the information and balance the evidence for and against an applicant satisfying the habitual residence condition". In these circumstances, I have no plans to amend the rules to give greater weight to the length of previous residence.

National Carer’s Strategy

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

77 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to address the needs of young carers. [27996/10]

In response to a commitment given in the Towards 2016 partnership agreement, the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in 2008 commissioned Dr Allyn Fives and colleagues from the Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Galway, to carry out a study on young carers. The research took place during 2009 and a final draft was presented to the Minister for Health and Children in early 2010. The report was launched by Minister of State, Barry Andrews, T.D. at the annual conference of the Carers Association on 7th May 2010.

The purpose of the study was to examine mechanisms through which young carers in Ireland can be identified, to examine the impact of caring on their lives and to examine ways in which they can be assisted. The Study involved a review of the national and international literature, together with a number of interviews with twenty-six young carers and thirty agency staff.

The findings suggest that while there may be some negative impacts (such as absences from school or distractedness while at school; feelings of social isolation; physical illness; boredom, worry and resentment) there are a range of positive impacts as well. These included greater connectedness to the person cared for; maturity and compassion.

The findings also suggest that young carers need a range of formal and informal support from a variety of services. Examples of those which they received and wanted more of included:

Home help

Respite care

Advice and information

Support from friends and family members

Supports from teachers and school principals

Better treatment for the person with the care need

Help with transport and home renovations.

The particular service areas identified, and the welfare of young carers as children are primarily the responsibility of the Department of Health and Children and the Health Services Executive, as well as the Department of Education and Skills and the National Educational Welfare Board.

The Department of Social Protection provides income supports for adult carers who are unable to work because of their full time caring responsibilities. It does this through the carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant, as well as additional supports such as the household benefits package and free travel. These supports are generally available to full time carers over the age of 18. The respite care grant is available to full time carers over the age of 16.

While the work of a young carer is clearly important in many families, it would not be in the interests of a child attending school that they be treated as a full time carer in need of income supports in their own right.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps he has taken or proposes to take to restore the previously applied criteria for qualification for domiciliary care, respite grant, carer’s allowance and other such allowances in view of the increased level of rejection of such applications notwithstanding the need; if his attention has been drawn to the large number of cases now on appeal for the second time or more; if his further attention has been drawn to the hardship and anxiety caused to families by such delays which in turn contribute to a backlog resulting in increased administrative costs; if he will outline the steps he proposes to take to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27880/10]

There have been no changes to the criteria for qualification in respect of the domiciliary care allowance (DCA) , the respite care grant (RCG) or the carer's allowance (CA).

The DCA scheme transferred from the HSE to this Department, under the CORE functions initiative to reallocate certain functions between Departments and Agencies. This transfer took place in two stages. From April 2009 new claims have been processed by this Department; from 1st September claims previously paid by the HSE became the responsibility of this Department. Some 25,000 children are currently in receipt of DCA.

Although the qualifying conditions are the same now as they were previously in the HSE, when the DCA scheme was administered by the HSE, it was done on a local area basis, without legislation, and with significant variations in decisions between HSE areas. The Department is able to administer the scheme in a more consistent manner.

To date the Department has received 4500 claims for DCA, of which 4330 have been decided, with 37 % allowed. 1085 appeals have been received, 68 have been decided to date, with 13 allowed. The number of appeals allowed is in the order of 20%. DCA claims are on average decided with 7 weeks in over 85% of cases.

As regards the carer's allowance , in 2009 16,574 new claims were received and 5776 rejected in the year. (i.e. 34.8% rejection rate). In 2010 to date 8,959 new claims have been received and 3,153 rejected (i.e. 35% rejection rate). There has been almost the same level of rejections in both years. In 2009 there were 1,303 appeals received. 244 appeals were allowed (18.7%); 48 appeals (3.7%) were partly allowed. 570 cases (43.7%) were disallowed and 53 cases(4.1%) were withdrawn. If the appeal includes new additional information the case is re-examined by the deciding officer. In 2009 388 cases (29.8% of appeals) were revised on the basis of new information. The average time to decide a claim for CA is currently 9 weeks. There are currently 3,608 claims on hands for decision.

Persons in receipt of the CA and DCA receive the respite care grant (RCG) automatically on the first Thursday of June without any additional application. A smaller number of people not in receipt of CA or DCA can apply separately for RCG if they are providing full time care. Of these the rejection rate is around 20%. This figure has been consistent for a number of years.

Entitlement to carer's allowance, domiciliary care allowance and respite care grant is based on satisfying medical, means and residency conditions. In determining entitlement to the allowance there are, in certain cases, unavoidable time lags involved in making the necessary investigations and enquiries to enable accurate decisions to be made. Delays can also arise if people applying for the allowance are not in a position to supply all the necessary information in support of their claim.

The staff and other resources available to the Department are regularly reviewed having regard to the workload arising and other competing demands. The Department monitors available resources against workload on an ongoing basis with a view to ensuring optimum processing times for claims.

Question No. 79 answered with Question No. 49.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

80 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans, if any, to formalise the system of allocating financial support in the event of extreme weather conditions. [28006/10]

The system of allocating financial support in the event of extreme weather conditions is already formalised. Financial support for people who have suffered as a result of an emergency event, including extreme weather events is normally addressed through the exceptional and urgent needs payment provisions of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

Under the legislation governing the scheme, the HSE may make a single payment to meet an exceptional need to people on social welfare or health board payments. This is a once-off payment to meet an unforeseen or special need that cannot be met from a person's basic income. Assistance in the form of an urgent needs payment can be also made to persons who would not normally be entitled to supplementary welfare allowance, to assist, for example in cases of an extreme weather event with immediate needs, such as food, clothing, fuel, household goods and shelter. Assistance can be provided to people affected in cash or in kind. There is no automatic entitlement to these payments. Each application is determined on the particular circumstances of the case.

Where a particular event has caused loss and damage to a large number of people on a wide-spread scale and the support required is greater than can be coped with by the usual support mechanisms then humanitarian assistance is considered by the Government. Humanitarian assistance is designed to provide hardship alleviation assistance, as opposed to compensation, to people affected by an emergency event who are not covered by insurance and is based on an income test.

The most recent extreme weather event which led to the Government activating the humanitarian assistance system occurred in November 2009.

The HSE's Community Welfare Service has been providing support to households since this flooding occurred. Up to the 21st May 2010 they had made over 3,000 payments to 1,282 individuals to the value of €1.3million throughout the country. The largest payment to an individual was in excess of €25,000.

Most of these payments have been in respect of immediate needs such as clothing, food, bedding and emergency accommodation needs. Payments have also been made in respect of essential household items such as carpets, flooring, furniture and white goods. Payments in respect of longer-term needs, such as meeting the cost of repairing homes and making them habitable again, take somewhat longer as homeowners must first establish the cost of repair. As homeowners establish the cost of repair by securing builders' estimates, the extent of the loss is verified, usually by a loss assessor in cases where significant amounts are claimed, and details of the amounts that can be provided under the humanitarian assistance scheme are then sent to the homeowners in question. The HSE are currently in the process of discharging these claims. I am satisfied that the arrangements have worked well.

Proposed Legislation

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

81 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to bring forward legislation arising from the decision to withdraw the appeal in the case of a person (details supplied). [27998/10]

The Renewed Programme for Government, published in October 2009, contains a commitment to introduce legal recognition of the acquired gender of transsexuals. An interdepartmental committee has been established with the following terms of reference:

"To advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required to provide for legal recognition by the State of the acquired gender of transsexuals. In particular to propose heads of a bill to provide for:

The establishment of a process for legal recognition of the acquired gender of persons suffering from gender identity disorder who have made the transition from one gender to the other;

The establishment of a gender recognition register;

The granting of entitlement to transsexuals to marry in the legally recognized reassigned gender; and

Any other provisions as may be deemed necessary consequent on the main provisions of the Bill."

The committee is made up of representatives of various Departments and Offices of State and had its first meeting on Thursday, 6 May 2010. It is envisaged that the committee, as part of its deliberations, may invite submissions from interested groups, experts in the field and the public. I would expect that the committee will make its recommendations within a period of about 6 months. It is not possible at this early stage to say when the resulting proposals will be introduced in the legislative programme, or indeed, when a Bill will be introduced. I would, however, assure the Deputy that the matter will be treated as a priority when the deliberations of the committee are finalised.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Upton

Question:

82 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social Protection the recommendations of the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes, applicable to his Department, that he accepts and those that he rejects. [28008/10]

John McGuinness

Question:

446 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the elements of the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes that have been implemented to date by his Department; his plans to implement any aspects of the plan in the future; if the overall plan has been assessed by his Department; and if so, his views on the benefits of the plans. [28119/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 446 together.

The Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes made a range of recommendations in relation to my Department. These recommendations are outlined in the table below along with the current status of each recommendation. This forthcoming Budget process will have regard, amongst other issues, to the outstanding recommendations of the Special Group. It is important to stress that at this stage no decisions have been taken either by me or by the Government in regard to changes in social protection schemes and services in 2011, including the outstanding recommendations of the Special Group.

Special Group Proposals

Status

1

Child Benefit

€30 per month reduction in the Lower Rate and a €67 per month reduction in the Higher Rate, bringing both rates to €136 per month.

Partially implemented in Budget 2010 through reductions of €16 per month in both rates. There was also full compensation for welfare families.

2

Weekly Rates of Payment

5% reduction in all personal and Qualified Adult rates of payment.

Partially implemented in Budget 2010 through reductions of circa 4.1% in personal and qualified adult rates payable to persons aged under 66.

3

Weekly Rates of Payment — Young Jobseeker’s & Basic SWA

Reduce the rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance & SWA for persons aged 20-24 years by €54.30 pw, to €150 pw.

Fully implemented including a €100 per week rate for those aged under 23.

4

Carers

Abolish entitlement to payment of a Half Rate Carer’s Allowance in addition to another primary social welfare payment.

Not implemented

5

Concurrent Payments

A

Discontinue concurrent payment of half rate Illness Benefit/Jobseeker’s Benefit to recipients of One Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife’s Benefit and Widow(er)’s Pension.

Not implemented

B

Discontinue concurrent payment of a primary social welfare payment and a Community Employment payment.

Not implemented

C

Discontinue concurrent entitlement to FIS and a primary welfare payment.

Not implemented

6

Treatment Benefits

Abolish the Treatment Benefit Scheme

Partially implemented.

7

Other Special Group Proposals

A

Rent Supplement — Review the level of rent caps on a regional basis.

Implemented

B

Discontinue the special treatment of income as a home help for means testing purposes. across all schemes including FIS

Not implemented

C

Abolish the Family Support Agency

Not implemented

D

Reduce eligibility for Exceptional Needs Payments

Not implemented

8

Household Benefits

Tax the Household Benefits Package.

Not implemented

Departmental Staff

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

83 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Social Protection the additional supports that have been given to job facilitators to deal with the increased demand for access to support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27909/10]

The Department's facilitators work with people in receipt of jobseeker's payments, people parenting alone, people in receipt of disability welfare payments and people providing care, to promote participation and social inclusion.

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. Facilitators who are located throughout the country, covering defined geographical areas develop individual progression plans with the customer. They work closely with FÁS and other agencies at a local level to identify and target appropriate education, training and development opportunities.

In the current economic climate the demand for the facilitator service is elevated. The facilitator service was enhanced under the National Development Plan (NDP) Social and Economic Participation Programme. Twenty three additional facilitators have been appointed since September 2008 bringing the number currently serving to 63 and a further 7 are due for appointment.

A formal targeted programme of activation was introduced under the National Development Plan (NDP) under which the Department actively selects cases for referral to facilitators. Over 22,000 cases were referred to facilitators during 2009.

Facilitators may assist welfare recipients with grants under the technical assistance and training scheme up to a maximum of €1,000. The grant is targeted towards certain business start-up expenses of clients in receipt of the back to work enterprise allowance scheme. The fund is designed to enhance the person's prospects of succeeding in becoming independent of the social welfare system through support for training in the areas of starting a business, book-keeping/accounts, preparation of business plans, marketing, literacy and computer training or assistance with the purchase of small items of equipment. A total of €3.5m was spent under the technical assistance and training scheme in 2009.

Social Welfare Code

Willie Penrose

Question:

84 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the way he intends reforming the rules for back to education allowance to enable applicants to qualify irrespective of whether or not they have a primary degree. [27994/10]

The back to education scheme covers courses of education from second level to higher diploma level in any discipline [level 8 in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)] and to a Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary and Secondary Teaching; level 9 in NFQ). BTEA will not be approved if a person holds a qualification equivalent or higher than the qualification for which the application has been received.

The potential for further changes in certain areas was identified by my predecessor to the Joint Committee on Social and Family Affairs. These concerned duration, access to post-graduate courses, appropriateness of courses and progression. The final shape and scope of such changes are currently being finalised for the 2010/2011 academic year.

Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 48.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

86 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans, if any, to reform the PRSI rates applicable and the possible benefits accruing to the self employed. [27997/10]

Self-employed people pay PRSI Class S contributions which provides cover for long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widows/widowers pension (contributory). Employees are covered by PRSI classes A, E, H and P, which provide cover for the above benefits as well as for short-term contingencies such as jobseeker's and illness benefits.

PRSI coverage is related to the risks associated with employment or self-employment, the annualised system of contributions for self-employed people and the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments. Self-employed people pay Class S contributions at a rate of 3% per annum as compared to the 14.75% full Class A contributions paid by employees and their employers, to reflect the narrower range of benefits they receive. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

A self-employed person who has paid insufficient Class A contributions may instead qualify for jobseeker's allowance. Jobseeker's allowance is a means-tested payment and, in assessing a person's means, account is taken of all income which the person may reasonably expect to receive during the succeeding year. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year. In the current climate account is taken of the downward trend in the economy and it is accepted that future earnings may be lower than those of previous years.

The process also recognises the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next.

There are no plans to extend cover for short-term benefits to this group of insured workers. Any such measure would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered within a budgetary context. Consideration would also have to be given to an appropriate increase in the rate of the PRSI Class S contribution.

Question No. 87 withdrawn.

Departmental Staff

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

88 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the total expenses claimed by the Secretary General of his Department in each of the past three years; the amount that has been spent on travel, including foreign travel, and entertainment by them in each of the past three years; if he will provide a detailed breakdown of these costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27512/10]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

89 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the total expenses claimed by the assistant secretaries of his Department in each of the past three years, the amount that has been spent on travel, including foreign travel, and entertainment by each in each of the past three years; a detailed breakdown of these costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27527/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 89 together.

The information requested is set out in the tables. The costs arising to the Department are broken down into three categories — Foreign Travel (including flights, subsistence and accommodation), Domestic Travel (including subsistence and accommodation) and Official Entertainment expenses.

2007

Foreign Travel

Domestic Travel

Official Entertainment

Secretary General and Second Secretary

20,640.66

1,377.74

1,320.95

Assistant Secretaries

47,308.62

3,736.66

14,370.12

2008

Foreign Travel

Domestic Travel

Official Entertainment

Secretary General

7,016.33

1,191.77

239.40

Assistant Secretaries

32,838.73

6,391.52

5,894.03

2009

Foreign Travel

Domestic Travel

Official Entertainment

Secretary General

0

361.14

0

Assistant Secretaries

17,754.37

3,448.95

4,119.41

2010

Foreign Travel

Domestic Travel

Official Entertainment

Secretary General

302.40

111.00

0

Assistant Secretaries

2,021.84

696.73

588.62

Election Statistics

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

90 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the age and distribution of the population in each electoral district in Dublin North-Central in the latest revision of the census; the distribution by social class in each electoral district; and the distribution of permanent private households by year that their house was built in each electoral district. [27599/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tables. It should be noted that the information was taken from the Census 2006, but that the figures are for the Revised Dublin North Central as per the Report on Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies 2007.

Population usually resident in Revised Dublin North Central, classified by age group

DED

0-4 years

5-9 years

10-14 years

15-19 years

20-24 years

25-29 years

30-34 years

35-39 years

40-44 years

45-49 years

50-54 years

55-59 years

60-64 years

65-69 years

70-74 years

75-79 years

80-84 years

85 years and over

Total

022 Beaumont B

314

230

196

221

450

568

454

320

270

213

217

420

349

175

112

95

56

49

4,709

023 Beaumont C

143

119

112

163

202

225

209

210

184

202

123

102

182

273

286

186

104

33

3,058

024 Beaumont D

99

160

179

206

244

219

111

114

192

184

217

232

112

67

33

16

10

3

2,398

025 Beaumont E

82

81

109

112

158

209

164

103

137

93

110

150

185

168

124

70

28

19

2,102

026 Beaumont F

166

221

192

160

417

444

230

219

276

206

187

234

167

177

120

100

68

39

3,623

037 Clontarf East A

187

181

190

170

186

183

174

203

251

256

192

143

121

161

176

218

146

106

3,244

038 Clontarf East B

351

392

422

409

477

562

494

417

464

494

477

372

280

241

254

210

159

146

6,621

039 Clontarf East C

167

176

188

183

234

225

162

172

219

245

198

177

141

97

123

98

70

56

2,931

040 Clontarf East D

111

157

166

150

153

201

158

162

215

209

160

141

121

94

146

155

76

58

2,633

041 Clontarf East E

104

98

76

88

107

127

91

105

126

113

101

100

60

39

75

76

67

92

1,645

042 Clontarf West A

220

186

175

189

279

281

212

256

293

257

238

138

101

146

147

137

132

59

3,446

043 Clontarf West B

120

115

108

151

193

210

233

187

154

173

147

141

118

96

109

65

48

47

2,415

044 Clontarf West C

176

129

138

133

284

533

439

265

254

240

198

175

110

97

75

78

65

70

3,459

045 Clontarf West D

74

53

54

76

233

328

272

166

140

127

118

71

55

73

73

72

64

42

2,091

046 Clontarf West E

117

129

111

128

185

190

181

148

189

165

114

101

84

106

131

124

78

62

2,343

047 Drumcondra South A

184

174

172

212

491

527

348

255

249

279

225

185

130

107

118

99

81

72

3,908

050 Edenmore

139

145

162

186

166

160

149

200

217

180

141

84

84

258

188

133

86

52

2,730

058 Grace Park

283

306

370

420

630

579

330

347

435

420

362

381

278

209

220

149

104

117

5,940

064 Harmonstown A

113

140

149

175

218

212

163

171

187

191

193

115

205

248

147

127

63

27

2,844

065 Harmonstown B

153

159

145

203

176

166

154

196

213

197

161

94

69

79

131

176

128

41

2,641

069 Kilmore A

319

356

250

181

266

344

301

415

357

213

87

52

100

129

63

35

15

8

3,491

070 Kilmore B

159

192

203

238

184

153

197

272

250

131

75

76

136

248

180

82

28

11

2,815

071 Kilmore C

79

123

106

132

91

88

90

137

113

65

34

35

72

139

99

27

14

5

1,449

072 Kilmore D

98

101

136

144

179

158

136

133

156

150

110

123

174

218

144

70

25

22

2,277

Total

3,958

4,123

4,109

4,430

6,203

6,892

5,452

5,173

5,541

5,003

4,185

3,842

3,434

3,645

3,274

2,598

1,715

1,236

74,813

Population in Revised Dublin North Central, classified by social class

DED

Professional workers

Managerial and technical

Non-manual

Skilled manual

Semi-skilled

Unskilled

All other gainfully occupied and unknown

Total

022 Beaumont B

264

1,173

904

762

474

101

1,031

4,709

023 Beaumont C

121

700

668

525

325

93

626

3,058

024 Beaumont D

100

808

588

462

204

49

187

2,398

025 Beaumont E

104

624

510

337

210

37

280

2,102

026 Beaumont F

196

1,085

839

569

313

68

553

3,623

037 Clontarf East A

240

1,031

692

511

267

39

464

3,244

038 Clontarf East B

1,033

2,556

1,133

577

313

63

946

6,621

039 Clontarf East C

497

1,299

545

155

97

29

309

2,931

040 Clontarf East D

402

1,038

494

150

119

26

404

2,633

041 Clontarf East E

218

649

299

142

76

8

253

1,645

042 Clontarf West A

294

1,044

722

516

310

84

476

3,446

043 Clontarf West B

99

419

376

484

381

174

482

2,415

044 Clontarf West C

532

1,323

638

267

222

47

430

3,459

045 Clontarf West D

149

473

467

299

212

79

412

2,091

046 Clontarf West E

163

718

518

353

201

78

312

2,343

047 Drumcondra South A

470

1,242

625

346

246

69

910

3,908

050 Edenmore

46

452

483

663

429

192

465

2,730

058 Grace Park

473

1,887

1,204

788

434

195

959

5,940

064 Harmonstown A

97

562

613

658

443

109

362

2,844

065 Harmonstown B

99

486

545

533

407

123

448

2,641

069 Kilmore A

138

713

713

683

313

161

770

3,491

070 Kilmore B

17

289

376

482

437

207

1,007

2,815

071 Kilmore C

11

99

247

346

232

109

405

1,449

072 Kilmore D

48

431

437

495

268

85

513

2,277

Total

5,811

21,101

14,636

11,103

6,933

2,225

13,004

74,813

Private dwellings in permanent housing units in Revised Dublin North Central, classified by period in which built

DED

Before 1919

1919 to 1940

1941 to 1960

1961 to 1970

1971 to 1980

1981 to 1990

1991 to 1995

1996 to 2000

2001 or later

Not stated

Total

022 Beaumont B

1

1

45

339

481

38

60

281

124

161

1,531

023 Beaumont C

4

29

442

468

45

63

11

13

115

58

1,248

024 Beaumont D

0

0

6

49

505

28

84

16

8

22

718

025 Beaumont E

3

78

196

259

171

2

3

3

14

43

772

026 Beaumont F

17

64

295

218

221

53

316

26

30

40

1,280

037 Clontarf East A

12

34

815

155

98

40

4

7

74

25

1,264

038 Clontarf East B

175

511

707

111

269

253

114

67

208

127

2,542

039 Clontarf East C

98

303

180

34

149

156

50

18

50

49

1,087

040 Clontarf East D

172

167

364

46

39

110

47

13

23

65

1,046

041 Clontarf East E

12

276

159

30

40

22

26

11

6

12

594

042 Clontarf West A

45

199

545

85

79

155

95

63

33

50

1,349

043 Clontarf West B

3

124

671

57

35

19

3

0

28

41

981

044 Clontarf West C

425

198

184

22

75

234

80

58

212

83

1,571

045 Clontarf West D

183

458

95

39

23

59

20

8

15

44

944

046 Clontarf West E

30

770

68

11

3

3

6

16

5

21

933

047 Drumcondra South A

346

253

284

38

107

46

58

45

153

151

1,481

050 Edenmore

0

9

94

740

23

9

17

27

26

19

964

058 Grace Park

22

549

314

109

374

355

104

29

144

124

2,124

064 Harmonstown A

0

8

396

436

141

37

4

5

16

19

1,062

065 Harmonstown B

0

23

678

121

25

3

4

9

23

73

959

069 Kilmore A

4

5

23

246

40

154

319

56

253

73

1,173

070 Kilmore B

1

7

56

557

88

12

10

32

16

215

994

071 Kilmore C

1

5

42

392

18

1

0

0

3

26

488

072 Kilmore D

12

11

53

411

188

27

3

21

16

51

793

Total

1,566

4,082

6,712

4,973

3,237

1,879

1,438

824

1,595

1,592

27,898

Emigration Statistics

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

91 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the information available to his Department regarding the numbers of emigrants to Britain from Ireland in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 and in previous years; if his attention has been drawn to any changes in the numbers emigrating from Ireland to Britain since the economic downturn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27659/10]

The annual Population and Migration Release published in respect of Mid-April each year distinguishes immigrants and emigrants by country of origin and destination. The following table taken from the published information provides estimates for the UK.

Estimated Emigrants, Immigrants and Net Migration (to/from) UK, 1987-2009 (thousands)

United Kingdom

Year to mid-April

Emigrants

Immigrants

Net Migration

1987

21.8

8.1

-13.7

1988

40.2

9.9

-30.3

1989

48.4

14.2

-34.2

1990

35.8

17.6

-18.2

1991

23

18.7

-4.3

1992

16.9

22.7

5.8

1993

16.4

17.5

1.1

1994

14.8

15.2

0.4

1995

13.3

15.6

2.3

1996

14.1

17.6

3.5

1997

11.6

20.3

8.7

1998

11.8

22.1

10.3

1999

11.2

22.3

11.1

2000

7.2

20.8

13.6

2001

7.8

20.6

12.8

2002

7.4

19.1

11.7

2003

8.6

15.8

7.2

2004

7.1

14.6

7.5

2005

7.9

15.6

7.8

2006

8.8

17.7

8.9

2007

10.1

13.4

3.3

2008

7

14.1

7.2

2009

11.9

10.7

-1.2

Unemployment Levels

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

92 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown on unemployment levels by specific job type as was recently published by the UK Department for Work and Pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27401/10]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of estimates relating to the labour force. Within the survey respondents who are unemployed are asked for their occupation in their previous employment. The table presents estimates of the number of persons unemployed broken down by previous occupation for the first quarter in each year from 2007 to 2010. It should be noted that some respondents either have no previous employment or do not indicate their previous employment, such persons are included in the Previous occupation not stated group in the table.

Unemployed persons aged 15 years and over classified by previous occupation, first quarter 2007 to first quarter 2010.

Broad occupational group

Jan-Mar 07

Jan-Mar 08

Jan-Mar 09

Jan-Mar 10

’000

’000

’000

’000

1. Managers and administrators

4.5

4.2

13.1

17.8

2. Professional

2.8

4.8

9.0

11.6

3. Associate professional and technical

5.1

5.3

8.7

11.9

4. Clerical and secretarial

8.5

8.3

16.7

20.5

5. Craft and related

14.2

21.2

60.7

75.3

6. Personal and protective service

10.1

11.5

20.2

22.8

7. Sales

9.0

9.3

17.3

19.7

8. Plant and machine operatives

9.1

10.5

21.2

28.0

9. Other

16.3

19.1

32.8

36.7

10. Previous occupation not stated

18.7

15.1

23.2

30.8

Total persons

98.1

109.4

222.8

275.0

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

The classification system used is based on the UK Standard Occupational Classification (SOC 90) with some modifications to reflect the Irish labour market.

Source: QNHS, Central Statistics Office, Ireland.

Departmental Property

Phil Hogan

Question:

93 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Taoiseach the cost of building and land maintenance, including light and heat expenditure, for all property owned by his Department and its agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27785/10]

Neither my Department nor its agencies own any property. Consequently the question of maintenance does not arise.

Dáil Reform

David Stanton

Question:

94 Deputy David Stanton asked the Taoiseach the progress that has been made in respect of Dáil reform; when he expects to be in a position to put forward proposals on Dáil reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28012/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government established a Working Group on Dáil Reform in 2009, comprising Minister Dempsey, Minister Ahern, Senator Dan Boyle and my predecessor as Government Chief Whip, Pat Carey. Following a number of meetings, this Group submitted a set of proposals to Cabinet for discussion and agreement.

I believe that those proposals put forward by the Government represent an honest effort to make the working of this House more relevant and more efficient. They set out a new Dáil schedule which would better reflect the normal working day and they accommodate some of the key concerns set out by the Opposition in the various policy documents which they have released on this issue.

Upon my appointment as Chief Whip, I have examined the relevant documentation in relation to this issue and have over recent weeks been holding bilateral meetings with the various Party representatives with a view to seeing where realistic progress can be made.

Departmental Expenditure

John McGuinness

Question:

95 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Taoiseach the elements of the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes that have been implemented to date by his Department; his plans to implement any aspects of the plan in the future; if the overall plan has been assessed by his Department; and if so, his views on the benefits of the plans. [28120/10]

The position is summarised in the table.

Recommendation

Action Taken

NESDO

Discontinue NESDO except for the NESC

The NESF and the NCPP, constituent bodies of the NESDO, were dissolved on the 31st of March 2010. Some of their staff were absorbed into the NESC.

Ireland Newfoundland Partnership

Discontinuation of the Ireland Newfound Partnership

The work of the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership has been subsumed into my Department

Active Citizenship Office

Discontinuation of Active Citizenship Office

The work of the Active Citizenship Office was subsumed into my Department and then transferred to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

As a result of these decisions, significant savings were made.

Economic Competitiveness

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

96 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans to improve the competitiveness of the economy and reduce costs to industry and the employment generating sectors; if he has carried out an evaluation of the factors most debilitating to the economy; when he expects to see positive indicators in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28055/10]

I refer Deputy Durkan to questions 93 and 94 of 15th June last, as well as questions 59, 85 and 86 of 16th June last, which address the issues raised.

Redundancy Payments

Sean Sherlock

Question:

97 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if a person (details supplied) in County Cork has an entitlement to a statutory redundancy payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28159/10]

Short-time or temporary lay-off can occur where there is a reduction in the amount of work available, leading to a reduction in weekly earnings to less than half the normal weekly earnings, or a reduction in the hours worked to less than half the normal weekly working hours. An employer must give notice that the short-time is of a temporary nature.

Where an employee has been laid off or kept on short-time, or a mixture of both, either for 4 consecutive weeks or for a broken series of 6 weeks, where all six weeks occur within a 13 week period, an employee may decide to claim redundancy payment by serving a written notice to the employer (Form RP9) stating the intention to claim redundancy and termination of employment. Alternatively, an employee may decide to remain on temporary lay-off pending resumption of employment duties subject to work being available. In both instances, the decision is a matter for the employee.

However, an employee who claims and receives redundancy payment due to lay off or short time is deemed to have voluntarily left his or her employment and not entitled to notice under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2001.

In the case of workers who are laid off for an average period of more than twelve weeks per year prior to redundancy, the provisions relating to lay-off in the Scheme will not apply until the end of that average period. In the case of a seasonal worker, therefore, there will normally be no question of redundancy arising until the usual commencement time of seasonal work. If the individual is not re-employed at that point, the question of redundancy may arise, but not until then.

In general, redundancy is a situation where an employee's job has been made redundant and the employee is not replaced. The Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2007, provide that employees, who

have two years continuous service with an employer,

are aged 16 years or over, and

are in employment which is insurable for all benefits under the Social Welfare Acts, are entitled to statutory redundancy payment from the employer in the event of being made redundant.

Employees are entitled to notice, as per the Minimum Notice Act, prior to termination of employment. If the employer is unable to provide the appropriate notice, it can be paid in lieu.

A key issue in respect of selection for redundancy is that the selection process must be seen to be fair and non-discriminatory. It is open to an individual who feels that he/she has been unfairly dismissed by reason of unfair selection for redundancy, to take a case to the Rights Commissioners or to the Employment Appeals Tribunal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

The Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007 generally apply to any employee who has 12 months continuous service with the employer. In the case of a complaint referred to a Rights Commissioner, the employer may object and in that event the Employment Appeals Tribunal will hear the matter. Employees, who have any further queries in this regard, can contact the National Employment Rights Authority on Lo-call 1890 80 80 90 or via the website at www.employmentrights.ie

The Unfair Dismissals Acts provide that the dismissal of an employee shall be deemed, for the purposes of the Acts, not to be an unfair dismissal, if it results wholly or mainly from one or more of the following:

The capability, competence or qualifications of the employee for performing work of the kind, which he/she was employed to do,

The conduct of the employee (in which case the issue of disciplinary procedures may be important)

The redundancy of the employee's job

In determining for the purposes of the Acts whether the dismissal of an employee was an unfair dismissal or not, it shall be for the employer to show that the dismissal resulted wholly or mainly from one or more of the matters specified above or that there were other substantial grounds justifying the dismissal.

Job Creation

Martin Ferris

Question:

98 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans regarding the latest recommendations of the mid-west task force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27762/10]

I have recently met with Mr. Denis Brosnan, Chairman of the Mid-West Task Force to discuss the Government's response to the recommendations. A copy of the updated response was forwarded to the Dáil on 21 June for circulation to Deputies.

Martin Ferris

Question:

99 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding Limerick and north Kerry being designated as Objective 1 regions in view of the unemployment figures in the area and in particular following recent public statements from the Industrial Development Authority that the infrastructure in County Kerry is hindering job creation. [27763/10]

The designation of regions for Objective 1 status is not a matter for my Department. However, the position in relation to State aid is that aid for investment in companies in the various regions of Ireland must be in accordance with the Regional Aid Map 2007-13 approved by the European Commission. This Map was drawn up in accordance with the Commission's Regional Aid Guidelines. Under the approved Map, neither Limerick nor Kerry currently qualify for regional aid for large investment projects, following the expiry of transitional arrangements at the end of 2008. Both qualify for regional investment aid to SMEs at a rate of 20% for medium sized companies (50 to 249 employees) and 30% for small companies (under 50 employees).

A Mid-term Review of the Regional Aid Maps is currently underway and my Department is in discussion with the EU Commission with a view to effecting such changes as are warranted by the deterioration in economic conditions since the Regional Aid Maps were drawn up.

Casual Trading Licences

Finian McGrath

Question:

100 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will support the case of a person (details supplied). [27764/10]

I assume that the person to whom the Deputy is referring has applied to the local authority for a casual trading licence.

Casual Trading which is the selling of goods in public places is governed by the Casual Trading Act, 1995. However, selling goods "to a person at a place where he resides or carries on business" is specifically excluded from the scope of the Act. Under the Act the regulation of casual trading is the responsibility of the local authority in whose functional area the trading takes place. Local authorities regulate casual trading under bye laws issued by them under the Act. The allocation of licences under the Act is a day to day matter for the relevant local authority and I have no direct responsibility for the matter.

Departmental Property

Phil Hogan

Question:

101 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the cost of building and land maintenance, including light and heat expenditure, for all property owned by his Department and its agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27778/10]

It is not possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in the time available but I will communicate with him further when the exercise is complete.

Commemorative Events

Noel Ahern

Question:

102 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he or any agency under his remit have plans to commemorate the anniversary of the 1913 lockout; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28095/10]

My Department can expect to keep informed, through its affiliation to the Irish Labour History Society, about exhibitions, discussions and exchanges being organized by academic, cultural and civic bodies to commemorate the centenary of the Dublin Lockout 1913. However, neither my Department nor any of the Agencies under the aegis of my Department have any plans at present to commemorate the anniversary of the 1913 lockout.

Employment Rights

Noel Ahern

Question:

103 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding the operation of fixed term employment legislation which was introduced to protect employees being employed on annual contracts; the number of staff who are likely to lose their jobs in 2010; if it is a correct interpretation of the Act; if the relevant section can be set aside by order for the duration of the moratorium; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28103/10]

At its core, the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003, provides that a fixed term contract employee shall not be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employee in respect of conditions of employment including pay and pensions. In addition, the Act provides that in the case of a fixed-term employee recruited after the enactment of the Act, if he or she is employed by his or her employer or associated employer on two or more continuous fixed-term contracts, the aggregate duration of such contracts shall not exceed four years after which, if the contract is renewed again, it is deemed to be a contract of indefinite duration unless the employer has objective grounds for renewing the contracts again on a fixed-term basis.

The terms of the Act are applicable in both the private and the public sectors with the exception, in the case of the public sector, of a small number of categories of employees. If a fixed-term employee feels that he or she is being treated less favourably as regards conditions of employment, or if he or she is entitled to a contract of indefinite duration and if his or her employer refuses to concede this, it is open to him or her to refer the matter to a Rights Commissioner for adjudication. I am satisfied that the protections afforded employees under the terms of the 2003 Act remain relevant.

There is no provision in the Act for suspension by Order of any its provisions to take account of a moratorium in public sector recruitment. Matters concerned with the renewal of fixed-term contracts and/or contracts of indefinite duration in respect of individual public sector employees are matters in the first instance for the public sector employer concerned and, as appropriate, the parent Government Department in consultation as necessary with the Department of Finance.

Departmental Expenditure

John McGuinness

Question:

104 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the elements of the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes that have been implemented to date by his Department; his plans to implement any aspects of the plan in the future; if the overall plan has been assessed by his Department; and if so, his views on the benefits of the plans. [28113/10]

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes made a number of recommendations addressed directly to my Department. All of these recommendations have been assessed by my Department and the current status of each one is set out on the table.

Eight of the recommendations have been accepted in whole or in part. Other proposals envisaged by the Special Group, such as the rationalisation of agencies, are 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 require cross-Departmental consideration and/or consideration at Government level.

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for FAS transferred from my Department to the Department of Education and Skills with effect from 1 May this year, and the recommendations made by the Special Group in relation to FAS programmes and services are now a matter for consideration by that Department.

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes has made an important contribution to the Government's overall Budgetary process by independently identifying options for the achievement of savings in public expenditure. The financial savings resulting from the implementation of recommendations in whole or in part by my Department have been incorporated into my Department's Estimate for this year. Any further expenditure reductions that may arise from the Report's recommendations will be included in my Department's budget for future years.

Summary of Recommendations made by the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes in relation to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation

Recommendation

Current Position

Create a single funding stream for all science, technology and innovation activities across all Departments.

In the context of Budget 2010, the Minister for Finance announced that the Government was establishing a single funding stream for Science, Technology and Innovation to maximise the efficiency and focus of investment and ensure that Ireland’s effort is strategically targeted on those areas that can achieve greatest impact.

The transfer of responsibility and associated funding for the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) and certain other research functions from the Department of Education and Skills to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation from 1 May 2010 represents significant progress in relation to implementing this recommendation.

Discontinuation of funding for the Irish Council for Bioethics.

The 2010 Estimates made provision for an orderly wind-down of funding from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to the Irish Council for Bioethics (ICB) in the course of the year. The then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment agreed with the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance that the three staff in the secretariat to the ICB should be seconded to the Department of Health and Children, so that their expertise could be availed of appropriately.

The funding allocation that had previously been made available to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for the ICB was accordingly transferred to the Department of Health and Children.

Any further decisions in relation to the body are a matter for that Department.

Reduction in Departmental and agency staff numbers

The Special Group proposed reductions in civil and public service numbers across all of the Department’s programmes.

The number of staff serving across the Department and its agencies fell by 322 in 2009 and will fall further this year due to the moratorium on the recruitment of staff.

The Department is currently in discussion with the Department of Finance on staffing targets for the years 2010-2012.

Consolidate all indigenous enterprise support and sector marketing functions in Enterprise Ireland and the rationalisation the organisations losing functions as appropriate. EI to deliver consolidated services through 8 offices in line with NSS hubs

The proposal made by the Special Group cuts across a number of Government Departments and agencies. Detailed consideration of those aspects that concern only the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (regarding, for example, the CEBs) is at an advanced stage.

Reduction in Enterprise Ireland’s Capital spend

The Government considered it appropriate to increase Capital funding to Enterprise Ireland over the last two years to enable the agency to support vulnerable but viable companies, through, for example, the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

Reduction of IDA’s capital and administrative costs including rationalisation of regional offices in Ireland and shared services.

IDA’s capital allocation is directly related to its contractual commitments.

IDA’s administrative costs have been reduced by €2.6 million for 2010 compared to the 2009 Estimate provision. This has been achieved through pay and efficiency savings.

It is not clear what savings would accrue from a rationalisation of regional offices.

Efficiency saving in administration and programme prioritisation in Enterprise Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland’s administrative budget has been reduced by €7.9 million for 2010 compared to the 2009 Estimate provision. This has been achieved through pay and efficiency savings.

The rationalisation of IDA and Enterprise Ireland overseas offices.

The agencies already share office space in most common locations.

Reorganisation of Shannon Development.

Consideration of this recommendation is on-going in the context of the special requirements of the Mid West Region in the aftermath of the Dell closure. Any reorganisation of Shannon Development would require approval by the Government.

Reorganisation of Forfás.

The Special Group’s proposal was that Forfás’s existing shared services function (carried out on behalf of a number of agencies) should be relocated to a wider Shared Services operation.

The implementation of this recommendation would be contingent on the identification of another body which provides shared services functions more efficiently than Forfás.

In the absence of the identification of such a body, the Department requested Forfás to examine the possibility of achieving savings through an enhancement of their existing shared services arrangements and this process is under way.

Privatise the Certification Service of the National Standards Authority of Ireland.

The Special Group’s proposal was to privatise the NSAI’s Certification Services.

Having considered the recommendation in detail, it was not clear that any benefit would accrue to the taxpayer from such a move, because of the high level of overhead costs that would remain with the NSAIafter a sale of the certification business. The more likely result would be increased Exchequer cost. Accordingly, it has been decided not to pursue this proposal at this time.

The relocation of all Industrial Relations institutions to a single location.

The Labour Court, the Labour Relations Commission and the Rights Commissioner services are currently located in Tom Johnson House in Dublin.

The Office of Public Works and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources have been requested to facilitate the location of the Employment Appeals Tribunal to the same premises.

Merging the Health and Safety Authority and the National Employment Rights Authority into one Work Place Inspectorate.

Further examination of this proposal suggests that: there are radical differences between the natures of the two inspectorates; overlaps between the two Agencies are minimal;

a merger will not yield appreciable savings;

substantial legislative change would be required.

On that basis, it is not proposed to proceed with this recommendation. However, both agencies are, under the aegis of the Department, developing a programme of practical co-operation designed to make most efficient and effective use of their overall resources, whilst having regard to their different remits.

Merging the functions of the Registrar of Friendly Societies (RFS) and Companies Registration Office (CRO).

The two offices and their statutory functions are already the responsibility of the same public official. Proposals relating to the future of the Registry of Friendly Societies and its statutory functions will be submitted to Government shortly.

IAASA should maximise shared services and reduce the Exchequer’s intervention from 40% to 20%

IAASA is endeavouring to maximise the use of shared services, but scope for savings is minimal. The Department currently provides payroll services to the Authority.

The level of Exchequer subvention is provided for in legislation and any reduction in this subvention would require detailed policy assessment and legislative change.

Savings in corporate services, a reduction in administrative budget and a transfer of foreign posts to Brussels to reduce travel and subsistence spend

Savings of €1 million in the Administrative Budget were delivered in the 2009. Further savings will be achieved in 2010.

There are costs associated with the assignment of posts to Brussels (e.g. Rent Allowance). Having analysed the proposal, the Department does not believe that the recommendation would be efficient or achieve economies in an overall context.

Merging the Irish Takeover Panel with the Competition Authority

This merger could lead to unnecessary policy conflict and it would not be in line with best international practice.

Job Creation

Ulick Burke

Question:

105 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of times the established task force met since the closure of the CIGNA plant at Loughrea, County Galway; the outcome of such meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28167/10]

Senior management from Enterprise Ireland along with the IDA, FAS, City and County Enterprise Board, Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Department of Social Protection and the Local Authority meet once a quarter under the Chairmanship of the Galway County Manager to discuss integrated strategic responses to areas of concern within the county. The Loughrea area is reviewed on a regular basis. The individual State development agencies are promoting the former CIGNA facility and are also available to any potential investors to discuss opportunities within the Loughrea area.

More generally, IDA Ireland's strategy for the West region is to:

Support the growth and development of the Region's existing clients by working with them to increase their strategic importance through additional functions and activities.

Market the West region to overseas clients in order to secure new Greenfield investment.

Strengthen the West Region's product offering by working with relevant partners, including Local Authorities, third level institutions and service providers to enhance the region's ecosystem.

Provide property solutions with supporting infrastructure to attract foreign direct investment.

There are 48 IDA supported companies in Galway City and County, employing 8,912 in permanent jobs and a further 912 are in temporary and contract employment.

Galway has over the years attracted significant investment from multinational medical technology firms. IDA supported medical technology companies now account for over c.5,800 employees. Such companies include Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Beckman Coulter, Covidien, Merit Medical and Transitions Optical. A significant number of these clients have R&D activities based in the region.

Finally, I would like to assure the Deputy that creating and maintaining employment in County Galway has been and remains a priority for the Government and the State development agencies.

Health and Safety Regulations

Finian McGrath

Question:

106 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will support and advise on the case of a person (details supplied). [28196/10]

While I appreciate the difficult personal circumstances of this case and I share the Deputy's sympathy with the family, unfortunately my Department has no responsibility for the operation of any compensation schemes in relation to disability or ill-health arising from workplace situations. In terms of civil law, of course, compensation in relation to disability or ill-health arising from workplace situations is generally held to be a matter between individual employees and their employer. To the extent that there may be any options for the family by way of State support, I would suggest that the best option may be to pursue the matter with the Minister for Social Protection. I have passed the details to the Minister for Social Protection for follow up directly with the Deputy.

Work Permits

Sean Fleming

Question:

107 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding work permits for persons from Romania who come here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28385/10]

In October 2006, the Government announced its intention to continue to restrict access to the Irish labour market for nationals of Romania following their accession to the EU on 1 January 2007. Accordingly, Romanian nationals continue to require a permit to take up employment in Ireland. However, those already in the State on a valid employment permit for an uninterrupted period of 12 months or longer at the relevant date of 31 December 2006 would not need an employment permit. Romanian nationals entering the workforce after 1 January 2007 required an employment permit for a 12 month period after which they would have free access to the labour market.

The first phase of the transitional arrangements on free movement for Romanian workers ended on 31 December 2008. The Tánaiste announced, at that time, that the Government had decided to continue to require that nationals of Romania apply for employment permits in order to participate in the Irish labour market, but that preference would be given to them over nationals of non-European Economic Area countries.

The considerable challenges posed as a result of the downturn in the global economic environment, and the direct impact on our labour market, were key factors influencing that decision. The Government formed the view that it would be prudent to focus on maintaining stability in the Irish labour market and avoiding the potential imbalances caused by additional migratory inflows to the country.

Ireland is one of 10 Member States to continue to apply restrictions on Romanian access to its labour market. All Member States that continue to restrict labour market access can end these restrictions at any time during the second phase. In principle, full free movement of workers should apply after the end of the second phase (31 December 2011). Member States can only maintain restrictions thereafter if there is a serious disturbance (or threat thereof) to the labour market. All restrictions for workers from Romania must be lifted by 31 December 2013 at the very latest when full free movement of workers will apply across the 27 EU Member States.

I can advise the Deputy that Ireland's economic migration policies are kept under regular and ongoing review having regard to potential impacts and the stability of the domestic labour market.

Full details of the current employment permit requirement for Romanian nationals can be found on the Department's website at:

http://www.deti.ie/labour/workpermits/bulgariaromania.htm.

Departmental Funding

Richard Bruton

Question:

108 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 108 of 15 June 2010, if his Department retains a contingency fund which could be channelled to support the development of start up enterprise facilities, when a town, as detailed, suffers a sudden and significant job loss. [28398/10]

State assistance for small businesses and services in Ireland is delivered principally by the enterprise development agencies responsible for indigenous enterprise i.e. the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland. My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses. Available State funding for business start-ups would be accessed through either of these Agencies.

The County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) have primary responsibility for the delivery of State support to the indigenous micro-enterprise sector i.e. businesses which employ 10 or less workers. The CEBs, through both financial and non-financial assistance, support the sector in the start-up and expansion phases and stimulate enterprise potential at local level. The CEBs give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector and they must always consider any potential for deadweight and displacement arising from the provision of assistance to a proposed enterprise. The priorities for the CEBs in 2010 are to assist owner/managers in enhancing the survival and sustainability of their businesses in these difficult economic times and to assist people wishing to start their own business including those made redundant. Potential entrepreneurs are advised to contact their local CEB to discuss their business needs with their local Board. Contact details for individual CEBs can be found by accessing the following website: www.enterpriseboards.ie

The remit of Enterprise Ireland is to support start-ups that have the potential to employ more than 10 and achieve €1m in exports. These are start-ups that are typically highly innovative and are in a position to sell globally from their earliest stage. While the performance of established businesses is vital to the economy, the flow of innovative high potential start-up enterprises into the Irish economy is equally critical for future growth and stimulating the flow of new High Potential Start-ups (HPSUs) and supporting their growth is one of the fundamental policies within Enterprise Ireland's overall strategy for indigenous industry. The main mechanism for funding HPSU clients is through an Innovative HPSU funding offer. EI's funding contribution is in the form of equity towards the implementation of a business plan. The size of EI's contribution will be based on the company's growth potential, the achievement of milestones and value for money criteria. For more information please see www.enterprise-ireland.com.

River Management

Joe Carey

Question:

109 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance his plans for the cleaning and maintenance of the O’Garney River, Sixmilebridge, County Clare as administered by the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27639/10]

The O'Garney River in Sixmilebridge is scheduled for routine maintenance by the Office of Public Works this year.

Tax Code

Joe Carey

Question:

110 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance his plans to abolish the air travel tax in the interest of the tourism industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28449/10]

I have no plans to abolish the air travel tax. The air travel tax was one of a number of Budgetary measures introduced recently that was necessary in the context of an overall response to the fiscal challenges we face. I have stated before that the impact of the tax on passenger numbers is being overstated.

Customs Service

John O'Mahony

Question:

111 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance when customs officials will be assigned on a full time basis to Ireland West Airport. [27563/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, although there are no full time Customs staff stationed at Ireland West Airport Knock, Revenue's Customs enforcement staff attend at the airport very regularly from other nearby locations.

Attendance by Customs officers is selective and targeted and is based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators. Attendance can also be as a result of specific intelligence. A drugs detector dog is frequently used. Flights with origins and destinations with a high-risk rating attract particular interest. Attendances by Customs officers cover the full range of flight times and are kept under constant review, in particular to take account of emerging smuggling trends and any traffic increases at the Airport.

During the first 5 months of 2010, Customs staff regularly visited Knock Airport and 259 flights carrying 27,006 passengers were profiled and examined. The new Revenue drug detector dog was in attendance for almost all of these flights and screened over 23,000 passengers. The number of bags checked by the dog is estimated at 40,000, to include hand luggage as well as checked-in luggage. Use is also made of X-ray equipment in the arrivals terminal. Two seizures of Cannabis Resin and seven seizures of Herbal Cannabis were made. Three seizures of fiscal duty goods were also made — two seizures of cigarettes and one seizure of spirits.

The Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that the current arrangements and resources are sufficient for the control of Ireland West Airport Knock.

Tax Code

Phil Hogan

Question:

112 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 150 of 1 June 2010, if he is considering introducing measures to prevent a tax discount for cheaper brands of cigarettes in the market occurring; his views on whether a reform in the taxation structure on cigarettes would be a revenue boosting measure; if he has been briefed on the Swedish Ministry of Finance’s measures to change the excise tax structure for cigarettes; his further views on whether introducing such a model would be beneficial here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27607/10]

It is presumed the Deputy is primarily referring to the recent European Court of Justice ruling on setting minimum retail prices for cigarettes and to Council Directive 2010/12/EU, of 16 February 2010, amending Directives 92/79/EEC and 95/59/EC on the structure and rates of excise duty applied on manufactured tobacco.

The European Court of Justice judgement issued in March and is being examined by the relevant Departments. It is unclear as to what precise measures it is considered that Sweden is proposing to introduce. While the taxation of tobacco products is governed by EU Directives, Member States tend on an ongoing basis to make their own decisions about the taxation of tobacco products within overall EU guidelines. In that context it has to be recognised that Ireland has the highest prices and excise duty levels for cigarettes in the EU. Ireland also applies a high specific (fixed) duty element and low ad valorem element in setting its excise duty for cigarettes relative to other Member States. It is intended to continue that approach in setting our excise duty for cigarettes.

John Cregan

Question:

113 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance his plans to re-introduce the roll over tax for alternative land purchasing following compulsory purchase orders for road building as per the taxation commission recommendation. [27630/10]

Compulsory purchase order (CPO) relief from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) was introduced when CGT rates were much higher than the current level of 25%. CPO relief was a type of "rollover relief" which meant that the tax due on a gain could be partly or fully deferred if the consideration for the disposal of the asset was reinvested. The abolition of this relief was in accordance with the overall taxation policy of widening the tax base in order to keep direct tax rates low.

The Deputy will be aware that Finance Act 2010 provides that CGT on the disposal of land under a CPO is not payable until the CPO proceeds had been received by the former land owner. Previously, only farmers could pay CGT on this basis and other landowners had to pay the CGT on a CPO on either the date the authority with compulsory purchase powers entered on the land or the date the proceeds were received, whichever is the earlier.

I have no plans to re-introduce "rollover relief" but all potential taxation measures are constantly examined in the context of the Budget and Finance Bill.

Tax Refunds

David Stanton

Question:

114 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance if he will arrange for a payment to be made to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27633/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a cheque in repayment of Income Tax issued to the person in question in October 2008. The cheque was cashed but the Commissioners were informed some time later that the person in question did not receive the cheque.

The matter has been under investigation by the Commissioners, An Garda Síochána and the relevant banks. This investigation has recently been concluded and it has been established that the cheque was delivered in error to another person who cashed it. The Commissioners are considering the possibilities for recovering the sum involved from that person, but meantime the Commissioners are arranging for the issue of a replacement cheque to the person for whom the original cheque was intended. This cheque will issue shortly.

Auctioneering Licences

David Stanton

Question:

115 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the number of licensed auctioneers operating here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27641/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of Auctioneers awarded Licences were 2711 in 2007, 2527 in 2008 and 2121 in 2009.

Tax Code

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if and when tax relief at source will be made available in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27664/10]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for the administration of mortgage interest relief through the tax relief at source (TRS) system.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person in question is currently receiving payment of the relief through the TRS system each month in respect of his mortgage repayments. Payment of mortgage interest relief due for a part of 2009 was not paid as the Revenue Commissioners were awaiting information from the person concerned to confirm continued entitlement to mortgage interest relief after the scheme was amended in the Finance Act 2009. Having now established the person's entitlement to relief for this period, payment will be made into the person's nominated back account shortly.

Joan Burton

Question:

117 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the reason for charging VAT on the carbon levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27710/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in accordance with section 10(1) of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972 (as amended), the amount on which Value-Added Tax is chargeable is the total consideration receivable by the supplier, "including all taxes, commissions, costs and charges whatsoever" but not including the Value-Added Tax itself.

VAT is an EU-wide tax and Irish VAT law must comply with the EU VAT Directives. Article 78 of EU Council Directive 2006/112/EC provides that the taxable amount shall include "taxes, duties, levies and charges, excluding the VAT itself".

Accordingly, it is correct to include any carbon tax element of a utility bill in the amount on which VAT is chargeable. The same situation applies in the case of other excises, including for example excises on petrol, auto-diesel, tobacco and alcohol products.

Guidance in relation to the VAT treatment of the total consideration receivable by a supplier is set out in the VAT Guide. This publication is available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie.

Visitor Numbers

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

118 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of visitor numbers to each visitor attraction operated by the Office of Public Works for each month to date in 2010; if he will provide figures for the same period in 2008 and 2009, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27719/10]

It is difficult to make direct comparisons between seasonal sites as many open at Easter which is a variable date. An overall drop in visitor numbers has however been experienced in the current economic climate compounded by inclement weather in 2009 and the volcanic ash cloud in 2010 which led to the cancellation of booking by foreign visitors. The table provides a breakdown of numbers at visitor attraction sites operated by the Office of Public Works.

Visitor Statistics to end May

Site Name

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Total:

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

Altamont Gardens

1,224

1,165

1,622

5,850

5,341

6,467

4,333

5,527

4,840

3,901

5,266

6,247

7,206

7,459

7,449

22,514

24,758

26,625

Ardfert Cathedral

0

0

0

0

0

27

72

0

11

251

85

88

783

538

643

1,106

623

769

Athenry Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

350

0

0

759

443

609

1,188

1,236

961

2,297

1,679

1,570

Aughnanure Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

1312

0

0

1,804

1,667

1,635

2,782

3,273

2,929

5,898

4,940

4,564

Ballyhack Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Barryscourt Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

146

0

0

146

0

Battle of the Boyne

0

870

566

0

1,209

1078

0

2,622

2,138

0

3,745

2,723

6,053

5,234

4,990

6,053

13,680

11,495

Blasket Centre

122

0

118

0

201

176

1,256

700

488

2,597

2,177

1,845

5,207

5,702

6,062

9,182

8,780

8,689

Boyle Abbey

0

0

0

0

0

0

230

0

0

394

506

441

704

971

1,008

1328

1,477

1,449

Visitor Centre

1,374

1,517

1,216

2,014

1,505

1,774

3,291

2,768

2,437

2,859

3,111

2,097

3,865

3,985

3,548

13,403

12,886

11,072

Knowth

0

0

0

0

0

0

2,057

0

0

3,469

3,693

2,957

6,643

7,155

5,850

12,169

10,848

8,807

Newgrange

4,165

4,096

2,678

4,972

4,558

5,048

10,243

9,053

7,211

8,871

10,096

9,453

13,300

15,347

14,256

41,551

43,150

38,646

Brú Na Bóinne Total:

5,539

5,613

3,894

6,986

6,063

6,822

15,591

11,821

9,648

15,199

16,900

14,507

23,808

26,487

23,654

67,123

66,884

58,525

Carrowmore

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,141

0

0

1,436

1,482

1,212

2,714

3,403

2,747

5,291

4,885

3,959

Casino Marino

0

0

346

0

0

0

300

18

0

290

0

0

603

744

780

1,193

762

1,126

Céide Fields

12

70

76

21

99

24

1,547

274

213

1,887

1,888

1,684

2,747

2,914

2,984

6,214

5,245

4,981

Charles Fort

1,570

1,116

1,288

1,922

2,029

1,998

4,772

3,370

2,782

4,196

4,477

4,288

5,481

6,235

6,155

17,941

17,227

16,511

Clonmacnoise

1,545

1,482

1,129

2,310

2,336

2,042

6,803

5,324

4,814

9,239

9,296

7,068

17,409

18,047

16,863

37,306

36,485

31,916

Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre

0

0

0

0

0

0

218

0

0

380

488

448

590

790

787

1,188

1,278

1,235

Derrynane House

0

0

0

0

0

246

0

100

63

597

182

679

1,855

2,692

2,437

2,452

2,974

3,425

Desmond Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

411

0

0

1,177

623

838

1345

1,667

1,407

2,933

2,290

2,245

Desmond Hall

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

46

111

0

46

111

Donegal Castle

390

375

337

631

404

507

2,179

1,013

659

2,525

2,393

1,913

3,506

4,213

5,050

9,231

8,398

8,466

Dublin Castle

6,599

5,500

6,341

7,599

6,153

5,978

11,196

11,579

8,260

10,464

9,990

8,940

10,280

14,033

10,171

46,138

47,255

39,690

Visitor Statistics to end May — continued

Site Name

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Total:

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

Dún Aonghasa

983

1,028

1,054

1,912

1,852

1,391

5,271

4,641

3,990

7,426

7,477

6,740

12,915

12,589

12,957

28,507

27,587

26,132

Dungarvan Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

836

0

0

836

0

Dunmore Cave

508

318

273

1,105

630

614

2,202

1,560

1,107

2,441

2,111

1,926

3,158

2,863

2,521

9,414

7,482

6,441

Emo Court

0

0

0

0

0

0

202

0

0

368

592

515

667

1,039

853

1,237

1,631

1,368

Ennis Friary

0

0

0

0

0

0

288

0

0

745

606

0

1,410

1,341

0

2,443

1,947

0

Ferns Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

363

122

265

363

122

265

Garinish Island

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,274

0

0

2,669

2,712

2,433

7,471

7,296

6,543

11,414

10,008

8,976

Glebe House and Gallery

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,235

0

0

0

1,461

1,424

631

440

0

1,866

1,901

1,424

Glendalough Visitor Centre

1,321

1,245

521

1,634

1,500

1,565

6,066

5,813

4,296

7,964

6,770

4,820

10,985

10,673

9,566

27,970

26,001

20,768

Hill of Tara

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,737

524

554

1,737

524

554

J F Kennedy Arboretum

1,187

1,516

2,304

2,476

3,284

2,993

4,079

5,143

2,939

2,700

4,951

6,553

8,366

8,137

8,522

18,808

23,031

23,311

Jerpoint Abbey

224

214

68

487

298

247

1283

792

687

1,643

1,440

1,199

2,773

3,009

2,608

6,410

5,753

4,809

Kilkenny Castle

2,599

2,055

3,796

3,862

2,966

6,861

8,880

8,377

9,461

10,035

14,218

13,231

14,015

18,605

19,760

39,391

46,221

53,109

Kilmainham Gaol

13,182

10,503

11,517

16,721

15130

15,901

27,898

21,519

17,714

24,073

25,051

20,382

24,183

30,208

27,755

106,057

102,411

93,269

Listowel

0

0

0

0

0

12

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

154

176

0

154

188

Loughcrew

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

288

0

0

288

Main Guard

0

0

134

0

0

131

698

0

37

574

654

420

684

801

718

1,956

1,455

1,440

Maynooth Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

82

216

0

82

216

Mellifont Abbey

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3,210

0

2,524

3210

0

2,524

Newmills Corn and Flax Mills

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

20

82

0

20

82

0

Ormond Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

519

100

981

1,021

100

981

1540

Parke’s Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

886

0

0

951

1,068

815

1,397

1,998

1,840

3,234

3,114

2,655

Pearse Museum

0

660

707

0

926

1,072

0

1,629

2,108

0

1,277

1,580

0

1,443

1704

0

5,935

7,171

Pearse’s Cottage

0

0

0

0

0

0

59

0

0

0

234

125

0

105

100

59

339

225

Phoenix Park

1,650

1,715

2,582

2,052

2,266

3,673

4,557

3,906

4,156

8,480

3,017

3,470

22,819

4,601

4,370

39,558

15,505

18,251

Portumna Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,075

0

0

871

1,084

1,102

2,052

1,821

1,620

3,998

2,905

2,722

Visitor Statistics to end May — continued

Site Name

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Total:

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

2008

2009

2010

Rathfarnham Castle

23

34

136

150

98

53

247

269

149

107

93

112

1,221

327

207

1,748

821

657

Reginald’s Tower

497

347

335

483

514

543

658

621

562

597

851

888

1,064

1,208

1,110

3,299

3,541

3,438

Rock of Cashel

2,599

2,350

1,690

4,135

3,472

3,157

13,034

9,225

6,809

13,959

14,973

11,359

24,094

26,799

23,594

57,821

56,819

46,609

Roscrea Heritage

0

0

0

0

0

0

420

270

28

324

298

306

685

811

603

1,429

1,379

937

Ross Castle

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,723

593

659

1,871

2,236

1504

2,399

2,764

2,539

5,993

5,593

4,702

Scattery Island

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sligo Abbey

0

0

0

0

0

0

450

0

0

594

437

491

1,000

1,171

1,333

2,044

1,608

1,824

St. Audoen’s Church

0

0

0

170

8

0

94

102

6

95

191

215

1,777

3,756

4,277

2,136

4,057

4,498

St. Mary’s Abbey

0

0

0

0

0

0

42

0

40

16

0

0

42

88

89

100

88

129

St. Mary’s Church, Gowran

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

148

120

0

148

120

Swiss Cottage

0

0

0

0

0

0

878

0

21

1,178

1,242

1,581

2,254

2,639

2,559

4,310

3,881

4,161

Tintern Abbey

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

451

316

302

451

316

302

Trim Castle (and Keep)

630

598

692

774

605

991

2,348

1,362

1,221

3,012

3,102

3,639

4,641

4,984

5,009

11,405

10,651

11,552

Trim Castle (No Keep)

349

260

275

806

708

378

1,698

1,179

716

1,583

1,438

2,756

2,349

2,169

2,138

6,785

5,754

6,263

Tax Collection

Leo Varadkar

Question:

119 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 170 to 175, inclusive, of 4 December 2007, if he will provide the same information for 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27732/10]

As indicated by my predecessor in reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 170 to 175 of 4 December 2007, the precise information the Deputy seeks is not available. However, on the same basis as the information supplied at that time, the Revenue Commissioners have provided an update of the data for 2007 and 2008 in the tables below. Information for 2009 is not yet available.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the exact information sought for all taxes on a county basis is not available. Revenue Sheriffs, County Registrars or their officers operate for the purposes of enforcement of tax debt within certain geographical boundaries known as a "bailiwick" which equates geographically with "county". Data on the net receipts of most taxes can be linked to bailiwicks to provide an estimated breakdown of receipts on a county basis.

The following tables set out the estimated breakdown of net receipts for Income Tax (PAYE & non-PAYE), VAT (Domestic), Corporation Tax, and Capital Gains Tax. Basic data is not recorded in such a manner as would enable a breakdown by county to be provided in respect of the yield from Stamp Duties, Capital Acquisitions Tax (including Inheritance Tax), Customs, Excise and VAT at the point of Import.

In considering the data it should be noted that the amount of tax attributed to a county may not necessarily be an indication of economic activity in that county for any of the following reasons:

1. The liability of a trader to VAT is generally dealt with by reference to the location of the trader's registered office even though the economic activity may be carried on in another county.

2. An employer's liability for PAYE is normally attributed to the county in which wages and salaries are paid, even though the employees may work in different counties.

3. Companies are associated on the tax record with the county address of the head-office or branch with which contact is established for tax purposes, which may be different to the city or county addresses of other branches. The distribution of corporate tax between regions can also vary from year to year as companies relocate.

4. Self-employed persons are associated on the tax record with the address at which the business is located, which may be in a different county to the home address.

As regards data for 2009, I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the necessary detailed information which would provide a basis for estimating the breakdown of yields in 2009 from Income Tax, VAT, Capital Gains Tax and Corporation Tax is not as yet sufficiently complete or reliable to enable such an estimate to be provided at this time.

Estimated breakdown of tax collection by county for 2007

Income Tax

County

PAYE

non-PAYE

VAT (domestic)

Corporation tax

Capital Gains tax

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Carlow

73.08

36.12

87.51

16.42

37.83

Cavan

101.68

33.69

131.99

57.67

31.61

Clare

166.97

60.77

127.24

117.23

47.58

Donegal

95.40

66.85

161.45

31.40

65.39

Galway

467.61

178.59

396.05

122.99

154.17

Kerry

358.58

92.97

186.27

38.06

49.55

Kildare

312.48

149.85

434.99

185.95

170.40

Kilkenny

172.43

60.71

139.84

25.99

31.31

Laois

48.62

39.03

91.67

14.15

34.49

Leitrim

75.88

12.57

27.76

4.03

5.66

Limerick

347.77

116.94

309.59

157.98

75.52

Longford

34.76

17.29

40.65

14.89

15.26

Louth

139.67

56.11

246.44

85.07

77.31

Mayo

114.31

68.93

169.67

45.82

41.53

Meath

208.56

136.43

270.96

120.73

133.57

Monaghan

50.36

26.85

85.19

17.12

20.44

Offaly

125.20

40.77

98.32

23.85

30.07

Roscommon

35.95

27.54

72.63

10.19

19.24

Sligo

104.73

30.92

62.91

26.76

28.95

Tipperary

138.26

100.34

212.19

106.73

49.17

Waterford

149.43

73.72

146.49

63.45

49.56

Westmeath

525.22

52.05

150.02

27.36

58.56

Wexford

127.12

96.75

201.58

54.71

97.96

Wicklow

156.25

118.31

196.84

71.64

110.45

Dublin

5,073.30

1,324.67

7,162.40

4,169.33

1,282.51

Cork

829.03

369.26

1082.87

573.90

275.81

Other/foreign

121.83

38.96

684.95

209.98

103.48

Totals

10,154.51

34,27.00

12,978.49

6,393.39

3,097.38

Estimated breakdown of tax collection by county for 2008

Income Tax

County

PAYE

non-PAYE

VAT (domestic)

Corporation tax

Capital Gains tax

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Carlow

68.24

33.37

74.82

17.93

10.09

Cavan

100.15

31.51

120.19

21.03

12.30

Clare

164.83

51.58

113.10

139.64

39.61

Donegal

91.40

59.90

146.27

29.79

32.55

Galway

455.10

140.02

343.16

116.27

65.26

Kerry

342.19

86.14

165.92

44.41

28.14

Kildare

303.06

126.05

406.84

114.81

73.26

Kilkenny

174.01

57.70

129.92

26.50

25.50

Laois

40.89

35.75

81.87

10.63

10.98

Leitrim

82.39

11.45

25.44

5.08

2.42

Limerick

334.43

123.31

285.99

218.36

31.02

Longford

32.47

16.51

34.27

6.88

5.02

Louth

141.65

57.44

212.88

79.23

19.79

Mayo

104.06

61.88

148.31

33.94

20.36

Meath

196.16

110.27

247.76

52.43

49.25

Monaghan

48.45

35.64

73.90

17.22

22.98

Offaly

141.43

35.83

83.86

31.30

12.94

Roscommon

32.19

25.78

69.39

7.52

6.49

Sligo

102.39

29.35

55.90

27.29

42.31

Tipperary

138.44

94.15

200.94

99.40

33.72

Waterford

137.97

68.10

130.53

62.19

21.59

Westmeath

542.25

52.58

121.59

17.94

17.67

Wexford

118.25

83.56

179.19

44.70

38.07

Wicklow

160.78

105.45

182.79

65.57

57.16

Dublin

5,092.79

1,212.30

6,713.00

3,166.54

584.23

Cork

806.99

344.75

1065.79

388.43

108.60

Other/foreign

116.04

36.63

651.71

226.42

52.61

Totals

10,069.00

3,127.00

12,065.31

5,071.45

1,423.93

EU Directives

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

120 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will avail of the discretion given to member states by the consumer credit directive to apply different regimes to credit unions compared to those applied to banks; and if he will clarify the proposed solvency requirements for credit unions. [27736/10]

The Consumer Credit Directive establishes a harmonised legal framework in the European Union for the provision of consumer credit ranging from €200 up to €75,000. It does not apply to mortgages. It replaces a 1987 Directive (87/102/EEC), which laid down minimum rules for consumer credit arrangements within the EU.

The Directive was transposed into domestic legislation by Statutory Instrument No. 281/2010 on 9 June 2010 and came into operation on 11 June 2010.

I believe that the Directive enhances the strong regulatory regime underpinning consumer protection and, as such, I have decided that credit unions should be subject to its full application.

However, following consultation with representatives of the credit union movement, I am aware that the credit unions will require some time to upgrade their systems and train staff so that they can effect compliance with all the requirements of the Directive. Consequently, I have adopted the discretion allowed for under Article 2.5 applying limited provisions of the Directive to them until 11 December 2011 after which date the full Directive will take effect.

In relation to the second part of the Deputy's question, the Regulatory Reserve Ratio, which imposes solvency requirements on credit unions, has been in place for all credit unions since 30 September 2009. From that date, all credit unions are required to maintain a Regulatory Reserve Ratio of not less than 10 per cent. The Regulatory Reserve Ratio is the amount held in the Total Regulatory Reserve of a credit union expressed as a percentage of the Total Assets of a credit union. The Total Regulatory Reserve comprises of the Statutory Reserve and, where relevant, an amount held in a non-distributable additional regulatory reserve account. A minimum of 8 per cent of total assets must be held in the statutory reserve and the remaining 2 per cent may be held in the statutory reserve or additional regulatory reserve account. The maintenance of adequate levels of reserves is prudent, particularly in the current economic environment, and credit unions are expected to operate with a level of reserves above the minimum regulatory requirement and to comply with the requirements issued by the Registrar of Credit Unions.

Departmental Property

Michael Ring

Question:

121 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will ascertain the plans of the Office of Public Works for a property in County Mayo (details supplied); if this property can be used to facilitate the setting up of a community radio station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27761/10]

The Office of Public Works currently leases the property in Mayo to the Western Regional Tourism Authority Limited, which is now part of Fáilte Ireland.

Any queries regarding accommodation issues in the premises should be addressed to Fáilte Ireland for consideration in the first instance.

Phil Hogan

Question:

122 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the cost of building and land maintenance, including light and heat expenditure, for all property owned by his Department and its agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27780/10]

The table sets out the cost in 2009 for maintaining office property, whether owned or leased, which is occupied by my Department, and by agencies under the aegis of my Department, and also expenditure on heat, light and fuel.

Office

Maintenance & Repairs

Heat, Light & Fuel

Department of Finance

330,000

432,000

Office of Public Works1

766,000

466,000

Commission for Public Service Appointments & Public Appointments Service

52,800

245,700

Ombudsman’s Office

55,374

68,766

Revenue Commissioners

5,121,000

4,125,000

Appeal Commissioners

1,000

1,000

State Laboratory

887,509

388,561

Valuation Office

95,564

81,865

Central Bank & Financial Services Authority of Ireland**

5,872,000

1,127,000

National Treasury Management Agency3

44,031

189,614

Special EU Programmes Body4

30,240

8,960

1 In addition to the cost of office maintenance, €1.69m was spent by the Office of Public Works on fuel, electricity, water, cleaning materials, etc. for the upkeep of prestigious buildings and unoccupied buildings in the charge of the OPW. The cost of maintaining and managing Heritage Properties amounted to €11.692m in 2009 (excluding pay). Costs of €20.444m (excluding pay) were incurred on maintenance works for Government Departments.

2 The Central Bank & Financial Services Authority do not publish a breakdown of. expenses relating to the Banks head office, the Printworks and the Mint Operations. The maintenance cost figure not only covers building maintenance but also includes a variety of expenses such as security by the army and the Gardaí at the currency production operation in Sandyford.

3 Also includes State Claims Agency, National Pensions Reserve Fund, National Development Finance Agency and National Assets Management Agency.

4 The Special EU Programmes Body has three offices based in Belfast, Omagh and Monaghan. Whilst not under the direct ownership of the Department of Finance, the Department is responsible for the part funding of property costs incurred by the Special EU Programmes Body. In 2009 the Department of Finance paid €15,120 towards maintenance and repair costs and €4,480 towards heating, light and fuel costs.

Disabled Drivers

Beverley Flynn

Question:

123 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Finance the criteria used when determining if a spouse or partner of a nursing home resident is entitled to claim under the vehicle registration tax refund for disabled drivers scheme; if there is a minimum number of times in a calendar year that the disabled person must be taken out of the home for a day or a weekend or to attend for medical appointments. [27809/10]

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to certain limit) on the purchase of a car adapted for the transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, to those who meet certain disability criteria.

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get the Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions:

(a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

(b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

(c) be without both hands or without both arms;

(d) be without one or both legs;

(e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

(f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the SMO to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual. I would point out that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions.

Further information on family members of a person in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate is available in the VRT 7 leaflet on Revenue's website: www.revenue.ie.

The Disabled Drivers and the Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, [Par10(5)(a)] states, "in exceptional circumstances, the Revenue Commissioners may waive the condition concerning residency of a claimant”. In this regard, evidence is sought that the qualifying vehicle is used on a regular basis for the transport of the disabled person. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis and, where the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that a qualifying disabled person is transported on a regular basis, the relief is granted. That normally means that the disabled person is transported once per week on average.

Proposed Legislation

Joan Burton

Question:

124 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the financial impact of changing the valuation date for future tranches of National Asset Management Agency loan transfers from 30 November 2008 to 30 June 2010; if a legislative amendment will be required to change the valuation date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27812/10]

Section 73 of the NAMA Act provides that NAMA may set a date by reference to which the market value of a bank asset or property is to be determined. The NAMA Board has set this date as 30 November 2009. It follows that any property price changes after 30 November 2009 will not be reflected in the NAMA market valuations. Commercial property price indices suggest that prices in Ireland may have experienced a small decline since November 2009 but prices in the UK, which has about one-third of the assets underlying the NAMA loan portfolio, rose by a greater percentage. The overall impact, on a weighted average basis, is estimated to be broadly neutral.

The valuation date was set in advance of the voluntary application by the banks to be designated as participating institutions. Any change made now to the initial valuation date would create inconsistency between the valuation placed on assets already transferred as part of the first tranche and those transferred in subsequent tranches. It must be remembered that the European Commission on 26 February 2010 approved the approach taken in establishing NAMA and the valuation methodology adopted. A change to the valuation methodology would necessitate a new notification to the Commission, and a new decision by the Commission on whether or not to approve it. This would cause unnecessary and undesirable delay, and result in little or no gain. What is most important now is that NAMA completes the transfer of the eligible bank assets and meets the demanding deadlines it has been set.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

125 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for an incapacitated child tax credit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27874/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that following receipt of medical reports to support the claim for an incapacitated child tax credit, an amended Tax Credit Certificate for the year 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010 was issued by Revenue to the taxpayer on 24 June 2010. This Tax Credit Certificate includes an incapacitated child tax credit.

Noel Ahern

Question:

126 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance further to the almost €70 million distributed to a company’s (details supplied) employees share ownership plan in the past year, the reason same has been allowed tax free; the legislation under which this will take place; and if such provisions can be altered. [28092/10]

The Revenue Commissioners are obliged to observe confidentiality for taxpayers and thus they are precluded from providing any information specific to the company involved.

Legislation governing Employee Share Ownership Trusts (ESOT) is contained in Section 519 and Schedule 12 to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. A company must apply to the Revenue Commissioners if they wish to operate such an ESOT. The Revenue Commissioners will only approve the ESOT where all the necessary conditions specified in the legislation are complied with.

All the ESOTs approved by the Revenue Commissioners to date work in conjunction with an Approved Profit Sharing Scheme (APSS) under which eligible employees may receive shares free of income tax. The legislation governing APSSs is contained in Chapter 1 of Part 17 and Schedule 11 to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. As in the case of an ESOT, the Revenue Commissioners will only approve an APSS where all the necessary conditions specified in the legislation are complied with.

Where the trustees of an approved ESOT transfer shares to the trustees of an APSS for distribution to eligible employees, the employees may receive shares free of income tax to the value of up to €12,700 per annum. To receive the shares free of income tax they must have been held for a period of not less than 3 years. The time the shares are held in the ESOT is included for the purpose of this three-year period. In certain limited circumstances, and on a one-off basis only, shares to the value of €38,100 may be received free of income tax. The same three-year retention period is required.

ESOTs and APSSs are employee financial participation schemes and the tax relief provided for such schemes is given with a view to fostering partnership at the level of the enterprise. In its recent review of the tax system, the Commission on Taxation recommended that the above schemes be continued.

The provisions governing ESOTs and APSSs can, of course, be altered by the Oireachtas.

Noel Ahern

Question:

127 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding property tax reliefs; if they can be listed individually; the total tax relief claimed under each of any recent tax year; if there is a time limit under which a property tax relief can be claimed or if it is open ended; if, in view of the fact that the relief being claimed is available, if he will outline the potential for what can be claimed in terms of IOU’s available or potentials; the number of individual property tax reliefs claimed per year; and if an owner of second hand properties with a tax relief status can continue the claim potential on them. [28100/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the number of taxpayers, including individuals and companies, who made claims under the following schemes is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2007 and 2008. These are set out in the following table:

Number of Taxpayers

Schemes

2007

2008

Urban Renewal

3,501

3,271

Town Renewal

1,128

965

Seaside Resorts

1,231

1,051

Rural Renewal

2,807

2,634

Multi-storey car parks

147

136

Living over the Shop

93

81

Enterprise Areas

137

138

Park & Ride

33

19

Holiday Cottages

832

833

Hotels

1,893

1,966

Nursing Homes

687

725

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

166

179

Hostels

24

21

Guest Houses

8

10

Convalescent Homes

27

33

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

325

330

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

59

58

Buildings used for childcare purposes

420

511

Mental Health Centres

6

4

Student Accommodation

941

790

Registered Caravan Parks

N/A

10

The information available on the numbers of claimants is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers (Form 11) and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2007 and 2008, the latest year for which this information is available.

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11).

The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate for 2007 and 2008 in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies for both years. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax.

The figures for 2008 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

I have also been given information by the Revenue Commissioners in relation to when a building can qualify for allowances. This depends on the particular scheme or type of building. In general, buildings that are to be used for commercial purposes in the various area-based schemes, such as the Urban Renewal Scheme, can qualify for allowances in a number of ways. In the case of an initial allowance (i.e. an accelerated up-front allowance), the allowance is given for the chargeable period in which the expenditure is incurred or, in the case of a lease, the chargeable period in which the tenancy commences. Annual allowances are given when the building is in use for the purposes of a trade or profession or, in the case of a lease, when the building has been let on bona fide, arm's length commercial terms. Thus, it is not necessary in all cases that the building be occupied for a specific purpose before allowances are given.

In general, in the case of the sectoral schemes, such as hotels, nursing homes and hospitals, the building has to be in use for a specific purpose before allowances are given. This is the case whether the building is occupied by an owner-operator or is leased. However, in the case of residential units associated with registered nursing homes, the allowances can be claimed when the units have been leased to the nursing home for onward leasing to the elderly or infirm tenants.

In the case of residential buildings, ‘section 23' type relief and the relief under the Countrywide Refurbishment scheme are given when the building has been leased, while owner-occupier relief is given when the building is occupied by the owner of the building.

Schemes

Initial Allowance

When allowances given

1. Commercial

Urban Renewal 1994

25%

In use for trade or profession or let

Customs House Dock

50%

In use for trade or profession or let

Temple Bar Area

50%/25%

In use for trade or profession or let

Seaside Resorts

50%

In use for specified purpose or let

Enterprise Areas

25%/50%

In use for specified purpose or let

Urban Renewal 1999

50%

In use for trade or profession or let

Multi-storey Car Parks

50%

In use for specified purpose or let

Town Renewal

50%

In use for trade or profession or let

Rural Renewal

50%

In use for trade or profession or let

Living over the Shop

50%

In use for trade or profession or let

Park and Ride

50%

In use for specified purpose or let

Third Level Buildings

No

In use for specified purpose

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

No

In use for specified purpose

Hotels

No

In use for specified purpose

Childcare Facilities

100%

In use for specified purpose

Holiday Cottages

No

In use for specified purpose

Nursing Homes

No

In use for specified purpose

Housing for elderly/infirm

No

In use for specified purpose or let to associated registered nursing home

Convalescent Homes

No

In use for specified purpose

Qualifying Hospitals

No

In use for specified purpose

Qualifying Mental Health Centres

No

In use for specified purpose

Specialist Palliative Care Units

No

In use for specified purpose (scheme awaiting Commencement Order)

Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Scheme

No

In use for specified purpose

Registered Guest Houses & Holiday Hostels

No

In use for specified purpose

Registered Holiday Camps

No

In use for specified purpose

Registered Caravan & Camping Sites

No

In use for specified purpose

2. Residential

Section 23 relief (incl Student Accommodation)

No

Building let

Owner-Occupier relief

No

Building occupied by owner

Countrywide Refurbishment

No

Building let

The Revenue Commissioners have provided me with the information requested by the Deputy in relation to property tax relief. The information is presented in tabular format. Because there are significant differences in the operation of tax relief between the commercial and residential schemes separate tables have been used in relation to the ‘non-cost' elements of the schemes.

Table 1 contains the commercial schemes,

Table 2 contains the residential schemes, and

Table 3 contains composite figures for both commercial and residential relief in relation to the cost of the schemes to the Exchequer.

The Commissioners have also made some general points that should be noted when interpreting the tables.

The termination dates are the dates by which the construction or refurbishment work on a building has to be carried out if the expenditure that is attributable to that work is to qualify for tax relief. Where a building is not completed by the termination date the expenditure attributable to any construction or refurbishment work that takes place after this date cannot qualify for tax relief. There are no set dates by which a person has to acquire a tax incentive property in order for tax relief to start to be claimed. Tax relief can only start to be claimed after a building has been completed and the building leased or owner-occupied for the purposes required by the particular scheme. Once a building has been leased or owner-occupied and is in use for the required purpose, tax relief can be claimed over varying periods. In addition, the rate at which the available tax relief can be used up depends on the particular taxpayer having sufficient taxable income in any year to absorb the relief. Any unused relief (with the exception of that for residential owner-occupier relief) can be carried forward indefinitely until it has been absorbed. Thus, it is not possible to provide an indication of the final year in which tax relief under these schemes will be claimed as the start year for relief can vary from building to building and the relief period applicable likewise can vary within some of the schemes and between different taxpayers.

At this stage the only scheme that is still open to new entrants is the Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Scheme. New entrants have until 31 May 2012 to submit project applications for approval in principle. Expenditure on approved projects under this scheme that is incurred before 31 May 2015 can qualify for capital allowances. The scheme for Specialist Palliative Care Units has not yet been commenced. When the Commencement Order is made, the commencement date will be made retrospective to 13 March 2008.

TABLE 1: COMMERCIAL SCHEMES

Schemes

Start Date

Termination Date (Note 1)

Writing Down Period (years)

Double Rent Deduction (Yes/No)

Annual Allowance

Free Depreciation (max limit) (Note 2)

Initial Allowance (first year only)

Urban Renewal 1994

1/8/1994

31/12/1998

14

Y

4%/2% (Note 3)

50%

25%

Customs House Dock

25/1/1988

30/06/2000

13

Y

4%

100%

50%

Temple Bar Area

6/4/1991

5/4/1999

14

Y

4%/2% (Note 4).

100%/50% (Note 5)

50%/25% (Note 6)

Seaside Resorts

1/7/1995

31/12/1999

11

Y

5%

75%

50%

Enterprise Areas

1/8/1994

31/12/2000

20 (Note 7)

Y (Note 8)

4%

50%

25%/50% (Note 9)

Urban Renewal 1999

1/8/1998

31/07/2008

14

N

4%

50%

50%

Multi-storey Car Parks (Note 10)

1/7/1995

31/07/2008

14

Y (Note 11)

4%

100%

50%

Town Renewal

6/4/2001

31/07/2008

14

N

4%

50%

50%

Rural Renewal

1/7/1999

31/07/2008

14

N

4%

50%

50%

Living over the Shop

6/4/2001

31/07/2008

14

N

4%

50%

50%

Park and Ride

1/7/1999

31/07/2008

14

N

4%

100%

50%

Third Level Buildings

1/7/1997

31/07/2008

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

15/5/2002

31/07/2008

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Hotels (Note 12)

27/1/1994

N/A

7 (now 25)

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

TABLE 1: COMMERCIAL SCHEMES — continued

Schemes

Start Date

Termination Date (Note 1)

Writing Down Period (years)

Double Rent Deduction (Yes/No)

Annual Allowance

Free Depreciation (max limit) (Note 2)

Initial Allowance (first year only)

Childcare Facilities

2/12/1998

31/03/2012

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

100% (Note 13)

100% (Note 14)

Holiday Cottages

1/7/1968

31/07/2008

10

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Nursing Homes

3/12/1997

30/06/2011

N

7

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Housing for elderly/infirm

25/3/2002

30/04/2010

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Convalescent Homes

2/12/1998

30/06/2011

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Qualifying Hospitals

15/5/2002

31/12/2013

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Qualifying Mental Health Centres

23/1/2007

30/06/2011

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Specialist Palliative Care Units

Scheme still awaiting Commencement Order (note 15)

N/A

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

TABLE 1: COMMERCIAL SCHEMES —continued

Schemes

Start Date

Termination Date (Note 1)

Writing Down Period (years)

Double Rent Deduction (Yes/No)

Annual Allowance

Free Depreciation (max limit) (Note 2)

Initial Allowance (first year only)

Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Scheme

1/6/2008

31/05/2015

7

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Registered Guest Houses & Holiday Hostels

3/2/2005

N/A

25

N

4%

N/A

N/A

Registered Holiday Camps

27/1/1994

N/A (Note 16)

7 (now 25)

N

15% p.a. in first 6 years, 10% in year 7

N/A

N/A

Registered Caravan & Camping Sites

1/1/2008

N/A

25

N

4%

N/A

N/A

Notes to Table 1

(1) The termination date is the date by which qualifying construction/refurbishment expenditure must be incurred, not the date by which a building must be completed/sold or relief claimed.

(2) Free depreciation (i.e. the ability to claim more than the basic annual rate of allowances for a single year or over a period of years) is available to owner/occupiers but not to lessors.

(3) Under the 1994 Urban Renewal Scheme a maximum of 50% of qualifying expenditure incurred on commercial projects could be written off. The annual allowance for such projects was 2% per annum.

(4) Under the Temple Bar Area scheme the emphasis was on refurbishment rather than construction. Refurbishment projects in general qualified for 100% write off of the capital expenditure incurred at the higher 4% rate of annual allowance. For most types of construction projects, only 50% of the qualifying expenditure could be written off at the lower 2% rate.

(5) As per note 4, there were different rates for construction and refurbishment projects and for different types of projects.

(6) As per note 4, there were different rates for construction and refurbishment projects and for different types of projects.

(7) Under the Enterprise Area scheme lessors could claim capital allowances on 100% of qualifying expenditure at a rate of 25% initial allowance and 4% annual allowance.

(8) Double Rent Deduction was not available for buildings in Enterprise Areas located at an airport.

(9) The Initial Allowance was increased to 50% in the case of expenditure incurred from 1 January 1998 on a qualifying building located in an Airport Enterprise Area.

(10) For Multi Storey Car Parks the annual allowance of 4%, free depreciation of 100% and initial allowance of 50% applied to expenditure incurred after 31/7/1998 where no lease had been granted for the purposes of double rent relief. For expenditure incurred prior to this date the capital allowances available were restricted to a maximum 50% write-off of the capital expenditure incurred. Under these circumstances an annual allowance of 2%, free depreciation of 50% and an initial allowance of 25% applied.

(11) For Multi Storey Car Parks the latest date for entering into a qualifying lease for the purposes of double rent deduction was 30/09/1999.

(12) Capital allowances for expenditure incurred on hotel projects are of long standing and different rates have applied over time. From 1956 to 27/1/1994 the annual allowance was 10%. From 28/1/1994 to 31/7/2008 the rate was 15% for the first 6 years and 10% in year 7. From 1/8/2008, subject to transitional arrangements, the annual allowance is 4%, giving a current write-off period of 25 years.

(13) The accelerated allowances for Childcare Buildings are available in respect of expenditure incurred from 1 December 1999.

(14) See Note 13.

(15) This scheme has not yet been commenced. When the Commencement Order is made, the commencement date will be made retrospective to 13/3/2008.

(16) Expenditure incurred on registered holiday camps after 31/7/2008 is written off at a rate of 4% per annum. For expenditure incurred prior to 27/1/1994 an annual allowance of 10% applied.

TABLE 2: RESIDENTIAL SCHEMES

SCHEMES (note 1)

START DATE

TERMINATION DATE

Urban Renewal 1994

1/8/1994

30/4/1999

Customs House Dock

25/1/1988

31/12/1999

Temple Bar Area

30/1/1991

31/12/1999

Urban Renewal 1999

1/8/1998

31/07/2008

Town Renewal

1/4/2000

31/07/2008

Rural Renewal

1/6/1998 (note 2)

31/07/2008

Living Over the Shop

6/4/2001

31/07/2008

Park & Ride

1/7/1999

31/07/2008

Student Accommodation (note 3)

1/4/1999

31/07/2008

Designated Islands

1/8/1996

31/12/1999

Countrywide Refurbishment Scheme (note 4)

6/4/2001

31/07/2008

Notes to Table 2

(1) There are two types of residential tax relief, ‘section 23' type relief and owner-occupier relief. ‘Section 23' type relief (rented residential relief) is given, in its entirety, as a deduction from rental income in the year the property is first let under a qualifying lease. If there is insufficient income to absorb the relief it is carried forward as a rental loss until used up. Therefore, there is no standard writing off period — it could vary from 1 year to indefinitely as it depends on the ability of the investor to absorb the relief. In contrast, owner-occupier relief is granted at a fixed annual rate over 10 years, i.e. at 5% of the qualifying expenditure in respect of expenditure on construction or at 10% in respect of expenditure on refurbishment.

(2) 1/6/1998 for ‘section 23' type relief and 6/4/1999 for owner/occupier relief.

(3) ‘Section 23' type relief only.

(4) Relief is available under the Countrywide Refurbishment Scheme in respect of rented residential property that is located anywhere in the country. Unlike ‘section 23' type relief for designated areas, the qualifying expenditure is written off at a rate of 15% per annum in the first 6 years and 10% in year 7.

TABLE 3: COST OF SCHEMES (note 1)

2007 (note 2)

2008 (notes 2 & 3)

SCHEMES

Amount Claimed

Tax Forgone

Amount Claimed

Tax Forgone

€m

€m

€m

€m

Urban Renewal

280.0

109.3

224.6

84.5

Town Renewal

86.1

34.6

60.5

23.7

Seaside Resorts

20.3

8.0

14.5

5.7

Rural Renewal

121.9

48.5

84.6

34.2

Multi-storey car parks

24.0

9.6

16.8

6.6

Living over the Shop

8.0

3.0

6.1

2.5

Enterprise Areas

7.0

2.8

6.2

2.5

Park & Ride

3.3

1.4

1.7

0.7

Holiday Cottages

30.7

12.4

26.8

10.8

Hotels

307.1

118.0

300.6

114.7

Nursing Homes

45.3

18.3

47.6

19.4

Housing for the Elderly/Infirm

6.3

2.6

7.4

3.0

Hostels

1.76

0.72

1.62

0.66

Guest Houses

0.06

0.02

0.26

0.11

Convalescent Homes

1.2

0.5

1.3

0.5

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

29.3

12.0

28.9

11.8

Qualifying Sports Injury Clinics

4.3

1.8

3.7

1.5

Buildings used for childcare purposes

24.2

9.8

29.9

12.0

Mental Health Centres

0.3

0.1

0.2

0.0

Student Accommodation

108.7

42.0

58.0

22.7

Registered Caravan Parks

N/A

N/A

1.5

0.6

Notes to Table 3

(1) The information available on the cost to the Exchequer is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers (Form 11) and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2007 and 2008, the latest year for which this information is available. Data for 2009 cannot be provided as the tax returns for this year are yet due. It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11).

(2) The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate for 2007 and 2008 in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies for both years. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax.

(3) The figures for 2008 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

Noel Ahern

Question:

128 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the various tax relief schemes currently in operation, be they property related, business, film or other; the estimate of the relief claimed in 2009; the estimate for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28101/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the total identifiable costs to the Exchequer of all income tax and corporation tax allowances, reliefs, exemptions and tax credits available, are set out in the following tables for 2006, the most recent year for which the necessary detailed historical information is available. Relevant notes relating to items in the tables are also included.

COST OF TAX CREDITS, ALLOWANCES AND RELIEFS 2006 AND 2005

The following table IT 6 shows the estimated cost in terms of revenue forgone of the personal tax credits and the main reliefs and deductions allowable under the income tax system. A number of reliefs which apply both to individuals and companies is also included and the cost shown in relation to these reliefs covers income tax and corporation tax.

An adjustment is included in the cost figures applying to income tax to compensate for incomplete numbers of tax returns on record at the time of compiling the estimates.

The tax credits and reliefs listed in the table serve varying purposes. Many are essentially structural reliefs through which individual tax liabilities are adjusted to reflect relative taxable capacity. The main personal tax credits are a good example of this since they may be regarded as part of the progressive income tax structure representing a band of income chargeable at a zero rate. Others, such as relief for interest paid in full or investment in corporate trades, are tax-based incentives in favour of specific groups or activities which are designed to promote certain aspects of public policy.

In computing taxable profits, account needs to be taken in some way of the depreciation of capital assets incurred in earning those profits. To this extent, the figures in the table of the "costs" of capital allowances should not be regarded as measuring a "loss of tax revenue" on profits. To compute such "loss", regard would have to be had to the excess of the amount of the capital allowances at current rates over the amount of the normal allowances.

The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds. The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits.

The figures of cost are for 2006 and 2005 and all figures are based on tax due in respect of assessments for each year and not on tax receipts within that year.

The figure against each credit or allowance represents the additional tax which would become payable if the tax credit or allowance were withdrawn assuming no consequent change in the behaviour of taxpayers (for example, in relation to the reliefs for savings), or the amounts of payments (for example, interest payable on certain savings schemes might need adjustment to take account of the new tax liability).

The numbers of claimants of each credit or relief are shown for both years to the extent that they are available. The numbers included are the taxpayers who would be adversely affected by the withdrawal of the respective credit or relief.

In the calculations, each tax credit or allowance has been dealt with separately and on the assumption that the rest of the tax system remained unchanged. It would be therefore inaccurate to calculate the effect of withdrawing all the credits, reliefs and allowances by simply totalling the figures. For example, the costs shown for capital allowances and stock relief are also calculated on the basis of separate withdrawal of these reliefs. Their combined cost would be greater than the sum of the separate costs because allowances are not always fully set off against available profits. For instance, a person with €1,000 gross trading profits, €1,000 capital allowances and €1,000 stock relief would pay no tax if either of the reliefs were withdrawn but would pay tax on €1,000 profits if both reliefs were withdrawn. In this case, the cost of each relief separately is nil but the combined cost is tax on €1,000. Basic data is not available to enable an estimate of the combined cost of these reliefs to be made.

The figures for estimates based on tax returns have been grossed up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes.

Finally, the estimates shown in many cases are tentative and are subject to revision in the light of later information. Some of the cost figures included in the table for 2005 reflect revisions to figures previously published in the 2007 Report.

INCOME TAX AND CORPORATION TAX

TABLE IT6: Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2005 and 2006

(1) Estimated cost for

Tax Relief Provision

2005

2006

€m

Numbers

€m

Numbers

INCOME TAX

Exemption Limits

General Exemption(2)

0.0

0

0.0

0

Child Addition(2)

0.3

1,000

0.2

800

Age Exemption(2)

61.5

49,600

62.0

50,100

Married Person’s Credit(3)

2,268.9

756,500

2,396.9

777,700

Single Person’s Credit(3)

1,854.3

1,330,100

2,137.2

1,494,700

Widowed Person’s Credit(3)

132.2

71,500

155.2

78,400

Additional Credit to Widowed Person in Year of Bereavement

4.7

4,000

4.5

4,000

Additional Bereavement Credit to Widowed Parent

4.3

2,400

4.9

2,300

Additional Personal Credit for Lone Parent

194.1

124,900

186.1

123,100

Homecarer Credit

63.9

87,900

61.8

85,000

Additional Credit for Incapacitated Child

10.3

10,400

16.0

11,000

Employee (PAYE) Credit

2,030.8

1,493,300

2,522.0

1,626,700

Dependent Relative Credit

1.0

15,200

1.4

15,500

Person Taking Care of Incapacitated Taxpayer

1.8

660

2.8

820

Age Credit

20.6

68,800

28.3

76,700

Blind Person’s Credit

0.8

890

1.2

880

Medical Insurance Premiums(4)

229.6

1,073,400

260.5

1,134,800

Health Expenses

134.0

260,700

167.2

348,800

Contributions Under Permanent Health Benefit Schemes, after Deduction of Tax on Benefits Received(5)

3.2

21,600

3.1

23,000

Employees’ Contributions To Approved Superannuation Schemes(6)

423.4

565,200

543.3

693,100

Employers’ Contributions To Approved Superannuation Schemes(6)

90.0

296,500

120.0

363,100

Exemption of Investment Income and Gains of Approved Superannuation Funds(6) (7) (11)*

1,050.0

N/A

1,200.0

N/A

Exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK(6)

370.0

296,500

510.0

363,100

Tax Relief on “tax free” lump sums(6)

120.0

N/A

130.0

N/A

Retirement Annuity Contracts(6)

357.7

121,200

435.9

125,900

Personal Retirement Savings Account(6)

42.2

32,900

56.4

45,200

Interest paid:

Loans relating to Principal Private Residence

279.0

587,800

351.6

668,400

Other (8)

22.2

4,800

31.1

4,900

Rent Paid in Private Tenancies

48.1

144,500

64.0

171,800

Expenses Allowable to Employees under Schedule E

65.0

908,800

71.2

960,400

Third Level Education Fees

14.3

29,900

15.7

30,800

Exemption of Certain Earnings of Writers, Composers and Artists

34.8

2,220

65.9

2,890

Dispositions (Including Maintenance Payments made to Separated Spouses)

18.9

6,100

20.2

7,640

Exemption of Interest on Savings Certificates, National Installment Savings & Index Linked Savings Bonds

129.5

N/A

216.3

N/A

Rent a Room

3.3

2,820

3.9

3,560

Exemption of Income of Charities, Colleges, Hospitals, Schools, Friendly Societies, etc.(9)

19.8

N/A

35.0

N/A

Donations to Approved Bodies

34.0

63,800

49.5

107,100

Donations to Sports Bodies(10)

0.2

430

0.3

580

Retirement Relief for certain Sports Persons(10)

0.3

42

0.2

32

Exemption of Irish Government Securities where owner not ordinarily resident in Ireland(11)*

169.3

N/A

197.0

N/A

Exemption of Statutory Redundancy Payments

72.8

22,000

77.7

22,100

Service Charges

17.2

304,700

21.4

363,900

Top Slicing Relief — Reduced Tax Rate for Payments in Excess of Exemption Amounts Made as Compensation for Loss of Office

11.1

1,480

20.2

2,050

Revenue Job Assist allowance

0.4

550

0.3

360

Allowance for seafarers

0.4

200

0.3

170

Trade Union Subscriptions

11.8

272,100

19.2

294,300

Exemption From Tax of Certain Social Welfare Payments:

Child benefit *

366.6

373,500

377.4

375,300

Early childcare Supplement*

N/A

N/A

64.9

192,000

Maternity allowance *

9.6

10,800

12.2

14,900

Exemption of Income arising from the Provision of Childcare Services

N/A

N/A

0.3

230.0

Approved Profit Sharing Schemes *

55.8

55,000

87.8

87,500

Savings-Related Share Option Schemes *

6.2

N/A

2.8

N/A

Approved Share Option Schemes *

0.4

464

3.4

1400

Reilief for New Shares Purchased by Employees

N/A

N/A

0.2

184

Investment in Corporate Trades (BES)

16

1,650

21.4

2,000

Investment in Seed Capital

1.3

42

1.2

42

Stock Relief *

2.0

N/A

2.0

N/A

Relief for expenditure on significant buildings and gardens

3.3

84

6.2

180

Donation of Heritage items

5.8

7

5.7

5

Special Savings Incentive Scheme

597.4

1,083,600

438.9

718,570

INCOME TAX AND/OR CORPORATION TAX(12)

Employee Share Ownership Trusts*

1.8

16,800

6.3

16,300

Total Capital Allowances:(13)

1,877.5

266,200

2,036.3

260,700

Rented Residential Relief — Section 23(14) *

239.7

4,126

252.4

4,132

Effective Rate of 10% for Manufacturing and Certain Other Activities(15)

396

3,034

384.1

2,831

Double Taxation Relief

439.1

13,200

590.0

15,400

Investment in Films*

15.7

1,500

36.4

3,500

Group Relief

421.6

1,578

255.6

1,592

Research & Development Tax Credit(16)

65.2

135

74.7

141

NOTES ON TABLE IT 6

(1) Figures accompanied by an asterisk * are particularly tentative and subject to a considerable margin of error.

(2) The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits. They include the cost of marginal relief for taxpayers whose incomes are not greatly in excess of the exemption limits.

(3) The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds.

(4) Arising from the change over to Tax Relief at Source the figures relate to the number of policies issued. These include policies where subscriptions were paid by businesses on behalf of their employees.

(5) Part of the cost of contributions to Permanent Health Benefit Schemes is not identifiable as a result of the move to a “net pay” basis for contributions by PAYE taxpayers from 6 April 2001.

(6) See the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for background commentary and cost figures for 2007.

(7) Arising from the work on the “Green Paper on Pensions” (2007) the basis for costing this item was changed for 2005 and is not directly comparable with the figures for earlier years. See also the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for more recent figures.

(8) “Other” relates to borrowings for purposes such as acquiring an interest in a company or partnership or to pay death duties.

(9) The cost of exempting the income of charities, colleges, hospitals, schools, friendly societies, etc. from income tax includes the sums repaid in respect of tax credits, income tax deducted at source (certain dividends, other investment income and payments received under covenant), and also includes tax on (see Note 10) (a) donations made by the PAYE and self-employed sectors to approved bodies (b) income tax repayments on foot of PAYE donations. It also includes the cost of exempting certain bodies from the deduction on income arising from government securities. Information is not available about other income received gross.

(10) The cost figures for relief for donations to Approved Sports Bodies and for certain Sports Persons are based on self assessment returns.

(11) In the absence of other information, tax has been assumed at the standard rate of income tax even though a different rate might be appropriate in many cases.

(12) The costs included for corporation tax are by reference to accounting periods which ended in the years 2005 and 2006.

(13) The cost shown for capital allowances does not include any cost associated with “unused capital allowances”, that is, capital allowances which are not absorbed by a company in the accounting period in which they arise because they exceed the amount of the company’s profits of that accounting period which are available for offset. Unused capital allowances can be offset as losses against taxable profits arising in the previous accounting period and against certain profits arising in future accounting periods and can be offset against the profits of another company in the same group of companies. It is estimated that €3340 million of unused capital allowances were claimed in respect of 2006 accounting periods but as the proportion of this item which is included in previous years losses and in group relief is not separately identifiable a reliable estimate of the cost of the capital allowance element cannot be provided.

(14) The tax cost shown for section 23 type relief is the estimated ultimate tax cost relating to the total allowable expenditure in respect of claims made in 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the first time. The cost shown is for income tax cases only.

(15) The cost does not include any notional cost associated with IFSC companies. The International Financial Services activity in Ireland represents new business which has developed as a result of, among other things, the concessionary tax rate. This means that as the cost of the concessionary rate is not just the difference between the concessionary tax rate and the full tax rate, it is therefore not quantifiable. In regard to the cost shown for the effective rate of 10 per cent for manufacturing and certain other activities, no account is taken of the fact that without these incentives, many enterprises may not have set up here. To the extent that profits earned by such enterprises would not have been available for Irish tax purposes, part of the cost figure shown might be regarded as notional.

(16) The costs shown for R&D is for claims for R&D on corporation tax returns for accounting periods ending in 2005 and 2006. However, the cost includes the cost associated with claims where the company was entitled to the credit but was unable to absorb it in that accounting year.

Green Paper on Pensions — updated estimates of cost for 2007

As part of the work on the Green Paper on Pensions, a review was carried out of the current regime of incentives for supplementary pension provision with a view to developing more comprehensive and reliable estimates of the cost of reliefs in this area. The review examined, among other things, the current reliefs and incentives for investment in supplementary pensions and the data available on which to base reliable estimates of the costs in revenue foregone to the Exchequer.

The review drew on newly available 2007 aggregate data on contributions to pension schemes by employers and employees arising from a P35 initiative introduced on foot of provisions that were included in Finance Act 2004 with a view to improving data quality. Estimates of the cost of tax for private pension provision updated for 2007 are included in the table below.

Estimate of the cost of tax and PRSI reliefs for private pension provision 2007.

Estimated costs

Numbers*

€ million

Employees’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

590

708,100

Employers’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

150

385,100**

Estimated cost of exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK

540

385,100

Exemption of investment income and gains of approved Superannuation Funds

900

Not available

Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)

420

123,900

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

65

56,400

Estimated cost of tax relief on “tax-free” lump sum payments

130

Estimated cost of PRSI and Health Levy relief on employee and employer contributions

240

Not available

Gross cost of tax relief

3,035

Estimated tax yield from payment of pension benefits

410

Net cost of tax relief

2,625

*Numbers as included in P35 returns from employers to Revenue for 2007. Figures are as verified to date but may be understated and subject to revision.

**This is numbers of employees for whom employers are contributing to occupational pension funds as included in P35 returns to Revenue for 2007. Figures are as verified to date but may be understated and subject to revision.

The breakdown and make-up of these estimated costs of reliefs differ from presentations of costs in this area for previous years in a number of respects and are not directly comparable. For further details on the cost of tax and other reliefs and the changes in the methodology, refer to pages 106 and 107 of the Green Paper on Pensions which is available at www.pensionsgreenpaper.ie.

Certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax — uptake and estimated potential cost to the Exchequer in terms of income tax and corporation tax forgone based on 2006 tax returns

Provisions were included in the Finance Acts of 2003 and 2004 to enable new statistical data on the uptake of tax relief for certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax to be obtained from tax returns. This information, derived from changes introduced by the Revenue Commissioners to income tax returns and corporation tax returns for 2006, is set out in the following table.

The figures shown include the amounts claimed in the year but exclude amounts carried forward into the year either as losses or capital allowances, and include any amounts of unused losses and/or capital allowances which will be carried forward to subsequent years.

Tax Incentive/Income Exemption

Amount Claimed

Assumed maximum tax cost €m

Number of claimants

€m

€m

Urban renewal

351.7

140.5

3,436

Town Renewal

93.0

38.7

1,149

Seaside Resorts

15.7

6.4

1,167

Rural Renewal

94.0

38.0

2,137

Multi-storey car parks

40.2

16.6

119

Living Over the shop

7.1

2.7

82

Enterprise Areas

7.4

3.0

129

Park and Ride

6.9

2.8

32

Holiday Cottages

22.9

9.5

660

Hotels

277.1

106.6

1,515

Nursing Homes

35.5

14.7

538

Housing for the Elderly/infirm

3.4

1.4

95

Hostels

1.96

0.82

23

Guest Houses

0.2

0.1

7

Convalescent Homes

4.1

1.7

18

Qualifying Private Hospitals

25.2

10.6

284

Qualifying sports injury clinics

0.1

0

3

Buildings Used for certain childcare purposes

14.3

6.0

304

Student Accommodation

162.5

64.3

1,059

Exemption of profits or gains from Greyhounds

0.4

0.1

6

Exemption of profits or gains from Stallions

90.7

22.5

185

Exemption of profits or gains from Woodlands

13.6

5.4

1,231

Exempt Patents (section 234, TCA 1997)

395.0

83.8

1,120

Totals

1,662.9

576.2

15,299

Notes:

The figures shown relate to the various reliefs/incentives and exemptions as specified in the 2006 form 11 and CT1.

There were concerns that in some instances the new, separately categorised data on property incentives may not have been correctly entered on the Tax returns. Revenue drew the attention of the relevant tax practitioner bodies to these deficiencies to rectify them in future returns and also increased awareness among its own staff involved in processing tax returns of the need to ensure, through closer examination of the returns, that they are correctly completed.

The estimated costs have assumed tax foregone at the 42% rate in the case of income tax and 12.5% in the case of corporation tax. This means the figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax. However, the actual Exchequer cost could be lower, particularly in relation to the exempt income items, as the income could be subject to deductions for allowable expenses and other costs thereby reducing the level of income that would be actually subject to tax.

Some of the costs shown above are included in the costs shown for capital allowances and section 23 relief in Table IT6. For example, exempt income included above is not part of capital allowances.

Reliefs in Respect of which Costs are not Currently Quantifiable or are Negligible or are not Identifiable within Total Aggregates.

Exemption in respect of certain income derived from the leasing of farm land;

Relief for new shares purchased on issue by employees;

Relief from averaging of farm profits;

Exemption for income arising from payments in respect of personal injuries;

Exemption of certain payments made by Haemophilia HIV Trust;

Exemption of Pensions, Benefits or Gratuities Payable to Veterans of the War of Independence their Widows or Dependents;

Exemption of lump sum retirement payments;

Relief for allowable motor expenses;

Tapering relief allowable for taxation of car benefits in kind;

Reduced tax rate of 10% for authorised unit trust schemes;

Reduced tax rate of 10% for special investment schemes;

Exemption of certain grants made by Údarás na Gaeltachta;

Relief for investment income reserved for policy holders in life assurance companies;

Relief for various business related expenses such as staff recruitment, rent, legal fees, and other general expenses;

Exemption in certain circumstances on the interest on quoted bearer Eurobonds;

Exemption of payments made as compensation for loss of office;

Exemption of scholarship income;

Exemption for income received under Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge.

Public Sector Staff

Noel Ahern

Question:

129 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the workers in the public service who are employed on an annual contract basis; if such workers should pay the civil service pension levy in view of the fact that they are not permanent pensionable workers; if they are entitled to a refund of contributions paid in view of the fact that contracts are being terminated due to the terms of staff embargo and provisions of fixed term employment contracts. [28102/10]

In order to be liable for the pension-related deduction as set out in Section 2 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 one must be a public servant (as defined in Section 1 of the Act) and (a) a member of a public service pension scheme (as defined in Section 1 of the Act) or (b) entitled to a benefit under such a scheme or (c) receive a payment in lieu of membership in such a scheme. In summary, therefore, the pension-related deduction applies to public servants who are employed by or hold an office or position in a public service body and are members (or entitled to be members) of a public service pension scheme.

The length of an individual's contract is not relevant as to whether or not a deduction is to be made. In general, most contract staff in the public service are now eligible for pension scheme membership. In addition, a person who is on a contract and, for example, is entitled to a payment such as a gratuity in lieu of membership of a pension scheme, would be liable for the deduction.

If the person to whom the deduction has applied leaves (a) without a benefit or preserved benefit, or (b) without a payment in lieu or preserved payment in lieu, and (c) without transferring the service, a refund of the pension-related deduction is provided for under Section 6 of the Act.

Departmental Expenditure

John McGuinness

Question:

130 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the elements of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes that have been implemented to date by his Department; his plans to implement any aspects of the plan in the future; if the overall plan has been assessed by his Department; and if so, his views on the benefits of the plans. [28115/10]

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes (the so-called McCarthy Report) was published in July 2009 and outlined 271 recommendations with potential savings of up to €5.3 billion in a full year along with associated staffing reductions of over 17,300 in public service numbers. The Special Group’s Report is advisory in nature. The Special Group’s analysis and recommendations have been taken into account in the 2010 Budget and the estimates of expenditure for the year ahead. The Government decided to implement 32 recommendations in full and 89 in part. These savings are estimated to yield some €1.7 billion in 2010 and €1.9 billion in a full year. The Report of the Special Group and its recommendations will continue to inform Government considerations of overall expenditure strategy as well as ongoing structural reform in the public service.

As regards my own Department, the Report recommended that general administration and programme efficiencies amounting to €5 million could be achieved, specifically in the areas of staff numbers, and subventions to the Institute of Public Administration and the Economic and Social Research Institute. In relation to staff numbers, the Report recommended a reduction of some 10%, or 60 posts, by end 2010. At the time of the Report, the authorised number of staff in my Department was approximately 650. The number currently serving is 539.44 (whole-time equivalents). This is already below the level recommended by the Group. The issues of the subventions for the IPA and the ESRI will be considered in the context of my Department's estimate for 2011.

As regards other recommendations in the Report which relate to the possible rationalisation of certain state agencies, the Group considered that the routine investigation functions of the Ombudsman's office are performed at too high a staff grading level (typically at AP level) and that there is scope for this work to be undertaken at lower levels without prejudicing service. The Minister for Finance has asked the Ombudsman to explore this option further.

The report also recommended that Ombudsman/Regulators' Offices should be rationalised within a single Ombudsman Commission. The bodies concerned are the Office of the Ombudsman/Information Commissioner, the Children's Ombudsman, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments.

There appears to be a balance of administrative advantage in favour of the merger of the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments with the Office of the Ombudsman and in conjunction with the Offices concerned and we are identifying the administrative and legislative measures necessary to give effect to the merger.

Any merger with the remaining Offices mentioned in the recommendation (none of which are under the aegis of the Department of Finance) would need to take account of the diversity of roles of all of the Offices concerned and the need for varying degrees of independence and specialisation in exercising their statutory functions. It is not clear at this stage if it would be feasible, or worthwhile to pursue this option in the short term. It is likely that detailed legislation would be required to give effect to these changes.

Tax Code

Róisín Shortall

Question:

131 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer in 2009 and 2010 of rent relief for private rented tenants. [28142/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which the necessary detailed information is available regarding the rent relief for private accommodation scheme is the income tax year 2006, in which the cost to the Exchequer is estimated at approximately € 64 million. On this basis, the full year yield to the Exchequer of abolishing the rent relief for private accommodation scheme would be of the same order, although it should be noted that the value of the relief was increased in Budgets 2007 and 2008.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Leo Varadkar

Question:

132 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if a special licence will be granted for the sale of alcohol at an organised market; if so, the process to secure such a licence; the number of such licences granted in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28144/10]

My Department understands that casual trading which is the selling of goods in public places is governed by the Casual Trading Act, 1995. Under that Act the regulation of casual trading is the responsibility of the local authority in whose functional area the trading takes place. Local authorities regulate casual trading under bye laws issued by them under the Act.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there are no special licences for the sale of alcohol at open markets e.g. farmers markets; indeed the sale of alcohol at such markets is not permitted. It is a matter for An Garda Síochána to monitor such markets for the sale of alcohol generally and the issue of control of sale including the selling of alcohol to minors etc.

If of course the Deputy is referring to a special event, e.g. a summer festival, the holder of a publicans licence may apply through the District Court to have their licence extended to cover a particular occasion.

Departmental Properties

Ulick Burke

Question:

133 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied with the fact that the Office of Public works has granted a 24% increase in the rent back dated to January 2008 for office accommodation in respect of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Dockgate, Galway city in view of the fact that it is the highest rent being paid outside of Dublin; if he will explain the connection with a former director of Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28166/10]

An independent arbitrator was appointed to determine the rent payable for office accommodation at Dockgate, Galway City. In this regard, the Office of Public Works (OPW) maintained in their submissions to the arbitrator that no rent increase was justified while the landlord maintained his position that an increase was merited. The Arbitrator's determination, which is legally binding on the concerned parties as provided for under the lease, provided for an annual increase of the order of 24% in the monies payable. OPW's relationship with the landlord of any premises is governed solely by the terms and conditions of the lease and the matter raised is outside OPW's remit.

Tax Code

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

134 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 143 of 22 June 2010, if a provider of the 38 week early childhood care and education scheme is liable for rates if their premises are used for other educational purposes during the remaining 14 weeks of the calendar year; if a provider of the 38 week ECCE scheme is liable for rates if their premises are used for non-educational purposes during the remaining fourteen weeks of the calendar year; in cases where rates will be charged if they will be calculated on a pro-rata basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28202/10]

The Valuation Act, 2001 which came into effect on 2nd May, 2002, provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose including constructions affixed thereto are rateable unless expressly exempted under Schedule 4 of the Act. Such exempt buildings would principally include those used for public worship, education and health-care provided on a not-for-profit basis, and charitable purposes.

The Act maintains the long-held position that all commercial properties, including childcare facilities provided on a private fee-paying basis are liable for rates. Such rateable premises would ordinarily include playschools, pre-schools, crèches and Montessori schools.

Where a premises is used exclusively, under the ECCE funded services scheme, to provide sessional places for 38 weeks of the year, the premises is exempt from rates. If the premises is used outside of the 38 week period for other educational uses, where the services are:

(a) available to the general public; and

(b) are not for private profit; or

(c) the expenses are defrayed wholly or mainly out of moneys provided from the Exchequer the premises will not be liable for rates.

Where a premises which enjoys exemption from rates by virtue of its exclusive use under the ECCE funded services schemes, which relates to providers of sessional places for 38 weeks of the year, is used by the occupier for commercial purposes outside the 38 week period, the entire premises will be deemed liable for rates.

Exemption can only be granted where the premises are used exclusively for educational purposes. Therefore, where the occupier alternates the use of the premises between rateable and non-rateable purposes during the rating year, under valuation legislation, that premises is deemed to be rateable for the entire year.

I should point out that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation act, 2001 and that as Minister for Finance, I have no function in decisions in this regard.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

135 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance when a refund of vehicle registration tax will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28219/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners, that a repayment for the named person in the amount of €2751.18 was approved on 25 June 2010 and will issue shortly.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

136 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the impact on tax revenues of an increase in the capital gains tax rate to 28% and if this would affect our competitive taxation position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28314/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year gain from increasing the rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) from 25% to 28% is €48 million. This estimate assumes no behavioural changes on the part of taxpayers.

CGT is very dependent on individual behaviour and a change in rate may not produce a corresponding increase or decrease in tax yield. In current economic conditions any estimate of additional yield must be treated with caution. The realisation of any estimated yield from an increase in taxation on assets relating to property is subject to movements in the value of such assets, which are currently occurring in the economy. In addition, increasing the rate could, in theory, lead to a reduction in yield from the tax.

Tax is one factor in our competitiveness as an economy. While the rate of tax is a consideration, the most important concern in making an investment is the ultimate return. An increase in CGT might deter individuals from disposing of assets. However, a rate of 28% would be relatively low in historic terms.

The Deputy may be aware that the recent UK emergency budget increased the rate of CGT for UK higher rate income tax payers from 18% to 28%.

Tax Code

Thomas Byrne

Question:

137 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the impact on tax revenues of a doubling of the rate of capital acquisitions tax and if this would impact on our tax competitiveness. [28315/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer from doubling the rate of Capital Acquisitions Tax from 25% to 50%, based on the Budget estimate of €240 million for 2010, could nominally be in the region of €240 million.

It should be noted that this estimate is based upon an assumption that there would be no behavioural impact of such an increase, which could lead to a less than expected result from a change to the tax rate — any behavioural impact could not apply to inheritance tax, but might apply to gift tax. In addition, the realisation of any estimated yield from an increase in taxation on assets relating to property is subject to movements in the value of such assets, which are currently occurring in the economy.

Capital acquisitions tax is due on gifts and inheritances if either the disponor — the person making the gift or leaving the inheritance — or the donee — the person receiving the gift or inheritance — is either Irish resident or ordinarily resident, or the property being gifted/inherited is Irish situate property. In this light any increase in CAT would not affect our "tax competitiveness".

Tax Collection

John McGuinness

Question:

138 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be examined. [28391/10]

This is a matter that involves payment of a significant tax debt and is therefore a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that the case in question is under active discussion with the persons concerned, towards an early resolution that is to Revenue's satisfaction.

Departmental Review

Joan Burton

Question:

139 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if the terms of reference for his proposed review of the performance of the Department of Finance during, and in the run up to the financial crisis here will extend to the Department of the Taoiseach in respect of economic decision-making and macro-economic policy coordination; if these terms of reference are to be made public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28428/10]

As I mentioned at the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, I have in mind that there would be a review of the Department of Finance, by an Independent Review Group, comprising a small number of experts with relevant international and/or domestic experience, to evaluate the systems structures and processes used by the Department of Finance in relation to those elements of economic management that are relevant to its role and operations.

The review would be informed by a detailed consideration of the Department's performance in the past 10 years, including in relation to the development and management of the current crisis, with a view to ensuring that the lessons of this period of stress will inform the development of the Department in the future. In this context the review would consider how external information and advice, including critical and dissenting advices, were dealt with by the Department and how they should be dealt with in the future.

The review will have due regard to the skills, training and staffing mix required by a modern Finance and Economic Ministry in order that it can best fulfil its role in relation to, for example:

Economic risk assessment;

Policy development, advice and implementation;

Optimising the Department's performance in all of its areas of operation;

Communication, transparency and accountability.

I want to ensure for the future that the Department of Finance can give the best achievable policy advice, can better assess risks and opportunities in the fiscal, economic and financial system, and in relation to the public service, can manage its own operations with high levels of effectiveness and efficiency. I know that the Department has good, skilled and capable staff, but I want to be sure they are used to best effect and that the mix of skills is optimised.

When terms of reference are finalised they will be published.

I would intend that the review will be carried out — expeditiously — by individuals who have informed expertise on the role and operation of Finance Ministries internationally. The proposed review is of the Department of Finance and its functions but may, presumably, draw conclusions in relation to broader relationships and assignments within the Government system in that context.

As far as the Department of the Taoiseach is concerned, if there are any issues relating to the role of that Department arising from the consideration of the reports into the banking inquiry, and from the review of the Department of Finance, the Taoiseach will, of course, be anxious to deal with them. That Department is currently the subject of a review under the Organisational Review Programme and any issues arising from that Review will be addressed in that Department's follow-up Action Plan.

Tax Code

John O'Donoghue

Question:

140 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Finance the estimated value to the Exchequer of imposing VAT on burial ground spaces; if this VAT payment will be abolished in view of the hardship being experienced by families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28438/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that for VAT purposes the sale of burial plots is treated as the sale of developed land. Consequently the sale of burial plots by a local authority on or after 1 July 2010 will be subject to VAT at the reduced rate of 13.5%. This arises out of the European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland of 16 July 2009 in Case C-554/07 in respect of services provided by public bodies, including local authorities.

In practice, the VAT liability on the sale of grave spaces will depend on when the cemetery was developed. In this regard, the sale of grave spaces from a cemetery that was developed more than 5 years prior to 1 July 2010 will remain exempt from VAT. It is understood that most local authority cemeteries were developed before 1 July 2005. Where VAT is applied, the impact on families will depend on whether, and the degree to which, the VAT is passed on by the local authorities, which in any event should be limited somewhat since public bodies providing the service will have entitlement to deduct VAT incurred on their inputs.

Medical Cards

Michael McGrath

Question:

141 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27566/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions

Michael McGrath

Question:

142 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a nursing home support scheme application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27570/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances

James Reilly

Question:

143 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will be provided with a suitable medical appliance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27587/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

144 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27597/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

145 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the current waiting time for adults patients with special needs, to receive dental treatment under anaesthetic in the Cork area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27600/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Finian McGrath

Question:

146 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support a matter (details supplied). [27603/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

147 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has not been issued with a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27611/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

148 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated cost of removing the upper age limit on all free health screening services offered by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27620/10]

I understand the Deputy is referring to cancer screening programmes. There are two national population cancer screening programmes — BreastCheck and CervicalCheck — provided by the HSE's National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS).

CervicalCheck offers free smear tests through primary care settings to women aged between 25 and 60 years. Screening will be provided every three years to women aged 25 to 44 years and every five years for women aged 45 to 60 years. The NCSS keeps under constant review the evidence base, involving any research conducted in Ireland or internationally, that would influence the target population for CervicalCheck. International best practice currently recommends that population-based cervical screening programmes should target women aged from 25 or 30 years to 60 or 65 years.

BreastCheck provides free screening to women aged 50 to 64. It remains my intention to extend BreastCheck to women in the 65-69 age group as soon as resources and capacity allow. In the meantime women of any age who have concerns about breast cancer should seek the advice of their GP who will, if appropriate, refer them to the symptomatic breast services in one of the eight designated specialist cancer centres.

The NCSS has estimated that there are approximately 85,000 women in the age group 65-69 and that the additional cost of expanding the programme would be around €5 million per annum, with a capital investment of approximately €3 million. However BreastCheck's main priority in 2010 is to maximise uptake in the 50 — 64 year age cohort.

The Deputy will also be aware that preparations are underway for the introduction of a national colorectal cancer screening programme in 2012 for men and women aged 60 to 69 years. Over time this programme will be expanded to cover everyone in the 55 to 74 age group.

Medical Cards

Michael McGrath

Question:

149 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27634/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael McGrath

Question:

150 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [27635/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff

Pat Breen

Question:

151 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the implications the staff recruitment embargo is having on the plans to open a dementia unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis, County Clare; the steps she proposes, in conjunction with the Health Service Executive to address this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27636/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

152 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if home help will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [27651/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Mental Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

153 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason resources for a service (details supplied) have been reduced and the implications the cut in funding will have on the service provided to patients and clients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27669/10]

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.

Health Services

Joe Costello

Question:

154 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 has not received the medical treatment they require; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27671/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Jack Wall

Question:

155 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a replacement home help will be appointed to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27672/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

156 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a medical card, under EU regulations, without a means test. [27675/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

157 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money that was provided for the running of Mallow County Hospital, County Cork in 2009; if she will provide a commitment that the necessary resources to carry out all the services in this hospital will be provided for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27681/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

158 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the statement of the Health Service Executive’s assistant national director for children and families social services that no Irish child will be sent overseas for care placements from 12 months time; the provisions for care placements that will be made available for children who previously would have been sent abroad; the amount of funding that will be made available on an annual basis for such provisions; the amount that will be provided per child for provision of such care placements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27682/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

159 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a commitment that any child in need of specialised care that has previously not been provided here will now be provided with that care here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27683/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

160 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children sent overseas for care placements during 2009; the cost per child; the care placement locations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27684/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 to 160, inclusive, together.

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

161 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who requested aftercare services on leaving the care of the State during 2008 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27685/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

162 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who began to receive aftercare during 2008 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27686/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

245 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who have received aftercare from the Health Service Executive during each of the past five years; and the number of persons who have been monitored upon leaving aftercare during each of the past five years. [28041/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161, 162 and 245 together.

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

163 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the average number of families it refers per month to the Ballymun Men’s Resource Centre for child contact services, in the absence of a State network of child contact services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27687/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

164 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the numbers and locations of specialist Health Service Executive facilities for supervised contact with children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27688/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Education

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

165 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details of the funding that has been made available and the number of places that will be provided in the higher diploma in nursing sexual assault forensic nursing examination in the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland in September 2010. [27689/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

166 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons on the organ transplant waiting list; if she will provide a breakdown of the organs they are waiting for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27690/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply

Organ Donation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

167 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of living donors who donated organs in the State during each of the past three years; the organs or parts of organs donated by these living donors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27691/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Property

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

168 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify the ownership of the Health Service Executive property at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 15. [27692/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

169 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the proposed use of Health Service Executive owned lands which have remained waste-ground for thirty years at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 15. [27693/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 169 together.

Estate management of the Health Service Executive property portfolio is a service matter and the question has therefore been referred to the Executive for an update and for direct reply.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

170 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeline for delivery of the primary care team centres in Corduff and Mulhuddart. [27694/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

171 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide an update on the proposed primary healthcare centre for Corduff, Dublin 15, specifically identifying the proposed site. [27695/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170 and 171 together.

As the Deputy's questions relate to service matters I have arranged for them to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

172 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting for medical cards in Dublin 15; the length of time they will have to wait to receive their cards. [27696/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is not provided by the Health Service Executive to my Department as a matter of routine. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

173 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when the review of residential care services in County Donegal will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27697/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Accommodation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

174 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if all 40 beds in Belmullet Hospital, County Mayo, will remain open and will be staffed sufficiently to adhere to health and safety regulations. [27698/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

175 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that Belmullet Hospital, County Mayo, has not been able to recruit temporary staff to cover annual and sick leave, when other hospitals in the county have been able to bring in temporary staff to cover such leave. [27699/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 175 together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

HSE Inquiries

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

176 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the recommendations in the report into the death of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; the recommendations that have been implemented in full, those that have been partially progressed and the recommendations that have not yet been acted upon; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27700/10]

I understand from the HSE that 19 of the recommendations of the report referred to by the Deputy have been implemented and that the remaining two recommendations which are still applicable are in progress. The HSE has indicated that it will write immediately to the Deputy with further details in this regard.

Departmental Reports

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

177 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the work and progress of the working group on sports sponsorship by the alcohol industry; when she expects to receive a report and recommendations from the group on phasing out of alcohol sponsorship of sporting events; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27701/10]

I have received the Report of the Working Group on Sport Sponsorship by the Alcohol Industry. The Report will be published on the Department's website in the coming days. A copy of the Report will be sent separately to the Deputy.

The Report is being submitted to the Steering Group developing the National Substance Misuse Strategy to help inform its consideration of issues around alcohol marketing and sponsorship. I will await the recommendations of the Steering Group on such issues as alcohol pricing, supply, treatment and prevention aimed at dealing with the significant public health issue of alcohol-related harm. The Report of the Steering Group is expected by the end of this year.

Mental Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

178 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of all planned changes in mental health service provision, including transfer of admission units and the closure of day centre facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27702/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medicinal Products

Leo Varadkar

Question:

179 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if consideration has been given to licensing sativex for sufferers of multiple sclerosis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27707/10]

The current legal position in Ireland in relation to cannabis and cannabis based medicinal products such as Sativex is that they are Schedule 1 controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. All Schedule 1 substances are substances which are considered as having no medicinal use and the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession of cannabis and cannabis derivatives is unlawful except for the purposes of research.

My Department is aware that claims have been made in respect of Sativex and its possible benefits for patients suffering from certain conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and cancer. As the law currently stands it would not be possible for Sativex to be licensed here for medicinal use or for a General Practitioner to prescribe it. As cannabis is the drug which is most abused in Ireland, I am reluctant to loosen the controls on its use. However, I am seeking expert clinical advice in this matter and I am open to making a change to the Misuse of Drugs legislation to allow for the use of medicinal cannabis based drugs such as Sativex, if the expert advice indicates that a change is warranted.

Nursing Home Subventions

Jack Wall

Question:

180 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when the fair deal package for nursing homes will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27709/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff

James Reilly

Question:

181 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the effects the recruitment embargo is having on patients who need to see a child psychologist in the Mullingar area; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a waiting list of over one year in the Mullingar area for child psychology and the waiting list currently consists of more than 105 children; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that there are only two professionals employed in children and families psychology in the Mullingar area; her plans to allocate additional resources to child psychology in Mullingar, County Westmeath, to tackle these problems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27711/10]

The 2010 Employment Control Framework for the health service allows the HSE to fill vacant posts and to create new posts of psychologists in mental health. As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Michael Creed

Question:

182 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review her decision to refuse a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27712/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael Creed

Question:

183 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review a decision to refuse a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27721/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances

Michael Creed

Question:

184 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to a mobility allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27728/10]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

185 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27744/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael Noonan

Question:

186 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that an allocation made to a school (details supplied) in County Limerick is inadequate and that on their current spending profile that funds will run out in October; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that further staff cutbacks are not possible; if she will provide the school with the necessary additional funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27745/10]

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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Michael Noonan

Question:

187 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the long waiting list for urologist services in the mid western health region; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that only two urologists serve the region; if the Health Service Executive plan to make further appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27746/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Home Subventions

Finian McGrath

Question:

188 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (detail supplied) in Dublin 17. [27749/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

189 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the alternative respite arrangements that will be made available to families who used a nursing home (details supplied) on the Navan Road, Dublin 7, in view of the fact that this facility will close in June 2010. [27750/10]

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.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

190 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27752/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Preschool Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

191 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (detail supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27755/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January of this year.

Children will qualify for a free pre-school year place when they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months at 1 September each year. This means that children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will qualify in September 2010. From the information provided by the Deputy, the child in question is not eligible for the scheme in September this year but will be eligible in September 2011.

The objective of the ECCE scheme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to all children in the key developmental year before they commence primary school. To achieve this, services participating in the pre-school year will be expected to provide appropriate age related activities and programmes to children within a particular age cohort. Targeting the pre-school year at a particular age cohort is clearly fundamental to the scheme and it is necessary, therefore, to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children will participate in the scheme each year.

In setting the minimum and maximum age limits, account was taken of a number of factors, including the fact that the majority of children commence primary school between the ages of 4 years 6 months and 5 years 6 months. Notwithstanding this, the ECCE scheme provides for an eligibility range of almost 17 months. The upper age limit does not apply where children are developmentally delayed and would benefit from participating in the pre-school year at a later age.

As in the case of any scheme introduced, cases will arise where individuals would rather that certain conditions did not apply. However, it is necessary that the scheme is delivered within a structure which supports the best delivery of pre-school education and it is considered therefore that the age range provided for is appropriate.

Arrangements are already in place for the pre-school year which is due to commence in September 2010 and these do not provide for any amendment or reduction in the lower age for eligibility.

Nursing Home Subventions

Dan Neville

Question:

192 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if the application for fair deal nursing home subvention will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27756/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Cancer Screening Programme

Deirdre Clune

Question:

193 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the problem of letters advising women of their free cervical check being sent to the wrong address and returned unopened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27757/10]

When this issue came to the attention of the National Cancer Screening Service last month it investigated the matter and has now provided a full statement on its website at www.cancerscreening.ie about the difficulties in accessing a target population for which a database has to be developed from a number of different sources.

The NCSS has assured me that the return of these unopened letters has had no adverse overall impact on uptake levels for the CervicalCheck Programme. During 2009 CervicalCheck aimed to screen 240,000 women, but in fact approximately 280,000 women were screened. Uptake levels in 2010 continue to reach projected monthly targets.

The reason for letters not reaching the intended person relates mainly to population mobility. There are over 1.2 million women aged 25 to 60 eligible for a free smear test as part of the CervicalCheck programme. As there is no central population database in Ireland, CervicalCheck has assembled a register from information supplied by the Department of Social Protection and self registration of women. The database used by CervicalCheck is known as the Cervical Screening Register (CSR). The CSR is a confidential, secure electronic database containing demographic details and screening history details of women in the eligible population. The Health (Provision of Information) Act 1997 provides the legislative framework for the compilation of the CSR.

CervicalCheck communicates with every woman whose details are provided and relies upon the accuracy of such information. If communications are not responded to, the NCSS sends a number of subsequent reminder letters to ensure that every effort is made to contact eligible women. CervicalCheck encourages any woman who changes her address to notify the programme of the change in her details.

I understand that the information held on the CSR is used only by CervicalCheck and is not shared with any other agency.

EU Directives

James Reilly

Question:

194 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedural or operational guidelines and any public information that exists on the implementation of the rights introduced by EU Regulation 1408/71 as amended by Regulation 631/204; the rights to benefits in kind under Regulation 574/72 from the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27765/10]

As the HSE is responsible for implementing the Regulations in Ireland, this matter has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. The Deputy may be aware that Regulation 883/04 and Implementing Regulation 987/09 have replaced Regulation 1408/71 and Implementing Regulation 574/72 since 1 May 2010. Information and guidelines on the new Regulations are available on the European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/social.

Health Services

James Reilly

Question:

195 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide statistics from the Health Service Executive for the past five years on the numbers of patients who have applied seeking authorisation for planned hospital care under the E112 mechanism; the numbers whose request for authorisation was granted or refused; the numbers who have used the mechanism to access cross border out patient department services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27767/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Finian McGrath

Question:

196 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the following matter (details supplied) in Dublin 7. [27770/10]

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.

Departmental Property

Phil Hogan

Question:

197 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of building and land maintenance, including light and heat expenditure, for all property owned by her Department and its agencies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27782/10]

My Department's headquarters, Hawkins House, is owned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Adoption Board is located in Shelbourne House which is leased accommodation from OPW. The cost of general building maintenance for both facilities amounted to approximately €90,000 for 2009. Expenditure on electricity, including lighting, was €192,000 and heating costs amounted to €66,000 for 2009.

The position regarding the Health Service Executive and the other agencies is a matter for the agencies themselves. My Department is requesting them to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services

Tom Hayes

Question:

198 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the neo-natal screening programme for cystic fibrosis as announced originally by a previous Minister (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27794/10]

In June 2009, the Newborn Screening for Cystic Fibrosis Steering Group was established under the Chairmanship of Professor Gerry Loftus, Professor of Paediatrics, Galway.

Preparatory work in relation to staffing and recruitment in CUH Temple Street and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Crumlin, information and ICT processes, Education and Training and Clinical Protocols has continued through the efforts of the Steering Group members, the specific sub-groups  and the review of Newborn Metabolic Screening. A proposal for an integrated laboratory screening management information system for the existing and expanded newborn screening programme is about to be submitted to CMOD for approval to proceed.

It is anticipated that implementation of the screening programme will begin in late 2010.

As part of this process, a governance structure for the existing newborn screening programme is being developed under the auspices of the Clinical Risk and Quality Directorate.

Medical Cards

Joe Costello

Question:

199 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for renewal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27798/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions

Michael Creed

Question:

200 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children the support arrangements that are in place for a person (details provided) who is a longer term patient in a private nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27814/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Nursing Homes Support Scheme commenced in October 2009. It replaced the previous system of Nursing Home Subvention which had been in existence since 1993. Individuals who were already in receipt of subvention when the scheme commenced can remain on subvention or can opt to transfer to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

The scheme is administered by the HSE and individuals can apply for support via their local HSE Nursing Home Support Office.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund's role under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is to negotiate and agree a price for the cost of care with private nursing homes that wish to participate in the scheme. The HSE will supply individuals with a list of all homes participating in the scheme.

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

201 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27816/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

John O'Donoghue

Question:

202 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive the result of his application for the renewal of his medical card. [27827/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

203 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to proposals by the Health Service Executive to reduce services at an acute unit at Cherry Orchard Hospital, Ballyfermot, Dublin; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this unit cares for people with Alzheimer’s disease; if she will reverse this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27829/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Róisín Shortall

Question:

204 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reasons for the current practice of instructing patients to dispose of crutches once their ailment has passed and the rationale in public hospitals not seeking to recover such items; her estimate of the cost of this practice in a full year; and if she will examine if there are savings to be made in amending this policy in favour of a recycling re-use initiative. [27835/10]

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.

Nursing Home Subventions

Róisín Shortall

Question:

205 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that some applicants in respect of the fair deal scheme cannot be accommodated in certain facilities, in view of the fact that they are deemed hospitals, and outside the remit of the scheme; if she will give direction to addressing this problem; and if she will assist in the case of a person (details supplied). [27836/10]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a system of financial support for individuals in public, voluntary and approved private nursing homes. The scheme is available to anyone assessed as needing long-term nursing home care. However, it does not cover long-term residential care in other settings, such as mental health and disability facilities.

When Government was considering proposals for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, it decided to limit the scheme to long-term nursing home care, so as to set the rates for what was a new and innovative scheme within well defined criteria, where likely costs could be more reliably predicted. However, it also committed to reviewing the scheme three years from the date of its introduction and agreed that any such review would include explicit consideration of the extension of the scheme to the mental health and disability sectors.

The facility referred to by the Deputy is not a registered nursing home. It is an Approved Centre registered under Section 64 of the Mental Health Act 2001.

Organ Donation

Deirdre Clune

Question:

206 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the concerns the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland have about the need for reform of the organ donation and transplant system here and enactment of the Human Tissue Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27839/10]

The rates of organ donation vary widely between Member States of the European Union. Ireland consistently performs above the average EU rate of organ donation. In 2008, Ireland's annual rate was 18.4 organ donors per million of population, compared to the EU rate of 18.2. In 2009, Ireland significantly increased its level of organ donation to 20 organ donors per million of population, which is expected to again place it close to or above the average EU rate.

As part of a public consultation on consent for organ donation, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland indicated that it favoured the current opt-in organ donation model with a preference for improvements to the organisation of the organ donation system. I intend to bring a draft General Scheme of a Human Tissue Bill, which includes the issue of organ donation for transplantation, to Government for its approval. Subject to this approval, I will publish the General Scheme of a Human Tissue Bill. Two separate but related public consultations took place in 2009 to inform the preparation of the draft legislation. The first was a consultation process on consent for organ donation which took place between January and March 2009, in which the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland participated. Invitations for written submissions were complemented by a consultative forum which took place in February in Dublin Castle. The second public consultation was in relation to proposals for a General Scheme of a Human Tissue Bill which took place between April and May 2009. Information on these consultations is available on the Department's website. Consultations with Government Departments and Offices are on-going and the draft General Scheme of a Human Tissue Bill will be further developed based on the outcome of the consultations.

Notwithstanding Ireland's relatively strong performance in terms of organ donation, options to further improve organ donation should be open to consideration. With this in mind, I agreed with the Health Service Executive, as part of its 2010 Service Plan, that it will establish an organ donation and transplantation unit within its existing national structures and resources. This unit will provide a national focal point for reporting, monitoring and assessing organ donation and transplantation activities. It is appropriate that these functions be carried out at a national level, on the basis of regular, comprehensive performance data provided by all the transplant centres. This approach will provide a sound basis for evaluating performance and examining other issues related to organ donation and transplantation, including proposals such as those raised by key stakeholders, including the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland.

Health Services

Deirdre Clune

Question:

207 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people currently on the waiting list for double lung transplant; the number of double lung transplants carried out here in each of the past five years; the number of patients on the waiting list for double lung transplant who died while on the waiting list in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27840/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply

Deirdre Clune

Question:

208 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the services that currently exist for cystic fibrosis patients; the plans that currently exist to establish new cystic fibrosis units; where such units will be located; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27841/10]

I have consistently emphasised the need to improve facilities and services to persons with cystic fibrosis. Following publication of the Pollock Report in 2005, the Health Service Executive established a Working Group to undertake a detailed review of cystic fibrosis services. The Group, which was multidisciplinary in its composition and included representation from the Department of Health and Children, was asked to review the current configuration and delivery of services to persons with cystic fibrosis in Ireland. The report was published in October 2009.

The HSE was asked to place a particular focus on the development of services at the National Adult Tertiary Referral Centre at St.Vincent's Hospital. Additional funding of €1.6m has been provided to St. Vincent's to enable the recruitment of additional staff across the full range of disciplines for the specialist treatment of cystic fibrosis. A number of capital projects have been completed at the hospital and have helped to improve facilities. These include a new ambulatory care centre, the refurbishment of St. Camillus Ward, and a new Accident and Emergency Department which includes single room accommodation. The refurbishment of accommodation to provide eight single en-suite rooms for patients with cystic fibrosis was completed in August 2008 and the beds are now operational. This brings the total level of in-patient accommodation for the treatment of respiratory patients (including people with CF) at the hospital to 63 beds.

A new ward block to replace existing accommodation is being developed at the hospital. This facility will provide single room en-suite inpatient accommodation (100 rooms) and a dedicated day unit for people with CF, including 10 single day treatment rooms with en-suite sanitary facilities. Tenders for this development are currently under consideration. It is estimated that the construction, equipping and commissioning of this block will take approximately 18 months.

The hospital currently treats over 50% of the CF adult population. The HSE is now working with St. Vincent's to identify opportunities for patients who do not require tertiary level care to be treated close to home where adult services have been developed in the other specialist centres. Capital funding has been provided for the development of outpatient facilities for patients with CF treated at Beaumont Hospital. HSE funding enabled the construction of a three storey building consisting of two floors each of 14 single rooms, and 8 bed HDU and two additional ICU rooms (within existing ICU). The project is in two phases and the first phase (decanting) was completed at the end of 2009 and the second phase is currently underway.

Services for patients with cystic fibrosis are also provided at Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, Children's University Hospital, Temple Street, Tallaght Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Waterford Regional Hospital, Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, University College Hospital Galway and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Additional funding provided to all of these hospitals has enabled the recruitment of additional staff for the specialist treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

209 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount awarded by the Health Service Executive in respect of clinics (details supplied) in Dublin 24 under the primary care reimbursement service for 2007, 2008 and 2009; and the number of medical card holders registered at each of those clinics in the respective years. [27849/10]

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

210 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the day to day non-capital budget for hospitals (details supplied) in County Dublin each year from 2000 to date in 2010. [27850/10]

I have referred this matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Staff

Deirdre Clune

Question:

211 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to employ a specialised consultant to deal with the current double lung transplant waiting lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27853/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

EU Directives

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

212 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive 2004/24/EC has been fully transposed into Irish law and if all provisions arising from the measure or measures through which it was transposed have come into effect; if not, the timeline for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27856/10]

Directive 2004/24/EC has been fully transposed into Irish law in the Medicinal Products (Control of Placing on the Market) Regulations 2007, the Medicinal Products (Control of Manufacture) Regulations 2007, the Medicinal Products (Control of Wholesale Distribution) Regulations 2007 and the Medicinal Products (Control of Advertising) Regulations 2007. The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has put in place a scheme which meets the provisions of the Directive — details were set out in the Guide to Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Registration Scheme, September 2007.

Under the Medicinal Products (Control of Placing on the Market) Regulations, 2007, all medicinal products on the market must have either a marketing authorisation or a certificate of registration. As provided for in Directive 2004/24/EC, the Regulations provide an exemption from this requirement until 30 April 2011 for traditional herbal medicinal products that were on the market in the State on the coming into force of the regulations (20 July 2007). The IMB has issued guidance to companies in relation to the ending of this transitional period in its most recent newsletter.

Health Service Staff

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

213 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the recruitment process for the 200 new social worker posts being recruited this year; if it is the case that social workers who are in temporary positions with the Health Service Executive are being given priority; if those temporary positions will be filled when current holders of such posts are given permanent positions; if those on the national panel are prioritised; the weight that is given to the marks scored by persons on that panel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27858/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the recruitment of Social Workers, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Services

John McGuinness

Question:

214 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding for in vitro fertilisation treatment has been discontinued at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin; if it is intended to recommence the programme; the plans for clients who were attending and receiving treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27862/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Property

John McGuinness

Question:

215 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will arrange a meeting (details supplied) to resolve the issues relative to a club and the possible sale of HSE lands used by the club. [27863/10]

Estate management of the Health Service Executive property portfolio is a service matter and the question has therefore been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

John McGuinness

Question:

216 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reasons for the delay in providing long-term residential independent living accommodation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if the case will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27865/10]

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.

Departmental Correspondence

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

217 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 202 of 7 July 2009, when the outstanding information will issue from the Health Service Executive. [28013/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

218 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that Parliamentary Question No. 202 of 7 July 2009 and repeated follow-up Questions Nos. 189 of 21 October 2009 and 156 of 1 December 2009 and directly to the parliamentary affairs division of the Health Service Executive on 1 February 2010 and again on 1 March 2010, on the number and subjects of unpublished or redacted reports conducted by the HSE or former health boards, did not elicit the information given by a senior HSE official to “Morning Ireland” on 4 March 2010 that there are 20 unpublished reports into the deaths of children in care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28014/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.

The Deputy's question of 7 July 2009 referred to reports conducted by either the HSE or the former health boards which had not been published or had only been published in redacted form. I understand that much of the existing HSE material in relation to deaths of children in care in the past ten years relates to case files and internal reviews of individual cases: it may not take the form of formal reports which could be considered for publication. However, the intention is that this material may be considered by the Independent Review Group established by me.

The Deputy will be aware, in this context, that the Health Amendment Bill is being enacted urgently to facilitate consideration of sensitive information relating to child deaths by the Independent Review Group.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

219 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Health Service Executive progress report on delivery of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will issue. [28015/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Correspondence

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

220 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 162 of 15 October 2009, when the outstanding information will issue from the Health Service Executive. [28016/10]

I have been advised by the Health Service Executive (HSE) that a response will be issued to the Deputy shortly.

Homeless Persons

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

221 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of unattached homeless children known to the Health Service Executive as of 31 March 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. [28017/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Correspondence

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

222 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that the practice of transferring women from State-funded mother and baby homes to Magdalene laundries was State policy, as outlined in the Department of Local Government and Public Health Annual Report 1932 to 1933; the length of time this policy was in place; the number of women who were transferred or referred; the length of time they remained in the laundries; the status of their children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28018/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

316 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a letter from an organisation (details supplied) seeking clarification on the special provision as outlined in the Department of Local Government and Public Health Annual Report 1932 to 1933 of transferring women who had multiple births outside of marriage from a State-funded mother and baby home to an organisation; the length of time this special provision remained in place; if she can produce records documenting the numbers of women so transferred; and if it can account for the fate of the children born to such women; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28504/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 316 together.

I met with a delegation from the Justice for Magdalene group recently, together with officials from the HSE and from my Department. The HSE has undertaken to make enquiries regarding the various matters which have been raised by the group with regard to the role of the health boards. I will revert to the group on the completion of those enquiries.

Homeless Persons

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

223 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details of the specific services available to young persons using out-of-hours hostel accommodation during the day and the locations of each service; the details of the times that they are required to leave their accommodation and permitted to return; the number of young persons using these services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28019/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

224 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that all required health and personal social services are made available to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28020/10]

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.

Medical Cards

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

225 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the centralisation of medical card applications; the local Health Service Executive offices that are still processing applications and which are centralised; if there is a timetable for centralisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28021/10]

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

226 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of acute hospital beds here in January 2010 and the number in January 2009; the number of public and the number of private of same; the projected number of same for January 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28022/10]

The number of beds available in each hospital can vary over any year for operational reasons. Acute bed numbers in public hospitals are counted as an average of beds available over each year. The number of acute beds in private hospitals at any time is not collected or verified by my Department or by the HSE. However, I understand that in 2009 there were approximately 2,300 inpatient beds and 450 day beds in private hospitals which are members of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation.

The national average number of acute hospital beds available in public hospitals in 2007, the latest year for which validated data has been compiled by the HSE, was 13,688. This includes both inpatient beds and day places. An average of approximately 20% of these are categorised as private beds.

My Department has requested the HSE to provide validated data on the national average number of acute hospital beds available in 2008 and 2009 to the Deputy as soon as these become available.

It is not possible to indicate the average number of acute hospital beds which will be in operation in 2011. However the emphasis must continue to be on the most effective use of acute bed capacity for patient best care, through shortened lengths of stay, day of surgery admission and more day case activity.

Medical Cards

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

227 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who have availed of the general practitioner only medical card since its introduction; the estimated cost of administration of the scheme in that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28023/10]

Details of the number of GP visit card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis, showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances. The most recent figures provided by the HSE to my Department reflect the position on 1st June 2010 and show 106,373 GP visit card holders on that date.

As the other information sought by the Deputy is not provided by the HSE to my Department as a matter of routine, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address these matters and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

228 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number by which hospital admissions will be reduced as a result of the implementation of the Health Service Executive service plan for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28024/10]

In the HSE National Service Plan 2009 the "Expected Activity/Target" specified 573,360 in-patient discharges and 647,000 day cases, totalling 1,220,360 admissions. The National Service Plan for 2010 has set the corresponding targets at 540,993 inpatient discharges and 679,510 day cases, totalling 1,220,503 admissions. The HSE's target for total admissions in 2010 is therefore in line with 2009 admissiontargets.

Social Welfare Benefits

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

229 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken to address delays in the delivery of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28025/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

230 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will direct the Health Service Executive to carry out a multidisciplinary assessment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan to ensure that they receive the most appropriate assistance and support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28026/10]

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.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

231 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the reasons that a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan has not been allocated a social worker by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28027/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

232 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan was discharged by the Health Service Executive last year without any alternative service being put in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28028/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

233 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there are only three orthodontists for the entire Limerick, north Tipperary and Clare areas, if she will take steps to address this issue. [28029/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

234 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that children in the Dublin north east area are being forced to wait two years or more for orthodontic treatment; the steps she is taking to address this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28030/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

235 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason home help hours allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan have been reduced to two hours per week, and if she will intervene in this case in view of the fact that this person has no family living here and is dependent on home help for assistance with many day to day chores. [28031/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

236 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the average number of cases allocated to social workers here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28032/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of Social Work services and the average number of cases allocated to Social Workers, this is a service matter and it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Staff

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

237 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of locum social workers employed by the Health Service Executive to cover social workers on sick leave for more than three weeks during each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28033/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of Social Work services and the provision of locum cover for sick leave, this is a service matter and it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

238 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of social workers who have taken sick leave for longer than three weeks for each of the past five years. [28034/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of Social Work services and the sick leave of Social Workers, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

239 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of social workers who have taken maternity leave during the past five years; the number of locum social workers who have been employed to cover maternity leave during each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28035/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of Social Work services, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Children in Care

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

240 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive intends to conduct an audit of cases where children who had been in care were returned to their pre-care home and suffered injury, neglect, abuse, or who died; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28036/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

241 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive plans to conduct an audit of children who died in care for the decade previous to the current audit and the decade prior to that; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28037/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

242 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of the children missing from the care system who are presumed dead; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28038/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

243 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of meetings that have taken place between the Health Service Executive and the gardaí in respect of children who have gone missing from the care system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28039/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

244 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who have had multiple entries in to the care system and the reasons for same. [28040/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Question No. 245 answered with Question No. 161.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

246 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children in care who have had multiple changes of social work during each of the past five years. [28042/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

247 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps taken by the Health Service Executive to establish a rapid response system across the State, that covers both sea and airports; the steps taken to establish a two-way information and response system in cooperation with authorities in the North of Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28043/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Mental Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

248 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements that are in place regarding ongoing treatment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28050/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

249 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when speech and language therapy will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28051/10]

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.

Medicinal Products

Pat Breen

Question:

250 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to ensure security of supply of all medicines following her announcement that pharmacists will be permitted to substitute cheaper generic drugs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28069/10]

The Government has decided to introduce a system of reference pricing combined with generic substitution of medicines. This will promote price competition and deliver ongoing savings for both the State and for patients.

I have recently published a report, prepared by a joint working group made up of officials and health care professionals from my Department and the HSE, which sets out a proposed model for the operation of generic substitution and reference pricing in Ireland. The report recommends that security of supply be taken into account when reference prices are set for medicines. I expect to see significant progress on the implementation of this initiative, including the identification of legislative and administrative changes required to give it effect in 2011.

Health Service Staff

Pat Breen

Question:

251 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the staffing levels in the County Clare mental health services; the number employed in the service for the past three years; the number of vacancies in the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28078/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Michael Ring

Question:

252 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of area operations managers that have been appointed; the number the Health Service Executive are advertising for in the whole country in relation to the introduction of integrated services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28086/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

287 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of area operations managers that have been appointed; the number now being advertised in the whole country for the Health Service Executive in relation to the introduction of integrated services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28380/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252 and 287 together.

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Repayment Scheme

Noel Ahern

Question:

253 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the scheme of refund of pension or payments made to clients of families of persons in long term nursing home type accommodation with the State; if she will provide a summary of work done; the number of cases dealt with; the number of cases with payments made and so on; the number of cases still to be handled or concluded; the number of cases under appeal; the number of staff in the Health Service Executive or outsources still dealing with cases or appeals; when work will be concluded and the scheme closed down; the costs awarded to date; and the estimate of costs to come; the estimated cost of administration including appeals. [28106/10]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Health Repayment Scheme in association with the appointed Scheme Administrator KPMG accountants and McCann Fitzgerald solicitors.

Almost 35,400 applications have been received under the Scheme and almost 19,200 repayments have been finalised totalling over €430 million. Approximately 40 complex claims remain outstanding and it is expected that these claims will be concluded on a weekly basis.

There are 15-20 staff between the HSE and the Scheme Administrator involved in the Scheme. It is estimated that the total cost of the Scheme will be €465 million, comprising of repayments totalling €438 million and overheads totalling approximately €27 million. Overheads include payments to the Scheme Administrator, HSE administrative costs and the cost of administering the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office.

The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals is an independent office established to provide an appeals service to those who wish to appeal the decision of the Scheme Administrator under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006. The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office was established in December 2006. Up to 18 June 2010, the Appeals Office received 6,014 completed appeal forms and 4,606 decisions have issued. The Appeals Office continues to receive completed appeal forms and it is anticipated that the majority of appeals will be determined before the end of 2010. Two appeals officers have been appointed to consider appeals and the Office has four administrative staff. The cost of administering the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office since its establishment in 2006 up to 31 December 2009 was €1.567million.

Departmental Expenditure

John McGuinness

Question:

254 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the elements of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes that have been implemented to date by her Department; her plans to implement any aspects of the plan in the future; if the overall plan has been assessed by her Department; and if so, her views on the benefits of the plans. [28117/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table:-

Recommendations

Status

Vote 39

Reduce the size of the Department of Health & Children

The Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement and the recruitment and promotion moratorium has been applied to the Department. Number of staff (Whole Time Equivalents) in 2008 was 526.50 and in 2009 was 485.88. The figure at the end of May 2010 was 480.71.

These figures take account of an additional 33.17WTEs transferred into my Department during 2009 & 2010 as a result of the transfer of youth affairs responsibilities from the Department of Education and Science, other functions from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the dissolution of the National Council on Ageing and Older People, the Women’s Health Council and the forthcoming dissolution of the Children’s Act Advisory Board under the rationalisation of agencies programme.

Merge the Ombudsman for Children with the Office of the Ombudsman

Government decided not to implement this

Merge Health Research Board with single stream science funding

Initiative to streamline STI funding announced in Budget

Integrate the Health Insurance Authority into the Financial Regulator

Not implemented but no savings would accrue here as the Health Insurance Authority is funded by the industry

Restrict the National Treatment Purchase Fund

Not implemented

Remove the Exchequer element of agencies part funded by the National Lottery

Funding has been reduced by €199,000 in 2010

Vote 40

Health sector efficiencies

HSE is to achieve €106m in efficiencies in 2010

Health sector staffing

HSE pay is being reduced by €100m in 2010 for reduced staffing

Eliminate all bonus payments to HSE staff

Bonus payments not provided for in 2010

Revise income guidelines for medical cards

Not implemented

Increase threshold for Drugs Payments Scheme

Threshold increased

Introduce co-payment (€5) for GMS and LTI prescriptions

Health (Amendment) No. 2 Bill 2010 was published on 25th June 2010 providing the legislative basis for charges to be made in respect of prescription items dispensed to medical card holders. (The proposed charge is per item rather than per prescription in order to provide on an equitable basis for the fact that the number of items per prescription may vary). A charge of 50 cent will be imposed in respect of prescription items dispensed by a community pharmacy contractor on foot of a prescription issued under the GMS (Medical Card) Scheme

Tendering for GMS services

Reductions in drug costs agreed with the IPHA, together with other measures, expected to produce savings of €94m in a full year. Reductions in pharmacy fees were also implemented under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act.

Increase hospital charges

Charges are not being increased this year but the HSE is required as part of its National Service Plan to improve the collection rate of charges

Increase charges for private beds in public hospitals

Charges are not being increased this year but the HSE is required as part of its National Service Plan to improve the collection rate of charges

Introduce mandatory protocols to use generic medicines

This matter has received detailed examination and it is intended that legislation will be introduced in order to provide for reference pricing

Efficiencies in non-emergency patient transport

HSE is to make savings of €4.3m in 2010

Efficiencies in Disability and Mental Health administration

Overall €106m savings to be achieved on non-pay by HSE, including Disability and Mental Health providers, in 2010

Increase percentage recoupment under Fair Deal

Not implemented

Introduce Means Test for Homecare Packages

Not implemented

Vote 41

Abolish the transitional provisions for the National Childcare Investment Programme

The allocation to the NCIP was reduced by €2.5m

Alter the means test by eliminating Band C

New arrangements to achieve savings will be introduced in September 2010.

Rationalise the administrative structures of the National Childcare Investment Programme

Not implemented pending introduction of new Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) scheme and subsequent review.

Hospital Waiting Lists

John McGuinness

Question:

255 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there is an 18 month waiting list at the urology department in Waterford Regional Hospital; if an appointment will be made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [28122/10]

John McGuinness

Question:

257 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in arranging a surgical procedure in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [28124/10]

John McGuinness

Question:

258 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there was no follow up in the provision of care in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow and if she will expedite the matter. [28125/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255, 257 and 258 together.

As these are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Question:

256 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an appeal against the decision of the Health Service Executive not to grant a full medical card in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [28123/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 257 and 258 answered with Question No. 255.

John McGuinness

Question:

259 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for a medical card will be reviewed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if a full explanation will be given to the person on the way the level of means was arrived at; if their actual means will be examined; if a full medical card will be issued; and if she will expedite a response. [28126/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Proposed Legislation

Finian McGrath

Question:

260 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [28132/10]

Earlier this year I hosted two briefing sessions for members of the Oireachtas on ECT.

Following consideration of the issues raised and in light of submissions received, I will bring forward to Government proposals for legislative amendments in the next few weeks.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

261 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [28138/10]

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.

Medical Cards

Michael Ring

Question:

262 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons (details supplied) in County Mayo are being assessed for a medical card under the national income guidelines when both are in their 70s; the reason they are not being assessed according to the over seventies guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28140/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

James Reilly

Question:

263 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if a hospital (details supplied) in County Dublin is being used as a storage depot for office desks that are unused because they are the wrong specification and if so, the cost to the Exchequer of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28150/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Vaccination Programme

Róisín Shortall

Question:

264 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 10 June 2010, the reason for the continuing delay in issuing a full response to correspondence which was sent to her on 7 April 2010 and if the matter will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28152/10]

In my previous reply to a parliamentary question on this matter, I advised the Deputy that the HSE would be replying directly to the parents of the boy concerned and I understand that such a reply issued on 22nd June 2010. In addition, I can confirm that a reply to representations made to me by the boy's parents issued from my office on 24th June 2010.

Medical Cards

Margaret Conlon

Question:

265 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Health and Children if queries regarding medical card eligibility made by Members of the Oireachtas on behalf of members of the public are being dealt with for persons under 70 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28156/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Ulick Burke

Question:

266 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether it is necessary for the accident and emergency services at University College Hospital Galway to request and record on a recurring basis all details of patients who are being repeatedly admitted to the hospital, particularly where cancer patients are receiving on going treatment on a regular basis; her views on the need for this repetitive recording of patients who are known to the staff on duty; if her attention has been drawn to the distress caused by such practice. [28168/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Ulick Burke

Question:

267 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of usage by the Health Service Executive west of the facilities available to public patients at the Galway Clinic under the original agreement of approximately 20 beds being made available by the clinic management; the usage of these beds in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28169/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Accommodation

Ulick Burke

Question:

268 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of wards closed at present in University College Hospital, Galway, Merlin Park Hospital, Galway and Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, County Galway; the number of beds lost to the services in each case; the number of beds to be cut for the remainder of 2010 in each of these centres; the effect these closures will have on the services provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28170/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Ulick Burke

Question:

269 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of respite hours and days cut in 2009 and to date in 2010 by the Health Service Executive west; the alternative she will introduce to alleviate hardship for those in greatest need; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28171/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Service Staff

Ulick Burke

Question:

270 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of social workers to be appointed by the Health Service Executive west as promised in the implementation plan of the Ryan report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28172/10]

The Implementation Plan for the recommendations of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was accepted by Government and published in July 2009. One of the key recommendations of the Implementation Plan is that an additional 270 additional social workers be recruited by the HSE between 2009 and 2011 in order that the HSE can fulfil its care planning and other statutory obligations to children in care. This is made possible as the approved Employment Control Framework for the HSE exempts social worker posts from the current moratorium on recruitment and the filling of vacancies. An amount of some €14m has been provided to the HSE in the current year to progress the implementation of the recommendations of the Ryan Commission.

One of the principal commitments in the Ryan Implementation Plan is the need to ensure that all children in care have an allocated social worker and a care plan. To this end, the Government has committed to filling 270 HSE social worker posts by the end of 2011 and to the frontloading of this initiative in 2010 with the filling of 200 posts.

This initiative is designed to target resources at front line services in order to ensure that the HSE fulfils its statutory obligations. The Oireachtas has voted that the necessary finance be provided and the filling of these posts has been exempted from the public service moratorium on recruitment and replacement of staff. There is an explicit commitment in the HSE Service Plan for 2010, as laid before the Oireachtas, that these posts will be filled.

I met with senior HSE representatives, including the Chairman of the Board, in recent weeks to review the progress being made in this regard. The HSE is in the process of interviewing approximately 400 candidates, in order to form a new panel of suitable candidates to fill all 200 posts in the current year. I am advised that 60 offers of employment issued from the HSE on foot of interviews which commenced in June, and that further offers are to be made this week. The 200 extra social workers will undertake a range of statutory child care functions, as per the recommendations of the Ryan Report. The recruitment of these additional social workers is critical in terms of progressing the Implementation Plan and in ensuring the allocation of a named social worker to each child in care and the to the availability of care plans for all of these children. I have been assured by the HSE that the matter is being afforded the highest priority both by the Board and by senior management.

The matter of the allocation of resources across particular HSE regions is a service matter for the HSE. In this regard I have requested that the HSE respond directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards

Ulick Burke

Question:

271 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical card applications currently with the Health Service Executive west; the average time delay in issuing cards to persons involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28173/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is not provided by the Health Service Executive to my Department as a matter of routine. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Services for the Elderly

Ulick Burke

Question:

272 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the additional services provided by the Health Service Executive west at the new hospital for the elderly in Loughrea, County Galway; if funding has been provided for the introduction of these new services; and if she will outline the details of the proposed operation of these services and the number of full time personnel involved. [28174/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Staff

Ulick Burke

Question:

273 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children when the three consultants promised for Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, County Galway will be appointed; when these persons will take up duty at the centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28175/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Home Subventions

Michael Ring

Question:

274 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue in relation to an appeal for the fair deal scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28210/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards

Joe Costello

Question:

275 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reverse the decision to remove the medical card from a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28216/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Pharmacy Regulations

Chris Andrews

Question:

276 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive is not paying pharmacists on time; the amount that has been paid in penalties to pharmacists in 2009 and in the first six months to date in 2010; if personnel will be made available to the accounts section in the HSE to enable that office to comply with the Late Payment in Commercial Transactions Regulation 2002, with particular regard to an area. [28221/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Nursing Home Subventions

Thomas Byrne

Question:

277 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for the fair deal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [28224/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Michael Ring

Question:

278 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an appointment. [28312/10]

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.

Michael Ring

Question:

279 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason it took eight years for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo to receive a letter advising them that they are on a waiting list to be assessed by an occupational therapist; her views on whether this is satisfactory treatment; the action that can be taken to prevent this from happening to another person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28316/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

280 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can expect to be seen by an occupational therapist. [28317/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 279 and 280 together.

As the Deputy's questions relate to service matters I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions

Noel Coonan

Question:

281 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for nursing home subvention fair care in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the details of the current payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28321/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Preschool Services

Joe Behan

Question:

282 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will amend the early childhood care and education scheme to include children born in July and August 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28326/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January this year.

The objective of the ECCE scheme is to provide appropriate age related activities and programmes in a formal setting to children in the year before they commence primary school. Targeting the pre-school year at a particular age cohort is fundamental to the scheme and requires the setting of minimum and maximum age limits within which children are eligible to participate. In setting these limits, account was taken of a number of factors including the differing enrolment policies of primary schools and the fact that the great majority of children commence primary school between the ages of 4 years and 6 months and 5 years and 6 months.

Children will qualify for the scheme where they are aged more than 3 years and 2 months and less than 4 years and 7 months at 1 September each year. The upper age limit does not apply where children are developmentally delayed and would benefit from participating in the pre-school year at a later age, or where a child cannot start primary school until a later date due to the enrolment policy of the local primary schools. In September 2010, children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 will be eligible for a free pre-school year place. It is accepted that if parents choose to send their children to primary school from within two months of reaching their fourth birthday, they will not be able to benefit from the scheme.

It is necessary to the objectives of the ECCE scheme that appropriate age-related early learning activities are provided to children in their pre-school year. As in the case of any scheme introduced, cases will arise where individuals would rather that certain conditions did not apply. However, the scheme must remain sufficiently targeted to ensure the best delivery of pre-school education and, therefore, it is not proposed to extend the eligibility age range beyond that currently provided for.

Health Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

283 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in an assessment in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8. [28366/10]

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.

Medical Cards

Michael Ring

Question:

284 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved the medical card. [28375/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael Ring

Question:

285 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will issue a Health (Amendment) Act card, sometimes referred to as a blue card, to a certain sector of persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28377/10]

The entitlement of an individual to services under the Health (Amendment) Act, l996 now rests with the Chief Executive Officer of the Health Service Executive (HSE). In respect of persons who have made an application after 20th June 2006, the legal position is clear and unambiguous. The Chief Executive Officer is bound by the definition of eligibility inserted in the Health (Amendment) Act 2006 by section 6 of the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal (Amendment) Act 2006, which requires a positive diagnostic test for applications received after the specified date.

In respect of persons who made an application before that date, the Chief Executive Officer is still obliged to satisfy himself that the applicant was infected with Hepatitis C. In that regard, I have asked the HSE to take account of any relevant decision of the Hepatitis C & HIV Compensation Tribunal on the basis that the Tribunal arrives at its decisions after careful consideration of expert testimony.

I have given a great deal of consideration to the issue of women who have neither a positive test result nor a positive Tribunal decision in their favour and I am very sympathetic to the women in question. However, I have to take into account the rationale which led to the clarification of eligibility requirements in 2006 and accordingly, I do not envisage a change in the current eligibility requirements.

I should point out that the women in question are entitled to apply for a regular medical card. Application forms for a medical card are available from the HSE's local health offices. The HSE has discretion to award a medical card to a person whose income is over the financial guidelines, where the HSE decides that the financial burden of medical or other exceptional circumstances would cause undue hardship.

Michael Ring

Question:

286 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the lack of synchronisation between the Health Service Executive medical card lists and the national primary care reimbursement service list in view of the fact that some patients with valid medical cards are not on the PRCS list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28379/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 287 answered with Question No. 252.

Mental Health Services

Charles Flanagan

Question:

288 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 209 of 9 March 2010 and 118 of 9 June 2010, if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the child psychiatry service in counties Laois and Offaly is currently suspended to all routine referrals, due to a backlog in work and very limited resources; the number of referrals on the waiting list; the number of persons who have been informed that they cannot be placed on the waiting list; the steps she proposes to take to deal with this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28381/10]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

289 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 209 of 9 March 2010 and 119 of 9 June 2010 regarding child psychiatry services in counties Laois and Offaly and the backlog of work and very limited resources, if she is now in a position to reply thereto. [28382/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288 and 289 together.

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Pension Provisions

Michael Ring

Question:

290 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a former employee of the Health Service Executive and midwife from County Mayo will receive their gratuity payment and pension payment following their retirement several months ago. [28383/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards

John O'Mahony

Question:

291 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will have their medical card renewed. [28389/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Ambulance Service

John McGuinness

Question:

292 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason transport is not being provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if she or the Health Service Executive have provided funding for such a service in the past; if so, the reason it is being discontinued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28392/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

John McGuinness

Question:

293 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason urgent cases for dental treatment are not being approved by the Health Service Executive in County Kilkenny; the reasons such cases are not being dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28396/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards

Michael Ring

Question:

294 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their renewed medical card. [28400/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael Ring

Question:

295 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when persons (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved renewed medical cards. [28406/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Procedures

Michael Ring

Question:

296 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for a procedure in University College Hospital Galway. [28408/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Joe Costello

Question:

297 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reconsider her decision to issue a general practitioner only card in respect of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28410/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists

James Reilly

Question:

298 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of consultant neurologists here by hospital; the average waiting time to see a consultant neurologist; the number of persons on the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28411/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Michael Ring

Question:

299 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue on an appeal for a full medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [28414/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael Ring

Question:

300 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved a medical card. [28415/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Michael Ring

Question:

301 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a valid medical card has been withdrawn without notification prior to its expiration date in respect of a person (details supplied); if she will instruct the Health Service Executive to restore the medical card. [28416/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Joe Carey

Question:

302 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 259 of 1 June 2010, if and when she gave the go ahead for a dementia specific daycare centre to be constructed on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Hospital campus in Ennis, County Clare; if this decision was taken before the review of the Clarecastle daycare dementia specific file was completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28418/10]

As is the case with any individual unit, the proposed dementia unit at St Joseph's, Ennis can only be progressed in the context of the overall approval of the Health Service Executive Capital Plan 2010, which is at an advanced stage. Details of individual developments included in the Plan will be published by the HSE, following its approval.

I met with a deputation from Clarecastle, together with local Oireachtas members last February. Following this meeting, I considered the various issues raised concerning the Clarecastle proposal and updated local representatives at a reconvened meeting earlier this month.

Health Service Staff

Deirdre Clune

Question:

303 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will address the concerns that exist regarding the reallocation of staff that may result in development checks for infants being put at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28425/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

304 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff providing development checks for infants in each of the past five years; the number of children who have received development checks in each of the past five years; the current waiting list for such checks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28426/10]

As the Deputy's questions relate to service matters, I have referred them to the Health Service Executive for a direct reply.

Cancer Incidence

John O'Donoghue

Question:

305 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of cancer patients in County Kerry treated by the Health Service Executive South; and the type of cancer experienced for the past five years. [28436/10]

The matters raised by the Deputy relate to the provision of healthcare services and accordingly, I have asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to respond directly to the Deputy.

Lyme Disease

John O'Donoghue

Question:

306 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to help raise awareness of Lyme disease; the number of persons who have contracted this illness over the past five years on a county basis. [28440/10]

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. 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.

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 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 and provides information on the prevention and treatment of the disease. This is currently being updated with a view to bringing increased awareness of the disease to the attention of those most at risk e.g. having the information available through the websites of Coillte, the Irish Farmers Association and Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and also Local Authorities. In addition, last Autumn an awareness raising article was placed in Epi-Insight, the HPSC disease surveillance report which is targeted at clinicians with a view to increasing awareness of the disease.

Mental Health Services

John O'Donoghue

Question:

307 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received details from the Mental Health Commission regarding the status of mental health facilities at Kerry General Hospital and at St. Finan’s Hospital, Killarney, County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28442/10]

Copies of the 2009 Annual Report of the Mental Health Commission which includes the Report of the Inspector of Mental Health Services were laid before both houses of the Oireachtas on 15th June last. The Report was published by the Mental Health Commission the following day.

The Report made a number of recommendations in respect of both facilities referred to by the Deputy. In relation to Kerry General Hospital the inspector found that the Acute Mental Health Admission Unit was a well-run unit. He also acknowledged that while the number of beds had reduced since the previous year, which resulted in more space for the residents, the unit continued to transfer residents to St Finan's Hospital. The inspector recommended that the practice of transferring patients to St Finan's should cease and that plans for the 4-bed high observation unit at Kerry General Hospital be progressed as a matter of urgency.

In relation to St Finan's the Inspector concluded that three of the five wards were not suitable for habitation or for the provision of care or treatment. The Inspector recommended that the hospital should close. The service has a closure plan which includes the building of a 25-bed continuing care and challenging behaviour unit for older persons with mental disorders, a 15-bed intensive care rehabilitation unit and a 10-bed community residence for the remaining residents.

The closure of old Victorian hospitals is in line with Government policy in mental health contained in ’A Vision for Change’ which was published in January 2006.

Hospitals Building Programme

Joe Carey

Question:

308 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made regarding the various capital developments planned for Ennis General Hospital, County Clare; the time scale for the completion of each project; if a budget is secured for these developments; the overall services that will be provided at Clare’s County Hospital in the future; the numbers of staff who will be employed in the hospital in the future; their role in the operation of the hospital; the anticipated and budgeted future bed capacity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28450/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Child Care Services

Alan Shatter

Question:

309 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in establishing the European Union 116000 hotline number for missing children; the steps she will take regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28452/10]

I have discussed the proposal to put in place a hotline for missing children that is operational in some EU Member States with members of charitable organisations and non-Governmental organisations with a view to providing some level of service. I will keep the Deputy informed of developments in this regard.

Health Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

310 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in identifying funding to re-open the respite house at Clonile, County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28465/10]

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.

Hospital Redress Scheme

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

311 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the decision not to include the 35 persons who have a strong case to be included in the Lourdes hospital redress scheme in view of the circumstances of their cases and the small number of persons involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28467/10]

The Government approved the establishment of a Redress Board to administer an ex-gratia scheme of redress for certain former patients of Dr Neary. The Board, which was chaired by Judge Maureen Harding Clark, has concluded its work and all awards determined have been notified to successful applicants. I consider that the Scheme of Redress approved by the Government on the advice of Judge Clark represents a reasonable response to the findings of the Lourdes Hospital Inquiry in all of the circumstances.

In a number of cases details of former patients of Dr. Neary were forwarded by the Department to the State Claims Agency for their consideration with the agreement of the Minister. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the specific circumstances of these cases.

Medical Cards

Michael Ring

Question:

312 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied with the reliability and accuracy of a website (details supplied); the set-up cost of same; the operating costs of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28473/10]

I welcome the introduction of the Health Service Executive's (HSE) new website, www.medicalcard.ie, which enables people anywhere in the country to apply for a medical card on-line. The new website provides for a simple and efficient on-line application process for medical card applicants. On-line assessments will be immediate and for applicants who supply all evidence/documentation and are eligible on income grounds, medical card delivery will be guaranteed within 15 days of receipt of the completed application pack.

The website also has additional facilities which will assist members of the public and speed up the application process such as; new medical card applicants to the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) can track the status of their paper application or review; a simple eligibility checker to check the current eligibility status of a medical card; a new on-line feedback and enquiry facility for the public to communicate directly with the PCRS.

As the other information sought by the Deputy is not provided by the Health Service Executive to my Department as a matter of routine, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Eating Disorders