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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011

Vol. 741 No. 3

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 16, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 17 to 46, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 47 to 56, inclusive, answered orally.

Literacy Levels

Michael McGrath

Question:

57 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans for implementing the new literacy and numeracy strategy as it applies to the preschool and early education sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26061/11]

The Literacy and Numeracy Strategy was launched by my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, in July of this year. The Strategy's publication is a milestone in the development of the early years sector in Ireland, as it recognises the central role played by experiences in early childhood in the development of literacy and numeracy skills.

Early intervention is crucial and the Strategy provides for a range of actions to support pre-school children and their families, to be undertaken by my Department. These actions include encouraging and supporting the upskilling of early childhood care and education (ECCE) practitioners. A key element of this will be to support the implementation of the Workforce Development Plan by the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills, which is co-located within my Department. The Workforce Development Plan provides a framework for ensuring that personnel working in the ECCE sector have access to accredited training, enabling quality and standards in ECCE services to be continuously improved.

As the Free Preschool Year has just completed its first full year of operation, we have also begun to collect data on the scope and nature of practice in ECCE settings. A number of research and development activities are planned to inform the optimum strategies through which to progress the objectives of the literacy and numeracy strategy in early childhood settings.

Youth Services

David Stanton

Question:

58 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her priorities with respect to youth organisations, youth affairs and youth work generally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26087/11]

My Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. These include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund and certain other provisions including the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme, Youth Information Centres, European Youth in Action Programme (administered by Léargas — The Exchange Bureau) and Gaisce — the President's Award.

Funding of €60.954m is available from my Department to support the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth work sector. Youth work programmes and services are delivered to young participants in the various programmes by some 1,100 youth work staff and by a volunteer base of over 60,000. As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I am committed to the development of a new youth policy framework which my Department is currently progressing. Through this work a clear policy framework will emerge that will aim to enhance the development, participation and support of young people.

I intend that the policy framework will also facilitate and promote co-ordination and coherence across departments and services and will set out the priorities, rationale and criteria for future funding programmes. It will also accommodate issues relevant to young people within the 10-24 age range in informal or out-of-school settings that fall within the remit of my Department. The overall aim will be to clarify and enhance coherence, connectivity, coordination and delivery in youth services and related out-of-schools services for young people and to ensure such provision is both quality and outcomes based.

Ensuring quality service delivery is an ongoing priority for me. My Department is at present progressing two quality standards initiatives in the youth area that will help ensure an improvement in good practice, that services are outcomes focussed and that the young people involved are deriving the maximum benefit from being involved. The developmental and supportive nature of the National Quality Standards Framework for youth work (NQSF), introduced in January 2011 on a phased and incremental basis, gives youth organisations and services the opportunity to articulate their youth work practice through a structured framework and to review, assess and continually develop this practice. The NQSF applies to all staff-led youth work organisations, services, projects and programmes funded by the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department.

In addition to setting national standards for "staff-led" youth work projects and organisations, my Department, having consulted widely with young people, volunteers, youth work staff and the National Youth Work Advisory Committee, is now finalising a set of best-practice standards for volunteer-led youth clubs and groups. The overall aim of these standards will be to support some 1,580 clubs with some 89,000 members in creating and providing quality developmental programmes and activities for young people in safe and supportive environments and to ensure that there is a connection and continuity with the standards that exist for staff-led youth provision.

Child Protection

Brendan Smith

Question:

59 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to extend the Murphy commission to examine the record of further Catholic dioceses in regard to child protection practices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26050/11]

The Commission of Investigation has completed its work. Separately the HSE is finalising a national audit of child protection policies, procedures and practices in each Catholic diocese. I am advised that the report of this audit is at an advanced stage and that the HSE hopes to submit the report to me by the end of October. The need for follow up action will be informed by the findings of the national audit.

The HSE's National Director, Mr. Gordon Jeyes, is also at my request engaging directly with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church on a programme of action designed to ensure that the Catholic Church is responding properly and comprehensively to all child protection concerns. Mr. Jeyes will report formally to me on progress in this regard.

Proposed Legislation

Barry Cowen

Question:

60 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the discussions she has had with representative bodies of professions for whom it will be obligatory to report under the upcoming mandatory reporting of child abuse legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26042/11]

The Government has committed, as a priority, to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First. The objective will be to ensure the greater protection of children by raising societal awareness of child abuse and the need to better safeguard children.

It is my intention that the legislation will reflect a broad based approach to compliance with obligations extending beyond reporting to one of safeguarding children at risk. My Department is working closely with the Office of the Attorney General in developing the best legislative means to underpin Children First. My Department will also be working with other relevant Government Departments and agencies, including professional regulatory bodies in formulating legislative proposals. With regard to relevant professional regulatory bodies, my Department has written to these bodies seeking their input and meetings are in the process of being arranged.

I am particularly interested in benefiting from the experience of these bodies with the implementation of the Children First Guidelines over the last decade. This experience will inform the implementation of the recently published revised Guidance and the Children First legislation which is planned to further strengthen implementation. I would hope that the legislative proposals which I will bring forward in this regard enjoy widespread support in the interests of protecting vulnerable children.

Family Support Services

Pearse Doherty

Question:

61 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to set up a child and family support agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26081/11]

I recently established the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency under the chairmanship of Ms Maureen Lynott. The inaugural meeting took place on September 15th last, and the second meeting was held just last week.

The Task Force will advise my Department in regard to the necessary transition programme to establish a Child and Family Support Agency, and will base its work on best practice in child welfare, family support and public administration; consistent with the Government's public sector reform agenda.

In relation to the Agency it has been asked to:

Propose a vision and the principles to guide operations;

Advise on the appropriate service responsibilities, and the delivery of same;

Review existing financial, staffing and corporate resources; and propose a methodology for resource allocation;

Propose an organisational design and operating child welfare and protection service model;

Prepare a detailed implementation plan;

Identify the main priorities and core relationships required;

Oversee the implementation and monitor progress, pending establishment of the Agency.

The Task Force is currently finalising a detailed work programme and has established a number of sub-groups to assist it in its work. It is envisaged that the Task Force will meet on a fortnightly basis with sub-groups meeting in between. The Task Force's work will inform preparations for the new Agency, including the drafting of legislation.

Child Protection Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

62 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the Health Information and Quality Authority standards for oversight of the Health Service Executive child protection services will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26076/11]

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has convened a Standards Advisory Group to advise on the development of National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The Advisory Group, which comprises a wide representation of people from the health and social care sector has met several times and will continue to advise HIQA on the draft standards, prior to a wider public consultation. The draft standards will then be amended based on feedback received from the consultation and the final draft standards will be forwarded to me for approval early next year.

Homeless Persons

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

63 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she liaises with other Departments in respect of the problem of youth homelessness; the joint initiatives under way, if any; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26074/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

80 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will report on progress made in the implementation of the youth homelessness strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26075/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 and 80 together.

My Department, together with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and service providers engaged in addressing the problem of youth homelessness met at the end of May, to assess and review the current demand for services, the progress made to date under the Youth Homelessness Strategy 2001 and the need to address any outstanding service deficits. This workshop was very beneficial in getting the views of stakeholders and arising out of the priorities identified on the day, work will commence shortly on a high level review of the 2001 strategy. This review will form the basis for the development of an implementation framework to address youth homelessness over the next 5 years.

It is appropriate that some ten years after the National Strategy for Youth Homelessness was developed in 2001, we review progress and set new targets. A review of progress in 2008 by the HSE in conjunction with other agencies found that significant progress had been made, especially in interagency co-operation, early prevention and an ‘out of hours' service. A standardised system is in place whereby gardaí can access an appropriate place of safety for children found to be at risk out of hours under Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991. The service is designed to ensure that children presenting as ‘at risk' outside of normal working hours are provided with an appropriate emergency place of safety, thereby reducing or eliminating social admissions of children in an acute hospital setting.

In addition, a pilot out-of-hours social work service is being tested in two locations as provided for in the Implementation Plan published following the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

It is acknowledged that there remain serious information deficits with regard to the number of children accessing services. Work is under way to improve the quality of information on the number of young people under 18 years who are homeless, and to establish what areas of the service are working well and where further improvements are needed. The review now being undertaken by my Department will address these requirements.

Missing Persons

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

64 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to her previous parliamentary question reply of 12 July 2011, the progress she has made in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality in establishing the promised missing children’s hotline; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26078/11]

The introduction of a missing children's hotline has been the subject of discussions between my Department, other Government Departments and prospective service providers including NGOs. The notification of a missing child is a matter for the Garda Síochána, and accordingly I am in contact with my colleague Mr Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence in seeking to jointly achieve the establishment of this service.

In the current financial it is essential that the most economic approach possible is taken to providing any service. I would hope that a partnership approach can achieve a cost effective solution to the implementation of this important initiative and my Department is committed to seeking to achieve this outcome.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

Michael Moynihan

Question:

65 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the plans she has to tackle child poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26066/11]

Tackling child poverty is a priority for Government and a key goal of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007- 2016, coordinated by the Department of Social Protection. Children are more likely to be poor if they are living in lone parent households with low labour market participation and dependant on income support. The Government programme sets out a framework to achieve real and sustainable economic growth, increase employment and protect the most vulnerable in society.

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, improving children's outcomes is a key objective. Early childhood care and education programmes, in particular those that are aimed at low income families, are important priorities in my Department to enhance children's opportunities for social and educational development and to support parents undertaking training and participating in employment. The network of 107 family resource centres that are funded by the Family Support Agency, under the remit of my Department, also have an important role in this regard. These programmes will inform the Government's plans to develop an area based approach to child poverty.

My priority, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is to enhance the role of early intervention and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families in the context of the new Child and Family Support Services Agency.

My Department works closely with other departments and agencies with shared objectives to secure better outcomes for children and young people. In particular, my Department works closely with the Department of Social Protection which is charged with the development of appropriate social protection policies, including in respect of children affected by poverty. My Department is represented on the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare established by the Minister for Social Protection to examine issues to do with the interactions of the tax and welfare systems so that they provide good incentives for parents to take up and remain in work and thereby contribute to the reduction of poverty and child poverty, in particular.

Children in Care

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

66 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the action she is taking in respect of the provision of aftercare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26073/11]

Section 45 of the Childcare Act 1991 places a statutory duty on the HSE to form a view in relation to each person leaving care as to whether there is a "need for assistance" and if it forms such a view to provide services in accordance with the section and subject to resources and that all young people who have had a care history with the HSE, be it foster care, residential care or high support, are entitled to an Aftercare Service based on their assessed needs. The core eligible age range for aftercare is 18 years and up to 21 years which can extend until the completion of a course of education in which he/she is engaged up to the age of 23 years of age. A total of 1,051 young people were in receipt of aftercare nationally at March 2011. The breakdown between male and female was 46% and 54% respectively.

Aftercare provision incorporates advice, guidance and practical support. An individual holistic needs assessment identifies a young persons need for accommodation, financial support, social network support and training and education. One of the key features of Aftercare support is to advocate on behalf of young people to promote their development as a fulfilled adult in their community. The most important requirements for young people leaving care are for secure, suitable accommodation as well as further education, employment or training.

The HSE National Aftercare Service is underpinned by a National Policy and Procedures Document which has been developed in cooperation with the key stakeholders including the voluntary sector agencies involved in Aftercare provision and my Department. The policy commits to promoting and achieving the best outcomes for young people leaving care and in ensuring consistency of support to these young people.

The HSE National Policy on Aftercare is being rolled out nationally under the watch of the HSE's Aftercare Implementation Group, which includes representation from the HSE, mental health, family service and disability service, as well as representation from the voluntary sector and a young persons representative from Empowering People in Care (EPIC).

I am acutely aware of the challenges facing the aftercare service, the need for information required to plan the services; the need for consistency across all areas; the need to follow up with young people who may at first reject its services and the need to link in with adult services as necessary. To accommodate such challenges funding was reviewed in 2011 to support the recruitment of ten additional aftercare workers. Additionally funding was provided to EPIC to develop a national advocacy and support service for young people in care, leaving care and aftercare.

Health Service Staff

Timmy Dooley

Question:

67 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the public service recruitment moratorium is currently being applied to the hiring of additional social workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26043/11]

The approved Employment Control Framework for the HSE exempts social worker posts from the current moratorium on recruitment and the filling of vacancies.

An additional 60 social workers are due to be recruited by the HSE in 2011. In reviewing its overall appointment and recruitment the HSE, last week, prioritised some key development posts and decided to process the recruitment of these staff with a view to their taking up employment before the end of the year. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that 60 additional social workers have been prioritised and included in this category of staff. This means that the HSE has confirmed that it will be in a position to finalise the recruitment of the additional social workers between now and the end of the year

Youth Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

68 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans for the reform of the funding structure for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25939/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

71 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will expand on her plans for the funding of youth services in view of her recent comments at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children that she has plans for rationalisation and streaming of youth services. [26068/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 71 together.

My Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. These include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund and certain other provisions including the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme, Youth Information Centres, European Youth in Action Programme (administered by Léargas — The Exchange Bureau) and Gaisce the President's Award.

This funding supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth sector. Youth work programmes and services are delivered to young participants in the various programmes by some 1,100 youth work staff and by a volunteer base of over 60,000. The main objectives of the Youth Affairs Unit in my Department are to develop and implement coherent, coordinated and relevant youth policies and strategies to support the youth sector in providing effective non-formal education and developmental opportunities for young people through which they can enhance and develop their personal and social skills and competencies.

To support this work, the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department has a budget in 2011 of €60.154m on current expenditure and €0.8m on capital expenditure. In the context of the Government's Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, and in the context of the development of a youth policy framework that is currently being progressed, my Department is reviewing the allocation of funding with a view to ensuring more efficient management and value for money as well as ensuring that the funding provided is both quality and outcomes focussed. It is intended, in particular, to review the current spread of funding available across multiple sub-heads and schemes which reflect responsibilities having historically been allocated across a number of Government Departments and which may be unnecessarily complicated in the context of the new Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Departmental Strategy Statements

John McGuinness

Question:

69 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the plans she has to examine the impact of consumerism and the media on children; the action she has in mind in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26063/11]

Mick Wallace

Question:

78 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the forthcoming national children’s strategy 2012 to 2017 will include a commitment to develop a comprehensive national plan for early childhood care and education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26000/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 78 together.

My Department is developing a new strategy for children and young people. The strategy will build on Our Children — Their Lives, Ireland’s first children’s strategy which was published in 2000 and it will cover the period from 2012 to 2017.

The new strategy is being developed in a holistic way to comprehend the continuum of the life course from infancy, through early and middle childhood, to adolescence through to early adulthood, in keeping with my Department's responsibilities for children and young people. The strategy will have a specific focus on the aspects of growth and development that are unique to each time period and the policies and services that need to be prioritised at each stage to secure good outcomes for children and young people.

The new strategy for children and young people will be the overarching framework under which policy and services for children and young people will be developed and implemented in the State. Early childhood care and education is a key commitment in the Government for National Recovery programme. The future direction of early childhood care and education policy is set out in recent policy commitments developed by my Department with the Department of Education and Skills such as the free preschool year in Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, Síolta, and Aistear, the Workforce Development Plan for the early education sector and the recently launched National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. I intend to build on these initiatives in formulating a national plan for the development of early childhood care and education.

It is clear from both the research evidence and what children and young people have to say that there are a number of new and emerging issues which are impacting upon their lives. Prominent social policy concerns relate to childhood obesity and child poverty and it is evident that aspects of consumerism are impacting on children's experience of growing up. Children and young people participating in Dáil na nÓg have voiced their concerns about being negatively represented in the media and they have spoken about the pressures they experience to conform to idealised body images portrayed in media. The impact of consumerism, in its various forms, has been identified for further investigation in my Department's work to improve data and research on children lives. The development of the new children and young people's strategy provides an opportunity to focus on these issues and how they may be addressed to improve the experience of growing up in Ireland for this and future generations of children.

It is anticipated that the new children and young people's strategy will be published mid 2012.

Asylum Support Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

70 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans for the reform of the system of care for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25940/11]

Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum are in need of care and protection under the Child Care Act, 1991 and are entitled to the same treatment and rights as indigenous young people. The immediate and the ongoing needs of separated children seeking asylum (SCSA) relating to accommodation, medical and social needs as well as their application for refugee status are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in accordance with the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) and the Child Care Act, 1991. Where children are identified by An Garda Síochána, at the point of entry, the circumstances are investigated and if there are any concerns about the welfare of the child, they are placed into the care of the HSE.

The Implementation Plan on the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009, contained a commitment that the HSE would end the use of separately run hostels for separated children seeking asylum and accommodate children in mainstream care, on a par with other children in the care system. In accordance with this commitment, the HSE phased out hostel type care for separated children seeking asylum and since January 2011, hostels have not been used to accommodate unaccompanied minors. Instead each child is cared for in a registered care placement or equivalent.

The HSE has developed a national policy on the standards and services to be provided to separated children seeking asylum. The policy seeks to achieve equity and equality of services to separated children seeking asylum vis a vis indigenous or resident children and to ensure that there is no differentiation of care provision, care practices, care priorities, standards or protocols.

Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 68.

Children in Care

John Browne

Question:

72 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of young persons who currently avail of aftercare, support for children in care after they turn 18 years of age; the way many aftercare workers are currently employed; the locations in which those workers are based; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26036/11]

In 2011, the Health Service Executive (HSE) commissioned a review of the capacity for alternative care services, including Aftercare services. An audit was undertaken last March and the HSE has provided the following information based on this audit.

A total of 1,051 young people were in receipt of aftercare nationally at March 2011. The breakdown between male and female was 46% and 54% respectively.

Aftercare provision incorporates advice, guidance and practical support. An individual holistic needs assessment identifies a young persons need for accommodation, financial support, social network support and training and education. One of the key features of Aftercare support is to advocate on behalf of young people to promote their development as a fulfilled adult in their community. The most important requirements for young people leaving care are for secure, suitable accommodation as well as further education, employment or training.

Finally, information on the numbers of aftercare workers employed and their location is not currently accessible and I am informed that the HSE is in the process of collecting this data.

Youth Services

Catherine Murphy

Question:

73 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her role in ensuring there are adequate youth facilities throughout the country; if that includes carrying out an assessment of deficiencies; if she has or intends to open up dialogue with other Departments towards this aim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26013/11]

My Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. These include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund and certain other provisions including the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme, Youth Information Centres, European Youth in Action Programme (administered by Léargas — The Exchange Bureau) and Gaisce, the President's Award.

Funding of €60.954m is provided by my Department to support the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth work sector. Included within that sum is €0.8m for capital funding under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Funding (YPFSF) was established in 1998 to assist in the development of preventative strategies/initiatives in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. Applications for funding under the YPFSF are made through the relevant Development Group which determines the suitability of proposals against priorities identified for the area and funding is allocated to relevant projects taking account of this advice amongst other criteria.

The Fund is now under the remit of my Department and currently operates in 22 areas — 14 Local Drug Task Force areas, (12 in Dublin, Bray and Cork) and in Galway, Limerick, Waterford and the towns of Carlow, Athlone, Arklow, Dundalk and Wexford.

Since it was established in 1998, the Government has allocated approximately €201m under the Young Peoples Facilities & Services Fund (YPFSF) to assist in the development of youth facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug abuse problem exists or has the potential to develop. Approximately €69m has been provided for capital developments, which include the building, upgrading, fit-out and refurbishment of over 220 youth and community facilities in the different target areas.

My Department is assisted in its assessment of the need for facilities for young people under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund, by the National Assessment Committee which includes representatives of other Government Departments, community and voluntary representatives, a representative from Dublin City Council and from the City of Dublin Youth Services Board (CDYSB). The role of the NAC was to ensure that local plans and projects approved for funding addressed gaps in provision at local level.

In addition to funding provided through the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund, a national competitive youth café development scheme was initiated in 2010 with an allocation of approximately €1.6m from Dormant Accounts funds. Under the competitive scheme, which was operated for my Department by Pobal, a total of 48 existing youth cafés received funds to improve and augment existing facilities. These funds were paid out in early 2011. In a separate strand of the scheme development funding of up to €95,000 per location was awarded to a total of 16 new youth café projects. The latter will finance the opening of a completely new facility in each case and the 16 locations are spread throughout the country. The new facilities can be expected to come on stream gradually from late 2011 up to the end of 2012 depending on the scale of individual projects. Pobal will monitor progress on the delivery of each new facility and report back to my Department in due course. The scheme is an excellent example of a significant benefit being achieved for local communities from a relatively small amount of investment by the state.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 52.

Child Abuse

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

75 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the mechanisms, legislatively and administratively, she proposes to take to prevent child sex abuse or other abuse of children or vulnerable persons; the timescale for putting in place such measures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26014/11]

The Government is committed to fundamental reform and transformation of the delivery of our children and family services. A number of significant structural and legislative changes are key to effecting such reform. This includes the establishment of a new agency with dedicated responsibility for the delivery of child welfare and protection services, separate from the HSE and reporting directly to my Department. Work on the establishment of the agency is under way and will include the preparation of primary legislation to create the new agency.

The Government is also committed to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First, the national guidance on the reporting and management of child welfare and protection concerns. The need for such legislation was also highlighted in the Implementation Plan prepared following the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The Government is attaching a high priority to the preparation of this legislation. I am pleased to report that good progress is being made in this regard.

In July 2011, I published the new Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on the 15th July, 2011 which gives direction to the identification, investigation, assessment, reporting, treatment and management of child abuse. I would hope that the implementation of both the revised Children First Guidance and the legislation which will underpin compliance will provide an opportunity to raise societal awareness of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and the need for everyone to play their part in protecting children.

In addition to the above, my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence is finalising legislation which will put the vetting of employees on a statutory footing and also allow for the sharing of soft information as part of the vetting process. The Minister is also progressing legislation on Withholding Information on Crimes against Children and Vulnerable Adults.

Services for People with Disabilities

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

76 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will report on her meeting with the Special Needs Parents Association; the assurances she has given it; her plans to ensure the human rights of children with special needs will be protected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26070/11]

I am addressing the Special Needs Parents Association's Annual Conference on Saturday 1 October 2011.

Child Abuse

Dessie Ellis

Question:

77 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the further action that will be taken in response to the Cloyne report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26080/11]

Arising from the publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Diocese of Cloyne in July 2011, the Government committed to a series of measures designed to significantly strengthen the existing legislative, policy and practice framework in the area of child protection. The intention is to ensure that child abuse in Ireland, be it clerical, institutional, within or outside the family, is strongly and decisively tackled, and that children are properly safeguarded.

I am working closely with my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence on this agenda and we are making significant progress in this regard.

In July I launched the revised Children First National Guidance for the protection and welfare of children, and last week I launched the HSE’s accompanying ‘Child Welfare and Protection Practice Handbook’ for use by all social workers and other relevant practitioners. The Handbook complements the Children First Guidance and sets specific protocols for HSE social workers, gardaí and other front line staff in dealing with suspected abuse and neglect. The objective is to ensure that safe and effective child protection practices are operated across all organisations and sectors that work with children.

I have received Government approval to put the Children First Guidance on a statutory basis and my Department is currently working with the Office of the Attorney General in developing the necessary legislative approach. Children First will also be supported by an assurance framework which will include strong emphasis on inspection and the need to provide demonstrable evidence of implementation. In the case of the health sector, the remit of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is being expanded to include oversight of the HSE’s Child Protection services, including the operation of Children First. HIQA is currently developing standards to allow for inspection of the HSE’s child protection services.

My colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence is bringing forward legislation which will put the vetting of employees on a statutory footing and also allow for the sharing of soft information as part of the vetting process. Minister Shatter is also introducing legislation on the withholding of information relating to crimes committed against children and vulnerable adults.

The range of measures which I have described forms part, in my view, of a strong and necessary Government response to the Cloyne report, and one which must be complemented by the Church authorities having regard to the very serious failings identified by the Commission of Investigation. The HSE's National Director, Mr. Gordon Jeyes, is also at my request engaging directly with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church on a programme of action designed to ensure that the Catholic Church is responding properly and comprehensively to all child protection concerns. Mr. Jeyes will report formally to me on progress in this regard.

It is important that the Church authorities' actions to safeguard children, like those of all organisations, are fully and transparently in conformity with the Children First Guidance and their own protocols. I understand in this regard that the National Board intends publishing its completed reviews of dioceses on an ongoing basis.

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 69.

Child Protection Services

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

79 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she is satisfied that the level of staffing and resources will be in place to ensure the implementation of Children First; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26083/11]

In July 2011, I launched the revised Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The Guidance deals with the recognition, reporting and management of child safety concerns. It emphasises the need to safeguard and to protect children. Among these are that the safety and welfare of children is everyone's responsibility, that children will have safer lives where everyone is attentive to their well being. People who work with children across a range of areas understand their responsibility for safe practice and the reporting of concerns.

It is important to recognize that the original Children First Guidelines have now been in place for over a decade. These Guidelines have over the period been used by the key agencies and their staff involved in the care and protection of children.

It should be noted that the HSE as the statutory body responsible for promoting the welfare of children has in place a network of personnel to provide training, information and advice on the implementation of Children First. The HSE is currently providing a programme of information and training on the new Guidance across the country. This includes the publication of its Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook which I launched last week. This Handbook will facilitate implementation of the Children First Guidance and achieve greater consistency in child protection practice throughout the HSE. I am currently attending meetings with social work personnel in each of the four HSE regions to promote the Children First Guidance. An Garda Síochána are also in attendance at these meetings reflecting the close working relationship they have with the HSE in protecting children. The welcome from social workers at these meetings for the Handbook has been extremely positive. and its clear that the revised Guidance enjoys widespread support.

Beyond the HSE and An Garda Síochána the Children First Guidance has been disseminated widely, including for example to every school in the country.

The consistent implementation of the Children First Guidance in every sector is a priority. My Department is chairing an Inter Departmental Committee to oversee implementation of the Guidance across Government. I will be meeting this Committee in early October.

The Government has also committed, as a priority, to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First. It is my intention that the legislation will reflect a broad based approach to compliance with obligations extending beyond reporting to one of safeguarding children at risk. The objective will be to ensure the greater protection of children by strengthening the existing system for reporting and responding to suspected child abuse.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 63.

Employment Levels

Peter Mathews

Question:

81 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details on the eight sectors that reported increases in employment in the latest quarterly national household survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25735/11]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of both employment and unemployment estimates for the State. The information the deputy referred to is presented in the table below. As with any sample survey, estimates from the QNHS are subject to sampling variability meaning that changes in the level of estimates of a relatively low order of magnitude may not be statistically significant. Another point to note is that, in the case of relatively large populations, such as the number of persons working in a sector of the economy, some level of movement is expected. To emphasise these points it can be noted that in recent years there has not been any quarter where decreases were recorded for all sectors despite the heavy loss in employment overall. Similarly during the period covering 2004 to 2007, a period when employment was growing rapidly, there was no quarter where increases were recorded for every sector. Therefore the CSO would caution against over-interpretation of short-term movements and rather suggest that a focus on the underlying trends be kept to the fore in any detailed analysis of the data. A clearer interpretation can be seen in the overall movement of the estimates of total employment. The quarterly fall of 3,200 in the seasonally adjusted employment series is the lowest reduction recorded since early 2008. To put that in context the highest quarterly reduction recorded in employment was a fall of 76,700 persons in the first quarter of 2009. We can similarly note that the rate of increase in unemployment has been slowing in recent quarters. With that noted, up to the second quarter of this year it remained the case that employment continued to fall and unemployment continued to rise. Future estimates from the QNHS, along with other estimates of economic activity, will be needed to allow us to draw conclusions about the ongoing state of the labour market.

(ILO) classified by NACE Rev. 2 Economic Sector,Q2 ‘09-Q2 '11

Economic sector(NACE Rev. 2)

Apr-Jun 09

Jul-Sep 09

Oct-Dec 09

Jan-Mar 10

Apr-Jun 10

Jul-Sep 10

Oct-Dec 10

Jan-Mar11

Apr-Jun11

All persons

A

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

97.4

93.7

89.8

82.3

85.0

87.4

85.1

85.2

85.9

B-E

Industry

258.0

248.7

246.7

244.6

241.4

238.0

238.1

235.4

232.3

F

Construction

155.7

150.7

136.0

130.2

125.3

114.3

109.4

108.2

105.6

G

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

277.8

270.3

266.6

267.5

268.7

268.4

268.2

262.8

264.9

H

Transportation and storage

94.9

95.6

93.4

92.8

90.0

91.4

95.8

93.9

95.0

I

Accommodation and food service activities

120.4

119.8

122.8

124.3

120.4

119.1

115.2

103.3

107.9

J

Information and communication

72.2

72.9

73.6

74.1

72.6

73.6

70.0

70.7

73.3

K-L

Financial, insurance and real estate activities

108.1

108.9

106.7

104.5

102.6

98.8

97.9

100.8

103.1

M

Professional, scientific and technical activities

102.3

102.0

103.2

102.1

100.5

97.3

97.9

102.5

101.7

N

Administrative and support service activities

65.3

65.8

63.3

59.9

60.7

58.7

59.9

62.7

65.4

O

Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

107.5

104.9

107.1

106.6

107.5

104.8

104.2

107.1

99.8

P

Education

148.4

145.5

144.8

146.5

148.0

155.4

149.2

147.7

144.9

Q

Human health and social work activities

228.0

231.4

233.3

234.3

235.1

235.0

233.8

232.8

238.0

R-U

Other NACE activities

100.4

101.2

101.4

98.5

99.8

99.9

99.3

103.9

98.9

Total Employment

1,936.9

1,907.7

1,890.3

1,872.3

1,855.2

1,838.1

1,826.3

1,819.1

1,815.9

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

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Seasonally Adjusted Series of persons aged 15 years and over in employment

(ILO) classified by NACE Rev. 2 Economic Sector, Q2 ‘09-Q2 '11- Quarterly change

Economic sector(NACE Rev. 2)

Apr-Jun 09

Jul-Sep 09

Oct-Dec 09

Jan-Mar 10

Apr-Jun 10

Jul-Sep 10

Oct-Dec 10

Jan-Mar 11

Apr-Jun 11

All persons

A

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

-5.9

-3.7

-3.9

-7.5

2.7

2.4

-2.3

0.1

0.7

B-E

Industry

-9.0

-9.3

-2.0

-2.1

-3.2

-3.4

0.1

-2.7

-3.1

F

Construction

-25.9

-5.0

-14.7

-5.8

-4.9

-11.0

-4.9

-1.2

-2.6

G

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

-6.4

-7.5

-3.7

0.9

1.2

-0.3

-0.2

-5.4

2.1

H

Transportation and storage

1.6

0.7

-2.2

-0.6

-2.8

1.4

4.4

-1.9

1.1

I

Accommodation and food service activities

1.6

-0.6

3.0

1.5

-3.9

-1.3

-3.9

-11.9

4.6

J

Information and communication

-0.3

0.7

0.7

0.5

-1.5

1.0

-3.6

0.7

2.6

K-L

Financial, insurance and real estate activities

3.5

0.8

-2.2

-2.2

-1.9

-3.8

-0.9

2.9

2.3

M

Professional, scientific and technical activities

-2.0

-0.3

1.2

-1.1

-1.6

-3.2

0.6

4.6

-0.8

N

Administrative and support service activities

-2.1

0.5

-2.5

-3.4

0.8

-2.0

1.2

2.8

2.7

O

Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

1.0

-2.6

2.2

-0.5

0.9

-2.7

-0.6

2.9

-7.3

P

Education

-0.9

-2.9

-0.7

1.7

1.5

7.4

-6.2

-1.5

-2.8

Q

Human health and social work activities

3.5

3.4

1.9

1.0

0.8

-0.1

-1.2

-1.0

5.2

R-U

Other NACE activities

-1.1

0.8

0.2

-2.9

1.3

0.1

-0.6

4.6

-5.0

Total Employment

-43.2

-29.2

-17.4

-18.0

-17.1

-17.1

-11.8

-7.2

-3.2

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

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Question:

82 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach the names and salaries of every special adviser appointed by him and the Minister of State in his Department since 9 March 2011; and if he will give the same details for any other advisers appointed. [26150/11]

The names and salaries of the Special Advisers I have appointed since 9th March 2011, are as follows:

Name and Grade

Annual Salary

Mark Kennelly, Chief of Staff

€168,000

Andrew McDowell, Special Adviser

€168,000

Paul O’Brien, Special Adviser

€80,051

Angela Flanagan, Special Adviser

€80,051

Mark O’Doherty, Special Adviser to Chief Whip

€80,051

The total of the annual salaries for these 5 Special Advisers is €576,153. In January 2010, the total of the annual salaries for the 7 Special Advisers who were appointed by my predecessor was €974,496.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Micheál Martin

Question:

83 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his Department has submitted a strategy statement to him, as specified under the 1997 Public Service Management Act; and if so, if he will publish this statement. [26407/11]

My Department has prepared a draft Strategy Statement for the period 2011-2014.

This draft will be the subject of further work, following discussions with me and to reflect the restructuring of my Department's role and responsibilities as I outlined to the House on 20 September, 2011.

The final strategy statement will be published.

Independent Commissions

Derek Keating

Question:

84 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Taoiseach his plans to commemorate the centenary of 1916 and will he consider appointing an independent commission to consider a new national anthem and review national emblems such as those worn by the gardaí, the Defence Forces, the Fire Service, the Civil Defence and our offices of State. [26412/11]

A commemorative programme is being prepared to mark the centenary of 1916. I envisage that a draft framework of events will be submitted to Government for consideration in early 2012. There are no plans to appoint an Independent Commission to consider a new national anthem and review national emblems such as those worn by the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, the Fire Service, the Civil Defence and our Offices of State.

Departmental Staff

Anne Ferris

Question:

85 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Taoiseach notwithstanding Civil Service circular No. 28, if he will provide a list of the current pay of each senior civil servant from higher executive officer to Secretary General in his Department, broken down by grade; the pension entitlements of each and any other emoluments they are entitled to receive upon reaching retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26413/11]

The pay scales for each civil servant working in my Department from Higher Executive Officer level to Secretary General level, are detailed in the following table.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is responsible for determining the precise pension entitlements of each officer in my Department. Generally, under the terms of the Civil Service Superannuation Schemes, retiring staff are entitled to a lump sum payment and a retirement pension which is based on their length of service and final pensionable remuneration. Further details regarding retirement benefits for civil servants are available at www.cspensions.gov.ie.

Retiring staff receive a retirement lump sum of 3/80ths of pensionable remuneration for each year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 1½ times pensionable remuneration. In general, staff who were recruited prior to April 1995 and pay the modified rate of PRSI receive a pension of 1/80th of pensionable remuneration per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 40 years. Staff who were recruited after April 1995, receive a pension which is integrated with the State Pension (Contributory). The formula for the calculation of the pension is 1/200th of pensionable remuneration up to 3 1/3rd times the State Pension, and 1/80th for pensionable remuneration in excess of this limit, per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 40 years. TLAC retirement terms may be applied to retiring Secretaries General, subject to certain conditions. Those terms are currently under review for future appointees.

Grade

No. of staff on this payscale

Minimum and maximum point of payscale

Secretary General

1

€200,000

Second Secretary General

1

€180,000

Assistant Secretary

2

€127,296 — €146,191

Principal Officer (higher scale pre ’95)

4

€85,957 — €105,429

Principal Officer (standard scale pre ’95)

4

€80,051 — €98,424

Assistant Principal (higher scale pre’ 95)

15 (including 7 w/s)

€67,913 — €84,296

Assistant Principal (higher scale post 95)

1 w/s

€71,359 — €88,598

Assistant Principal (standard scale pre’ 95)

4 (including 1 w/s)

€61,966 — €76,768

Assistant Principal (standard scale post’ 95)

1

€65,185 — €80,678

Higher Executive Officer (Higher scale) pre 95

9 (including 1 w/s)

€46,426 — €57,251

Higher Executive Officer (standard scale) pre 95

13 (including 5 w/s)

€43,816 — €55,415

Higher Executive Officer (standard scale) post 95

4 (including 1 w/s)

€46,081 — €58,294

Administrative Officer (higher scale post 95)

1

€40,734 — €57,251

Administrative Officer (standard scale post 95)

4

€31,619 — €55,415

Notes:

1; W/S = Work sharing

2; A small number of staff also receive allowances in addition to their salary (e.g. private secretary allowance)

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Griffin

Question:

86 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the mechanisms in place to monitor the way Irish Government overseas aid is spent by the recipient governments and non-governmental organisations; the overseas aid expenditure by the Irish Government over the past five years; the terms and conditions applied to the granting of aid to respective governments and NGO’s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25674/11]

The Government is strongly committed to Ireland's overseas aid programme, which is a central element in our foreign policy. The programme is recognised internationally for its strong focus on the fight against poverty and hunger, and its concentration on the poorest countries and communities of sub-Saharan Africa. The amounts provided for Ireland's Official Development Assistance (ODA) over the past five years are as follows:

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

€871 million

€921 million

€722 million

€676 million

€659 million

These figures include the funds administered by Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which manages the Government's aid programme, as well as contributions to international development by other Government Departments and Ireland's share of the EU development cooperation budget.

As Minister of State with responsibility for the development programme, I am very conscious of the need to ensure that development aid reaches its intended beneficiaries and that it makes a real difference in the lives of the poorest people. We deliver our aid programme in cooperation with Governments, local communities, NGOs, and key multilateral partners including the UN and EU. Ireland will play a strong role, in cooperation with our partners, at the forthcoming international meeting on Aid Effectiveness, which I will attend in Busan, Korea in November. In reviewing the aid programme most recently, in 2009, the OECD noted that Ireland is an international leader in making aid more effective. I am determined that we will build on that reputation at Busan.

Irish Aid is strongly focused on development results, identifying specific objectives and results against which all programmes are assessed and evaluated. All development aid funding is disbursed in line with these specific objectives. Proposals are rigorously appraised by Irish Aid staff as well as by an independent external Programme Appraisal and Evaluation Group using a number of criteria, including quality of intended impact, sustainability, cost effectiveness and efficiency in the use of resources. Where funds are provided to Non-Governmental Organisations, it is a fundamental condition that annual audited accounts are provided to us.

Programmes in receipt of funding from Irish Aid are subject to regular internal and external monitoring to ensure that the intended objectives and goals are being accomplished. These arrangements ensure that Ireland's development funding reaches those most in need, and supports the improvement of national systems of accounting and auditing in the countries where we work.

Irish Aid programmes are evaluated and audited by independent experts as well as by Irish Aid's Evaluation and Audit Unit. The Unit's work is also reviewed by the independent Audit Committee of my Department. These evaluations and audits provide assurance that funds are used for the purposes intended and have a particular focus on poverty reduction outcomes and value for money.

The OECD has found that "the structure of Irish Aid's programme ensures that the capacity and policy benefits of programme aid are achieved whilst improvements in the quality and accountability of public financial management together with rigorous oversight ensure that Irish funds are correctly used."

While we are working in some of the most difficult environments in the world, I am satisfied that the assessment, monitoring, evaluation and audit systems which Irish Aid has put in place provide the best assurance that development aid funding is being used for the intended objectives.

Overseas Development Aid

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

87 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in regard to Palestine, if he is in a position to work with the Agricultural Project, Green Palestine for Rural Development, through the auspices of Irish Aid. [25723/11]

Through the Irish Aid programme of overseas development assistance, the Government provides significant funding assistance to the Palestinian people.

In 2010, Irish Aid provided €9 million to address humanitarian and development needs, provide emergency assistance to the most vulnerable Palestinians, and support the Palestinian Authority in public service delivery. We also provide funding to both Palestinian and Israeli civil society organisations focusing on human rights issues. Ireland is also a strong supporter of the UN agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), which provides vital social services, including health and education, to five million Palestinian refugees. Work is now under way within Irish Aid, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to finalise a new strategy for our programme of support to the Palestinian people. This strategy will reinforce the priority Ireland attaches to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable Palestinians and will involve a particular focus on education, an area which will be vital in assisting individual Palestinians and Palestinian society as a whole to achieve their potential.

While the Government does not at present provide direct funding through Irish Aid to the agricultural sector in Palestine, Irish funding to both the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA indirectly supports the implementation of Palestinian policies on rural development and food security, as set out in the Palestinian Authority's National Development Plan 2011-2013.

Proposed Legislation

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

88 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it is envisaged that framework legislation will be introduced to underpin the commitment to the State’s programme of official development assistance and the United Nations target of investing 0.7% of national income in overseas aid by 2015. [25902/11]

The Government is strongly committed to Ireland's overseas development programme, which is central to our foreign policy. The programme is clearly focused on the fight against extreme poverty and hunger, and concentrated in some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The Programme for Government underlines our commitment to the UN target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Product (GNP) on Official Development Assistance (ODA). Despite the difficult economic environment, and the pressure on aid budgets across the developed world, we remain committed to the 0.7% GNP target.

It has been suggested that legislating for ODA allocations and the 0.7% commitment would ensure that Ireland meets its international ODA commitments and protect annual ODA allocations. I expect that the issue will arise in the context of the consultations with the public and interested organisations under the review of the White Paper on Irish Aid, which is now under way.

Over the coming years, it is clear that decisions on the annual allocations for the aid programme will have to be taken within the overall budgetary framework and the fiscal constraints on the Government. As Minister with responsibility for trade and development, I will make the strongest possible case for funding for development cooperation. I will also ensure that Ireland's aid programme continues to focus rigorously on the achievement of results and provides strong international leadership in making aid more effective, for the ultimate benefit of the world's poorest people.

International Agreements

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

89 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade while acknowledging Serbia’s arrest of indicated war criminals, if he will ensure Serbia’s compliance with those articles in the stabilisation and association agreement requiring the necessity of Serbia’s contribution to stabilisation of the region and their fostering of regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in view of recent provocative statements regarding Kosovo made by a Serbian Minister and in view of recent difficulties in the trade deal between Kosovo and Serbia. [26016/11]

Dáil Éireann approved the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on 21 July 2011. A letter communicating Ireland's ratification of the SAA was sent to the Council of the European Union on 23 September 2011. The EU-Serbia SAA will come into effect once all EU Member States have ratified the agreement. Currently, eight Member States are still in the process of completing their national ratification procedures. Articles 14-17 of the Agreement, which deal with regional cooperation, are a crucial part of the SAA . They require Serbia to actively promote regional cooperation and to commit itself to the development of good neighbourly relations, including through free trade. Similar obligations apply equally to other Western Balkans countries which have concluded Stabilisation and Association Agreements with the EU.

Serbia and Kosovo have been engaged in an EU-facilitated dialogue since March 2011 following on from a joint EU-Serbia resolution at the UN General Assembly last year. The talks led to agreements on a number of practical matters including civil registry, freedom of movement and acceptance of university and school diplomas. Tensions escalated in northern Kosovo in late July in connection with customs controls at Kosovo's border with Serbia. Ireland and its EU partners appealed to both sides to show restraint. At a further round of Belgrade-Pristina talks on 2 September, agreements were reached on customs stamps and cadastral records. We welcome the fact that the talks were reconvened and that it was possible to reach agreement on a Kosovo customs stamp.

Ireland is a member of the board of Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), based in Sarajevo, which brings together all the countries of the Western Balkans and their neighbours and aims to promote cooperation in the region. Since the RCC was founded in 2008, Ireland has contributed almost €200,000 to it in furtherance of our national objective of enhancing cooperation in the Western Balkans. There have been improvements in regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations involving Serbia in recent years. Notable examples of this include: the establishment of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue; the March 2010 resolution of the Serbian Parliament condemning the Srebrenica massacre; the joint attendance of the Presidents of Serbia and Croatia at a ceremony in Bosnia-Herzegovina in July 2010 to mark the 15th anniversary of the massacre; and the visit of the Serbian President to Vukovar in Croatia in November 2010 to commemorate victims of a siege by Serb forces. In July 2011, President Tadic paid the first official visit by a Serbian President to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I welcomed the arrests this summer of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic by the Serbian authorities, and their swift transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague for trial. The arrests represented an important step in addressing the appalling atrocities committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. Their trials in The Hague will help to further the cause of true reconciliation in the Western Balkans region.

On 12 October, the European Commission will publish its annual report on the EU Enlargement process, which will assess the progress of all the countries of the Western Balkans on key benchmarks, including their shared obligation to develop regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations. I look forward to receiving the report of the Commission on progress made by Serbia and all the countries of the Western Balkans in their preparations for accession to the European Union.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

90 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will support a matter (details supplied) regarding taxes. [26019/11]

Finian McGrath

Question:

94 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will meet with a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [26429/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 94 together.

As I mentioned in my reply to the Deputy in Question Number 44 of 14 September 2011 on this matter, the role of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade concerning private property transactions by Irish nationals abroad is limited and redress in such cases, including on taxation issues, should be sought through the relevant legal system. However, as indicated previously, officials in the Embassy of Ireland in Lisbon are ready to discuss any concerns the individual has with him. Officials at my Department's headquarters can, of course, assist in arranging such contact, as necessary.

Departmental Staff

Anne Ferris

Question:

91 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade notwithstanding the Civil Service circular No. 28, if he will provide a list of the current pay of each senior civil servant from higher executive officer to secretary general in his Department broken down by grade; the pension entitlements of each and any other emoluments they are entitled to receive upon reaching retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26237/11]

It would be inordinately time consuming to compile such detailed information in respect of some 550 individual officers. However, in order to be as informative as possible I have set out in the following table details of the Department's staff by grade from Higher Executive Officer upwards as well as the applicable salary scales. The figures take account of officers of other Government Departments serving in our Missions abroad, most notably Ireland's Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, except where their salaries and other costs are borne by their parent Departments. Ministerial appointees are excluded. The table reflects the position as of 31 August 2011.

Grade

Number serving (based on full-time equivalents)

Standard pay scale for the Grade€ per annum

Secretary General

1

215,590 (voluntarily reduced to 200,000)

Second Secretary

2

188,640

Deputy Secretary

4

168,000

Assistant Secretary

36

127,796—146,191

Legal Adviser

1

127,796—146,191

Counsellor

50

80,051—98,424

Counsellor Higher

16

85,957—105,429

Principal Officer

11

80,051—98,424

Principal Officer Higher

5

85,957—105,429

Principal Development Specialist

5

92,672—105,356

Senior Development Specialist

17

74,514—89,898

Development Specialist

25.8

61,966—76,768

Assistant Legal Adviser

6.5

61,966—76,768

First Secretary

87

61,966—76,768

First Secretary Higher

21.6

67,913—84,296

Assistant Principal

49.8

61,966—76,768

Assistant Principal Higher

15

67,913—84,296

Professional Accountant Grade 1

2

65,247—80,814

Professional Accountant Grade 2

1

55,863—69,132

Architect (Principal Officer)

1

85,957—105,429

Senior Architect

1

59,719—80,814

Translator

1

55,863—69,132

Third Secretary

78

31,619—55,415

Third Secretary Higher

29.6

40,734—57,215

Administrative Officer

3

31,619—55,415

Higher Executive Officer

40.8

43,816—55,415

Higher Executive Officer Higher

18.75

46,426—57,251

Librarian

1

43,182—55,967

HEO Systems Analyst

6

43,816—55,415

The superannuation entitlements of civil servants vary greatly depending on a number of considerations including recruitment date and applicable superannuation scheme, as well as age, salary and number of years completed service upon retirement. Staff recruited since 1 April 2004 have no maximum retirement age.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Dara Calleary

Question:

92 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his Department has submitted a strategy statement to him, as specified under the 1997 Public Service Management Act; and if so, if he will publish this statement. [26401/11]

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department's draft Statement of Strategy for 2011-2014 has been submitted to me, in accordance with the requirements of the Public Service Management Act. The Department is currently engaged in a number of ongoing processes, including the finalisation of the arrangements for the transfer of certain EU- related functions to the Department of the Taoiseach and the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, and the Statement of Strategy will be finalised with a view to accurately reflecting decisions arising from these processes.

Thereafter, I will, as set out in the Guidelines on the preparation of Statements of Strategy, consult with the Taoiseach on the draft Statement prior to its finalisation, submission for information to the Government and publication. The Statement of Strategy will, in accordance with the Public Service Management Act, be laid before the Oireachtas no later than 60 days after its approval.

Humanitarian Aid

Clare Daly

Question:

93 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade noting the recent statement by the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that the Turkish defence forces will protect Turkish citizens attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people in Gaza, if he will ensure that Irish citizens attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza will be protected against hostile forces. [25254/11]

I continue to regard the blockade of Gaza as unjustified and counter-productive, as I made clear when I addressed the UN General Assembly yesterday in New York. The only real solution is the full opening of the land crossing points between Israel and Gaza. Ireland, along with our EU Partners, continues to press for a full opening up of the border crossings into Gaza to allow unimpeded flows of humanitarian aid, and normal commercial and human traffic, as clearly called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of January 2009. It is also clear that the genuine humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza cannot be met through flotillas or land convoys attempting to bring aid through Egypt. Aid carried to Gaza port or transported through the Rafah crossing can only meet a tiny and symbolic fraction of the territory's needs. The full opening of land crossings is required to enable any semblance of normal life to resume in the territory. I recognise that Israel is entitled to prevent the transport of weapons and genuinely military materials into Gaza, and therefore to check cargoes in this context, but other goods and materials should not be impeded.

I recognise the humanitarian motivations of those attempting to transport humanitarian aid to Gaza. However, as I have previously stated, I cannot encourage participation in any project which would involve Irish citizens engaging in actions which could lead them into real danger. My Department's travel advice is quite clear in recommending against travel to Gaza, including by sea. We also continue to press the Israeli Government to do all possible to facilitate those wishing to transport humanitarian goods to Gaza while my Department will also continue to provide all possible consular services, where necessary.

I would observe that a more effective means of providing humanitarian aid to Gaza would be to do so by donating to UN agencies such as UNRWA, which have established means of transporting aid to Gaza.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 90.

Tax Code

Jim Daly

Question:

95 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance the reason he will not permit local authorities to make payments to subcontractors under the RCT 35 return in the absence of a valid C2 certificate which is the law laid down by the Revenue Commissioner as a method of payment between all principle and subcontractors in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26309/11]

Circular 43/2006 issued by my Department advised Government Departments and other public sector bodies concerned with awarding public sector contracts of the procedures relating to tax clearance.

In the case of sub-contractors on any public sector contract of a value of €10,000 (inclusive of VAT) or more, the contracting authority should, when advertising the main contract, state that it will be a condition for the award of the contract that all sub-contractors employed on the project must produce a tax reference number where payments exceed €650. Records of tax reference numbers must be kept by the contractor and be available for inspection where requested by the Revenue Commissioners.

Where payments exceed €2,600 in any 12 month period the sub-contractor will be required to produce either a current tax clearance certificate or a current C2 certificate. It should be made clear to sub-contractors that payments under a contract are at all times conditional on compliance with these requirements. It will be the responsibility of the relevant contractor to ensure that any sub-contractor employed by him complies with these requirements. In all cases contracting authorities must ensure that contractors have complied with these requirements.

It should be emphasised in the case of sub-contractors in the construction, forestry and meat processing industries that, in the absence of a C2 certificate, tax must continue to be deducted at source at the rate of 35 per cent in accordance with Section 531 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 as amended not withstanding the fact that a tax clearance certificate has been furnished under these arrangements.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

96 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the amount raised for the Exchequer during 2010 by the income levy; and the amount that would have been raised were the income levy applied only to those earning in excess of €30,000 per annum. [25654/11]

The Income Levy was collected by the Revenue Commissioners as a component of Income Tax. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is estimated that €1,446 million was collected from the Income Levy in the calendar year 2010. However, as is normal, it would have been expected that the total Income Levy liability for the income tax year 2010 would be higher at €1,710 million and the difference would have been collected in 2011/12. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2010 incomes, of confining the Income Levy to all income earners earning in excess of €30,000 per annum, and double that amount for married couples, would have been of the order of €1,405 million.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2010. They are therefore provisional and may to be revised.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

97 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the revenue that would be raised for the Exchequer by reducing capital acquisition tax thresholds by 25% and increasing the CAT rate by 10%. [25655/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer from increasing the Capital Acquisitions Tax rate by 10%, based on the expected outturn in 2011, could be in the region of €110 million, assuming no change in the existing thresholds. The additional full year yield from existing taxpayers from reducing the existing thresholds by 25% and applying the proposed rate of 35% to the additional amounts thus brought into charge is estimated to be of the order of €50 million. Revenue do not receive information on gifts and inheritances which currently do not have to be declared so it is not possible to estimate the potential yield if such benefits were brought into the tax net. These estimates are based on transactions recorded in 2010, the latest year for which the necessary detailed information is available. It should be noted that these estimates are based upon an assumption that there would be no behavioural impact from these changes, which could lead to a less than expected impact on Exchequer yield. In addition, the realisation of any estimated yield from an increase in taxation on assets related to property is subject to movements in the value of such assets currently occurring in the economy.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

98 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of financial institutions covered by the Central Bank’s consumer protection code. [25659/11]

I have been informed by the Central Bank that its Consumer Protection Code applies to the regulated activities of all regulated entities operating in this State including:

the services of all regulated entities operating in this State for which they require to be authorised by, or registered with, the Central Bank, and

persons with an equivalent authorisation or registration in another EU or EEA Member state when providing services in this State on a branch or cross-border basis,

the services of a financial or investment nature that are subject to regulation by the Central Bank, for which a separate authorisation is not required.

For the purposes of the Code "regulated activities" are services of a financial or investment nature that are subject to the regulation of the Central Bank. Also for the purposes of the Code "regulated entity" means a person who carries on a business of providing one or more "regulated activities".

The Code does not apply to regulated entities when:

providing services to persons outside the State,

providing Markets in Financial Instruments Directive Services,

providing the services of a "moneylender", within the meaning of the Consumer Credit Act 1995,

carrying on the business of reinsurance or reinsurance mediation,

carrying on the business of a "bureau de change" or "money transmission", within the meaning of Part V of the Central Bank Act 1997,

if such firm is a credit union, when providing services for which it does not require to be authorised by or registered with the Central Bank,

carrying on the business of entering into hire purchase agreements, or

carrying on the business of entering into consumer hire agreements.

The Central Bank has advised me that its registers contain individual registers for all financial service providers and collective investment schemes regulated by it. A consumer wishing to do business with a financial institution may check, by using a link on the Central Bank's website and inserting the company name in question, whether or not that institution is regulated by the Central Bank.

Strategic Investment Fund

Gerald Nash

Question:

99 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the establishment of a strategic investment fund to support small and medium enterprises; the way the fund will be resourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25697/11]

As I said in a reply to a question from Deputy Ferris on 14 September last, ensuring that a strategic investment bank is operating in the domestic banking market, providing finance to large capital projects and acting as a conduit for venture capital as well as a lender to SMEs, is an objective in the Programme for Government. A comprehensive programme of bank recapitalisation and restructuring is currently under way following my statement on the future banking landscape in Ireland at the end of March last. The essential detailed assessment and planning work to meet this objective will be accelerated once the Government's key objectives for the renewal of the banking system, which are ahead of schedule, have been completed. This assessment will include the strategic investment bank's relationship with the two pillar banks and the time line for its establishment.

As regards the support of small and medium enterprises in general, the restructuring of the domestic banking sector creates capacity for the pillar banks to lend in excess of €30 billion over the next three years in SME and other important sectors. This is in excess of Central Bank estimates of the likely demand for SME and mortgage credit over this period. Both pillar banks are concentrating on the Irish economy and need to issue credit to make profits and rebuild their balance sheets.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks will be required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion this year, €3.5 billion next year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs.

Tax Code

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

100 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if any refund of income tax paid is due in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25713/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, according to their records, no income tax was paid by the person concerned in 2008. Accordingly no refund is due for 2008.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

101 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the reason full entitlement of refundable income tax was not determined on the basis of income earned in 2009 when they ceased employment so payment in respect of which did not issue until 2010 in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25714/11]

It is a long established principle in tax case law that emoluments from an employment are taxable in the year in which they are earned (and not necessarily assessable in the tax year in which such emoluments are paid). In addition to such principle, Section 112 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides that where an individual receives emoluments from a former employer, such emoluments are assessable in the tax year in which the employment with that employer ceased.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in contrast, the PAYE tax deducted in 2010 from the 2009 arrears (paid in 2010) is given as a credit in the 2010 tax year even though the arrears are assessable in 2009. I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in the case in respect of which details are supplied, the relevant arrears have been correctly assessed in the 2009 tax year and the individual has received full and proper credit in the 2010 tax year in respect of the PAYE tax deducted in 2010 from the 2009 arrears. Taking one year with the next, the overall position gives rise to a repayment of tax that issued on 31st August 2011.

Finally, Revenue were not aware of the arrears of pay situation until representations were made on 11th August 2011 on behalf of the individual in respect of whom details are supplied.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

102 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the reason full entitlement of refundable income tax was not determined on the basis of income earned in 2009 when they ceased employment so payment in respect of which did not issue until 2010 in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25715/11]

It is a long established principle in tax case law that emoluments from an employment are taxable in the year in which they are earned (and not necessarily assessable in the tax year in which such emoluments are paid). In addition to such principle, Section 112 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides that where an individual receives emoluments from a former employer, such emoluments are assessable in the tax year in which the employment with that employer ceased.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in contrast, the PAYE tax deducted in 2010 from the 2009 arrears (paid in 2010) is given as a credit in the 2010 tax year even though the arrears are assessable in 2009. I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in the case in respect of which details are supplied, the relevant arrears have been correctly assessed in the 2009 tax year and the individual has received full and proper credit in the 2010 tax year in respect of the PAYE tax deducted in 2010 from the 2009 arrears. Taking one year with the next, the overpayment in respect of the 2010 tax year has been off-set against the arrears of tax for the 2009 tax year.

Financial Services Regulation

Joe Costello

Question:

103 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the application from a company (details supplied) in Dublin 2 to the Central Bank for a licence to become a deposit bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25726/11]

The authorisation of credit institutions is a matter for the Central Bank of Ireland and, as such, applications for authorisation are not considered by the Minister for Finance. A full list of authorised credit institutions is published on the Central Bank's website at www.centralbank.ie.

Proposed Legislation

Joe Costello

Question:

104 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if new legislation on the regulation of credit unions is being prepared; if so, the persons preparing same; when it is likely to be drafted; the main issues being addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25728/11]

Under the EU/IMF Programme, legislation is to be published by end-2011 to strengthen the regulatory framework for credit unions. The Government has established the Commission on Credit Unions to review the future of the credit union sector. In line with the Programme for Government, the Commission will review the future of the credit union movement and make recommendations in relation to the most effective regulatory structure for credit unions. This will take into account their not-for-profit mandate, their volunteer ethos and community focus, while paying due regard to the need to fully protect depositors' savings and financial stability.

The Commission on Credit Unions is due to submit its interim report to me by the end of this week. This report will inform the preparation of the bill to be published by the end of this year. As is normal for financial legislation, the Bill will be prepared by the Department of Finance in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and will take into account the advice of the Central Bank and the Registrar of Credit Unions.

Financial Services Regulation

Joe Costello

Question:

105 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the situation outlined in documents (details supplied); the steps he will take to ensure that the EBS which was in receipt of State funding fulfils its obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25768/11]

I have no role in relation to a dispute that arises between a consumer and his/her financial service provider. In relation to the case mentioned by the Deputy, I am aware that it was submitted to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO). The FSO is independent in the performance of his statutory duty. I cannot comment on any decision which he may have taken.

Departmental Staff

Noel Grealish

Question:

106 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance the number of employees in his Department who have expressed an interest in retiring ahead of the changes to the public sector pension schemes that are to come into force in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25785/11]

A number of employees in my Department will be required to retire in 2012 upon reaching their compulsory retirement age of 65 while others may retire upon reaching their minimum retirement age of 60 years of age or on actuarially reduced pension terms if they are within ten years of minimum retirement age. Since 11 July 2011, all staff in the civil service who intend to retire on or before 29 February 2012 are required to give 3 months notice of their date of retirement. Accordingly, in advance of the cut-off date of 30 November 2011, and taking account of the many factors that might determine an employee's decision to retire or not, it is not possible to accurately reflect, at this juncture, the number of employees in the Department who will submit a formal notification of retirement.

Tax Evasion

Derek Nolan

Question:

107 Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Finance if there is currently a phone number persons can use to report tax defaulters; and if such a hotline is manned at all times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25843/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Deputy and the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners discussed this at the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on the 22nd. September. While there is no one dedicated phone number, the Chairman outlined that people can, and do, advise Revenue of evidence of tax evasion through the network of local offices, by phone, email or letter. She also spoke about the Confidential Freephone 1800 295 295 for reporting tobacco smuggling or sale of illicit tobacco products. The challenge with these approaches is how to get useful information while minimising the opportunity cost to Revenue and the impact on compliant taxpayers.

With a view to improving the value, Revenue is currently discussing with some business/trade bodies the provision of a template form which their members can complete and submit through the body, thereby protecting their identities if they wish.

Reports of suspected evasion/fraud should provide as much detail as possible particularly in terms of location, names, addresses, telephone numbers and vehicle registrations.

Tax Code

Sean Fleming

Question:

108 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will reconsider the recently introduced pension levy in view of the fact that members of pension schemes are facing increased contributions and reductions in benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25859/11]

As I explained in my speech introducing the "Jobs Initiative" in May last, the decision to fund the Initiative by way of a levy on pension funds over the 4 year period was taken because the alternatives for increases in taxation elsewhere at this time would be more damaging to the economy.

I do not have any plans for alternative sources of revenue to fund the Jobs Initiative.

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

109 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that companies from outside this jurisdiction operating within this State will in the future be required to report on their taxes paid and profits made on a country basis. [25903/11]

The issue of country-by-country reporting by Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) features prominently on the agenda of both the European Union and the OECD. In 2010, the EU Commission issued a Communication setting out a twelve point action plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals which inter alia called on Member States to facilitate ongoing research into country-by-country reporting. Work is proceeding at the EU level on this with an initial focus on the extractive sector.

In parallel, the OECD, through the work of the Development Assistance Committee, is seeking to enhance transparency and accountability of MNEs including an examination of the feasibility of introducing full disclosure through country-by-country reporting.

While we are supportive of the efforts of the EU Commission and the OECD in this area , we are also pragmatic in recognising the inherent difficulties in advancing the issue, because of the many stakeholders involved including the International Accounting Standards Board and MNEs themselves which have very real competitive concerns.

I want to assure the Deputy that we will continue to work with our Partners on this issue but equally we would not wish that this issue would deflect attention from other very important transparency issues such as Exchange of Information and facilitating developing countries in their negotiations with MNEs.

Enterprise Support Services

Jim Daly

Question:

110 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider introducing a scheme of assistance administrated by Enterprise Ireland to deal with the currency crisis for small and medium enterprise here that are not being afforded credit by suppliers operating in Britain as a result of recent developments in the euro economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25906/11]

I have no plans at present to introduce a scheme of assistance similar to the one outlined by the Deputy in his question.

Tax Code

Jim Daly

Question:

111 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of the €50 million patent income tax exemption claimed in 2010 that was availed of by multinationals versus the amount claimed by Irish small and medium enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25907/11]

The termination of the tax exemption for royalty and other income arising from qualifying patents came into effect from 24 November 2010 at an estimated full year yield of €50 million.

The decision to abolish the relief was taken in the light of a recommendation to this effect by the Commission on Taxation. As part of its review of all tax expenditures, the Commission on Taxation examined the relief for patent income to determine if its continued operation was justified on cost benefit grounds. The Commission found that the relief had not had the desired impact on innovation and R&D activity and that, despite various refinements to the scheme over the years, it was not a particularly well-targeted measure providing good value for money.

The R&D credit scheme provides a more direct and effective incentive for enterprises to innovate and invest in R&D activities and the scheme has been enhanced considerably in recent years to make it one of the most competitive of its kind anywhere.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that information in relation to claims for patent income exemption is derived from corporation tax returns and income tax returns. Based on the information that has been provided in the tax returns for the tax year 2009, the latest year for which the necessary detailed data are available, the total cost to the Exchequer of the patent income exemption was €72 million, of which approximately €16 million was associated with claims from companies.

I am also informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics on the amount of patent income exemption claimed by multinational corporations is not separately available. However, it is likely that many of the larger claims of patent income exemptions by companies are claimed by large multinational companies.

Data for the year 2010 is not yet available as the bulk of tax returns for that year are not yet due.

Tax Yield

Pearse Doherty

Question:

112 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the potential savings to the Exchequer from limiting the capital allowances available to business at €2 million. [25951/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that based on claims for capital allowances on the income tax returns and corporation tax returns for 2009, the latest year available, the notional cash flow saving to the Exchequer of limiting capital allowances available to business at €2 million in a tax year could be in the region of €1 billion if applied to all existing and new claims. The estimated cash-flow yield does not take account of any potential additional yield from applying the proposed cap to claimed but unused capital allowances which have either been brought forward from prior years or will be carried forward into future years as losses and are no longer separately identifiable as capital allowances.

Neither do the estimated savings take into account the potential substantial loss to the Exchequer of taxes such as Corporation Tax, Value Added Tax and PAYE as a result of the probable disincentive effect the proposal would have on businesses investing in large capital projects. For example, as capital expenditure on plant and machinery is generally written off for tax purposes on a straight-line basis over eight years, the proposed cap would impact on any project in excess of €16 million.

Furthermore, no account can be taken of any possible changes made to corporate structures which could result in an effort by businesses to maximize their use of capital allowances restricted as proposed.

It would be more difficult to quantify the saving to the Exchequer if the proposal were confined to new expenditure only as there is insufficient data on the timing and quantum of such expenditure to allow for a meaningful estimate to be made.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

113 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if during the course of his negotiations the ECB was made aware that Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society were both solvent; and if the Central Bank of Ireland communicated the full and frank financial picture to the ECB during the course of negotiations and specifically in the run up to the bank guarantee in 2008. [25952/11]

Ireland has a good cordial and professional relationship with both the ECB and the European Commission. The relationships are built on mutual trust, openness and a cooperative and collegiate approach to issues that arise.

In relation to the Bank Guarantee I understand that in September 2008, the then Minister for Finance, after consulting with the Governor and the Regulatory Authority, had formed the opinion that there was a serious threat to the stability of credit institutions generally, and that the provision of financial support was necessary, in the public interest, for maintaining the stability of the financial system in the State and to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of the State. In his report on events at that time Professor Honohan states "It is hard to argue with the view that an extensive guarantee needed to be put in place, since all participants (rightly) felt that they faced the likely collapse of the Irish banking system within days in the absence of decisive immediate action. Given the hysterical state of global financial markets in those weeks, failure to avoid this outcome would have resulted in immediate and lasting damage to the economy and society. There would have been additional lost income and employment surely amounting, if it could be quantified, to tens of billions of euros."

The Governor's report contains a detailed account of event leading up to the provision of the Guarantee including in relation to the advice that would have been received by the Minister from the Central Bank and Financial Regulator. Paragraph 8.19 of the report in which the Governor states that the clear consensus of those bodies was that the problem being experienced by the domestic credit institutions was essentially one of liquidity rather than solvency as a consequence of a world-wide "financial tsunami". In addition in his discussions with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service on 15 June 2010 the Governor stated that the Minister would not have been aware of solvency concerns relating to the banking system because the Financial Regulator did not have solvency concerns.

As the Deputy is aware the Central Bank is independent in the performance of its functions and in its dealings with the ECB. I can not comment on what was communicated between the Central Bank and the ECB.

Departmental Bodies

Pearse Doherty

Question:

114 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the secondees currently working in the National Assets Management Agency; the duration of their contracts; the amount that NAMA pays for their services; the firms the secondees come from; the amounts payable to individual firms; if he will confirm if NAMA also uses these firms for paid consultancy work; if so, the firms that are used; the amount they have earned for consultancy work; and if NAMA has taken any steps to ensure that firms which do not supply secondees are not unfairly disadvantaged by NAMA’s relationships with firms that provide secondees. [25973/11]

I am informed by NAMA that there are currently three secondees working on short-term assignments of less than 3-months duration in the Agency. It is NAMA's practice to use secondees only on short-term specialist assignments where this is the most cost-effective option available. One of the three is on secondment from the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency examining NAMA's database regarding stock suitability for social housing.

The other two have been provided to NAMA by Knight Frank property consultants and Olswang, a leading UK law firm. The Knight Frank secondee is assisting with processing the final property valuation reports and the Olswang secondee is a specialist UK banking solicitor.

The cost of procuring the services of the secondees is a confidential commercial matter between NAMA and the firms concerned but I understand that they are being provided to NAMA on a cost recovery basis.

Knight Frank is one of 24 firms on the Real Estate Valuation Panel, all of which have received work from NAMA. It has also been appointed as receiver for 9 properties owned by Derek Quinlan. Olswang is one of 31 firms on the 42-firm Enforcement and Re-financing Panel to have received work from NAMA.

NAMA advises me that those firms which do not supply secondees are not disadvantaged, given the small number of secondees required by the agency.

Consultancy Contracts

Pearse Doherty

Question:

115 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of a company’s (details supplied) remit to assist his Department on the restructuring of Irish banks, including the start date and end date of the contract; if he will confirm that this company has recently pitched for projects outside of this original remit; if he will clarify if this company was asked to re-tender for this work in line with normal competitive process; and the fees budgeted for this company’s work on Irish bank restructuring and the level of fees. [25974/11]

The company referred to in the question was engaged on 16 May 2011 until 31 December 2011 as external adviser on bank restructuring, to ensure a timely, efficient and effective process, and to review the proposals for merger and integration. A fixed fee, including expenses, of €2.75m was agreed for the engagement. The company has carried out no work for the NTMA or the Department of Finance other than that specified under the terms of the contract nor has it proposed to do so.

Tax Code

Pearse Doherty

Question:

116 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the proposal in the Northern Assembly to place a tax on mobile phone masts; if he will consider this proposal; and if he will provide an estimate of the revenue that could be raised. [25986/11]

I am aware of the proposal to which the Deputy refers. Placing such a charge on mobile telephone masts could deter service providers from erecting new masts in areas where coverage is bad. Consideration would also have to be given to the possible impact within the communications sector and on our communications infrastructure of such a proposal.

I have been informed by ComReg that there are approximately 4,500 mobile telephone ‘sites', consisting of a mix of masts and building mounted sites. The potential yield from such a tax would obviously be dependent on the rate applied per mast or site. Mobile telephone companies are already subject to VAT at 21% on calls and text messages. Any further charges would probably be ultimately passed on to the user.

I have no plans to introduce such a tax.

Tax Yield

Willie O'Dea

Question:

117 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the revenue loss to the Exchequer from the abolition of the PRSI charge on share-based remuneration; and if he will provide an estimate of the jobs protected by the abolition. [25989/11]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the employer PRSI charge on share based remuneration introduced by the previous Government, which I abolished as part of the recent Jobs Initiative. Following the announcement that I made on the 18 March 2011, which clarified that PRSI would only apply to share based remuneration that was subject to a written agreement entered into after 1 January 2011, it was estimated that the employer PRSI element would have yielded approximately €1.8 million in 2011. In my view, the introduction of the employer PRSI charge, by increasing costs for employers, had the potential to seriously damage the economy, particularly in terms of making Ireland less attractive for foreign direct investment, as many FDI firms use share based remuneration schemes. While it is not possible to estimate the number of jobs that will be protected, or created, as a result of the abolition of the charge, the danger of job losses or a reduction in our attractiveness for investment, far outweighed the yield that could be achieved from it.

Willie O'Dea

Question:

118 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance the measures that have been taken to verify that the VAT reductions on certain goods and services from 13.5% to 9% have been passed on to consumers; the estimated rate of compliance by business in reducing prices in accordance with the VAT reduction and the estimated loss of revenue to the Exchequer. [25990/11]

As announced under the Jobs Initiative, a second reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced on a temporary basis in respect of certain services and goods mainly related to tourism for the period 1 July 2011 to end 2013. Specifically the 9% rate applies to restaurant and catering services; hotel and holiday accommodation; various entertainment services such as admissions to cinemas, theatres, certain musical performances, museums, art gallery exhibitions and fairgrounds/amusement parks, the use of sporting facilities; hairdressing services; and printed matter such as brochures, maps, programmes, leaflets, catalogues, newspapers and magazines. The introduction of the 9% VAT rate is aimed at contributing towards boosting tourism and the creation of additional jobs in that sector. The measure has received a very positive response from the tourism sector and a recent press release from the Restaurants Association of Ireland, for example, reports the passing on of the new rate by the majority of members surveyed. Of course compliance by business in reducing prices is key to the success of the initiative and this will be kept under review and will be evaluated before end 2012 in order to determine its effectiveness in aiding the industry. If it is shown that the VAT reduction has little or no effect in aiding the industry then the measure is open to being reformed or abolished. In addition, checks on the correct operation of VAT, including the rates of VAT applied are integral parts of Revenue's audit and compliance programmes.

The measure is estimated to cost €120 million this year and €350 million in 2012 and 2013.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

119 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details on the average value of a mortgage issued by the covered institutions in the Dublin region for each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011. [26021/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

122 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details on the number of mortgages issued by the covered institutions in the Dublin region for each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011. [26034/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 122 together.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to get the information from the covered institutions in the timeframe allowed by the Question. I will write to the Deputy in the near future with information provided by the institutions. I would caution however that one institution, at this point, has responded indicating that the information requested by the Deputy is commercially sensitive and that the institution will not be in a position to provide such information.

State Banking Sector

Pearse Doherty

Question:

120 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total cost to the State of the Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society promissory notes including broken down by the interest payable on the promissory notes, the interest on borrowing to service the note and the capital payments; if he will detail the payment schedule and the date when the full debt including interest will be paid in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26029/11]

The promissory notes were issued in various tranches with different interest rates (four tranches for Anglo and 2 tranches for INBS. The total interest cost for the State for all tranches of the Anglo and Irish Nationwide promissory notes is circa €17 billion with annual repayments of €3.1 billion per annum. These annual repayments reduce over time as the various tranches of the promissory note are repaid. The final payment on the promissory note of circa €0.1billion will be made on 31 March 2031. Set out is a detailed aggregated schedule of capital repayments and interest on the promissory notes.

€bn

Total Interest

Repayments

Total Capital Reduction

31/3/2011

0.6

3.1

2.5

31/3/2012

3.1

3.1

31/3/2013

0.5

3.1

2.6

31/3/2014

1.8

3.1

1.2

31/3/2015

1.7

3.1

1.3

31/3/2016

1.7

3.1

1.4

31/3/2017

1.5

3.1

1.5

31/3/2018

1.4

3.1

1.6

31/3/2019

1.3

3.1

1.7

31/3/2020

1.2

3.1

1.9

31/3/2021

1.1

3.1

2.0

31/3/2022

0.9

3.1

2.2

31/3/2023

0.7

3.1

2.3

31/3/2024

0.6

2.1

1.5

31/3/2025

0.4

0.9

0.5

31/3/2026

0.4

0.9

0.5

31/3/2027

0.3

0.9

0.6

31/3/2028

0.3

0.9

0.6

31/3/2029

0.2

0.9

0.7

31/3/2030

0.1

0.9

0.8

31/3/2031

0.0

0.1

0.0

16.8

47.9

30.6

The Deputy should be aware that the funds which become available to the State as a result of borrowing undertaken by the Exchequer are not generally assigned to one particular area of expenditure. Rather they are available, along with the funds sourced from revenues such as tax revenue, non-tax revenue and capital receipts, to fund overall expenditure. Accordingly, there was no one tranche of borrowing that was undertaken solely for the purpose of funding the Promissory Note payments to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. The draw downs of funds so far under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support have been used for a range of different purposes including of course the general running of the day-to-day operations of the State. It is difficult therefore to isolate precisely the exact cost of the interest payments on the borrowing undertaken to fund the Promissory Note payments. However, for illustrative purposes, on the basis of the original 5.8% blended average interest rate which applied to borrowing under the Programme, the interest costs on borrowing of €3,060 million would be just under €180 million per annum. In light of the recently agreed reduction in interest rates on funding available under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support however, the estimated interest cost on such borrowing reduces to approximately €115 million per annum.

General Government Debt

Pearse Doherty

Question:

121 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total Government debt in monetary terms, as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of GNP for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; if he will provide a breakdown of these figures in both monetary and percentage terms detailing the portion of the debt attributable to public expenditure and the portion attributable to spending on banks such as recapitalisation and servicing the Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society promissory note; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26030/11]

The Deputy should be aware that the funds which become available to the State as a result of borrowing undertaken by the Exchequer are not generally assigned to one particular area of expenditure. Rather they are available, along with the funds sourced from revenues such as tax revenue, non-tax revenue and capital receipts, to fund overall expenditure. The figures for General Government debt for the years 2007-2010 as well as the latest published estimate for 2011 from the April Stability Programme Update (SPU) are set out in the table below. General Government debt is the standard measure used within the EU for comparative purposes. General Government debt is a gross measure and it does not allow for the netting off of cash balances or the value of the assets in the National Pension Reserve Fund.

My department is currently reviewing its macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts in the light of later data. These forecasts, which will include revisions of debt projections, will be published in next month's Pre-Budget Outlook. As such the information in the table for 2011 may be revised.

General Government Debt and Measures affecting debt (€bn and %) 2007-2010

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

1

General Government Debt

47.4

79.8

104.8

148.1

173.0

as % of GDP

25%

44%

65%

92%

109%

as % of GNP

29%

52%

79%

115%

137%

2

Budgetary requirement not related to banking

1.6

12.7

20.6

18.0

15.1

as % of GDP

1%

7%

13%

11%

10%

as % of GNP

1%

8%

16%

14%

12%

3a

recapitalisation and other direct banking measures

4.0

0.7

7.6

3b

Issue of the promissory note

30.9

0.6

as % of GDP

2%

20%

5%

as % of GNP

3%

25%

6%

Notes on the table

1. GDP and GNP for 2007-2010 are CSO estimates published in the National Income and Expenditure 2010. The GDP and GNP for 2011 are Department of Finance forecasts from the time of the SPU publication in April.

2. At the time of the SPU, it was assumed that Exchequer funding of some EUR10 billion would be required as part of the recapitalisation of the banking sector. The actual figure will be below this estimate, and while not finalised, is likely to be approximately EUR6.5 billion.

The banking measures in the above table comprise all injections into banks which affect the General Government debt. It should be noted however that capital injections that are made from the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) do not affect the debt and are not included in this note. (In 2009 there was a frontloading of the 1% of GNP Exchequer contribution to the NPRF for 2009 and 2010. This was made to part-fund the recapitalisations of Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland in 2010.)

It should also be borne in mind that the fees paid over to the Exchequer from the Bank Guarantee Schemes, which totalled EUR1,333 million and 2010 and EUR599 million so far in 2011 reduces somewhat the debt level in those years.

The full EUR30.85 billion in promissory notes were added to the General Government debt in 2010. The service of the promissory note through the annual cash payment from the Exchequer in the years after 2010 does not affect the General Government debt directly. Interest due on the promissory notes, however, increases the debt and is shown in the table.

Question No. 122 answered with Question No. 119.

Tax Yield

Gerald Nash

Question:

123 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance in view of the important findings and conclusions of the internal Revenue Commissioners report, Economics of Smoking: Modelling the Market for Cigarettes in Ireland, which are significantly at variance with the international peer reviewed published literature on this topic, if he will arrange for the report to be peer reviewed internationally to validate its methodology and findings. [26158/11]

The report "Economics of Tobacco: Modelling the Market for Cigarettes in Ireland” is based on analysis done by Revenue’s Research and Analytics Branch. The research was conducted in 2010 and the report was published on the Revenue and Department of Finance websites in early 2011.

Neither I nor the Revenue Commissioners are aware of any suggestion that the research is significantly at variance with international peer reviewed published literature on this topic, or that any questions have been raised about the methodology. If the Deputy has information to support these views, the Revenue Commissioners would welcome it.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the report fully documents the methodology, the econometric model and the data sources used and it is therefore open to any researcher seeking to replicate or validate the results. The research follows an internationally established methodology to examine the factors determining cigarette consumption.

In general, the findings are consistent with existing Irish and international literature in measuring the main influencing factors on smoker behaviour. A key difference identified is that the sensitivity of consumption of cigarettes to price changes in Ireland is found to be higher than average. However, this finding is consistent when the relatively high price of cigarettes and the level of consumption of untaxed cigarettes in Ireland are considered. This issue is examined in detail in the paper.

Disabled Drivers

Dan Neville

Question:

124 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance if he will review a matter in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26164/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an application (Form DD1) under the Disabled Drivers Scheme from one of the named persons was received in the Central Repayments Office, Monaghan on 23rd September 2011. The necessary Primary Medical Certificate has also been received. The application form DD1 in question was incomplete but the applicant was contacted by telephone and has provided the additional details needed. The application has now been processed and an Exemption Notification will issue within the next five working days. The applicant can then contact his nearest NCTS Centre to register the vehicle and avail of the exemptions available under the Disabled Drivers and the Disabled Passengers [Tax Concessions] Regulations 1994.

Tax Reliefs

Seán Kenny

Question:

125 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the expected cost to the Exchequer in 2010 or the most recent available year of property related tax schemes that are still open. [26214/11]

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the cost to the Exchequer of the following property based tax incentive schemes which remain in the tax code: certain tourism infrastructure under the Mid-Shannon Scheme (only 80% of expenditure can qualify in certain areas) and Qualifying Specialist Palliative Care Units (subject to Commencement Order).

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the cost of the Mid-Shannon scheme for 2009, the latest year for which data is available, was €0.2 million. The scheme for Qualifying Specialist Palliative Care Units was not commenced and thus no cost was incurred.

All other such schemes have been abolished, subject to transitional arrangements for certain schemes where projects were already in the pipeline. However, due to their nature these reliefs continue to impose ongoing costs on the Exchequer in terms of tax foregone.

Banking Sector Regulation

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

126 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the report from the Commission on Credit Unions; and his views on the restrictions the Financial Regulator is placing on lending which is causing severe difficulties for members of credit unions in some communities who may be forced to turn to money-lenders. [26219/11]

The Commission on Credit Unions is due to submit its interim report to me, as Minister for Finance, by 30 September 2011. This report will make initial recommendations on strengthening the regulatory framework for credit unions. The Commission will submit its final report to me by 31 March 2012.

On the issue of lending restrictions, as Minister for Finance, my role is to ensure that the legal framework for credit unions is appropriate for the effective operation and supervision of credit unions. The Registrar of Credit Unions is responsible for administering the system of regulation and supervision of credit unions provided under the Credit Union Act 1997, with a view to the protection by each credit union of the funds of its members and the maintenance of the financial stability of credit unions generally. The role of the Registrar of Credit Unions in the regulation of credit unions is an independent one.

From time to time, the Registrar is required to act to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability and to protect the savings of credit union members. Such actions, including lending restrictions, are reviewed by the Registrar over time on a case by case basis. The number of restrictions imposed by the Registrar has increased over the last two years in light of the difficulties faced by parts of the credit union sector. The type of lending restrictions imposed takes account of the particular business profile and financial position of the credit unions concerned.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Robert Troy

Question:

127 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance when he will publish his four-year plan in order that persons will know the tax increases and cuts that are expected over the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26287/11]

The Pre-Budget Outlook will be published in October although a precise date has not yet been set. The multi-annual fiscal projections which will be published in the Pre-Budget Outlook will cover the period 2012 to 2015.

General Government Debt

Michael McGrath

Question:

128 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Government is required under the EU-IMF programme of assistance to achieve a certain primary deficit level in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26334/11]

There are quarterly Exchequer primary balance targets that we are required to meet under the terms of the EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support. These are set out in the Technical Memorandum of Understanding (TMU). As they are primary balance targets, they exclude Exchequer debt interest payments. They also allow for the exclusion of expenditure related to the banking sector recapitalisations and adjust for over/under-performance in Exchequer tax revenues and PRSI receipts, compared to the targets set out in the TMU. We have adhered to the first three of those targets which were set for end-December 2010, and end-March and end-June 2011. The next target set is for end-September 2011. The July 2011 TMU also set targets for end-December 2011 and initial targets for end-March and end-June 2012. The next revised TMU (October) will then set an initial target for end-September 2012 and so on.

It is also important to note that under the revised Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) Recommendation issued by the ECOFIN Council in December 2010, Ireland's General Government Deficit must not exceed 8.6% of GDP in 2012.

Tax Yield

Pearse Doherty

Question:

129 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the revenue that would be raised by re-introducing the income levy under last year’s rates, but levied at those earning in excess of €40,000 per annum. [26351/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2012 incomes, of the re-introduction of the Income Levy at the same rates as applied in 2010 and confined to all income earners earning in excess of €40,000 per annum, with double that amount for married couples, would be of the order of €1,180 million. These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2012. They are therefore provisional and may be revised.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Michael McGrath

Question:

130 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if his Department has submitted a strategy statement to him, as specified under the 1997 Public Service Management Act; and if so, if he will publish this statement. [26394/11]

As specified under the Public Service Management Act 1997, my Department has submitted to me its draft Statement of Strategy for the period 2011-2014. The finalisation of the Statement of Strategy will reflect the key policy commitments of the Government including the emerging decisions in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure currently under way. It is my intention to publish the Statement of Strategy as soon as all relevant discussions and considerations on the matter have been concluded.

Youthreach Programme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

131 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the changes that he plans in to Youthreach now that it has been placed under the auspices of Solas. [25979/11]

I chair an Implementation Group which is drawing up an Action Plan for the establishment of SOLAS, which, when established, will operate under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills and co-ordinate and fund the wide range of further education and training programmes around the country. The nature and type of those programmes, including Youthreach, will be matters for discussion between my Department, SOLAS and Vocational Education Committees (VECs), who will ultimately be responsible for the delivery to the public in an integrated way of both further education and training programmes.

Post-Leaving Certification Courses

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

132 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to expand the number of post-leaving certificate places available in different colleges around the country in view of the fact that it has been decided to place post-leaving certificate courses under the auspices of Solas and to need to meet increased demands for such courses. [25980/11]

I chair an Implementation Group which is drawing up an Action Plan for the establishment of SOLAS, which, when established, will operate under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills and co-ordinate and fund the wide range of further education and training programmes around the country. The nature and type of those programmes will be matters for discussion between my Department, SOLAS and Vocational Education Committees (VECs), who will ultimately be responsible for the delivery to the public in an integrated way of both further education and training programmes.

The number of approved Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) places available nationwide has increased by 2,500 in recent years to 32,688, including an additional 1,000 places made available earlier this year as part of the almost 21,000 additional education, training and work experience places made available under the Government's Jobs Initiative. In 2010/2011 PLC providers enrolled over 38,700 learners which is a commendable achievement and one which I hope can be maintained for the current academic year.

Departmental Programmes

John Lyons

Question:

133 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 76 of 15 September 2011 if he will review the case of a persons (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if an exception can be made in this case; and if there are any further supports available to assist this person [25998/11]

Springboard is a specific initiative to provide 6,000 part time higher education places for unemployed people who have lost jobs in sectors where employment levels will not return and who will need new qualifications and skills to re-enter employment as the economy recovers. The Springboard courses are in areas of current and future skills needs, as identified by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. The places being funded are at HETAC levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications and were selected following a competitive tender process. It is therefore not possible to include the course which is a full time programme at FETAC level 5 as part of Springboard.

I understand that the course in question is run by Teagasc and that students pursuing such programmes are eligible to apply to Teagasc for support under the Teagasc grant scheme. Further details are available from that organisation.

Schools Refurbishment

Timmy Dooley

Question:

134 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a minor works grant in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25645/11]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to an application submitted by the school in question under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to replace a number of windows in the school.

The purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies or to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and in the case of a school if not corrected would prevent the school or part thereof from opening.

As the scope of works for this project is outside the terms of the Emergency Works Scheme it cannot be considered for emergency funding. The school has been informed of the decision.

Redundancy Payments

Simon Harris

Question:

135 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the length of time it is taking for special needs assistants who were made redundant to receive redundancy payments from him; the terms of these redundancies; the efforts he is making to speed up the payment of such redundancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25663/11]

Applications for redundancy / partial redundancy for Special Needs Assistants are being received by my Department on an ongoing basis. Applications are processed in date order of receipt and every effort is being made to process these applications as quickly as possible. Applications received in mid-November 2010 are currently being processed.

The priority of my Department's Payroll Division over the past 2 months has been to ensure that replacement teachers and special need assistants being appointed for the 2011/2012 school year are placed on payroll for payment. This process is now nearing completion. Over the coming weeks, extra resources will be assigned to try and ensure that special needs assistants that are made redundant will have their claims for payment processed as quickly as possible.

Site Acquisitions

Damien English

Question:

136 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 114 of 21 June 2011, the position regarding the acquisition of a site for a school (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25664/11]

The Office of Public Works, working on behalf of my Department, is negotiating with the owners of a suitable site with a view to acquiring same for the school referred to by the Deputy. Given the sensitivities associated with land acquisitions I am not in a position to comment further at this time. The acquisition of the site and the delivery of the school building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

School Staffing

Joe Carey

Question:

137 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects the allocation of the 475 remaining reserve special needs assistant posts based on the priority criteria identified by the National Council for Special Education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25685/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

Having considered all of the applications for SNA support received before the initial deadline for applications of 19th May 2011, from mainstream primary and post primary schools, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has now advised all mainstream schools of their SNA allocations for the 2011/12 school year, taking into account the number of valid applications for SNA support and the assessed care needs of the children concerned.

As not all applications for SNA support can be made in advance of the school year, in order to prudently manage this valuable but limited resource, the NCSE and my Department decided that 475 of the 10,575 posts should be retained in order to allocate them over the coming school year in cases such as emergency, appeals, acquired injuries or new school entrants with special needs care.

In relation to special schools, the existing levels of SNA support in special schools have been maintained in the first instance, in order to assist and protect the most vulnerable children, with a review currently taking place. The 475 retained SNA posts will be used to respond to emergency case; additional needs identified arising from the outcome of the review of Special Schools and further emerging demand from schools before the end of the school year.

The NCSE expects to respond to emergency cases on hand within the coming weeks. The outcome of the special school review is expected early in the school year. Other demands from mainstream schools will be responded to up to the end of the school year. Through these arrangements it is expected that the majority of the posts will have been allocated by early in 2012.

It is expected that schools, before requesting any review of their SNA provision, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Telecommunications Services

Jim Daly

Question:

138 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for broadband funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25688/11]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

159 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timescale for the roll-out of high speed broadband programme for a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26138/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 159 together.

No application has been received on this matter. Any such request would be considered in light of any future decision to extend the roll out and the availability of resources.

Schools Building Projects

Brian Walsh

Question:

139 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine the feasibility of providing for the construction of a new school building in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Galway as a matter of immediate priority in view of the fact that €376,348 was spent last year on prefab rental and repairs to the existing building, which is in poor condition, and it is expected that a further €489,405 will be spent this year. [25689/11]

The proposed building project for the schools referred to by the Deputy was not included in the school building works programme for 2011 announced earlier this year by my predecessor.

Last year, in line with my Departments strategy to reduce the level of expenditure on rental of temporary accommodation, my Department approved the purchase of prefabs at the schools which had previously been rented on an annual basis. In addition, funds were allocated to the schools in question under the Summer Works Scheme and the Emergency Works scheme.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will continue to be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

However, in light of competing demands on the capital budget of my Department it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe, at this time, for the progression of this project to tender and construction.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

140 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 21 July 2011, regarding the 17 new schools promised for Dublin, the number of same that are primary and post primary where these schools will be located; when same will be built and the criteria used in reaching a decision. [25743/11]

As advised in my previous answer on 21st July 2011, it is expected that enrolments will increase nationally from a current enrolment at primary level of circa 509,652 pupils to circa 552,800 pupils by 2017 and at post-primary level from a current enrolment of circa 317,432 pupils to circa 342,300 pupils by 2017.

It is within this context that I recently announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established within the next six years, comprising of 20 new primary schools and 20 new post-primary schools. Of the 40 new schools, 18 will now be in the Dublin area as the new post primary school for North Dublin/South will be located in Balbriggan.

It is intended to provide 12 new primary schools and six new post-primary schools across Dublin. Details of all the new schools to be established are available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The table shows the locations of the Dublin schools for the Deputy’s convenience.

A number of these new schools have opened in temporary accommodation but the majority of the schools will not need to open until at least 2014 with some of the schools not being required until 2016. Arrangements are under way to ensure that accommodation is in place for each of the schools as they are required.

New Primary Schools

New Post-Primary Schools

Mulhuddart x 2

Mulhuddart

Blanchardstown West

Blanchardstwon West

Carpenterstown

Rush and Lusk

Swords

North Dublin/South Louth (Balbriggan)

Tallaght x 2

Lucan/Clonburris

Ballinteer x 2

Dublin City

Firhouse/Oldbawn

Lucan

Sandyford/Ringsend

Institutes of Technology

John Deasy

Question:

141 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schedule for fast tracking the application of Waterford Institute of Technology to full university designation. [25744/11]

John Deasy

Question:

142 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the process involved and criteria that have been determined in order to assess the application of Waterford Institute of Technology as a university. [25745/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together.

The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 lays out a clear possible development pathway for amalgamated institutes of technology, which meet specified performance criteria, to seek re-designation as technological universities. A small number of new technological universities, with their own legislative framework and a distinct mission that is faithful to the ethos of the technological sector, working with existing universities, institutes of technology and other education providers, can enrich the diversity and quality of the Irish higher education landscape.

I have asked the Higher Education Authority for its formal advice on performance criteria to be used in an independent assessment process for any future applications for designation as technological universities. A consultation process on draft criteria is being undertaken by the Higher Education Authority and will be completed early next month. It is understood that the Higher Education Authority hopes to sign off its formal advice to my Department at its November meeting of the Authority. I will expedite consideration of the advice with a view to publishing the criteria before the end of December.

Once a process is in place it will be open to institutes of technology to come together to make applications for consideration for re-designation, including those in the south east. All applications will be considered under an independent assessment process.

Post-Leaving Certification Courses

John O'Mahony

Question:

143 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of post leaving certificate places available in County Mayo; the location of these places in County Mayo; the way this number compares with the number of places available in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25751/11]

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are predominately provided in VEC schools with some provision in Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive schools. In County Mayo the PLC programme operates in seven schools/colleges managed by County Mayo Vocational Educational Committee (VEC), four Voluntary Secondary schools and two Community and Comprehensive schools. Details of the location of these schools are as follows: Moyne College, Ballina; St. Brendan's College, Belmullet; Coláiste Pobail Acla, Achill Sound; St. Tiernan's College, Crossmolina; Coláiste Chomáin, Rossport; Westport Vocational School; Castlebar College of Further Studies; Our Lady's Secondary School, Belmullet; Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh; Scoil Muire & Padraig, Swinford; Sacred Heart School, Westport; Ballyhaunis Community School and St. Louis Community School, Kiltimagh.

The number of approved PLC places in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, is as follows:

2007/2008 academic year 638

PLC places 2008/2009 academic year 664

PLC places 2009/2010 academic year 665

PLC places 2010/2011 academic year 665

PLC places 2011/2012 academic year 725

PLC places An additional 60 PLC places were allocated to Co Mayo VEC for the current academic year as part of the recent Jobs Initiative whereby 1,000 additional PLC places were made available nationally

Higher Education Grants

Brendan Griffin

Question:

144 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a change of circumstances in respect of a self employed person (details supplied) in County Kerry for 2011 will be taken into account for the processing of their application for a top-up grant for their children who are higher education grant recipients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25754/11]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority.

The eligibility of an applicant, or the level of the grant awarded, may be re-assessed by the awarding authority in the event of a change of circumstances in the academic year. The applicant should in the first instance contact the relevant awarding body and notify them of the change in circumstances.

The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form, including those relating to residence, reckonable income, nationality and previous academic attainment, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant or what level of grant would be appropriate. Where a grant application is refused, the reason for the refusal is given by the grant awarding authority.

An applicant may appeal the decision to the relevant awarding authority. Where the grant awarding authority decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department or the independent appeals board as appropriate by submitting an appeal form clearly outlining the grounds for the appeal.

Pension Provisions

Noel Grealish

Question:

145 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of employees in his Department who have expressed an interest in retiring ahead of the changes to the public sector pension schemes that are to come into force in 2012. [25783/11]

To date this Department has received seven applications from staff wishing to retire before 29th February 2012.

Requests for information on retirement are received in Personnel Section on an ongoing basis. Although there has been a significant increase in requests for estimates of pension entitlements from staff in the last number of months there is no way of knowing at this time how many of these requests will translate into actual retirements. Staff wishing to retire prior to 29th February 2012 have been asked to give the Department a minimum of three months notice of their intention to retire.

Further Education and Training

Catherine Murphy

Question:

146 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to use the establishment of SOLAS as an opportunity to allow final year apprentices to complete their apprenticeships by shadowing existing tradespeople through funding supplied by the new training agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25833/11]

In July the Government announced the establishment of SOLAS as a key element in the integration of the Further Education and Training sector. The SOLAS Implementation Group, which I am chairing, was set up to implement the changes.

The Group is preparing an Action Plan, including the area of organisational mission, which will be the subject of consultation with stakeholders before finalisation. Given the complex elements involved, including appropriate legislation, it is expected that the process of establishing SOLAS will largely be completed by the end of 2012.

In the meantime, FÁS continues to have responsibility for the apprenticeship system. In order to ensure that apprentices are given as many opportunities as possible to support the timely completion of their apprenticeship, FÁS has taken a number of initiatives to enable registered redundant apprentices, including final year apprentices, to progress and finish their apprenticeships:

Redundant apprentices are now permitted to progress to their next Off-the-Job Phase of their apprenticeships even though they have not yet completed their previous on-the-job Phase.

FÁS is providing a temporary Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme whereby FÁS approved employers in the public and private sectors will provide redundant apprentices with training and assessment on-the-job including at Phase 7 of their apprenticeships. The maximum period of placement is 12 weeks at Phase 7.

FÁS will be introducing shortly a Competency Determination Scheme for the trades of Brick & Stonelaying, Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical, Plastering and Plumbing. This scheme is for redundant apprentices who have successfully completed Phases 1 to 7 of their apprenticeships, but who do not meet the requirement of having completed the statutory 4 years (208 weeks) in employment.

Redundant apprentices who pass the competency assessment will receive an exemption from this requirement thereby enabling them to complete their apprenticeships and qualify for the award of the FETAC Advanced Certificate — Craft. Competency assessments are currently being scheduled.

Redundant apprentices who have successfully completed Phase 1 to Phase 7 (or Phase 7 Equivalent assessments) of their apprenticeships excluding the trades of Brick & Stonelaying, Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical, Plastering and Plumbing, but who have not completed the statutory 4 years in employment as apprentices may be granted an exemption from this requirement by validating their competence under the Recognition of Prior Learning Scheme. FÁS will invite eligible redundant apprentices to submit a portfolio of evidence of trade related work experience gained at home and/or abroad and/or trade related further training and/or education undertaken during periods of redundancy. The granting of exemptions is based solely on the portfolios of evidence submitted to the Redundant Apprentice Accreditation Committee.

Redundant apprentices who are granted an exemption will be considered to have completed their Apprenticeships and thereby qualify for the award of the FETAC Advanced Certificate — Craft.

Léargas has provided support to FÁS for apprentices to complete on-the-job training with assessment with employers in Germany and Finland. In the period 2009/2010, over 100 apprentices have undertaken this programme and FÁS has received approval for a further 43 redundant apprentice placement in 2011/2012.My Department along with FÁS will continue to explore ways to support and assist all apprentices progress and finish their apprenticeships.

Schools Refurbishment

Anne Ferris

Question:

147 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the building of a new campus for a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25858/11]

The Deputy might wish to note that a site for the school campus to which she refers has been identified by Co. Wicklow VEC, however, it has not been possible to date to progress this proposed acquisition due to the complexities associated with the site identified.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including a project for this school, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme with due regard to the demand for increased education provision at both primary and post primary level in the coming years.

The delivery of these new schools, together with extension projects to meet the demographic demand, will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

School Books

Denis Naughten

Question:

148 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to reduce the demand for school books and the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25935/11]

I recently met with educational book publishers, representatives of parents' organisations and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul regarding the cost of school textbooks. Subsequently, the publishers devised a voluntary Code of Practice and, while I welcome the Code as a significant step in the right direction, I believe that more should be done to reduce the price of textbooks.

Accordingly. I have proposed to the representatives of the textbook publishers: that the cover price of the most popular textbooks should be reduced; that a significant discount should be given to schools which purchase textbooks in bulk, in line with the discounts given to retailers of textbooks; that the practice of combining a conventional textbook and workbook in a single volume should be ended to allow students to re-use a textbook; and that support materials should be provided to teachers online, to minimise ancillary printing costs. While respecting the position that educational book publishers are independent private companies not under the direct control of my Department, I intend to meet with their representatives again to progress these issues.

I am also keen to examine if there are ways to encourage schools, via the book grant scheme, to establish or maintain book rental schemes as I believe this to be one of the most effective ways of lowering the burden of the cost of school books. I have invited the National Parents Councils at primary and post-primary levels to provide me with examples of good practice of book rental schemes. Drawing on these and other examples, I intend to publish advice to schools on how best to establish and maintain textbook rental schemes in schools well in advance of the beginning of the next school year.

School Transport

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

149 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost per pupil to families in County Donegal for education at second level in terms of school transport, fund-raising, exam costs, trips and transitions year. [25967/11]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

150 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average cost of school bus transport per pupil in County Donegal each year. [25968/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 150 together.

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes on behalf of my Department, has advised that the information you request regarding the average cost of school bus transport per pupil is not readily available on a per county basis. However, research carried out in the context of the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Schemes shows that the annual unit cost per pupil for the provision of school transport was some €1,000, €950 and €7,000 for primary, post primary and children with special educational needs (excluding escorts) respectively.

The school transport charges in respect of the 2011/12 school year are as follows: Eligible and Concessionary Post-Primary Pupils, €350 subject to a family maximum of €650; Eligible post-primary pupils holding a valid medical card and pupils with special educational needs are exempt from paying the charge. With regard to exam costs, entry fees for the 2012 state examinations have not yet been determined. However, the fees for the 2011 examinations for second level students were: Leaving Certificate (Established, LCVP and LCA) €109; Junior Certificate €103; and Repeat Leaving Certificate €284. An alleviation scheme is in place whereby medical card holders and their dependents are exempt from the payment of examination fees. This exemption applies to approximately 30% of examination candidates each year. Mock examinations are not part of the State examinations system and any decision to organise and/or charge for mock examinations is made at school level. Accordingly, my Department does not have a role in the matter nor information on the cost per pupil.

My Department also does not have data regarding the cost per pupil to families in Co Donegal for the other items referred to by the Deputy.

In general, however, voluntary contributions by parents or charges for optional extras over and above what is provided for in the general school programme are permissible, provided it is made clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay, and, that in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition. The manner in which such voluntary contributions are sought and collected is a matter for school management. However, their collection should not create a situation where parents or pupils could reasonably infer that the contributions take on a compulsory character. In addition, it should be noted that no pupil can be excluded from any activities that take place during school time, due to the fact that parents, for whatever reason, choose not to contribute to costs associated with that activity. When submitting returns of pupil enrolments, all schools in the Free Education Scheme are obliged to certify that these principles are being adhered to.

Regarding fundraising, it is a matter for school authorities to decide whether to engage in or support organised fundraising activities provided the methods employed do not affect parents or students in a way which would conflict with the principles in respect of voluntary contributions which I have already identified. It is important for schools to be sensitive to the financial pressures on families, and to use the State funds provided to optimum effect. In this regard, the Deputy should note that my Department is not in a position to make additional funds available to schools in the current economic climate.

School Curriculum

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

151 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills his strategy to ensure that young persons progressing from second to third level education are on the road to employment here. [25969/11]

There are a number of measures currently being undertaken to prepare second level students for future employment and careers.

At Junior Cycle, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) was asked to review the junior certificate and advise on the scope for reform which would provide for a more active learning experience for students, the promotion of real understanding, creativity and innovation. I expect to receive the NCCA's advice on the revised Junior Cycle shortly. At Senior Cycle, five key skills, information processing, communications, critical and creative thinking, personal effectiveness, and working with others, are being embedded in all senior cycle subjects as syllabuses are revised, and a second assessment component is also being embedded. These changes should help to prepare students for the world of work.

In addition, all post-primary schools also provide a guidance and counselling service for their students. The service includes the provision of individual guidance and counselling for students at critical stages in their education. Guidance staff in schools are teachers with a post graduate qualification in guidance. As well as their guidance qualification, guidance staff are members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors which is funded by the Department to provide professional development supports. Guidance staff also have the support of the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) which was established to act as a national centre of excellence for guidance. The NCGE provides on-line training on planning the guidance programme in schools, as well as resources and advice and a guidance handbook.

Departmental Expenditure

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

152 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding that has been cut from the education budget on an annual basis in the past five years. [25970/11]

Due to changes in the structure of the Vote for my Department over the period 2007-2011, total Education Expenditure for each of the years in question is not readily comparable. These changes include:

The transfer out of the Education and Science Vote from 1 January 2009 of funding responsibility for various functions in relation to Youth Organisations and Youth Activities to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs;

The transfer into the Education and Skills Vote from 1 May 2010 of responsibility for FÁS skills and training programmes (formerly funded through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment).

The transfer into the Vote from 1 January 2011 of funding in respect of the provision of nursing education (formerly funded through the Department of Health).

The transfer out of the Vote from 1 January 2011 of funding in respect of functions of the National Education Welfare Board to the Vote of the Minister for Health and Children.

Adjusted expenditure figures to reflect the above changes are included in the attached document which shows that, on a comparable basis, overall education expenditure increased during the period 2007-2009, while expenditure was reduced during 2010 and 2011 (2011 figure is estimate). The following summary of budget measures introduced over the period 2009 to 2011 indicates the areas where expenditure adjustments were made and which gave rise to the reduced expenditure in 2010 and 2011.

Education and Skills Vote 26 Comparable Education Expenditure 2007-2011*

2007 Outturn

2008 Outturn

2009 Outturn

2010 Outturn

2011 Estimate

€million

€million

€million

€million

€million

Current

€7,796.8

€8,380.4

€8,554.3

€8,083.2

€8,172.8

Capital

€813.3

€829.6

€767.2

€696.9

€495.5

Total Expenditure

€8,610.1

€9,210.0

€9,321.5

€8,780.1

€8,668.3

Note — the above comparable figures differ from published figures of education expenditure due to changes in the structure of the Vote as outlined in the reply to the question from the Deputy.

Extract from summary of expenditure-related measures announced in 2009 Budget

Main Features (note — some of these measures were moderated in subsequent budgets)

Capital

Capital allocation of €889m is an increase of €80m on the allocation for 2008.

Teachers salary and pension costs

The net pay bill for teachers' salaries and pensions will increase by almost €300m as a result of a combination of pay increases and the full-year costs of the salaries of teachers appointed this September.

The budget allocation takes account of increased enrolments in primary schools and the continued growth in provision for special needs in primary and post-primary schools.

Overall, the number of primary and post-primary teachers in schools in September 2009 is projected to be about 200 fewer in each sector compared to September 2008. This is because of a number of measures that are being taken to meet the overall budgetary requirements:

The mechanism used to allocate classroom teachers to primary schools is the staffing schedule and, with effect from September 2009, the enrolment bands will be based on an average of 28 pupils per class rather than the current 27 pupils per class.

In the case of post-primary schools, the allocation basis will be altered by one point with effect from September 2009 from the current 18 to 1 basis to a revised basis of 19 to 1.

In the case of fee-charging post-primary schools, there will be an additional one-point adjustment.

The ceiling of two on the number of language support teachers per school is being re-imposed, with some alleviation for the position of those schools where there is a significant concentration of newcomer pupils as a proportion of the overall pupil enrolment.

Arrangements will also be made for the withdrawal of teacher posts which have been historically provided under previous disadvantage schemes to non-DEIS schools.

Teacher substitution arrangements: substitution cover will be suspended from January 2009 for absences arising from uncertified sick leave in all schools, as well as for school business absences in post-primary schools.

Early Retirement Scheme for Teachers: this pilot scheme is being suspended with immediate effect.

School funding

Improvements are being made to the rates of capitation funding available to schools. The combined value is €20m.

In the case of primary schools:

The increased financial provision will provide for an increase of €21.42 in the standard capitation, bringing the rate to €200 per pupil. This equates to an increase of almost 12pc on the existing €178.58 grant rate.

The ancillary grant will be increased from €151.50 per pupil to €155 per pupil.

In the case of post-primary schools:

An increase of €14 per pupil in the capitation grant is a 4.3pc increase on 2008.

The capitation grant will now stand at €345 per pupil.

There will be an increase of €8 per capita in the equalisation measure payable to voluntary secondary schools, giving a total increase, when capitation and school support services grants are combined, of €22 per pupil.

Abolition in 2009 of certain grants paid to schools

In the case of primary schools:

The separate cookery grant, resource grant for language support teachers and equipment grant for resource teachers are being abolished. The total value of these grants was €2m.

A further €4.3m is being saved by the reduction in capitation funding for Travellers and withdrawal of certain capitation funding from schools that are not in the DEIS programme but had continued to receive top-up funding originally provided under previous disadvantage initiatives.

In the case of post-primary schools:

A number of separate grant payments to second-level schools are being abolished. These are grants for Choirs and Orchestras, Home Economics, Physics and Chemistry, Junior Certificate Schools Programme, Leaving Certificate Applied, LCVP and Transition Year. The total saving will be €5.35m.

A further €2m is being saved by a reduction in capitation funding for Travellers and withdrawal of certain capitation funding from schools that are not in the DEIS programme but had continued to receive top-up funding originally provided under previous disadvantage initiatives.

In the case of fee-charging second-level schools:

An anomalous situation has existed whereby fee-charging schools under Catholic patronage were not in receipt of certain grants, including the support services grant, that were paid to other fee-charging schools. This position is being regularised. All fee-charging schools will be treated on a similar basis resulting in a saving of €2.8m. The Protestant block grant remains in place.

Other funding reductions

Aid for school books: A saving of €7.5m will result by restricting aid for school books to DEIS schools. A fund of €7m will be available for distribution to schools in the DEIS programme.

Library grants: A saving of €2.19m will result from the cessation of funding that the Department made available to local authorities to support school library services.

Support for summer courses in Irish colleges: The per capita subvention by the Department to summer courses conducted in Irish colleges (in Gaeltacht areas) is being withdrawn. The saving will be €1.25m.

Centre for Talented Youth: The Department has in the past provided an annual grant of €97,000 to the Centre for Talented Youth. This is being withdrawn.

Grant for foreign qualified teachers attending Irish courses in the Gaeltacht: This grant is being withdrawn. The saving will be €200,000.

Special needs

Resource teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs) will continue to be deployed to meet the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) at primary and post-primary levels. There are just over 19,000 staff working with special needs children.

While in the light of the financial situation it is necessary to defer the implementation of the EPSEN Act, children with SEN will continue to have their SEN met on a non-statutory basis.

Further, provision is being made to improve these services through the allocation of an additional €10m which will fund enhanced measures for children with SEN pending the full implementation of the EPSEN Act.

School psychologists: Some of this €10 million will contribute to a 33% increase in expenditure on the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), resulting in all schools having a service by the end of 2009.

SNAs: An increase of €40 million to cover the full-year costs of additional SNAs in the system this September, provision for additional posts next September, and full-year cost of pay increases awarded.

Higher education

The current estimates provision for higher education is €1,844m, compared with a 2008 estimate of €1,887m. The estimate allows for an increase in the student registration charge from €900 to up to €1,500 in individual institutions for the academic year 2009/2010. Third-level students entitled to a student support grant will remain exempt from paying the student registration charge.

The estimates provision will require restrictions in the implementation of approved projects under the Strategic Innovation Fund and will involve the deferral of planned 2009 increases in medical education places. It will also involve restrictions in the volume of awards made by the two Research Councils (Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology and Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences).

Adult and further education

The non-pay grant provision for adult and further education shows a reduction of €8.5m or just under 5pc on the 2008 estimate. This will require a reduction in the provision of 500 places on the Back to Education Initiative — reducing the total number of places to 9,000. The number of places provided in Senior Traveller Training Centres will be reduced by approximately 100 — there are currently 1,084 places provided.

Allowances to participants in VTOS, Youthreach and Senior Traveller Training Centres will be increased in line with the appropriate social welfare rates or FAS trainee allowances.

Youth

Grants for youth services are being reduced by just over 8pc — from €52.6m to €48.2m.

Teacher education

The provision for teacher in-service education support is €28.8m, compared with a 2008 estimate of €33.8m. It is intended to reduce teacher secondments to in-service and, while it will be possible to continue to provide a wide range of services to teachers, the reduced allocation will mean that programmes that are not in an expansionary or prioritised phase will have to be curtailed to a degree.

School transport

The provision for school transport is €196m, compared with a 2008 figure of €175m.

The post-primary school transport charge is increasing from an annual fee of €168 for junior cycle children and €234 for senior cycle children (payable on a term-by-term basis) to a single annual fee of €300 for eligible post-primary children first payable in summer 2009.

The maximum amount payable per single family, regardless of the number of children using the school transport system, will be €650 annually. Eligible children in families who hold a medical card or children with special needs are exempt from the charges.

Reduction in Department's regional office service

The 26pc reduction reflects the intention to rationalise and prioritise some services and to seek efficiencies in the operation of the Department's regional office network.

Other current

Fee increases will be required across the State Examinations Commission (SEC), Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC). SEC will increase fees by 8pc.

Note: The Government decided in July 2008 that the payroll costs across Government organisations should be reduced by 3pc in 2009 and other restrictions should apply in order to effect cost savings in consultancy, advertising and other administrative areas. This is the background to some of the reductions applying in the Education Estimates for 2009. The estimates provisions under a range of headings will require careful management over the course of the year with expenditure control measures across all areas and possible further tightening measures may be necessary as the year progresses.

Extract from summary of expenditure-related measures announced in 2010 Budget

Main Features

Capital

Capital allocation of €715 million is being made available in 2010. In addition €79 million capital savings from 2009 will be carried forward into 2010, bringing total capital funding available for Education in 2010 to €794 million.

The total funding available is a decrease of less than 7% compared to the allocation for 2009.

Current

The current allocation for 2010 is €8.173 billion which is a reduction of 5.4% over the allocation for 2009. The reduction includes a general pay-related adjustment of €350 million in line with the Government decision to reduce public service pay rates. This accounts for 4% of the reduction. The distribution of this pay adjustment across subheads will be included in the context of the 2010 Revised Estimates Volume.

Additional expenditure measures

€12 million is being provided in 2010 for the implementation of the Renewed Programme for Government commitment to provide 500 additional teachers over the next 3 years. This allocation will allow for the employment of an additional 200 teachers starting in early 2010 and a further 150 teachers commencing in September 2010.

€14 million is being provided in 2010 for the implementation of the Renewed Programme for Government commitment to provide additional teachers from September 2010 for the 2010/11 school year to meet demographic pressures and to ensure no further increase in the PTR. This allocation will fund 600 posts in primary schools and 330 in second level schools.

€19 million is being provided to maintain school capitation grants at current levels and to take account of increased pupil numbers. This allocation will also enable additional funding to be allocated to schools for school books and to support curricular activities as provided in the Renewed Programme for Government.

The allocation for VTOS is being increased by €7.5 million to meet additional expenditure on allowances due to the change in profile of applicants for the scheme.

An additional allocation of €3 million is provided for the promotion of Gaeilge in schools, as part of the new 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language.

The provision for the National Educational Psychological Service is being increased to provide for the increase in psychologists to 210. This will allow NEPS psychologists to provide direct service to every first and second level school and an enhancement of service to special schools and units.

Higher Education

The provision for 2010 for Universities and Institutes of Technology is €1,266 million which is a 4% reduction on the 2009 provision of €1,318 million.

The reduction in funding takes account of targeted reductions in numbers employed under an employment control framework for the sector and will also involve further non-pay cost efficiencies.

Just under €130 million is being provided to higher education institutions next year for research activities, including capital research funding. This underlines the Government's commitment to focussed delivery of its Science, Technology and Innovation strategy. As part of this it is intended that investments under cycle 5 of PRTLI will proceed. The assessment process for PRTLI 5 awards will conclude in early 2010 and, in line with normal lead in times, major elements of expenditure commitments are anticipated to materialise from 2011 onwards.

The funding available next year for projects under the Strategic Innovation Fund is €18 million a reduction of €8 million on 2009. This reduced allocation will require a further curtailment of project activity. Priority will continue to be given to projects aimed at up-skilling and re-skilling for employment.

Student grants and scholarships

A reduction of 5% is being applied to the rates of student grants and scholarships. This will provide €10 million in savings in 2010. However, the overall allocation for student support will be increased in 2010 to take account of increased numbers of students.

The reduction will be implemented to all existing and new grant holders from January 2010. This is in line with reductions in other income maintenance payments including those for the unemployed.

A further saving of €4 million will be made by the removal of eligibility for student support grants from people in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance and the VTOS allowances for those pursuing a PLC course. However, the cost of the student service charge and any fees payable to colleges will continue to be met by the Exchequer on their behalf. This will apply to all new grant holders in 2010 onwards.

Support under the Millennium Partnership Fund is being withdrawn saving €2 million.

Adult and further education

The number of places provided in Senior Traveller Training Centres (STTCs) will be reduced by 300 places from 984 places to 684 places. This in line with the Traveller Education Strategy. Travellers can continue to access the full range of Adult and Further Education programmes across the country.

Allowances to participants in VTOS, Youthreach and Senior Traveller Training Centres will be reduced in line with the appropriate social welfare rates or FAS trainee allowances.

Teacher education

The provision for teacher in-service education support is €29.79m, compared with a 2009 estimate of €40m. Restructuring of existing services will continue in 2010. Services will be focused on priority areas including special education needs, child protection guidelines training, implementation of new procedures for underperforming teachers and Project Maths.

The allocation for pre-service teacher education is being reduced by €3m and will be achieved by reducing the number of post-graduate conversion places.

Teacher Sick Leave and Substitution

The supply teacher scheme at primary level will cease from the start of the 2010/11 school year. Normal substitution arrangements, which apply to primary schools generally to cover teacher absences at present, will be used to cover substitution in those schools that participated in the scheme.

From the start of the 2010/11 school year, the maximum number of uncertified sick leave days allowed in the school year for teachers in primary, secondary and community & comprehensive schools is being reduced to 7 days. This is the same amount as is available for teachers in vocational schools and community colleges.

School transport

The provision for school transport is €188m, compared with a 2009 estimated out-turn of €178m. While efficiencies made during 2009 will continue to yield savings in 2010, an increase of €10m is being provided which includes provision for new services as necessary.

Reduction in allocations to Education bodies:

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment reduced by €0.93m

National Council for Special Education reduced by €2.3m

Higher Education Authority reduced by €0.562m

Dublin Dental Hospital reduced by €0.410m.

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies reduced by €0.546m.

Royal Irish Academy of Music reduced by €0.303m

National Qualifications Framework (NQAI, FETAC, HETAC) current allocation reduced by €2.1 million.

Other current

Further savings will be made from expenditure efficiencies in the Department's Administrative Budget (excluding NEPS) (€2.4 million).

The allocation of €5m funding from the Dormant Accounts fund will allow for the continuation of existing schemes to counteract educational disadvantage funded from this source.

Funding will be reduced by €1.2 million in 2010 for projects in Local Drugs Task Force areas in the Dublin city and county area. Funding provided by the Department for these projects will be phased out in 2011.

Extract from summary of expenditure-related measures announced in 2011 Budget

MAIN FEATURES

Overall Allocation

The gross overall Voted allocation for the Department for 2011 will be €8.855 billion. This compares to an allocation for 2010 of €9.002 billion, representing a reduction of 2%. In addition the Estimate includes provision for expenditure of some €362 million under the National Training Fund in 2011, which is a reduction of 14% over the allocation for 2010, due mainly to a projected significant reduction in fund income in 2011.

Capital Expenditure

The capital allocation for 2011 will be €491 million. The figure reflects the overall medium-term reduction in capital investment announced in the National Recovery Plan.

The capital expenditure envelope for education of almost €1.9 billion over the period of the plan will provide for meeting demographic needs in primary and post-primary schools and for some improvement in the stock of school buildings. The allocation will also provide for some prioritised investment in third-level infrastructure.

Current Expenditure

A provision for current expenditure of €8.364 billion has been made for 2011. This is an increase of just under 1% on the equivalent 2010 allocation of €8.295 billion. A further €362 million of current expenditure is provided for under the National Training Fund. The 2011 allocation takes account of upward expenditure pressures mainly in relation to student support payments, the cost of pensions and demographic increases. It also takes account of savings of some €175 million to be secured across the education sector. More details regarding current expenditure are provided below.

School Transport

The 2011 estimate for school transport services is €180 million compared to an allocation for 2010 of €186 million. €4.5 million in savings will be secured in 2011 (rising to €17 million in 2014), through a combination of increases in charges and the implementation of measures identified in a value for money review of the school transport scheme. With effect from the 2011/2012 school year a transport fee of €50 per annum will be introduced for primary school pupils, with a maximum family charge of €110 applying. This charge is being introduced to ensure that school transport provided for eligible primary pupils is fully utilised. The annual charge for post-primary pupils will be increased by €50 from €300 to €350. The combined maximum overall family charge will remain at €650.

Changes in the 2011/2012 school year arising from the value for money review will include:

The distance criteria will be applied to all pupils attending primary schools and the exemption under the closed school rule will cease. This means that children who reside less than 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) from the school of attendance and who are availing of free transport to that school under the closed school rule will lose their transport eligibility;

Services under the minimum numbers, either single services or which are part of double tripping arrangements, will be discontinued. A pick up density of pupils in a distinct locality on a particular route — increasing from the current minimum of 7 to 10 eligible children — will be required to establish or retain services.

Further changes from the review, which will take effect from a later date, will include the following:

From the 2012/13 school year, eligibility based on the closed school rule (CSR) and the central school rule will cease for all new children entering primary schools. Existing primary pupils availing of transport under the CSR will retain transport eligibility for the duration of their schooling, provided the requisite distance is met;

From the 2012/13 school year, the use of the catchment boundary system will cease for all new post-primary children. Eligibility for all new children entering post-primary transport will be on the basis of the nearest post-primary centre or school. Existing arrangements will remain in place for existing post primary pupils for the duration of their schooling;

New arrangements will be put in place with Bus Éireann on a phased basis for the operation of the scheme. These will include arrangements for an increasing proportion of routes to be provided by private operators. From the 2012/13 school year, Bus Éireann will have full responsibility for the operation of the school transport system including responsibility for processing all applications for school transport or grants. Synergies between school transport, rural transport and Health Service Executive services will be further developed.

Schools

€22 million in savings will be secured in 2011 though an average 5% reduction in funding grants to schools and Vocational Educational Committees (including mainstream and ancillary grants for schools), and including grants for Adult Literacy, Community Education, School Completion Programme, Youthreach. This will reduce capitation rates to those that applied to schools between 2007 and 2008. (There will also be a similar reduction in capitation rates payable in respect of Senior Traveller Training Centres, VTOS (Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme) and PLC (Post-Leaving Certificate) students). Details of the revised rates for each grant category will be issued to schools and VECs shortly. Reduced rates will also apply to ancillary and support services grants to reflect the reduction in pay that will apply to personnel who are paid from these grants, and who have not yet had the reduction applied to them, with effect from January 2011, e.g. school cleaners and caretakers.

The 2011 allocation for teacher salaries of almost €3.85 billion takes account of €24 million in savings (rising to €98 million in 2014) to be achieved by reducing teacher numbers through a combination of measures. These measures will lead to a deferral of 150 extra posts and to a reduction of up to approximately 1,200 posts from September 2011 (approximately 700 primary and 500 post-primary posts) which, however, will be partly offset by the addition of an estimated 875 new posts due to demographics. The measures to reduce teacher posts include:

Deferral of the provision of 150 extra teachers originally planned to be allocated at primary and post-primary level in September 2011;

Changing the existing favourable pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) to the standard PTR for the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). Currently, the allocation of teachers to the LCVP is on the basis of 1 teacher for every 17 pupils. This will be changed from September 2011 to the standard allocation basis of 1 teacher for every 19 pupils (or 1 teacher for every 20 pupils in the case of fee-charging schools). This measure will secure savings of approximately 200 posts;

Standardising the staffing schedule for Gaelscoileanna to the same that operates for other ordinary national schools, the estimated yield from which will be some 50 posts;

Withdrawal of Resource Teachers for Travellers posts at primary level so that educational teaching supports to Traveller students will now be provided on the same basis as other students in schools. Alleviation measures will be put in place for schools with a high concentration of Traveller children. At post-primary level teaching hours for Travellers will be withdrawn, again with alleviation measures for schools with high concentrations of Traveller children. This measure will secure savings of approximately 600 posts net.

A phased reduction of 500 over four years in the number of Language Support Teachers, through a demand driven reduction and, if necessary, a change in allocation rules over the period of the plan. A first year reduction of some 125 posts is targeted with effect from September 2011;

The redeployment of some 170 existing supernumerary posts in post-primary schools from September 2011;

The removal of 47 primary rural co-ordinator teaching posts currently allocated to DEIS rural primary schools. All of these schools, however, will continue to receive other DEIS supports including financial support, professional development supports, school meals and school books supports;

The withdrawal from September 2011 of 42 Visiting Teachers for Travellers posts, currently assigned to the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The School Support services, including the School Completion Programme and the Home School Liaison Service under the NEWB, will be adapted to undertake work with Travellers in the future.

In line with the Traveller Education Strategy and the 2008 value for money review of Youthreach and Senior Traveller Training Centres (STTCs), integrated further education provision for Travellers will be implemented through the phasing out of STTCs by June 2012 and replacement places, prioritised for Travellers, being provided under the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI). This means there will be no new enrolments in STTCs from 1 January 2011.

€10 million in savings will be secured from rule changes and efficiencies in relation to supervision and substitution arrangements in schools. This will include implementation of the flexibility measures provided for under the Croke Park Agreement whereby post-primary teachers will be available for an extra class period each week to cover for absent colleagues. There will also be a general tightening of the rules covering substitution.

Special Needs Assistants

The 2011 allocation for pay for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) will be approximately €350 million, compared to an allocation of €335 for 2010. The allocation provides for the full-year costs of SNAs appointed in 2010. While there will be no reduction in the SNA numbers in 2011 it is intended to place a cap on these numbers. The Department will in this regard work with the National Council for Special Education to develop a new system to manage SNA provision within the total numbers allocation. All schools will be advised of the new system.

Further and Higher Education

The 2011 provision for Universities, Institutes of Technology and other higher education institutions is €1.113 billion, which represents a gross reduction of 7% on the allocation for 2010. Net of adjustments for increased income in respect of the Student Contribution Charge of €2,000, the overall 2011 reduction is 2.2% (5%, or €14 million, in the non-pay grants payable to these bodies and a 1.5% pay cost reduction).

Further savings of €27 million will be achieved by replacing the existing €1,500 per year Student Services Charge with a flat higher education Student Contribution of €2,000 with effect from the 2011/2012 academic year. The Student Contribution will apply to all students who currently benefit under the ‘free fees' scheme. Higher education institutions will be asked to consider how they could put in place arrangements under which a student may opt to pay the charge in two equal instalments of 50% in September and 50% in January in a given academic year. The contribution will be paid by the Exchequer in respect of students who qualify under the third level grant schemes. These students, who account for some 43% of all undergraduates, will not be impacted by any increase in charges. The Government is also aware of the particular financial pressures that this charge may place on families where family income is marginally in excess of current eligibility levels for maintenance grant support and on families with more than one sibling in higher education at the same time. With this in mind, the current higher education grants schemes threshold will be increased to provide for an additional eligibility category of support qualifying for ‘50% Student Contribution' (see detail in Appendix). In addition, arrangements will be made to provide that second and subsequent siblings from a single family will not have to bear the full increased cost of the new €2,000 charge.

The introduction of a new €200 annual contribution for Post Leaving Certificate students will secure savings of €4 million in 2011. The cost of the charge will be met by the Exchequer on behalf of those students who are eligible under the maintenance grant scheme for students attending PLC courses. Eligible students may include those in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance provided that they meet all of the terms and conditions of the relevant student grant scheme.

Provision of further education opportunities in 2011 will be largely the same as that in 2010, with over 173,000 participants benefiting from VEC interventions.

Student Support

The 2011 allocation for student support payments is just over €385 million. This represents an increase of some 5%, or €18 million, over the 2010 provision and reflects both increased numbers of students qualifying for grants and a greater proportion of students qualifying for higher rates of grants, which are means tested.

The current higher education grants schemes threshold will be increased to provide for an additional eligibility category of support qualifying for ‘50% Student Contribution' .

The 2011 allocation also takes account of savings of some €22 million (rising to some €51 million in 2014), to be achieved through implementing a range of savings measures in the student support scheme. These measures include:

A 4% reduction in the rate of student support grants, reflecting the reductions in rates of social protection payments announced in the Budget. This will yield savings of €8 million;

Changing the qualifying distance criterion for entitlement to the higher non-adjacent rate of grant (distance from home to the higher education institution) from 15 miles (24 kilometres) to 28 miles (45 kilometres). The original distance criterion was set in 1968, before the significant improvement in transport facilities and road networks which has taken place. This measure will yield €10 million of savings in 2011 (€30 million in 2014);

Savings of €4 million (€13 million in 2014) will be secured by reducing the automatic eligibility of mature students to the higher non-adjacent rate of payment, thereby bringing the arrangements for mature students into line with all other students.

Skills and Training

Savings of approximately €10 million will be achieved in the area of training allowances and supports. This includes a reduction, consistent with reductions in social protection rates announced in the Budget, of €8 per week in all weekly training allowances and similar support payments. The long-term unemployment bonus paid to VTOS (Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme) students and to FAS trainees will be reduced from €31.80 per week to €20 per week.

In Budget 2011 the allocation to FÁS for training the unemployed has been decreased by €43 million or approximately 15%. This will result in an equivalent reduction of 15,410 training places that FÁS can deliver for the unemployed next year. This will imply that FAS will deliver approximately 100,000 training places next year as opposed to the 115,000 they are delivering this year.

Other current expenditure items

The reduced 2011 allocation of just over €18 million for the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) takes account of €3 million in savings to be secured through capping at 178 the number of psychologists in the service;

A saving of €1 million in 2011, rising to €12 million in 2014, will be achieved through the impact of a 10% reduction in salary scales for new entrants to the public service, with all new entrants starting on the minimum point of the new scale.

€16 million in savings (€39 million in 2014) will be achieved through further reductions in public service numbers on the Education and Skills Vote, including in the Non-Commercial State Agencies under the aegis of the Department. These reductions are on foot of the updated Employment Control Framework in the National Recovery Plan, to control public sector numbers.

A further €18 million in savings will be achieved through a range of non-pay administrative savings, the management of emerging expenditure pressures and other estimating savings.

The 2011 allocation of €78 million for the Administrative Budget subheads A1 to A8 includes an additional €1.6 million in staff costs as a result of the transfer of functions in May 2010. When account is taken of this the 2011 allocation for these subheads represents a reduction of 2% on the comparable allocation for 2010.

The 2011 allocations to a number of bodies under the aegis of the Department reflect reductions in payroll and other administrative savings.

State Examinations

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

153 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to minimise the cost of mock examinations to families. [25971/11]

Mock examinations are not part of the State examinations system. The decision to organise and/or charge for mock examinations is made at school level, and my Department does not have a role in the matter. Schools are provided with capitation and school services grants to meet their running costs. Post-primary schools receive school services grant of €201 per pupil plus a capitation grant of €328 per pupil. DEIS schools also receive additional funds for targeted interventions to improve educational outcomes for students at risk.

It is important for schools to be sensitive to the financial pressures on families, and to use the State funds provided to optimum effect. However, my Department is not in a position to make additional funds available to schools in the current climate.

Ideally, mock examinations should be marked by teachers as part of their ongoing work in schools. While schools in the Free Education Scheme may seek voluntary contributions from parents, they may not charge fees for teaching and learning activities scheduled as part of the school day, or exclude students from such services for non payment of a fee.

Education Schemes

Willie O'Dea

Question:

154 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of the announced 6,000 extra specific jobs skills training places that have been taken up to date by unemployed persons from structurally challenged industries; the number of the 3,000 back to education initiative places for people with less than leaving certificate that have been taken up to date; the number of the 5,900 third level springboard programme places that have been taken up to date; and the number of the additional 1,000 post-leaving certificate places that have been taken up to date. [25996/11]

The majority of the additional training, education and work experience places (15,900) for the unemployed, including young unemployed persons, contained in the Jobs Initiative which was announced in May 2011 are being delivered by my Department through the following programmes.

6,000 places on FÁS Specific Skills Training Courses

3,000 places on the Back to Education Initiative (FE)

1,000 places on Post Leaving Certificate Courses (FE)

5,900 places on the Springboard Initiative (HE) Arrangements for filling these places are at different stages at present:

FÁS Specific Skills Training Courses. I understand from FÁS that the additional 1,000 places for the longer Specific Skills Training Courses have been identified and scheduled, with some courses already commenced and participants for the remainder currently being recruited.

FÁS are planning to commence over the next 3 months the remaining short, evening and blended learning, specific skills training courses with the additional 5,000 places. FÁS is confident that it will achieve its target in this area in 2011.

Back to Education and Post Leaving Certificate Courses. The additional 1,000 Further Education Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) and 3,000 Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) places are being prioritised for the unemployed. These additional places have been allocated to Vocational Education Committees (VECs) and other providers and are being made available to participants for the current academic year.

It is expected that the additional 1,000 learners on PLC programmes will be fully utilised by the end of September. Data on enrolments will be notified to my Department as part of the standard 30 September enrolment returns which will be available at the end of the year.

The additional BTEI places are designed to provide flexible short term programmes, with priority given to people who are unemployed and who left school prior to completing their Leaving Certificate. VECs are currently in the process of recruiting participants and initiating programmes for the Jobs Initiative. Data on the number of participants availing of these places will be submitted by VECs as part of end of year reports.

Springboard Applications for the 5,900 Springboard places opened on 25 May 2011 through the online applications facility on the Bluebrick.ie. web portal. It is open to applicants to submit multiple applications and to date 16,040 applications have been received from 6,736 people. 3,792 applicants have been accepted and are enrolled on courses and 2,378 applications are currently being processed.

As applications are still being submitted and processed, the overall position in relation to uptake will not be known for another few weeks. I understand that the majority of Springboard programmes will have commenced by mid October.

Health and Safety Regulations

Brendan Griffin

Question:

155 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a most serious health and safety matter relating to schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26007/11]

When a school authority receives funding from my Department to carry out refurbishment works to their school building, they are advised of their responsibilities as Client for the project under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations, Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 504 of 2006.

In particular school authorities are advised that they must receive written confirmation from all Consultant(s) appointed by them to assist with the delivery of their approved project that they are aware of the contents of the School's Safety File and the School's Asbestos Register. The school management authority is also required to provide written confirmation that their consultants have checked the school safety file and has taken appropriate action in relation to the removal asbestos before my Department will issue any payments in respect of the approved works. In relation to the removal of asbestos school authorities are required to engage contractors named on the OPW list of specialist asbestos removal contractors.

In addition school authorities are informed that guidelines documents on "Asbestos Management in Schools" and the "Code of Practice for Management of Asbestos Material in Schools" are available on my Department website www.education.ie.

Higher Education Grants

Brendan Griffin

Question:

156 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is grant aid available to Irish postgraduate students (details supplied) studying in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26024/11]

Grant support is not available to students pursuing post-graduate courses outside of the island of Ireland. However, Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011, provides for tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including certain approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in E.U. Member States and in non-EU countries. Further details and conditions in relation to this tax relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners.

Schools Building Projects

Eamonn Maloney

Question:

157 Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the building project in respect of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24. [26129/11]

The major building project for this school was included in the list of projects announced in January of this year to "Complete Tender Documents and Expected to Tender in 2011". The design team are currently working on stage 2(b) of architectural planning which includes the application for Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate (DAC) and the preparation of tender documents. Upon completion of Stage 2(b) the Design Team will submit the required documentation to my Department. Subsequently assuming no further issues arise, my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with regard to the further progression of the project.

Higher Education Grants

Pearse Doherty

Question:

158 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the grants or forms of financial assistance provided by him to Irish students studying in third level education outside the island of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26131/11]

The student grant scheme includes provision for grants to eligible students pursuing full-time undergraduate courses of at least two years duration in publicly-funded institutions in other EU Member States.

The student grant scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by local grant awarding authorities — local authorities and VECs — and students should apply to the grant awarding authority in the area where they live to have their eligibility for a grant assessed.

While the student grant scheme does not extend to postgraduate study outside of Ireland, Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011, provides for tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including certain approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in E.U. Member States and in non-EU countries.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 138.

FÁS Training Programmes

Peter Mathews

Question:

160 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding FÁS apprentice students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26155/11]

FÁS has introduced a number of schemes to assist redundant apprentices to progress their apprenticeships, namely: Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme 2011. With the support of the social partners, FÁS is providing a temporary Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme whereby FÁS-approved employers in the public and private sectors will provide redundant apprentices with training and assessment on-the-job at Phase 3, Phase 5 and Phase 7 of their apprenticeships. The maximum period of placement is 26 weeks at Phase 3 or 26 weeks at Phase 5 or 12 weeks at Phase 7. Phase 7 Equivalent Assessments Redundant apprentices in the trades of Carpentry & Joinery, Cabinet Making, Electrical, Plumbing, Brick & Stonelaying and Plastering who have successfully completed Phase 1 to Phase 6 of their apprenticeships but who have not completed on-the-job Phase 7 Assessments and are unable to obtain a FÁS-approved employer to complete Phase 7 assessments, will be scheduled by FÁS to undertake Phase 7 Equivalent Assessments over a period of 4 weeks in a FÁS Training Centre. Competency Determination Mechanism. I understand that FÁS is introducing a Competency Determination Scheme for the trades of Brick & Stonelaying, Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical, Plastering and Plumbing. Under this Scheme, redundant apprentices who have successfully completed Phases 1 to 7 of their apprenticeships, but who do not meet the requirement of having completed the statutory 4 years (208 weeks) in employment as apprentices, will be invited by FÁS to attend a FÁS Training Centre to have their competency assessed.

Redundant apprentices who pass the competency assessment will receive an exemption from this requirement thereby enabling them to complete their apprenticeships and qualify for the award of the FETAC Advanced Certificate — Craft. I understand that apprentices are being scheduled for competency assessments at present. ? Certificate in Craft Transferable Skills. FÁS and the HEA with the Institutes of Technology have developed a post Phase 6 programme for redundant apprentices who wish to access a programme at 3rd level in the Institutes of Technology. Redundant Apprentices who successfully complete this programme will receive a HETAC Special Award Level 3, 30 ECTS Credits. This award should entitle apprentices to enter year 2 of a relevant Higher Certificate (level 6) and in some particular cases may gain entry to Ordinary Degree Programmes Level 7. The Certificate in Craft Transferable Skills (optional) will be offered by the Institutes of Technology in Term 1 — 2011/2012.

I would strongly advise that Redundant Apprentices should contact their FÁS Training Advisor to obtain advice and guidance in relation to the progression of their apprenticeship.

Schools Building Projects

Jack Wall

Question:

161 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26157/11]

The building project for this school was listed in the School Building Works Programme announced on 24th January 2011 to commence the design team appointment process this year. The brief and schedule of accommodation has been prepared. It is anticipated that officials from my Department will be in contact with the school authorities shortly to commence the tender process for the appointment of the design team.

School Transport

Michael Creed

Question:

162 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in issuing payment for transport of a child (details supplied) in County Cork with special needs to the parents involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26167/11]

School Transport Section of my Department handles a large volume of grant payments at the end of each school year and it is inevitable that payment processing will take longer during this very busy period. The payment in question was issued on 20th September 2011.

FÁS Training Programmes

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

163 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider relaxing the rule that prevents an unemployed person on a FÁS course taking up a free Springboard course, particularly as there may be an overlap between the time the FÁS course finishes and the springboard course begins, and the springboard course may involve a progression for the person concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26177/11]

To be eligible for a place on a Springboard course an applicant must have a previous history of employment, and at the time of starting a Springboard course must be unemployed and in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit or One Parent Family Payment or be signing for contribution credits. All applicants must be available for and actively seeking employment. In order to qualify for a place on a post-graduate course applicants must meet these requirements and also must have completed their undergraduate qualification at least three years before the date of commencement of the post-graduate course. It is open to people who have completed a FAS course to progress to a Springboard programme. People who do not fulfil the eligibility criteria for Springboard may also apply under the Department of Education and Skills Student Grant Scheme, for fee and maintenance cost support to pursue a higher education programme on a full-time basis. Full details regarding the Department's student grant schemes are available on www.studentfinance.ie.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Finian McGrath

Question:

164 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of part-time teachers in special schools that have not yet been placed on the appropriate pay rate and therefore have arrears owing to them since the implementation of the Protection of Employees (Part Time Work) Act 2001. [26194/11]

Finian McGrath

Question:

165 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount owing in arrears to part-time teachers in special schools who have not yet been placed in the appropriate pay rate since the implementation of the Protection of Employees (Part Time Work) Act 2001. [26195/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.

Until 31st December 2010, a grant system operated which allowed the managerial authorities of special schools to claim from my Department the funding required to pay part-time specialist subject teachers employed in their schools. The teachers were paid by the managerial authorities.

With effect from the 1st January this year, part-time specialist subject teachers are being paid on a payroll operated by my Department. Under the terms of the Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act, 2001, qualified eligible part-time teachers are entitled to be paid salary appropriate to their qualifications and to receive incremental credit in respect of relevant teaching service.

The arrears due to each qualified teacher are determined individually with regard to their qualifications and service. It is hoped to pay the outstanding arrears to approximately 60 qualified teachers within the current financial year. The current priority of my Department's Payroll Division is to ensure that replacement teachers and special need assistants being appointed for the 2011/2012 school year are placed on payroll for payment.

Higher Education Grants

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

166 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports available for mature students who have been turned down for a full-time course through the CAO system and chose to then take the course part time but have to pay full fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26196/11]

Part-time programmes are not eligible for support under the student grant or free fees scheme. However, tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, is available on third-level tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved higher education institutions including certain approved undergraduate courses in E.U. member states and approved postgraduate courses in E.U. member states and in non-E.U. countries.

In addition, as part of the Government's Jobs Initiative, 6,000 part-time places are being funded through Springboard, a specific initiative targeted at unemployed people who have lost jobs in sectors where employment levels will not return and who will need new qualifications and skills. To be eligible for a place on a Springboard course an applicant must have a previous history of employment, and at the time of starting a Springboard course must be unemployed and in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit or One Parent Family Payment or be signing for contribution credits and be available and actively seeking employment. Full details regarding all Springboard can be found on www.bluebrick.ie .

Departmental Expenditure

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

167 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will maintain critical funding for the RASP anti-drug programme in Dublin 17 for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26197/11]

My Department has provided an allocation of €138,847 to the Rehabilitation and Support Programme (RASP) in 2011 which is equal to its allocation in 2010. A decision regarding the provision of an allocation to the project in 2012 will be taken in the context of the overall budgetary process for 2012.

Schools Building Programmes

Terence Flanagan

Question:

168 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26222/11]

The school referred to by the Deputy was included for appointment of a design team in the announcement in January of the school building works programme for 2011.

My Department is in the process of acquiring a site close to the current location of the school. The next step will be the appointment of a design team to design the new school building. It is my Department's intention to have the new school in place for September 2014. However, until planning permission has been secured it will not be possible to give a more precise indication of when the construction of the new school will be completed.

Community Employment Schemes

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

169 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will explain the decision by FÁS not to continue funding for a project (details supplied) and if alternative funding can be found to keep such a vital service running. [26227/11]

I have been informed that the project referred to by the Deputy is not a FÁS project, but has been funded by a Community Training Centre, which itself receives funding from FÁS. Following a review of funding of CTCs, it was determined that FÁS could not continue to provide the CTC with funding for this project as the work carried out by the project does not fall within the remit of FÁS.

Departmental Staff

Anne Ferris

Question:

170 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills notwithstanding the Civil Service circular No. 28, if he will provide a list of the current pay of each senior civil servant from higher executive officer to Secretary General in his Department broken down by grade; the pension entitlements of each and any other emoluments they are entitled to receive upon reaching retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26234/11]

As there is a total of 636 staff at Higher Executive officer to Secretary General (and equivalents) in my Department I trust the Deputy will appreciate that to provide a list of the current pay of each individual and calculate their individual retirement entitlements in the format requested would take an inordinate amount of official time to compile.

Pension and gratuity benefits are calculated by reference to total reckonable service and pensionable remuneration on the last day of service. Where a person changes grade during their final three years of service, the salary is averaged over the last 3 years for the purposes of calculating pensionable remuneration.

Pension Calculation

(a) in the case of staff appointed before 6th April 1995 the pension is calculated as 1/80th of pensionable remuneration for each years service.

(b) For staff recruited after 6th April 1995 the pension is calculated as follows:

1/200th of pensionable remuneration below 3 1/3 times Old Age Contributory Pension (OACP)

Multiplied by reckonable service plus (where applicable)

1/80th of pensionable remuneration in excess of 3 1/3 times OACP

Multiplied by reckonable service. A maximum of 40 years service applies in both cases. Retirement Gratuity.

In the case of both categories of staff retirement gratuities are calculated as 3/80th of pensionable remuneration for each year of service subject to a maximum of 120/80th (i.e. 1 1/2 times the final annual salary).

In the case of a person having reached 40 years service their pension will be calculated as follows:

Pension = Annual Salary X Service 80

Gratuity Sum = Annual Salary X 1.5

It is possible for a staff member over the age of fifty to retire and receive an actuarially reduced pension.

I have included details of the 2008 pay scales for the grades in question that are applicable to officials that retire before the 29th. February 2012. Officials that retire after this date will have their pensions calculated at the reduced salary rates that came into effect from the 1st, January 2010.

In respect of the Secretary General her current gross salary is €215,590 per annum and she has effected a voluntary waiver to bring her remuneration to €200,000. Her gross salary prior to pay reductions was €253,635 per annum. Secretaries Generals are appointed as a result of a Top Level Appointments Commission (TLAC) process and therefore, would be comprehended by the usual TLAC terms of appointment including retirement terms.

PAY SCALES 1st, September 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

€131,748 €137,737 €144,225 €150,712

PRINCIPAL (HIGHER)

€92,730 €96,555 €100,392 €104,217 €107,485 €110,9281 €114,3662

PRINCIPAL

€86,168 €89,819 €93,449 €97,109 €100,191 €103,3891 €106,5822

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL (HIGHER)

€72,681 €75,448 €78,226 €80,989 €83,760 €85,375 €88,1351 €90,8842

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

€66,179 €68,656 €71,132 €73,609 €76,087 €77,520 €80,0161 €82,5202

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER STANDARD SCALE

€33,372 €36,400 €40,275 €43,226 €46,176 €49,137 €52,086 €55,030 €57,0621 €59,0972

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER HIGHER SCALE

€43,226 €46,176 €49,137 €52,086 €55,030 €57,062 €59,072 €61,082

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER STANDARD SCALE

€46,558 €47,973 €49,379 €50,789 €52,200 €53,618 €55,030 €57,0621 €59,0972

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER HIGHER SCALE

€49,379 €50,789 €52,200 €53,618 €55,030 €57,062 €58,396 €59,737 €61,082

Revised pay with effect from 1 September 2008 for established officers appointed on or after the 6th April 1995 paying the Class A rate of PRSI contribution and making an employee contribution in respect of personal superannuation benefits for General Service Grades.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

€138,683 €144,986 €151,816 €158,644

PRINCIPAL (HIGHER)

€97,617 €101,636 €105,675 €109,705 €113,141 €116,7601 €120,3822

PRINCIPAL

€90,702 €94,550 €98,370 €102,218 €105,463 €108,8291 €112,1912

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL (HIGHER)

€76,510 €79,421 €82,338 €85,253 €88,169 €89,872 €92,7651 €95,6652

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

€69,659 €72,268 €74,871 €77,483 €80,090 €81,593 €84,2251 €86,8652

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER STANDARD SCALE

€35,132 €38,318 €42,397 €45,501 €48,607 €51,722 €54,828 €57,923 €60,0691 €62,2102

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER HIGHER SCALE

€45,501 €48,607 €51,722 €54,828 €57,923 €60,069 €62,181 €64,296

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER STANDARD SCALE

€49,007 €50,495 €51,980 €53,464 €54,952 €56,438 €57,923 €60,0691 €62,2102

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER HIGHER SCALE

€51,980 €53,464 €54,952 €56,438 €57,923 €60,069 €61,475 €62,884 €64,296

Special Educational Needs

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

171 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will publish his key policy document on the education of children on the autistic spectrum; if he will confirm that this policy was produced in recent years and is the basis of his current national programme for the education of citizens with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26250/11]

The Deputy will be aware that policy can be expressed and manifested through a variety of forms. Explicitly, it is communicated via legislation, regulations, rulings, orders, plans, strategies, policy statements, and other forms — or through a combination of these. Therefore the Deputy will appreciate that specific policies and objectives are not always articulated in just one document.

My Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this approach the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs.

Children with autism present with a wide range of needs. Some children are capable of being fully integrated into mainstream schools without additional teaching or care supports. Others are able to attend mainstream schools but need additional teaching and/or care assistance. Many are best enrolled in autism-specific classes where more intensive and supportive interventions are required. Some may move from one setting to another as they get older and differing needs/strengths/abilities emerge.

The preferred policy of my Department is that children with autism are educated in school settings where children may have access to individualised education programmes (IEPs), fully-qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants, the appropriate school curriculum with the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

Autism classes are established with a staffing ratio of 1 teacher and a minimum of 2 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) for every 6 children. Other SNAs may be allocated if required to meet the care needs of the children. Start-up grants are provided to the schools to enable special equipment to be purchased. Enhanced capitation is paid in respect of each child and assistive technology is funded where this is recommended.

This approach promotes the maximum level of inclusion which accords with the intent of the EPSEN Act. While some children may be able to attend a mainstream class, for others the most appropriate provision may be in a special class or unit in the school or in a special school.

My Department supports provision in mainstream schools, some 430 special classes for autism attached to mainstream and special schools and 18 special schools for children with autism throughout the State which cater for the educational needs of some 5,000 children with autism, all of which operate within the policy parameters.

This policy is based on advice received from international experts on autism, NEPS, the Inspectorate and the report of the Irish Task Force on Autism. My Department has satisfied itself that research does not support the exclusive usage of any one approach as a basis for national educational provision for children with autism. It is for this reason that my Department's preferred policy is for a child centred approach where the approach to be taken is based on the individual child's needs.

In arriving at the preferred policy which is currently in place, my Department has considered published research, including the Report of the Task Force on Autism (2001) and the Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (2006), both of which are available on my Department's website and which have informed the policy. My Department was also mindful of contributions of many other experts at international conferences/visits which have also informed the development views.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

172 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report to Dáil Éireann on the home tuition and educational fees which he has provided for the former students of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 13 which was forced to close on 29 July 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26251/11]

As the Deputy is aware the centre to which he has referred submitted a proposal for an academy for children with autism to my Department for consideration. My Department took a decision not to provide funding to support the centre as the proposal submitted was not in line with my Department's policy on educational provision for children with autism. My Department had no direct funding arrangements with the group in question.

The purpose of the Home Tuition Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for pre-school children with autism.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs. In particular, its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) co-ordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational services. The SENOs act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. Another specific function of the SENO is to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs. SENOs are a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children.

The NCSE have been fully engaged in securing placements for the children in question. The NCSE has advised my Department that there are placements available for all of these children. I am aware that the parents of the children have all been advised of their placement options by the NCSE.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has approved home tuition, from the commencement of the current school year, for 1 month for all of the children concerned. The purpose of this provision is to facilitate transitional arrangements for children taking up placements. My Department will consider, as an exceptional measure, extending this period further to facilitate transitional arrangements for the children once they have enrolled in the school based placements.

Schools Building Projects

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

173 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm priority status of the construction of a new secondary school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26299/11]

A major project for the school to which the Deputy refers was included on the work programme for 2011, which was announced on 24 January 2011.

The project brief has now been agreed with the School Management. The next stage involves the appointment of a Design Team and this process is expected to commence shortly. All large scale building projects, including this project, will be considered within the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. In light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the completion of the project at this time.

The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including this project, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

Higher Education Grants

Joe Costello

Question:

174 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the issues in a document (details supplied) regarding the inability of mature students to continue their education to fourth level in view of the restrictive social welfare and medical card conditions; and if he will establish an interdepartmental liaison with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Protection to provide for some mitigation for mature students who find themselves in these or similar circumstances. [26312/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the student grant measures announced in Budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil — Green Party Government began to come into effect from January this year when a reduction of 4% in the rates of grant was applied to all student grant recipients. In addition, from September 2011 the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant was changed from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres and mature students no longer have an automatic entitlement to the non-adjacent rate of grant.

Given the current economic circumstances I regret that I am not in a position to reverse the changes made to the entitlement for mature students. Students in exceptional financial circumstances can apply for assistance under the Student Assistance Fund. Information on the Fund is available through the access offices of third-level institutions. The access offices themselves will also continue to provide support and advice to students to enable them to continue with their studies.

The BTEA is a Department of Social Protection second-chance education opportunities scheme designed to encourage and facilitate people on certain social welfare payments to improve their skills and qualifications and therefore, their prospects of returning to the workforce. The Deputy will appreciate that eligibility for, or any extension of the BTEA scheme to accommodate postgraduate studies is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection. There has already been a substantial level of liaison between officials of my Department and those of the Department of Social Protection in relation to common issues concerning eligibility for the BTEA and student grants.

School Transport

Niall Collins

Question:

175 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reinstate the rural school bus transport scheme for a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [26346/11]

Changes in the School Transport Scheme were announced by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the scheme.

One of the changes announced included an increase to ten in the minimum number of eligible pupils, residing in a distinct locality, required to establish or retain an individual school transport service.

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport schemes on behalf of my Department, has advised that in this case, the number of applications from eligible pupils did not match the above requirement and consequently the service was withdrawn from the beginning of the current school year.

This minimum number requirement has been applied to all individual school transport services nationally from the commencement of the 2011/12 school year.

As is currently the position, families of eligible pupils, for whom there is no school transport service available, may apply for a remote area grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

It is essential to stress that the wider context within which this change is taking place, is a situation of the most serious financial difficulties. Under the four year recovery plan, there is a requirement to deliver savings of €17 million on the school transport budget and this measure is an integral part of this.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Brendan Smith

Question:

176 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has submitted a strategy statement to him, as specified under the 1997 Public Service Management Act; and if so, if he will publish this statement. [26406/11]

A Strategy Statement has been submitted to the Minister for consideration and will be published in due course.

School Properties

Finian McGrath

Question:

177 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding tenancy entitlements in respect of a club (details supplied) in Dublin. [26422/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is my intention to lease the entire former community school site referred to by the Deputy, including the sports complex, to the City of Dublin VEC. My Department has requested the VEC to ensure that the club referred to by the Deputy is given use of the facility following execution of the lease. I understand that the VEC has already presented a draft user agreement to the club for their consideration in anticipation of concluding legal formalities with my Department. Providing a letter of comfort to the club in relation to its future use of the sports facility is, therefore, no longer considered necessary.

Public Procurement

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

178 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total worth, in euro, of public procurement contracts in central and local government in 2010 and 2011; the worth of those contracts granted to Irish companies and the worth of those granted to foreign companies. [25719/11]

Statistics compiled by the National Procurement Service relate to total spend advertised on eTenders above EU thresholds. The information requested by the Deputy is not yet available as the statistics for 2010 are only now being compiled. It is anticipated that the exercise will be complete in December 2011.

As statistics are compiled a year in arrears, figures for 2011 will not be available until December 2012.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

179 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the worth of public procurement contracts for central and local government in 2010 and 2011 that were granted to Irish companies that employ ten persons or fewer; and the worth of public contracts granted to companies that employ ten persons or more. [25720/11]

Statistics complied by the National Procurement Service relate to total spend advertised on eTenders above EU thresholds. The information requested, regarding the size of Irish companies awarded public procurement contracts, is not available as such information in the format requested was never compiled.

My Office, in consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation, is looking at the feasibility of sourcing such information in the future.

Pension Provisions

Michael McCarthy

Question:

180 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the projected budgetary changes to lump sums and pension arrangements in respect of public servants with 37.5 years of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25845/11]

I understand that the Deputy is interested in the ‘grace period' and its effects. The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 provided for a period within which pensions are unaffected by the pay cuts introduced in that Act. This ‘grace period was due to expire by the end of 2010 however it was extended to 29 February 2012 to avoid too large a number of public service retirements in 2011 and to spread the extra pension lump sum costs over a more manageable period in both 2011 and 2012.

Also, in July this year a 3 month minimum notice period for retirement was introduced for the public service. The purpose of this minimum notice period is to protect services by giving management information about the number of staff retiring in a particular area and to assist in planning how best to maintain services. I have no plans to introduce any special arrangements for public servants who do not have forty years pensionable service: in accordance with the standard pension arrangements, those who opt for retirement will receive a pension based on the service accumulated to the date of their retirement. I would point out that, generally, public servants who are aged over 50 may avail of cost neutral early retirement.

National Lottery Funding

Jim Daly

Question:

181 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding accessing funding through the national lottery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25966/11]

The surplus generated by the National Lottery is transferred annually to the Exchequer and is applied to part-fund the Exchequer allocations to a specified range of expenditure subheads across various Votes. The amount transferred to the Exchequer from the Lottery surplus, together with details of the total Exchequer allocations to the relevant lottery supported subheads are published each year in Appendix 1 of the annual Revised Estimates for Public Services which gives a breakdown of allocations by programme.

Individuals or organisations who wish to apply for State funding for specific projects should contact the relevant Government Department or agency in relation to the application process.

EU Funding

Pearse Doherty

Question:

182 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if Ireland is currently in receipt of, or has applied for, any joint European support for sustainable investment in city areas funding to invest in sustainable urban development and regeneration projects. [25985/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland was allocated a total of €901m in Structural Funding for the 2007-13 programming period, with €750m assigned to the Regional Competitiveness and Employment (RCE) Objective. Ireland's National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) sets out the policy context through which the RCE allocation may be applied. This is implemented through three Operational Programmes: the Border, Midlands and Western (BMW) OP, the Southern and Eastern (S&E) OP — both co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — and the Human Capital Investment OP, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The balance of €151m is for smaller Territorial Cooperation programmes including PEACE III, INTERREG IVA and the Ireland Wales programme.

The EU Commission developed four joint initiatives in co-operation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) group and other financial institutions in the framework of the 2007-2013 programming period. Two of them refer to the promotion of financial engineering instruments (JEREMIE and JESSICA). The other two (JASPERS and JASMINE) operate as technical assistance facilities.

These initiatives were examined when Ireland's ERDF Structural Programmes 2007-13 were being developed back in 2006/7. However, primarily because of the scale of operations required to secure EIB participation, the availability of credit at that time and the level of structural funds allocated to Ireland, it was not considered suited to our Structural Funds programmes.

In any case, it should be noted that as Ireland has sufficient expenditure in the ERDF funded OPs to draw down our full structural fund allocation, no additional funding would have been made available.

The regulations governing the 2014-20 round of structural funds are expected to be published shortly and I will be examining the detail to see if the use of such financial engineering instruments will be appropriate for our structural funds programmes for this period.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

183 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the grades within the public and civil service entitled to receive a special severance gratuity payment on retirement; the number of public and civil servants that will be eligible for the special severance gratuity payment on retirement; the way the special severance gratuity payment calculated for each eligible grade; the saving to the State if it did not make the special severance gratuity payment for each grade from this date onwards; and if he will supply this data in a tabular form to include each grade accompanied by the saving. [26010/11]

The grades in the Civil/Public Service which may potentially attract a severance (or severance type) payment at termination, subject to certain conditions, are as follows:

Grades

Secretaries General

The lesser of:— (a) 6 months’ salary, or (b) potential salary to age 65.

County Managers

The lesser of:— (a) 6 months’ salary, or (b) potential salary to age 65.

Ministerial Personal Staff

The greater of:— (a) 2 months’ salary, or (b) 4 weeks’ salary per year of service (plus one third capped at 28 weeks, where applicable).

Oireachtas Secretarial Assistants

4 weeks’ salary per year of service (plus one third capped at 28 weeks, where applicable).

CEOs of non-commercial State Bodies

Where pension is not payable immediately — (a) 4 weeks’ salary per year of continuous service to a maximum of 26 weeks’ salary; or (b) where pension becomes payable within 26 weeks of cessation of employment, the amount of salary which would have been payable between the date of retirement and commencement of pension.

Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas

Termination Allowances of:— (a) a lump sum of 2 months’ salary, plus (b) a monthly payment, to a maximum of 12 payments depending on service, at the rate of 75% of salary for the first 6 months and 50% of salary for the remaining months. Allowance and pension cannot be paid simultaneously.

Officeholders(i.e. Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister, Attorney General, Minister of State, Ceann Comhairle, Leas Cheann Comhairle, Cathaoirleach, Leas Chathaoirleach, Leader of Seanad Éireann)

On leaving Office — a monthly payment, to a maximum of 24 payments depending on service, at the rate of 75% of salary for the first 6 months; 50% of salary for the next 12 months and 25% of salary for the remaining months. Severance and pension cannot be paid simultaneously.

Given the extent of the variables which determine entitlement to severance/severance type payments in each individual category and case, e.g. service to date, age at date of departure, potential service to age 65, appointment to another position in the Civil/Public Service, etc., it is not possible to quantify the savings to the State if no such payments were made in the future.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

184 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the grades within the public and civil service entitled to benefit from added years enabling the latter to retire before the standard pension entitlement age with full pension benefits; the number of public and civil servants that will be eligible to benefit from added years; if he will give details of the saving to the State if it did not grant added years for each grade from this date onwards; and if he will supply this data in a tabular form to include each grade accompanied by the saving. [26011/11]

The only added years awarded in the Civil and Public Service to persons before reaching the standard pension age are to Secretaries General, County Managers, CEOs of non-commercial State Bodies and to staff in any grade who retire or are retired on health grounds before normal retirement age. There are no added years' arrangements which enable a person to retire on maximum superannuation benefits automatically before the standard pension age as suggested, as added years do not necessarily confer full pension benefits. In the cases mentioned above, the amount of pension payable is based on service already accrued plus the added years. It is not possible to state how many staff will be eligible to benefit from added years in the future, as that will depend on each individual's circumstances at retirement. If, for example, a Secretary General or CEO is re-appointed to another public service post, has reached maximum retirement age or voluntarily leaves the post before the end of his or her contract, added years are not normally awarded. It is also not possible to predict how many staff will retire on health grounds in the future.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

185 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the saving to the State if all existing public and civil service pension payments were capped at €35,930 per year. [26023/11]

It is estimated that the imposition of a cap on pensions in the civil service, based on January 2011 data, would have resulted in an estimated saving of €43m if pensions were capped at €35,930. This takes no account of the tax and other statutory deductions foregone. Comparable data are not available for the public service as a whole.

Capital Expenditure

Seán Kenny

Question:

186 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of construction companies to which the State awarded building contracts valued at over €8 million, in each year from 2005 to date in 2011; and the relevant number of building contracts. [26215/11]

The details being sought by the Deputy are not held centrally in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This information is held by the relevant individual contracting authorities who are involved in capital expenditure. I will seek to compile this data on the Deputy's behalf but it will take some time before I can contact him further on this.

Bonus Payments

Denis Naughten

Question:

187 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 237 of 14 September 2011, whether the input suggestion scheme by which civil servants were rewarded for bonuses as a result of proposing cost saving measures is still in operation; the savings made to date as a result of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25647/11]

The Civil Service Staff Suggestion Scheme (INPUT) has not been operational on a centralised basis since 2003. Information on savings made in each Department was not collated centrally during the lifetime of the scheme.

Innovation and business process improvement is now an established discipline within Government Departments. The management of change is also a well established process within business units. In addition, there have been significant developments in the application of information technology to operational environments under the eGovernment initiative, including the move to online customer services. Other contributors to process improvement include the Quality Customer Service initiative and the Taoiseach's Public Service Excellence Awards. These initiatives ensure that continuous improvement in the effectiveness of operational activities is an integral part of the normal business planning process within Departments.

Public Procurement

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

188 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress that has been made on amending procurement procedures to enable contracts to be broken down to allow small and medium indigenous businesses to tender for Government projects, and to include social clauses to promote the employment and training up of local labour. [25853/11]

Guidelines from my Department require that public bodies conduct the public procurement function in a way that facilitates and does not place barriers to participation of small and medium enterprises. As one measure to achieve this, the guidance advises that the sub-dividing of procurement requirements into "lots" should be considered by contracting authorities where it would be appropriate and practical and can be done without compromising efficiency and value for money.

As regards promoting employment of local labour, the award of public contracts is governed by EU Treaty principles and Directives on public procurement. The provisions of the EU Directives allow contracting authorities to attach social conditions to the performance of contracts, provided these are compatible with EU law. In this regard, EU law requires that such conditions must be made known to all interested parties and must not restrict participation by contractors from other Member States. Specifying such conditions is a matter for the contracting authority concerned, having regard to the foregoing considerations.

State Property

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

189 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the Office of Public Works plan for the Kilmainham courthouse building, Dublin; and if it is envisaged that this building will be used as a public space. [25920/11]

The Kilmainham Courthouse building is currently in the ownership of the Courts Service. Nevertheless, some essential remedial and stabilisation works have been carried out by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Courts Service in recent years. The Courts Service has requested the OPW to consider taking ownership of the building as it is surplus to its requirements.

The proximity of the old Courthouse to Kilmainham Gaol, which is in the care of the OPW, suggests certain development possibilities, which could well involve use as a public space. These are at a very early assessment stage by OPW and no decision has been made in this regard as yet. A critical factor in the decision-making process will be the availability of funding.

Departmental Staff

Anne Ferris

Question:

190 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform notwithstanding the Civil Service circular No. 28, if he will provide a list of the current pay of each senior civil servant from higher executive officer to secretary general in his Department broken down by grade; the pension entitlements of each and any other emoluments they are entitled to receive upon reaching retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26241/11]

Under the terms of the Civil Service Superannuation Schemes, retiring staff are entitled to a lump sum payment and a retirement pension which is based on their length of service and final pensionable remuneration. Further details regarding retirement benefits for civil servants are available at www.cspensions.gov.ie

Retiring staff receive a retirement lump sum of 3/80ths of pensionable remuneration for each year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 1½ times pensionable remuneration. In general, staff who were recruited prior to April 1995 and pay the modified rate of PRSI receive a pension of 1/80th of pensionable remuneration per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 40 years. Staff who were recruited after April 1995, receive a pension which is integrated with the State Pension (Contributory). The formula for the calculation of the pension is 1/200th of pensionable remuneration up to 3 1/3rd times the State Pension, and 1/80th for pensionable remuneration in excess of this limit, per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 40 years.

TLAC retirement terms may be applied to retiring Secretaries General, subject to certain conditions. Those terms are currently under review for future appointees.

As regards the current pay of each senior civil servant, the information is not readily available and would take an inordinate amount of time and associated cost to provide.

Equal Opportunities Employment

Michael McCarthy

Question:

191 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the vacancies available in the public sector for persons with visual impairment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26284/11]

The position in relation to opportunities for employment in the Public Service generally is limited by the recruitment and promotion moratorium which was announced on the 27th March 2009. The moratorium applies, with limited exceptions, to the civil service, local authorities, non-commercial state bodies, the Garda Síochána, the Permanent Defence Forces and to certain bodies established by enactment and wholly or partly funded out of the Central Fund. The arrangements have been modulated in relation to the education and health sectors to reflect the particular needs in those sectors. In relation to the civil service, the area of the public service for which I have specific responsibility, a number of Departments and Offices are participants in the Willing Able and Mentoring Programme which is a graduate work experience programme aimed at persons with disabilities. This programme is not subject to the moratorium.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the 3 per cent target for the employment of people with disabilities in the Public Service remains in place, notwithstanding the moratorium. Reporting on compliance with this target under Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005, the National Disability Authority in their latest published report in 2009 noted that 4.2 per cent of staff employed in the civil service had disabilities. In relation to other areas of the Public Service, each Minister is responsible for compliance with and reporting on the target set in the Disability Act 2005 for the employment of persons with disabilities in public bodies under his or her aegis.

Finally, the Civil and Public Service is an equal opportunities employer and all recruitment campaigns are conducted in strict compliance with the Codes of Practice set out by the Commission for Public Service Appointments. Codes include the Code of Practice governing the External and Internal Appointments of Persons with Disabilities to Positions in the Irish Civil Service and Certain Public Bodies.

Exchequer Expenditure

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

192 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount in euros central Government contracts were worth to private companies in the years from 2007 to 2011. [26290/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

193 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount, in euro, of the public contracts agreed for 2009 and 2010 that went to small Irish companies with ten employees or less, medium companies with ten to 50 employees, and large Irish companies; and the amount, in euro, that went to non-Irish companies. [26291/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 and 193 together. The information requested by the Deputy is not available, as such information, in the format requested, was never compiled. My Office, in consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation, is looking at the feasibility of sourcing such information in the future.

Public Sector Staff

Michael McGrath

Question:

194 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the overall number of persons currently employed in the civil and public service; and if he will provide a breakdown using appropriate overall headings. [26342/11]

The public service numbers as reported to my Department for end June 2011 are set out in the table.

Public Service Serving Numbers for End June 2011

Functional Classification

Whole Time Equivalent

Civil Service*

37,204

Defence Sector

10,325

Education Sector

92,815

Health Sector

105,253

Justice Sector

14,567

Local Authorities

30,728

Non Commercial State Agencies

11,880

Total

302,772

*Includes Civil Servants who work for the Oireachtas, which is directly funded by the Central Fund.

Expenditure Reviews

Michael McGrath

Question:

195 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the comprehensive spending review will be completed; and if he intends to publish same. [26343/11]

I would point out to the Deputy that the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure is a process involving input from all Departments and their agencies as well as work on cross cutting issues being carried out by my Department. These Departmental submissions are a central part of the pre-budget deliberations of the Government and it is envisaged that the reports submitted as part of the CRE process can be made publicly available following the completion of the budgetary and Estimates process.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Sean Fleming

Question:

196 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department has submitted a strategy statement to him, as specified under the 1997 Public Service Management Act; and if so, if he will publish this statement. [26397/11]

As specified under the Public Service Management Act 1997, my Department has submitted to me its draft Statement of Strategy for the period 2011-2014. The finalisation of the Statement of Strategy will reflect the key policy commitments of the Government including the emerging decisions in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure currently under way.

It is my intention to publish the Statement of Strategy as soon as all relevant discussions and considerations on the matter have been concluded.

Export Trade

Peter Mathews

Question:

197 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the proportion of exports that are exported to the UK, the eurozone, the USA and the rest of the world; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26329/11]

Details of our Exports, both Merchandise and Services, to the markets in question are set out in the tables. These are published regularly by the Central Statistics Office and, in respect of merchandise trade, data is provided on a monthly basis.

Ireland's Merchandise Exports in 2010

To:

€ Million

% of total exports

UK (GB + NI)

13,800

15%

USA

20,764

23%

Eurozone Countries

35,102

39%

All other countries

19,551

22%

Total Exports

89,217

Ireland's Services Exports for 2009 (latest year for which country-specific data is available)

To:

€ Million

% of total exports

UK (GB + NI)

13,458

20%

USA

4,200

6%

Eurozone Countries *

*24,351

*37%

All other countries *

* 23,749

*36%

18 Countries where country-specific data is unavailable*

*876

*1%

Total Exports

66,634

* Services Export data for a total of 18 countries, comprising four Eurozone members, (Austria, Cyprus, Greece and Malta), together with fourteen other countries, have been suppressed by the CSO for company confidentiality reasons (Generally where numbers of individual transactions are small and there is a risk that an individual company might be identified). This data is aggregated in a combined grouping above. Accordingly, the figures shown for the ‘Eurozone Countries' and ‘All other countries' groups above, do not include data in respect of the countries concerned. The total involved is €876m.

Retail Sector

Joe Carey

Question:

198 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to deal with below cost selling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25666/11]

General policy in the area of prices is to allow retailers the freedom to determine the prices they charge their customers, whilst ensuring that in doing so they act in accordance with the provisions of competition law. In this regard competition law does not prohibit below cost selling as there is no reason to believe that below cost selling of itself acts against the interests of consumers or is in any sense anti-competitive. The use of aggressive pricing strategies is a perfectly legitimate marketing tool and is the normal outcome of the competitive process. Accordingly I have no plans to introduce a ban on below cost selling.

Competition law does, however, prohibit traders who hold a dominant position in the market from abusing that position. One such abuse of a dominant position is predatory pricing. Predatory pricing normally involves a dominant undertaking pricing goods or services in such a manner with the principle objective of eliminating or seriously weakening a competitor. Predatory pricing should not be confused with competitive pricing which is the result of a properly functioning market. The purpose of competitive pricing is to retain market share whereas predatory pricing is aimed at driving efficient competitors out of the market by abusing a dominant position. Persons who have concerns that undertakings may be abusing their dominance in the marketplace by engaging in predatory pricing should bring their concerns to the attention of the Competition Authority who have responsibility for investigating such matters.

Grant Payments

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

199 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 297 of 21 July 2011, if he will provide an update on same. [25667/11]

I provided the Deputy with the material requested, in my letter dated 9 August. The information provided in that letter as to the amount of funding granted by Enterprise Ireland to companies, on a county basis, in the years 2007 to 2010 is reproduced in the tabular statement.

Enterprise Ireland grants awarded in each county from 2007 to 2010.

County

Total (Grant Payment Amount) 2007

Total (Grant Payment Amount) 2008

Total (Grant Payment Amount) 2009

Total (Grant Payment Amount) 2010

Carlow

494,218

1,485,292

2,444,782

3,399,158

Cavan

2,809,971

2,677,879

8,048,106

9,477,419

Clare

982,221

1,571,118

1,626,557

3,245,337

Cork City

1,933,864

3,227,173

6,992,667

8,470,596

Cork County

7,092,791

17,545,244

20,813,631

13,787,491

Donegal

2,359,811

2,621,725

3,385,542

5,344,954

Dublin City

12,598,970

21,376,129

31,505,071

39,268,443

Dublin Fingal

3,312,442

3,278,073

12,008,045

9,169,255

Dublin South County

2,876,036

4,245,535

11,427,212

16,460,505

Dún Laoghaire — Rathdown

6,728,556

7,182,699

9,781,270

10,461,679

Galway

7,029,858

7,211,749

7,983,610

11,993,416

Kerry

2,264,165

3,304,562

7,519,214

3,236,950

Kildare

1,906,318

3,883,900

12,310,369

7,468,423

Kilkenny

1,311,102

11,196,254

8,319,062

6,034,666

Laois

1,359,660

957,987

1,786,885

2,254,957

Leitrim

401,360

339,163

932,999

872,083

Limerick

2,653,705

5,300,120

6,368,765

8,220,724

Longford

215,221

1,715,510

2,667,185

1,822,458

Louth

1,702,552

1,986,521

5,750,297

6,411,017

Mayo

1,320,305

2,331,944

3,349,454

3,346,858

Meath

1,355,812

1,342,068

1,684,636

5,801,191

Monaghan

2,406,270

2,550,223

6,168,806

6,925,838

Offaly

916,583

4,649,888

2,086,211

2,897,868

Roscommon

705,308

727,976

589,374

2,555,324

Sligo

971,332

983,739

2,444,801

1,936,955

Tipperary North

159,520

1,870,279

3,071,381

3,179,688

Tipperary South

4,169,347

1,117,465

5,233,913

4,248,236

Waterford

743,747

1,999,554

7,452,656

9,457,798

Westmeath

1,087,255

913,868

1,836,490

3,687,049

Wexford

562,739

2,277,698

2,421,484

7,625,455

Wicklow

2,152,032

3,358,511

6,028,058

3,711,335

Total

76,583,073

125,229,844

204,038,533

222,773,126

(Source: cognos t: drive run 25/07/11)

Tax Code

Joan Collins

Question:

200 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total number of industrial and provident societies registered with the Registry of Friendly Societies in 2009; the number which complied with the statutory obligations with regard to filing annual returns; the number that failed to file annual returns; the action, if any, the Register of Friendly Societies has taken in respect of those societies that did not file annual returns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25687/11]

The annual report of the Registrar of Friendly Societies for 2009 (published on the websites of both my Department and the Companies Registration Office) indicates a total of 1,045 Industrial and Provident Societies on the register. Annual returns in respect of these societies are outstanding in 248 cases. Advance notice of return dates, initial reminders and final reminders have issued to each relevant society from the Registry of Friendly Societies. I am informed by the Registrar that further enforcement action is now under consideration by the Registry to follow its targeted enforcement campaigns in 2010 and 2011 in relation to Friendly Societies and Trade Unions.

Job Creation

Michael McCarthy

Question:

201 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the supports available from him and or Enterprise Ireland to assist the planned establishment of a business hub in Kinsale, County Cork which would provide local entrepreneurs with access to Internet, phone and office space; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25721/11]

This Government is committed to supporting entrepreneurs to ensure that emerging technologies and innovative business ideas with export potential become a commercial reality. A range of structures are already in place, nationally including in Cork to provide appropriate support to start-up businesses.

The establishment of business incubation centres on higher education campuses across Ireland is supported by capital investment from my Department's Vote, provided through Enterprise Ireland. Such facilities are internationally recognised as an important element of public assistance for technology-intensive start-ups. Enterprise Ireland has invested over €50m in these facilities that operate in nearly every Institute of Technology and University in the country. They typically comprise a number of incubation units, some hot-desking space for prospective entrepreneurs as well as ancillary space, such as meeting rooms and networking areas. There are currently 276 companies in the 21 facilities and the 5 bio-incubation units operational across Ireland, employing over 1,100 people and operating in a range of areas, including software, environmental technologies and digital media.

Additionally, support is provided through Enterprise Ireland for the part funding of Business Innovation Centres (BICs), which are regionally based support organisations for pre-start-up and start-up enterprises and innovative existing companies. There are four BICs located in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Waterford, all providing incubation space to assist fledgling businesses start, establish and then to move on, so that vacated space can be used for other new start-up businesses. A key feature of space managed by BICs is that the start-up company not only gets space, but often also gets free business advice and access to facilities such as meeting rooms with audio visual equipment and to shared services such as a receptionist/telephonist, shared photocopiers and printers.

Enterprise Ireland has also rolled out four schemes to support communities to develop locally owned Community Enterprise Centres (CECs) which have enabled entrepreneurs to establish, provide employment and to grow their businesses in their own locality, by providing a physical and human support network for emerging entrepreneurs and micro industry.

The CEC scheme was designed as a community led initiative in the form of a partnership between the local community and the State. The primary objective was to enhance the development of an enterprise climate through the provision of infrastructural facilities to support the establishment and expansion of micro enterprises through local community participation in both urban and rural locations. In Cork, a total of six towns — Cobh, Mitchelstown, Youghal, Midleton, Dunmanway and Macroom were all successful in securing approval for the establishment of CEC's, together with funding, in some cases, for the appointment of centre managers. The last call for proposals closed in 2008 and the final date for completion of these centres is April 2013.

Since the launch of this initiative €61.4m has been approved for the development of CECs across the country and has facilitated the development of 134 centres. While Enterprise Ireland will not be in a position to offer any financial assistance for a further centre in Kinsale, they will continue to work with the West Cork Enterprise Board; Cork Institute of Technology, and other relevant parties in the area to deliver supports for start-ups in Kinsale and its environs in the area of Enterprise Start Programmes; Out-reach from the Rubicon Centre in CIT; or 1 to 1 supports for groups interested in establishing businesses in the area.

Pension Provisions

Noel Grealish

Question:

202 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of employees in his Department who have expressed an interest in retiring ahead of the changes to the public sector pension schemes that are to come into force in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25787/11]

To date in 2011, 12 staff members have retired from my Department and 16 more have indicated their intention to retire before the end of February 2012. A number of other staff have made enquiries about retiring, however they have not indicated their intentions at this stage.

Job Creation

Willie O'Dea

Question:

203 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of companies that have expressed an interest in investing here or further developing existing facilities due to the amended research and development credit scheme announced in May. [25988/11]

Investments in Research, Development and Innovation play a significant role in building Ireland's Smart Economy. RD&I investments not only embed existing operations and employment but pave the way for future investment and Job creation. 2010 saw IDA win a number of high-value RD&I projects for Ireland with over €500million in new RD&I investment secured. RD&I plays a strategic roles as part of Ireland's FDI landscape embedding existing employment and setting the groundwork for increased future employment.

I am informed by IDA that the R&D Tax Credit Scheme continues to be of interest to companies considering undertaking R&D activities. However, specific expressions of interest are not tracked in relation to any specific amendment to that Scheme. While IDA RD&I grants works to stimulate research, development and Innovation in the economy, a further significant advantage in this area is the productive collaboration between industry, academia and government agencies. All stakeholders work together, building a national team to consolidate Ireland's position as a knowledge-based economy and as a primary location for RD&I.

Grant Payments

Ciara Conway

Question:

204 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a breakdown on a county basis of the companies that have received Industrial Development Agency grants for services and manufacturing over the past decade in Munster, in tabular form; if this breakdown will specify the amount received by each company that has benefitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26173/11]

Ciara Conway

Question:

205 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a breakdown, on a county basis, of the companies that have received Industrial Development Agency grants for services and manufacturing over the past decade in Leinster in tabular form; if this breakdown will specify the amount received by each company that has benefitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26174/11]

Ciara Conway

Question:

206 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a breakdown, on a county basis, of the companies that have received Industrial Development Agency grants for services and manufacturing over the past decade in the Border, midland and western region; if this breakdown will specify the amount received by each company that has benefitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26175/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 to 206, inclusive, together.

I have been informed by IDA Ireland, that in the time available, it is not possible to provide the information sought which requires search and retrieval of extensive records over a ten year period. I have asked the Agency to forward the information directly to the Deputy, when it becomes available.

Enterprise Support Services

Ciara Conway

Question:

207 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will supply a breakdown, showing the amount of money the Industrial Development Agency has given to TalkTalk plc in Waterford since its inception, in tabular form; the purpose for which this aid was given; if any criteria had to be fulfilled in order to qualify for this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26176/11]

TalkTalk acquired the UK Broadband business of AOL including the Waterford site in 2007. Employment Grants totalling €2,020,200 were paid by IDA Ireland to the company to assist it in creating jobs (€1,638,000 was paid on 14 May 2008 and €382,200 was paid on 5 May 2009). The criteria for receiving grant payments was that jobs had to be in place in order to qualify for draw down of grants.

Work Permits

Seán Kenny

Question:

208 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of work permits granted by him for the years 2009-10 and to date in 2011 broken down by sector and nationality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26207/11]

My Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits and all applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006. It is current Government policy to issue new employment permits only in respect of:

highly skilled, highly paid positions or;

non-EEA nationals who are already legally resident in the State on valid employment permits or;

where there is an officially recognized scarcity of workers of a particular type or qualification.

I set out hereunder the numbers of employment permits issued in 2009, 2010 and to-date in 2011. Detailed statistics on the numbers of permits issued over the last few years, broken down by sector and nationality can be found on my Department's website at http://www.djei.ie/labour/work permits/statistics.htm.

Employment Permits issued 2009 — 2011

Year

New*

Renewal

Total

2011

2,509

1,659

4,168

2010

3,777

4,133

7,491

2009

4,134

3,976

7,511

* Includes new employment permits in relation to non-EEA nationals already in the State on valid employment permits who are changing employer.

Departmental Staff

Anne Ferris

Question:

209 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation notwithstanding the Civil Service circular No. 28, if he will provide a list of the current pay of each senior civil servant from higher executive officer to Secretary General in his Department broken down by grade; the pension entitlements of each and any other emoluments they are entitled to receive upon reaching retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26239/11]

The table outlines the current number of civil servants in my Department, from higher executive officer to secretary general, broken down by grade and pay scale.

Full time Equivalents

Pay Scale

Secretary General

1

€215,590[1]

Assistant Secretary

5

€127,796 — €146,191 (Class B)*€134,523 — €153.885 (Class A)**

Principal Officer

28

€80,051 — €- €105,429 (Class B)€84,132 — €110,844 (Class A)

Assistant Principal

72.10

€61,966 — €84,296 (Class B)€65,185 — €88,598 (Class A)

Administrative Officer

7

€31,619 — €57,251 (Class B)€33,247 — €60,224 (Class A)

Higher Executive Officer

125.33

€43,816 — €57,251 (Class B)€46,081 — €60,224 (Class A)

*Class B rate of PRSI contributions — staff appointed before 6th April 1995**Class A 1rate of PRSI contributions — staff appointed on or after 6th April 1995[1]The Secretary General has voluntarily reduced this amount by €765.62 per fortnight.

Pensions

Pension entitlements are calculated at the point of retirement. Calculation depends on the date of recruitment. A member of the Civil Service Superannuation Scheme must have at least two years actual pensionable service to be eligible for pension and lump sum payments. The main features of the Scheme are outlined below.

Pre 1995 — Class B PRSI ("modified PRSI") Non-Contributory Members

Maximum retirement age is 65. Minimum retirement age is 60. Pensions are calculated at 1/80th of final pensionable remuneration per year of reckonable service subject to a maximum of 40/80ths. Lump sums are calculated at 3/80ths of final pensionable remuneration per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 120/80ths.

Post 1995 Class A PRSI Contributory Members

Maximum retirement age is 65. Minimum retirement age is 60. Pension Benefits for people who are fully insured for Social Welfare purposes accrue at the rate of 1/200 of final pensionable remuneration per year of service if salary is below or equal to 3 and 1/3rd (three and a third) times the current rate of Contributory State Pension (currently €40,056.83). If salary is in excess of €40,056.83, pension is calculated at the rate of 1/200 of final pensionable remuneration per year of service on €40,056.83, plus 1/80th of the balance of salary per year of reckonable service. Lump sums are not integrated and accrue at 3/80ths of final pensionable remuneration per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 120/80ths.

Post 2004

Minimum retirement age is 65. There is no maximum retirement age. Pensions benefits are calculated using the integration method as with Post 1995 Contributory Members above. Lump sums are not integrated and accrue at at 3/80ths of final pensionable remuneration per year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of 120/80ths

Early Retirement

Staff may opt, at the discretion of the Department, to retire at an actuarially reduced cost to themselves between the ages of 50 and 60. The lump sum and pension are reduced to make them the equivalent, in actuarial terms, of preserved benefits. The actuarially reduced rate applies throughout the lifetime of the payment of a pension subject to adjustments in line with Civil Service pension increases/cuts, as appropriate.

Special Terms

In addition to pension and lump sum calculated as per formula above, a Secretary General appointed for a term of Office of not more than 7 years who is required to retire at age 60 or after age 60 but before 65, should qualify for:

(a) a special severance gratuity of one half of annual salary and

(b) added years of service for superannuation purposes not exceeding the number of extra years he/she would have served if he she had been allowed to serve to age 65 subject to maximum service of 40 years.

Professional Added Years for Professional and Technical Grades

Entitlement to professional added years are assessed under the terms of Circular 12/97Revised Scheme for the award of professional technical and specialist added years to certain civil servants, and is dependent on entitlements under the Social Welfare system, prior employments and/or criteria specified in the original competition for the post.

Industrial Relations

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

210 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the contact there has been between the Industrial Development Agency, or any other State agency and Aviva; if so, the content of the meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26288/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

211 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will meet with both the management and representatives of employees at Aviva with a view to playing a constructive role in the current cost cutting review and ensuring there are no redundancies. [26289/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.

I have been in contact with Aviva and they advise me that the company is undertaking a comprehensive review of its business operations in Ireland arriving from loss of business volumes in the last two years. Aviva has stated it is committed fully to Ireland and is currently in discussions with unions representing staff about the review. Until this review has been completed, it would be premature to speculate about the outcome. I think it is pertinent that the Government allows the unions to engage with Aviva to see where that process might go.

As for the role of the IDA, it supports multinational companies predominantly trading outside Ireland or internationally. As part of its business in working to attract international activities into Ireland from multinational companies, the IDA has been in contact with Aviva at both corporate and local levels. I have asked the IDA, given its knowledge of the company, to continue to work with it to mitigate any possible negative outcomes. Consequently, the IDA has been active in this regard.

Job Creation

Willie O'Dea

Question:

212 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of job creation announcements, in the Dublin region, since 1 January 2011, by the respective job creation organisations under his auspices; the date of those announcements and the number of jobs being announced. [26352/11]

Several announcements have been made this year on jobs to be created in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland and on jobs to be created through expansion of agency-supported client companies, in the Dublin Region. However, it should be noted that, for a variety of reasons, some companies do not announce their job creation or expansion plans.

Details of jobs announced by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland are set out in the table accompanying this reply and further information may be obtained from the agencies' websites. Figures in respect of jobs created by companies assisted by the four County and City Enterprise Boards operating in the Dublin Region are compiled on an annualised basis. Details concerning jobs created during 2011 will be available in the early part of 2012.

Job Announcements in respect of Enterprise Agency-assisted Companies in Dublin since 1 January 2011

Date

Company

Agency

Location

No. of Jobs

10/01/2011

Murex

IDA Ireland

Dublin

30

16/02/2011

PayPal

IDA Ireland

Dublin

150

30/03/2011

LinkedIn

IDA Ireland

Dublin

100

06/04/2011

Asset Control

IDA Ireland

Dublin

50

18/04/11

Apex Fund Services

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

50

19/04/2011

Gilt Groupe

IDA Ireland

Limerick and Dublin

100-200

30/05/2011

Marketo

IDA Ireland

Dublin

125

02/06/2011

2PDS Gaming Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

15

02/06/2011

Rose Hill Insurances

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

50

02/06/2011

Innopharma Labs Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

02/06/2011

Fifth Province Ventures Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

02/06/2011

Trade Facilitate Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

02/06/2011

Sotextme Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

02/06/2011

Mutebutton Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

7/06/2011

Dell

IDA Ireland

Dublin /Limerick

150

10/06/2011

Zynga

IDA Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

15/06/2011

BNY Mellon

IDA Ireland

Dublin

50

21/06/2011

Symantec

IDA Ireland

Dublin

60

23/06/2011

Butterfield

IDA Ireland

Dublin

60

17/07/2011

SAP

IDA Ireland

Dublin

100

21/07/2011

BSB

IDA Ireland

Dublin

120

21/07/2011

Allianz

IDA Ireland

Dublin

50

21/07/2011

Wolters Kluwer

IDA Ireland

Dublin

13

04/08/2011

EADS/ Eurocopter

IDA Ireland

Dublin

To be confirmed

09/08/2011

PayPal

IDA Ireland

Dublin

200

10/08/2011

AskMoby Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Clare & Dublin

10

10/08/2011

Biocroi Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

10

10/08/2011

Biometric Technology Solutions Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

34

10/08/2011

DOCOsoft

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

14

10/08/2011

Effective Software

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

9

10/08/2011

Glanta

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

20

10/08/2011

Handle Hygiene Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

13

10/08/2011

Kjaya Holdings Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

37

10/08/2011

Mi-Zone Technology Ireland Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

16

10/08/2011

Working Analytics Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

10

10/08/2011

XI (Research & Development) Ltd

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

24

31/08/2011

Citrix

IDA Ireland

Dublin

50

02/09/11

Fort Technologies

Enterprise Ireland

Dublin

10

20/09/2011

Pfizer

IDA Ireland

Dublin

400

20/09/2011

HCL

IDA Ireland

Dublin

80

21/09/2011

Arvato

IDA Ireland

Dublin

150

Willie O'Dea

Question:

213 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of the announced job losses, in the Dublin region, since 1 January 2011, by the respective job creation organisations under his auspices; the date of those announcements and the number of job losses being announced. [26353/11]

The figures for jobs lost in companies assisted by the Enterprise Development agencies which operate under the auspices of my Department and the County and City Enterprise Boards are compiled on an annualised basis, therefore, the figures in respect of 2011, will not be available until the early part of 2012.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Willie O'Dea

Question:

214 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if the Department has submitted a strategy statement to him, as specified under the 1997 Public Service Management Act and if so, will he publish the statement. [26392/11]

In accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Management Act 1997, my Department has recently prepared and submitted a draft Statement of Strategy for the period 2011 — 2014. I am currently reviewing the draft and will, at the earliest possible opportunity, arrange for my Department to publish the Strategy Statement.

Pension Provisions

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

215 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of plans to raise the retirement age for State employees, if private sector workers, who are obliged to retire at age 65, will continue to be eligible for the State pension from their retirement age or will they have to wait until the older retirement age applicable to public servants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25650/11]

Public sector pension rules, including in relation to retirement age, are a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. My Department is responsible for State pensions and I will outline the position in this regard. State pension (transition) (SPT) is currently paid to people aged 65 who have a minimum yearly average of 24 social insurance contributions and who have retired from work. Currently it ceases at age 66 when the claimant transfers to State pension (contributory) (SPC).

As a result of legislation introduced this year, State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the abolition of SPT and the standardisation of State pension age at 66. State pension age will be increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. It is worth noting that, until the early 1970s, the qualifying age for State pension (contributory) was 70 years of age. By gradually increasing the qualifying age for State pension, people will be further encouraged to remain in employment beyond 65 years of age.

The Quarterly National Household Survey Q4 2010 showed that the numbers currently at work drop dramatically at 65 years of age. While 77.2 per cent of people aged 45-54 years are in employment, this drops to 64.3 per cent for 55-64 year-olds and to just 8.7 per cent for people aged 65 years or older. It is clear, therefore, that the challenges facing the Irish pension system are significant. Increases in life expectancy mean that more people are living to pension age and living longer in retirement. While this is to be welcomed, this has obvious and significant implications in relation to the future costs of State pension provision. The fundamental principle that people need to participate in the workforce for longer needs to be emphasised and they need to contribute more towards their pensions if they are to achieve the income they expect or would like to have in retirement.

People who have retired before State pension age may be entitled to apply for another social welfare payment, as is the current position.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Brendan Griffin

Question:

216 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to introduce new legislation to enhance the role of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25677/11]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 provided for the transfer of responsibility for MABS to the Citizens Information Board (CIB), under the aegis of my Department, in July 2009 in order to provide strong management support to the local voluntary MABS companies.

The future role of MABS is currently under consideration in line with commitments in the Programme for Government and recommendations contained in the reports of the Law Reform Commission on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement, and the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt. In addition, my Department is contributing to the Economic Management Council mortgage arrears working group, chaired by the Department of Finance, which is due to report shortly. Further to the outcomes of these deliberations, the introduction or amendment of legislation in respect of MABS will be examined, as necessary, to support any enhanced role which may emerge.

I am satisfied that MABS will continue to provide a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Question No. 217 withdrawn.

Departmental Funding

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

218 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason behind the decision to cut funding to the return to education programme; and if this programme will be re-instated in the lifetime of the current Government. [25837/11]

The Return to Education Programme is a joint initiative between FÁS and Vocational Education Committees (VEC) for participants on community employment (CE) to support their basic literacy skills. Participants are released from their CE work for nine hours per week over the thirty week duration of the initiative. The initiative aims to provide help for participants to achieve significant improvement in their reading and writing skills, to further enhance their opportunities in seeking employment and/or pursuing further education and training opportunities. I am advised by FÁS that the same level of funding is available to participants as in previous years. Nearly €11 million has been allocated by FÁS to support training for CE participants in 2011.

As a result changes to the method of procurement and contracting, FÁS no longer arranges training on behalf of CE projects. CE sponsors now contract for all training for participants in line with the requirements of the Qualification (Education & Training) Act 1999 and best practice in obtaining value for money.

Social Insurance

Willie O'Dea

Question:

219 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated loss of revenue to the Exchequer from the halving of the lower rate of PRSI and the estimated job creation resulting from same. [25994/11]

It is estimated that the 2011 reduction in income to the Social Insurance Fund as a result of the halving of the lower rate of employers' PRSI from 8.5% to 4.25% for those earning €356 or less, will be in the region of €85m in 2011. This is based on implementation of the measure from the beginning of July 2011. The 2012 reduction in income to the Fund is estimated to be €190m. It is not possible to estimate the number of jobs directly attributable to this measure as the cost of employment is only one of the factors affecting job creation, albeit an important one.

Community Services Programme

Michael Creed

Question:

220 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she will take to protect the services delivered under the community services programme as previously administered by Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta; the progress being made to bring about a comprehensive resolution to the problem arising from the liquidation of MFG; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26184/11]

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta (MFG) is an independent company with its own board of management which has responsibility under company law for the proper stewardship of the company. My Department has no role in the internal operations of this company and, therefore, does not have a role in relation to staff matters, or determining its approach to resolving its current difficulties. These matters are for the Board of the company to manage.

The Department of Social Protection was informed that MFG has decided to cease trading with effect of 7 September 2011. MFG holds contracts with Pobal, on behalf of this Department, to manage and fund three services under the Community Services Programme. The decision of MFG to cease trading has implications for the staff employed and for the communities in Gaeltacht areas benefiting from these services.

My understanding is that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and Pobal are working with representatives of the MFG Board and management to resolve a range of financial, legal and employment issues. As the contract holder for the Community Services Programme, it is open to the MFG Board to propose alternative arrangements for the delivery of services. This Department will work constructively with the MFG Board to find workable resolution in support of the staff members and communities affected.

Tax Code

Timmy Dooley

Question:

221 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a breakdown of the numbers applying for the housing mortgage interest supplement on 1 March 2011 and on 1 September 2011,by social welfare office, and the number of those applications which were accepted. [26643/11]

Barry Cowen

Question:

299 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a breakdown of the numbers applying for the housing mortgage interest supplement on 1 March 2011 and on 1 September 2011, by social welfare office; and the number of those applications which ere accepted. [26356/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 299 together.

Statistics are not available on the number of individuals who applied for a mortgage interest supplement payment on 1 March 2011 and on 1 September 2011. The tabular statement shows the number of mortgage interest supplement claims registered and awarded in the week ending 4 March 2011 and week ending 2 September 2011 by HSE area.

4 March 2011

2 September 2011

HSE Area

Claim Registered

Claims Awarded

Claim Registered

Claims Awarded

Eastern

98

74

126

101

Midland

21

16

19

15

Mid Western

31

21

17

8

North Eastern

48

41

26

18

North Western

17

8

11

4

South Eastern

56

29

47

30

Southern

43

25

29

24

Western

36

23

25

19

Total

350

237

300

219

Notes

Claims registered may include

claims not pursued by the applicant and

re-applications.

Claim details are recorded electronically where it is established that mortgage interest supplement is payable. Where an appeal has been lodged, claim details are also recorded electronically.

Given the pressure on the community welfare service, claim details are not always recorded on the system where no entitlement has been established to mortgage interest supplement.

The difference between claims registered and claims awarded is not necessarily a refusal rate, for the reasons outlined above.

In these circumstances, fully reliable statistics are not available on the total number of people who applied for and were refused mortgage interest supplement.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

222 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 409 of 14 September 2011, wherein the information sought was deemed to fall within the remit of the Data Protection Act and consequently not available, if in the event of payment being made to a person now known not to have provided care, any issue exists whereby she should make the necessary inquiries to ensure that payment, if any, was made on foot of a legitimate claim provided by the person to whom the payment was made in view of the fact that in this particular case care was actually provided by a different person who did not receive payment of carer’s allowance from her; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25634/11]

If the deputy or the person on whose behalf the deputy is enquiring will provide my department with details and evidence of their allegation of wrongful receipt of carer's allowance along with sufficient information to identify the parties allegedly involved, I will have the original claim re-investigated.

Comprehensive administrative procedures are in place in my department to assess and ensure that the qualifying conditions for carer's allowance are met by both the carer and the care recipient. Application for carer's allowance includes a declaration by the applicant that the information they are providing is true and accurate and that they will inform the department should there be any change in circumstances. Additionally, the care recipient must sign a statutory declaration to state that the person who is applying is providing them with the full time care and attention that they require.

Furthermore, if there is another person who claims to have been providing full time care and attention to a care recipient in respect of whom another person was receiving carer's allowance, it is open to that person to submit their own application for carer's allowance, providing full details of the circumstances. In that event, their entitlement to carer's allowance will be investigated and a decision made.

Social Welfare Code

Timmy Dooley

Question:

223 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection if, in view of the widespread belief that many self-employed tradesmen are claiming welfare, any analysis of same has taken place; if any pilot analysis has been examined covering any suburban or geographic area; if any analysis of persons claiming social welfare but also driving commercially taxed vehicles has taken place; the income a tradesman is permitted to earn on a part time basis while still claiming social welfare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25636/11]

Self-employed people can apply for the means-tested Jobseeker's Allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. Self-employed customers do not have to de-register as self-employed persons in order to claim Jobseeker's Allowance.

Legislation provides for the assessment of ‘all income in cash and any non-cash benefits which the person or his or her spouse may reasonably expect to receive during the succeeding year'. The means assessment guidelines state that where the income in the coming 12 months is not ascertainable otherwise, the income for the last 12 months should be taken as a guide, allowing for any factors which it is known will vary.

If the means of the family are equal to or in excess of the family rate payable on jobseeker's allowance then the claim is disallowed.

If a self-employed person's situation changes after they have made an initial claim for Jobseeker's Allowance, they can apply to have their means reviewed in the light of their changed circumstances. In addition it is open to the individual if he or she is dissatisfied with the means assessed to appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

My Department has a wide ranging programme to combat social welfare fraud and abuse. A new strategic fraud initiative was launched by me earlier this month. This initiative takes a revised and renewed approach to the challenges posed by social welfare fraud. The ambition is to ensure that the public have confidence and trust in this Government's response to combating fraud and abuse in the social welfare system. It is designed to ensure a targeted response to high risk sectors and to ensure an integrated approach to the prevention, deterrence and detection of social welfare abuse across the Department's services.

The emphasis of the Department's control activities is on direct intervention and engagement. High visibility operations by the Departments' Special Investigation Unit (SIU) are regularly and systematically undertaken. The effectiveness and cost-benefit of these operations and projects are continuously analysed and operational experience critically informs whether to continue, escalate, or terminate the specific projects. New control projects will be developed and introduced, where appropriate. In the context of self employed trades people who may be engaged in social welfare fraud specific activities being undertaken in the context of this plan include:

The active policing of the hidden economy sector where there is a prevalence of social welfare and abuse. Investigations are undertaken through Joint Investigation Units with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

Where intelligence or reliable reports are received about persons engaged in concurrent working and claiming or under declaration of income, reviews of eligibility are immediately undertaken.

A series of high visibility site visits and employer inspections are systematically conducted to detect incidences of social welfare fraud. These visits and inspections are undertaken in those sectors where the risk of fraud is most prevalent.

Multi agency checkpoints are undertaken with the Garda Traffic Unit and Revenue. Persons driving commercially taxed vehicles are interviewed as part of these projects.

A number of high visibility operations are being jointly conducted by SIU and local authority environmental officers to identify environmental offences and simultaneously detect incidences of social welfare fraud.

Reviews of persons employed on a casual basis and claiming jobseeker's payment are being undertaken. These are aimed at ensuring persons are not engaged in any incorrect certification or claiming of social welfare payments.

The Department has not at this juncture undertaken specific analysis of persons driving commercial vehicles.

Employment Support Schemes

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

224 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of the Gradlink programme in view of the fact that the national internship scheme, JobBridge, is not geared to graduates and in most cases they are not eligible to avail of the new scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25637/11]

The Gradlink programme was a programme operated by IBEC, which aimed to offer graduates work experience, while they retained their social welfare entitlements. I understand that given the similar aims of JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, IBEC decided to close the Gradlink programme.

However, in advance of the launch of JobBridge, IBEC participated in a Stakeholders Group which advised my Department on the design of the JobBridge scheme. On foot of their experience with Gradlink, IBEC was able to provide an important and valuable input into this process.

In addition, individuals participating in Gradlink were facilitated to transfer their work placement into an internship under the JobBridge scheme provided that both they and their host organisation met the eligibility criteria of JobBridge.

JobBridge is available to all individuals, on the Live Register who have been signing on for at least 3 out of the last 6 months, including graduates. It should also be noted that the JobBridge eligibility criteria is the same as that used for participants on Gradlink who wished to retain their social welfare entitlements.

Very recent graduates who may not currently meet the eligibility criteria of JobBridge should, if they wish to qualify for the scheme, sign on to the Live Register.

Pension Provisions

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

225 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the reciprocal pension agreements that exist between Ireland and Bulgaria. [25643/11]

There are no bilateral agreements in relation to pensions operating between Ireland and Bulgaria. However, EU regulations on the coordination of social security systems, and Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision (IORP Directive) are applied by both countries.

In relation to social welfare pensions, these are governed by EU Regulations 883/04 and 987/09. The Regulations co-ordinate social security systems and are designed to ensure that people are not disadvantaged by moving within the EU to take up work. These arrangements also extend to EEA countries and Switzerland.

The Regulations set out the rules as to which State's social security system a person will pay contributions to when they move from one Member State to another to take up work, or where they live in one State and work in another. In addition, the legislation also sets out the rules as to which State will pay benefit in the event of the usual contingencies arising, e.g. unemployment, sickness, old-age etc. In relation to pensions, contributions made in both countries are aggregated for the purposes of determining eligibility and payments made by each country are determined by amount of contributions made in each.

Article 20 of the IORPs Directive allows pension schemes to operate ‘cross-border'. This means that a pension scheme can be established in one EU Member State which provides benefits to employees working in one or more other Member States. Part XII of the Pensions Act provides for the transposition of Article 20 of this Directive. The key provisions of this legislation are that the pension scheme must be registered with a competent authority (Pensions Board) and must fulfil a number of minimum conditions, such as being run by people of good repute who have appropriate qualifications and having properly constituted rules. The Pension Act also provides that member protection provisions of the Pensions Act are to be applied to Irish-based members of overseas schemes and these include requirements in relation to the preservation of benefits and the jurisdiction of the Pensions Ombudsman.

Social Welfare Benefits

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

226 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 14 has been told they may not receive further supplementary welfare allowance payments despite having no income or any means of support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25644/11]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE). Apart from a number of excluded categories, anyone in the State who satisfies a habitual residency condition and a means test, has registered for employment, unless they have a physical or mental disability, and can prove unemployment may qualify for a weekly payment of SWA.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of a payment of SWA from the Department pending a decision regarding her application for a main social welfare payment. The person concerned should continue to receive SWA on an interim basis until a decision is made regarding her other social welfare entitlements, and while she continues to satisfy the relevant criteria in order to qualify for a payment of SWA.

Social Welfare Appeals

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

227 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [25678/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 19th March 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 4th August 2011 and the appeal will be assigned an Appeals Officer who, in due course, will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Community Employment Schemes

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

228 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to reform the community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25705/11]

The community employment programme makes an important contribution to the delivery of local services to communities across the country and provides significant employment and training opportunities for those engaged. I do not envisage any change that would impact on the nature or range of services delivered.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to reform local government including consideration of moving many of the functions currently being performed by agencies — such as community employment and enterprise supports — back to local government and any future consideration will have regard to that commitment. As with all programmes and schemes, community employment will be considered in the context of the Comprehensive Expenditure Review which is currently being finalised and may be affected by decisions made by the Government in its determination of the conclusion of that review. Additionally, I have already indicated that I will be looking at all programmes and schemes supporting those who are unemployed to see if they can be made more responsive to the needs of the individual in preparing them for a return to the labour market generally.

Social Welfare Appeals

John O'Mahony

Question:

229 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue for a domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25706/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on 14th June 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on 26th August 2011 advising the person concerned of the decision.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The person concerned submitted further information and notice of her appeal was forwarded to the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 16th September 2011. As part of the appeals process, this additional information will shortly be reviewed by a Medical Assessor.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

230 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for invalidity pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25708/11]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

On 12 September 2011 an application for invalidity pension was received from the person concerned. While the person concerned satisfies the contribution conditions for invalidity pension, his suitability on medical grounds has yet to be decided. Additionally, further information is required in order to determine his entitlement to fuel allowance.

A request has issued to the person concerned to submit medical evidence in support of his application, together with a request for further information with regard to his entitlement to fuel allowance. Upon receipt and examination of all the requested information, an opinion on medical suitability will be provided to the deciding officer by the department's chief medical advisor, a decision regarding entitlement to invalidity pension will be made and the person in question will be notified directly of the outcome.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of illness benefit from my department.

Illness benefit is a short-term payment for people who are incapable for work for medical reasons and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

231 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if jobseeker’s allowance is payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25709/11]

It will be necessary for the person concerned to submit a completed Jobseeker's application form (UP1) to his local social welfare office in Newbridge so that his entitlement to jobseeker's benefit or jobseeker's allowance can be established.

The UP1 form is available from the Newbridge office or may be downloaded from the Department's website www.welfare.ie.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

232 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason one parent family payment has not been restored in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25710/11]

Following the decision of the Social Welfare Appeals Officer one parent family payment has been restored to the person concerned and weekly payments are continuing pending a review of her efforts to obtain maintenance from her spouse.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

233 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the correct level of rent allowance to be paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25711/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has been awarded rent supplement of €337.40 per month which is his full entitlement based on his personal circumstances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

234 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when payment will issue in respect of an application for rent allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25712/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has been awarded rent supplement from the effective date of 1 August 2011. A payment of €972, covering the period from 1 August to 30 September, will be issued on 29 September.

Community Employment Schemes

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

235 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will arrange to have the child dependent half rate payment for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 4 back dated to the start of their current community employment programme. [25727/11]

FÁS funding of Community Employment (CE) participants is based on the Department of Social Protection's (DSP) confirmation of an individual's welfare entitlement. The person concerned commenced on Community Employment on 1 June 2009. From 1 June 2009, he was paid the standard CE participant rate with no child dependent allowance as confirmed by the Department. On 12 July 2011, FÁS received confirmation that the participant was entitled to a child dependent payment of half rate at €14.90 per week. This rate was paid by FÁS from 14 July 2011.

Where there is an entitlement to a back-payment, my Department will provide the necessary confirmation to enable reimbursement.

Social Welfare Benefits

John Halligan

Question:

236 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is no notice given where jobseeker’s benefit is finishing and job seeker’s allowance needs to be applied for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25729/11]

An automated notification is issued to customers in receipt of jobseeker's benefit which informs them that their benefit is running out and that they can apply for jobseeker's allowance or jobseeker's credits. The notification includes the application form for jobseeker's allowance and issues 10 weeks prior to their expected last day of entitlement to jobseeker's benefit. A reminder issues 6 weeks later if no correspondence has been received back from the customer.

There are certain categories which are excluded from the automated process for operational reasons, such as casual workers, as it is not possible to predict the exact date on which their benefit will run out. These claimants are contacted through a manual process before their jobseeker's benefit expires.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

David Stanton

Question:

237 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection if there have been any changes recently to the way community welfare officers calculate rates of supplementary welfare allowance mortgage interest supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25730/11]

There have been no changes made to the rules concerning the assessment of mortgage interest supplement recently.

David Stanton

Question:

238 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the way in which a supplementary welfare allowance mortgage interest supplement rate was calculated for a person (details supplied) in County Cork; the reason this payment was recently reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25731/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has been awarded mortgage interest supplement of €35.90 per week which is the full amount payable based on the household income which is comprised of One-parent Family Payment and maintenance received.

David Stanton

Question:

239 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the way in which a supplementary welfare allowance mortgage interest supplement rate was calculated for a person (details supplied) in County Cork; the reasons this payment was recently reduced in view of the fact that there was no change in the family income; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25732/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has been awarded mortgage interest supplement of €23.80 per week which is the full amount payable based on the household income from earnings, Jobseekers Allowance and Carers Allowance.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Brendan Griffin

Question:

240 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a money advice and budgeting service office will be opened to service Killarney and South Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25740/11]

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

Currently a MABS office is located at Edward Court, Edward Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry, providing money advice and budgeting services to Co Kerry as a whole. In addition, outreach services are provided in Killarney town, as well as in Listowel. The current staff compliment consists of 7 full-time and 1 part-time staff.

The Citizens Information Board, who has responsibility for MABS on behalf of my Department, has received a proposal to establish a joint Citizens Information Centre (CIC) and MABS office in Killarney. This proposal is currently being considered in the context of maximising resources to deliver a more efficient service within existing funding allocations and decisions in this regard will be made in due course.

I am satisfied that Kerry MABS will continue to provide a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Social Welfare Benefits

John O'Mahony

Question:

241 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their application for a back to school allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25752/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme operates from the beginning of June until the end of September each year.

The administrative arrangements for the 2011 BSCFA scheme differ from those that applied in previous years. For this year, the majority of BSCFA entitlements were fully automated with no application form required from customers. 127,000 households in respect of over 250,000 children received their payment automatically in June.

Those customers who did not receive an automated payment are required to complete and return an application form to the Department. The timescale for determining applications for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance claims is dependent on a number of factors including: the number of applications received, when the application is lodged, the availability of the required information such as details of the applicant's income, bank statements and other relevant information regarding an individual's application.

In addition, some aspects of the applications are inevitably time consuming and delays can occur where further investigations or third party evidence is required. Delays can also arise if the applicant is slow to respond to requests for additional information.

Staff are working as quickly as possible on clearing the large volume of manual application claims received. Based on the current volume of applications it could take up to seven weeks from date of receipt to process claims. Departmental records show that an application form was received from the person concerned on 8 August 2011 and it is expected she will be notified of the outcome of the claim shortly.

Social Welfare Appeals

Dan Neville

Question:

242 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal for carer’s allowance will be dealt with as soon as possible in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25755/11]

The person concerned was refused carers allowance on the grounds that the Department's Medical Assessor expressed the opinion that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. She was notified of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review or appeal. Additional medical evidence was received and forwarded to the Department's Medical Assessor for consideration. However, this information did not alter the opinion of the Medical Assessor and the decision remained unchanged.

She appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Following an oral hearing in July 2011, her appeal was disallowed and the appellant was notified accordingly.

Social Welfare Benefits

Paul Connaughton

Question:

243 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for back to school allowance has been received in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; when same will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25761/11]

The person concerned has been awarded a back to school clothing and footwear allowance and a payment issued to her nominated account on 17 September 2011.

Tax Code

Paul Connaughton

Question:

244 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection if farmers with very small farms, who currently do not pay any taxes, are obliged to provide professional farm accounts or statements from revenue in relation to their income when applying for the back to school allowance; the evidence of income needed in such cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25762/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme operates from the beginning of June until the end of September each year.

The administrative arrangements for the 2011 BSCFA scheme differ from those that applied in previous years. For this year, the majority of BSCFA entitlements were fully automated with no application form required from customers, 127,000 households in respect of over 250,000 children received their payment automatically in June.

Those customers who did not receive an automated payment are required to complete and return an application form to the Department. The timescale for determining applications for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance claims is dependent on a number of factors including: the number of applications received, when the application is lodged, the availability of the required information such as details of the applicant's income, bank statements and other relevant information regarding an individual's application. In addition, some aspects of the applications are inevitably time consuming and delays can occur where further investigations or third party evidence is required. Delays can also arise if the applicant is slow to respond to requests for additional information.

To qualify for BSCFA a person must meet a number of conditions namely:

Be in receipt of a qualifying payment and getting an increase in that payment for the qualified child

Have total household income below a specific level for the family composition

The child/student must be aged between 2 and 22 on or before 30 September of the year of application (and for children aged 18-22 they must be in full-time education at a recognised school or college).

A BSCFA payment is only awarded in cases where the scheme criteria are satisfied including an assessment of means. Depending on the circumstances of the claim, the deciding officer may request any additional information from claimants, including farm accounts or statements from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners in relation to income if these are required in order to make an assessment of entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

David Stanton

Question:

245 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason supplementary welfare allowance payment, rent allowance, has ceased in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25775/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned is in receipt of rent supplement of €20.50 per week which is her full entitlement based on her personal circumstances.

Social Welfare Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

246 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection her views regarding the reduction of social protection entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25776/11]

The appropriate level of overall expenditure by my Department in the years ahead will be considered in the context of Budget 2012 and subsequent Budgets. This consideration will be informed by the commitment in the Programme for Government to maintain social welfare rates.

Sustainable public finances are a prerequisite for future economic stability and growth. To this end, the State must pursue a determined deficit reduction strategy. Accordingly, there will be an on-going requirement to curtail expenditure in 2012 and in later years.

There are considerable challenges ahead including the need to protect, as far as possible, the key income supports and services operated by my Department. This process will be informed by the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, with the key decisions being made in the context of framing the Budget for 2012.

Departmental Staff

Noel Grealish

Question:

247 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of employees in her Department who have expressed an interest in retiring ahead of the changes to the public sector pension schemes that are to come into force in 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25789/11]

To date 39 officers in my Department have applied to retire in the period up to 29th February 2012. There is no indication, at this stage, of the final number of officers who may apply to retire. However, for the last number of months an average of 50 pension estimates have been requested each week so I do expect an increase in the number of retirements in the period up to 29th February 2012.

The three-month minimum notice period for retirement that has been introduced in the Civil Service, provides that anyone who wishes to retire by 29th February 2012 should give notice by the end of November 2011.

Social Welfare Code

Barry Cowen

Question:

248 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and when a decision will issue. [25800/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme operates from the beginning of June until the end of September each year.

The administrative arrangements for the 2011 BSCFA scheme differ from those that applied in previous years. For this year, the majority of BSCFA entitlements were fully automated with no application form required from customers. 127,000 households in respect of over 250,000 children received their payment automatically in June.

Those customers who did not receive an automated payment are required to complete and return an application form to the Department. The timescale for determining applications for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance claims is dependent on a number of factors including: the number of applications received, when the application is lodged, the availability of the required information such as details of the applicant's income, bank statements and other relevant information regarding an individual's application.

In addition, some aspects of the applications are inevitably time consuming and delays can occur where further investigations or third party evidence is required. Delays can also arise if the applicant is slow to respond to requests for additional information. Staff are working as quickly as possible on clearing the large volume of manual application claims received. Based on the current volume of applications it could take up to 7 weeks from date of receipt to process claims. Departmental records show that an application form was received from the person concerned on 8th August 2011 and she will be notified of the outcome of her claim when an assessment of her entitlements are made.

Barry Cowen

Question:

249 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an application for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25804/11]

An application was received from the person concerned on 15 April 2011. All the necessary investigations relating to her claim have been made and a decision will be completed shortly. The person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Barry Cowen

Question:

250 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on back to school clothing and footwear allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25807/11]

Departmental records show that a Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance payment issued to the nominated account of the person concerned on the 17th September 2011.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

251 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal for invalidity pension will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25809/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 4th July 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Barry Cowen

Question:

252 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal for invalidity pension will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25810/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17th September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code

Barry Cowen

Question:

253 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an application for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25813/11]

An application was received from the person concerned on 23 May 2011. All the necessary investigations relating to his claim have been made and a decision will be completed shortly. The person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Barry Cowen

Question:

254 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal for State pension non-contributory will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25817/11]

Barry Cowen

Question:

261 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an application for State pension (non-contributory) will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25887/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 254 and 261 together.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing on 28th September 2011. The person concerned has been notified of the arrangements.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code

Niall Collins

Question:

255 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she would reconsider granting the back to school allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [25831/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme operates from the beginning of June until the end of September each year.

Those customers who did not receive an automated payment are required to complete and return an application form to the Department. In all cases a letter will issue to applicants informing them of the decision and, where payment has been awarded, when and where they can collect the payment. In the case of refusal of the allowance the procedures for review of the decision is outlined to customers.

The person concerned was refused BSCFA as her means are in excess of the allowable limits for her family size. The person concerned can request a review by contacting the BSCFA Review Section in Letterkenny. Details on how to request a review are available on the Department's website at www.welfare.ie or on the refusal letter that has been provided to the applicant.

Social Welfare Appeals

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

256 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an application for supplementary welfare allowance was denied in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25838/11]

Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, the Community Welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE) may make a single payment to meet an exceptional need to people on social welfare or HSE payments.

The principal consideration in making a single payment of SWA to address a particular need is that the need to be met must be exceptional. Payments should arise only under abnormal conditions and should not become a regular or standard practice. Thus, an exceptional needs payment should be a single payment to meet an unforeseen and/or special need which cannot be met from a client's basic income.

The person concerned has recently received a number of ENPs from the HSE, however in one instance a payment was refused due to the nature of the particular application. The person concerned has been advised of his right to appeal the decision to refuse the ENP in this instance.

Joe Costello

Question:

257 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will reconsider her decision to refuse carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25852/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 4th April 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 21st July 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 21st September 2011 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Code

Barry Cowen

Question:

258 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an application for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [25874/11]