Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (89)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

89. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8, who is awaiting a decision on their jobseeker's appeal, has been informed that they have to leave their college course or the community welfare officer will discontinue to pay them. [56045/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Under Social Welfare legislation any person who is a full-time student does not qualify for supplementary welfare allowance. As the person concerned has now ceased full-time education, his supplementary welfare allowance application has been approved and payments have issued to him.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (90)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

90. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has been refused jobseeker's allowance. [56047/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned made 4 claims for jobseeker’s allowance; on 4th October 2010, on 24th March 2011, on 9th December 2011 and on 16th July 2012. His claims dated 4th October 2010 and 24th March 2011 were disallowed by his Social Welfare Local Office because he did not provide documentary evidence to show that he was genuinely seeking employment. The person concerned appealed against these decisions to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. In both cases the Appeals Office upheld the original decision. The latest Appeals Office decision was made in September 2012.

His claim dated 9th December 2011 was closed because he failed to provide documentation requested by my Department or to attend a meeting with a Social Welfare Inspector. His claim dated 16th July 2012 was disallowed on 25th September 2012 because again he did not provide documentary evidence to show that he was genuinely seeking employment. It remains open to the person concerned to provide documentary evidence to his Social Welfare Local Office of where and how he is seeking employment.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Question No. 92 withdrawn.

Questions (91)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

91. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has had two appeals for jobseeker's allowance refused. [56048/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned made 4 claims for jobseeker’s allowance; on 4th October 2010, on 24th March 2011, on 9th December 2011 and on 16th July 2012. His claims dated 4th October 2010 and 24th March 2011 were disallowed by his Social Welfare Local Office because he did not provide documentary evidence to show that he was genuinely seeking employment. The person concerned appealed against these decisions to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. In both cases the Appeals Office upheld the original decision. The latest Appeals Office decision was made in September 2012.

His claim dated 9th December 2011 was closed because he failed to provide documentation requested by my Department or to attend a meeting with a Social Welfare Inspector. His claim dated 16th July 2012 was disallowed on 25th September 2012 because again he did not provide documentary evidence to show that he was genuinely seeking employment. It remains open to the person concerned to provide documentary evidence to his Social Welfare Local Office of where and how he is seeking employment.

Question No. 92 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Questions (93)

Joan Collins

Question:

93. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will publish the waiting times for applications for social welfaree payments and the waiting times for arrears to be paid for each social welfare payment; her views on the waiting times in general; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56054/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible. Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the differing qualification criteria. Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer or those that require more detailed investigation and interaction with the customer can take longer to process.

As part of the Department’s programme of service delivery modernisation, a range of initiatives aimed at streamlining the processing of claims, supported by modern technology, have been implemented in recent years. Operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed to ensure that processing capability is maximised.

In addition, the staffing needs of the Department are regularly reviewed, having regard to workloads and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources. The Department will continue to source available staff to fill critical vacancies by way of redeployment, or transfer from within the Department and other Government Departments, taking account of the Employment Control Framework (ECF) target, as determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Department’s website www.welfare.ie is currently being re-designed and the new site will incorporate the major expansion of the Department in recent times and reflect the significant changes in the organisation’s remit and responsibilities, particularly in the area of employment. The new site will also give the Department greater flexibility in the way in which it can provide information and services to its online customers. In this context, consideration will be given to publishing information on the Department’s claim load, processing times and other key performance indicators in an easily accessible format.

I wish to assure the Deputy that prompt processing of claims remains a priority for me.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (94)

Robert Troy

Question:

94. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an appeal for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied). [56067/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 10th September 2012. 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. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an 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.

Pension Provisions

Questions (95)

Dara Calleary

Question:

95. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection if previously self-employed persons who paid an annual PRSI contribution, and who are now unemployed, can sign for PRSI credits in order to not break their entitlement to contributory old age pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56088/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Self-employed persons are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4% which entitles them to access long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension (contributory).

PRSI credited contributions are an integral part of the social insurance system. For the most part they are linked to having an underlying entitlement to a social welfare payment while temporarily detached from the labour force or having entitlement to statutory leave e.g. parental or maternity leave. The primary purpose of PRSI credits is to secure social welfare benefits and pensions of employees by covering gaps in insurance where they are not in a position to pay PRSI such as during periods of unemployment, illness, etc.

The class at which a contributor paid his or her last PRSI contribution determines entitlement to credited contributions. Credits are awarded in respect of an employment contribution which is defined as a contribution in respect of an employed contributor. There are no provisions for the award of credits on foot of self-employment contributions. Self-employed individuals who wish to preserve the continuity of their social insurance record for pension purposes have the opportunity to do so by becoming a voluntary contributor.

Respite Care Services

Questions (96)

Robert Troy

Question:

96. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of the respite care grant and the percentage of recipients who are not in receipt of the carer's allowance, that is the number of persons who exceed the income limit for carer's allowance but who receive respite care grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56089/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The respite care grant (RCG) is an annual payment made automatically to people in receipt of carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit, or domiciliary care allowance from my Department. Other people who are not in receipt of one of these payments, but who are providing full time care and attention can also apply for the grant via separate application. The total number of persons in receipt of respite care grant at end November 2012 is approximately 70,000.

The percentage of persons in receipt of RCG, who are not in receipt of a primary scheme, is 7%. The numbers of RCG, by scheme, who received the grant in 2012 are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 - Respite Care Grant Number of Carers (at end November 2012)

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Benefit

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Standalone RCG

Total

38,000 *

1,000

26,000

5,000

70,000

* Note - Approximately 52,000 people are in receipt of carer’s allowance, of whom approximately 14,000 are also in receipt of domiciliary care allowance. Persons who are in receipt of both receive one respite payment. These people are shown under domiciliary care allowance in the above table.

The Government had to make very difficult decisions in the course of Budget 2013. In order to protect core weekly payments which people receive such as pensions, disability and carer’s allowance we had to look very carefully at other additional payment such as the respite care grant.

As part of Budget 2013, the respite care grant is being reduced by €325 to €1,375 per annum. I am aware that this reduction in the grant is significant and has implications for carers and their families; however, given the enormous pressures on the expenditure of my Department, I am not in a position to reverse this decision.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (97)

Dan Neville

Question:

97. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the postion regarding a carer's allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [56102/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on 18th January 2012. The application is with a deciding officer for a decision. Once processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Code Issues

Questions (98)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

98. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason community employment participants who complete their period on a CE scheme and go on jobseeker's benefit and are in receipt of a reduced payment are not entitled to fuel allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56110/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The fuel allowance is a means tested weekly payment of €20 available for people on long-term welfare schemes, including state pension, disability allowance, one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s allowance (after 15 months). The current fuel season commenced in October this year and will finish in on April 2013, a total of 26 weeks.

Jobseeker’s benefit is a short-term payment and is not a qualifying payment for fuel allowance which is means tested and paid to long term welfare recipients. A person will only be paid a fuel allowance while on a community employment (CE) scheme if they were entitled to fuel allowance prior to commencing the CE scheme. A person cannot accrue an entitlement to fuel allowance while on a CE scheme.

When the CE scheme ends the participant is entitled to make an application for a jobseeker’s payment. They may have built up sufficient PRSI contributions to allow them to apply for jobseeker’s benefit. The reason a person may be in receipt of a reduced jobseeker’s benefit is that the rates of payment are graduated according to earnings in the relevant tax year. For example a person with earnings of less than €150 per week would be entitled to a personal rate of €84.50 in 2012. The graduated rates are in place to ensure that disincentives to employment are not created or a situation exists where workers on low incomes would have access to weekly social welfare payments greatly in excess of their income from employment.

If a person is in receipt of a reduced rate jobseeker’s benefit payment and their income is insufficient to meet their needs, they may, subject to a means test, be eligible for a top-up under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. Recipients of jobseeker’s benefit may also opt to claim jobseeker’s allowance.

I have no plans to amend the qualifying criteria for fuel allowance.

Rural Social Scheme Applications

Questions (99)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

99. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to cease or change the rules of the rural social scheme; if she has received a report recommending this; the reasons given for such a recommendation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56111/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The rural social scheme provides income support for farmers and those engaged in fishing who have an entitlement to specified social welfare payments. Participants are engaged for 19½ hours per week to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The scheme currently provides work opportunities for around 2,600 participants and 130 supervisory staff. The funds allocated for 2012 amount to €45.66m with €45.00m provisionally allocated for 2013. This level of funding will allow the scheme to continue along the same lines in 2013 as in previous years but does not allow for the recruitment above the numbers stated above. The operation of the rural social scheme is governed by a comprehensive set of rules which are revised on an on-going basis as a result of changes in the operating environment and the introduction of, or changes to, other schemes or other conditions that impact on the scheme’s operations.

Work Placement Programme

Questions (100, 102)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

100. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection when the extra places on the Tús scheme will be rolled out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56113/12]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

102. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to change the rules of the Tús scheme by allowing participants to stay on the scheme for an unlimited duration; the reason that at present participants are only allowed stay on the scheme for one year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56115/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 102 together.

Tús, the community work placement initiative introduced during 2011, was initially set up to provide up to 5,000 short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. This initiative is being delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tús is designed to break the cycle of unemployment and to improve a person’s opportunities in returning to the labour market. I consider the existing 12-month period on Tús to be adequate to meet the objectives of the initiative whilst also ensuring that as many unemployed people as possible are able to benefit from the initiative. There are no circumstances under which a person’s term on Tús will be extended beyond 12 months and it is not in the interest of any participant that such work placements of this extend for prolonged periods of time. As part of the budget package for my Department, I intend to extend the number of opportunities available on Tús by another 2,500. These additional placements will be allocated following consultation with the Implementing Bodies by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Community Employment Scheme Numbers

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 100.

Questions (101)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

101. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of participants of the community employment schemes that are on the scheme for more than two years; if it is intended to transfer these participants to the Tús scheme in view of its lower cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56114/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups, (including persons with a disability and lone parents on One Family Payment allowance) with an opportunity to engage in quality work experience and training opportunities within their communities on a fixed term basis. CE combines employment and training interventions while at the same time supporting the provision of social services to local communities.

Depending on the length of time an applicant is unemployed the duration on CE is one year up to three years with the option of a further year extension for persons who are over 3 years in receipt of a welfare payment.

There are currently 7,966 participants on CE who have been on the programme for 2 or more and these represent approximately one-third of 23,300 places on CE. The Tús programme has a budget of 5,000 places in 2012. There are differences between CE and Tús in terms of the profile of participants coming onto the programme, duration and programme content. The range of profiles of new entrants is broader on CE and includes people with a disability, lone parents as well as people on the Live Register. Participation on Tús is confined to people on the Live Register. AS CE is an Active Labour Market Programme which prepares participants for entry to employment there is little added value in terms of offering a further year on Tús. This is particularly in the context of high unemployment and demand for activation places to meet the Department’s commitments under Pathways to Work.

However, there has been a recent change to CE which allows Tús participants under certain circumstances to enter CE. This particularly applies to Tús participants who are in need of training and where further supports are necessary for progression. Following the recent budget announcements, an additional 2,000 places will be allocated to CE and 2,500 to Tús during 2013.

Earlier this year, a financial review of individual CE schemes was undertaken by local staff in this Department. This was a very valuable exercise and substantial savings have already been achieved in the operational costs of the programme. These savings will continue to be achieved in 2013. CE costs are now comparable with Tús costs. The broad policy direction for CE in 2013 is based on the main action points coming from the CE Financial Review which has been recently published. These focus on the provision of training qualifications and other support services to participants, quality work experience and progression into employment. As both programmes are now under this Department there is greater potential to maximise the outcomes and achieve economies between these programmes and the other Employment Schemes in this Department.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 100.