Unemployment Levels

Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 303.

Questions (314)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

314. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the rate of unemployment in Limerick city for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and the current rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10199/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I am advised by CSO that unemployment rate data at this particular level of detail are not available. However, based on census results in 2011, an unemployment rate of 28.6% is recorded for Limerick City at administrative county level.

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social Protection. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office. It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance. Matters in relation to the Live Register generally fall within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection.

Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 303.

IDA Staff

Questions (316)

Brendan Smith

Question:

316. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if it is acceptable that the Industrial Development Agency have no official designated to cover the north east area; if this is the only region in the country with no designated IDA official; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10344/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The allocation of duties to individual staff members in IDA Ireland is a day to day operational matter for the agency and not one in which I have a function. I have made enquiries of IDA Ireland and I have been informed that, during 2010, a Business Process Transformation Initiative was conducted by the Agency. This initiative examined every role in the organisation for the purpose of highlighting operational changes that could be implemented to enhance delivery of key objectives; identifying areas of duplication that could be addressed by improved processes; as well as identifying areas where there was scope to introduce enhanced IT systems, thus giving the agency greater flexibility to relocate staff to client facing functions.

Following that process, I understand that IDA Ireland retains two offices in the North East Region – an office in Cavan, with one full time role concentrating on client facing activities and an office in Dundalk, with one client facing role and one part time support role. In 2011 and 2012 there has been a net gain of 378 jobs in IDA companies in the North East, compared to a net loss of 733 in the period 2008 - 2010.

At the end of 2012 there were 34 IDA Ireland supported companies employing 3,211 people in IDA’s North East Region, which consists of the counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. In addition, there have been some very significant investments announced for the region in the last 12 months. In February 2012 Pay Pal announced the creation of 1,000 jobs in Dundalk over a four year period. This was followed in October with the announcement by Yapstone of the creation of 120 new jobs at its new EMEA HQ in Drogheda, while earlier this month, EBay announced its intention to create 450 jobs in its operating centre in Dundalk. These investments, along with the existing base of overseas companies located in the Region, will contribute to the economic development of the Region as a whole.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Question No. 318 withdrawn.

Questions (317)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

317. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if rent supplement is payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9534/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned has made an application for rent supplement on the 30th November 2012 and has been requested to provide further information in order to process her claim. A decision will be made on her application when the information has been provided.

Question No. 318 withdrawn.

Respite Care Grant Payments

Questions (319)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

319. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the respite care grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9564/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I am aware that the Government’s decision to reduce the respite care grant has been difficult for carers to accept. I am not in a position to reverse this decision. While the Comprehensive Expenditure Review, 2012 to 2014, published in December 2011, provided for a reduction of a further €540 million in expenditure by my Department in 2013, the Government was able to reduce the net savings required for this year to €390 million. This was €150 million less than originally indicated. This enabled the Government to ensure, for the second year in a row, that there was no reduction in primary weekly rates of payment.

In 2013, the Department will spend almost €20.3 billion on the wide range of schemes and services it operates. Carers receive significant income supports from the Department, among the highest rates of income support in Europe. Carers receive additional support in the form of free travel and household benefits (for those who live with the person for whom they care), and the annual respite care grant in respect of each person for whom they care. Such an annual payment, in a single lump sum with no requirement to satisfy a means test, is not available for any other group nor is there an equivalent payment for carers in any other country in Europe. If a person is getting certain qualifying social welfare payments and also providing full time care and attention to another person, they can keep their main social welfare payment and get the half-rate carer's allowance as well. They can also receive an extra half-rate carer’s allowance if they care for more than one person.

The current rate of the respite care grant (€1,375) remains significantly higher, and still more than double what it was in 2002 (€635). Expenditure on the grant has increased by 290% since 2005 from €34.3 million to €135 million in 2012.

In relation to the next budget, the Deputy will be aware that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's Expenditure Report 2013 published by Government last December provides for additional new expenditure reduction measures of €440 million to be achieved in 2014 in the Department of Social Protection budget. Reducing overall expenditure in 2014 in line with this target will be very challenging. No decisions have been made at this stage as to how these targets will be met. The Government will consider this having regard to all of its commitments.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (320)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

320. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 370 of 18 December 2012, if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) regarding public sector pensions. [9588/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

State pension transition (SPT) is currently payable, for a maximum of 12 months, to people who retire from work after reaching age 65, and who satisfy the eligibility conditions of that scheme.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided for changes to State pension age, commencing with the abolition of SPT from 1st January 2014, which will standardise the age for payment of a State pension to 66 years. The State pension age will be further increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 years in 2028.

From 2014, a person aged 65 and unable to remain in, or find, employment would be entitled to apply for a social welfare payment based on the normal criteria. The Department is currently working with the relevant agencies of State who have a role to play in identifying and breaking down barriers to remaining in work past the age of 65.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Questions (321)

Pat Breen

Question:

321. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal on an extension to a participation on a community scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9714/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Community Employment has two options, each with its own set of qualifying conditions: Part-Time Integration Option (PTI) - This is a 12-month work programme with training and development opportunities. This option offers eligible participants part-time work and training for one year; Part-Time Job Option (PTJ) - This option is for persons who are unemployed for over 3 years and who require more long-term support. Participants may have their annual contract renewed for up to 3 years duration for those under 55 years of age, and up to a lifetime maximum of 6 years for those between 55 and 65 inclusive, subject to approval by my Department.

The person concerned is under 55 years of age and is employed under the PTJ option. He will have completed 156 weeks (three years) as a PTJ participant on 15th March 2013. There is no provision to grant additional time under the PTJ option.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Payments

Questions (322)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

322. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a reduced rate of supplementary welfare allowance recently issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9715/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned has been in receipt of a weekly supplementary welfare allowance payment at the full personal of €186.00 since the 6th November 2012. Supplementary welfare allowance is not payable for the period he spent in hospital. However, a hospital comforts payment has been awarded and payment issued along with his supplementary welfare allowance payment due on 21st February 2013. The person concerned was also issued with an application form for a hospital clothing allowance which he should complete and return to the community welfare service office.

Deserted Wife's Benefit Eligibility

Questions (323)

Simon Harris

Question:

323. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons who were in receipt of the now defunct deserted wife's allowance prior to its discontinuation in 1997 continue to receive this payment until they reach transition pension age; her plans to review this practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9716/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The deserted wife's allowance (DWA) is a means-tested payment paid to a woman under the age of 66 years who has no dependent children and who was deserted by her husband, and who does not qualify for the social insurance contribution-based deserted wife’s benefit (DWB). The scheme was closed to new applications with effect from 2 January, 1997, when the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme was introduced. Thereafter, both lone parents and deserted wives came to be supported under the OFP scheme. Some women have continued to get the DWA because they qualified for the payment before the 2 January 1997 cut-off date and because they have continued to satisfy the following conditions to retain entitlement to the payment: be aged over 40 years with no qualified children; satisfy a means test; be inadequately maintained by their husband; not be co-habiting with any person; continue to make appropriate efforts to obtain financial maintenance from their husband; and have not resumed living with, or re-married, their husband.

328 recipients are in receipt of the DWA as of January, 2013 – down from 1,523 recipients in 2003. Given that this payment is no longer available to new applicants, there are no plans to review these arrangements on the grounds that recipients of DWA are a decreasing cohort within the social welfare system and the payment will cease to exist over time.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (324)

Pat Breen

Question:

324. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a carer's allowance will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9742/13]

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 12th November 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. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 13th February 2013 and the case will be referred 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.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (325)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

325. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a pension in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry. [9773/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 19th February 2013, 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.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Question No. 327 withdrawn.

Questions (326)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

326. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when an invalidity pension appeal will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9795/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 17th January 2013, 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.

Question No. 327 withdrawn.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (328)

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

328. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Social Protection when an invalidity pension appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9804/13]

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 03rd December 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 case will be referred 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.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (329)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

329. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on an appeal of the amount of arrears that issued on a jobseeker's allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9830/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer decision. 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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (330)

Michael Creed

Question:

330. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the date on which a person (details supplied) in County Cork submitted their appeal in respect of a domiciliary care allowance payment; if all the relevant papers on this appeal have been lodged with the Independent Appeals Office; the average length of time such appeals are currently taking to assess and when a decision may be expected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9836/13]

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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 30th November 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 case will be referred 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 current average times taken to process domiciliary care allowance appeals decided by summary decision is 34.9 weeks and 42.8 weeks for those requiring an oral appeal 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.

Household Benefits Scheme

Questions (331)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

331. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the arrangement whereby a person (detail supplied) in receipt of disability allowance has been cut off the household benefit package as they live with their child whose income is derived solely from a jobseeker's payment; if she will take steps to address this anomaly whereby qualifying for one benefit results in disqualification for another; and if her attention has been drawn to the financial hardship which this anomaly places on families. [9842/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The household benefits package comprises the electricity or gas allowances, the telephone allowance and the free television licence. The package is generally available to people living in the State who are over age 70, carers who live with the person for whom they care and those under age 70 who are in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments and who live alone or only with certain excepted people. “Excepted people” include, inter alia, dependent children, carers or people in need of full time care and attention.

The package is currently paid to over 415,000 customers and will cost an estimated €284 million in 2013. The objective of the scheme is to provide additional support for those who are elderly or live alone. Where a number of people in a household are receiving social welfare payments it is considered that it may not be appropriate to provide additional supports through the household benefits scheme. I would not regard this as an anomaly but as a targeting of a scheme to particularly vulnerable groups. I have no plans to amend the qualifying conditions for this scheme.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Payments

Questions (332)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

332. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application for a relocation grant lodged by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing grant aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9845/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Government has provided various types of support to people affected by the November 2009 flooding. Humanitarian Aid payments were made, both in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and subsequently to enable eligible households to resume living at their home. Subject to certain conditions the Government also decided to provide support to a small number of families who are continuing to experience significant housing problems as a result of the November 2009 flooding and are considering the possibility of relocating rather than resuming living at their original home. The legal agreement necessary for the purpose of this scheme was the subject of much detailed discussion and negotiations between this Department, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO). The agreement was finalised and issued to the householders on 5 December 2012.

In view of the legal obligations attaching to the payment of monies in respect of relocation assistance, householders have been advised to seek legal advice prior to signing the agreements. A number of documents, including signed legal agreements, have recently been received from the person concerned and are being considered in the Department in consultation with the Department’s legal advisors. The Department will be in further contact with the person concerned when these matters have been finalised. Payment of any amount due under this scheme will only be made when all terms and conditions of the scheme have been satisfied.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (333)

Seán Kenny

Question:

333. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will onfirm that she received an appeal against the refusal of carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17; and when this appeal will be decided. [9848/13]

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 12th February 2013. 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 case will be referred 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.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Questions (334)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

334. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 371 of 22 January 2012, if she will re-examine the case of an alleged overpayment in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9865/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

During the period 31 August 2012 to 02 October 2012 the person concerned was paid jobseeker’s allowance at a rate of €100 per week. The person concerned will be contacted in order to clarify any further issues arising.