Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Questions (130)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

130. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12226/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned made an application for rent supplement on 25 September 2012 and had been requested on four different occasions to provide further information in order to process her claim. As the information requested was not furnished, the rent supplement application was disallowed and notification issued to the person concerned on 5 February 2013.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Questions (131)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

131. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the maximum rent level in respect of which rent support is payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12228/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

No application for rent supplement has been received by my Department from the person concerned at her present address. She would need to provide details of her current circumstances to the local Rents Unit at Damastown before it can be ascertained what the maximum rent supplement payable would be in her case. Generally speaking however, the maximum rent level for rent supplement in the Dublin 15 area for a family of three dependent children is €900 per month.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (132)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

132. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding determination of an application for old age pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the total number of recorded contributions annually since 1972 on their behalf; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12229/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

To be eligible for a State pension (contributory) at age 66, an applicant must: have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of age 56 years; have at least 520 paid contributions since entry into insurance, from employment or self-employment (or a minimum of 260 paid contributions if the applicant reaches age 66 prior to 6 April 2012); have a yearly average of 48 paid and/or credited contributions from 1979 to the end of the last complete tax year preceding their 66 birthday; or have a yearly average of at least ten paid and/or credited contributions recorded from 1953 or from their date of entry into insurable employment (whichever is the later) to the end of the tax year preceding their 66 birthday (to qualify for a maximum rate pension, a yearly average of 48 is required).

The person concerned reached 66 years of age on 1 February 2010. He submitted an application for State pension (contributory) in February 2012. According to the records of the Department, between 2002 and 2009, he has 416 (self-employed) PRSI contributions. He has no contributions recorded between 1970 and 2002. In addition to his Irish insurance record, he has 208 UK contributions and credits recorded from 1964 to 1970. As the date of entry of the person concerned into insurable employment was after his 56 birthday, he does not satisfy the first contribution condition, and consequently his claim for a standard State pension (contributory) under Irish social welfare legislation was disallowed. His entitlement to pension under EC Regulations was subsequently examined based on his combined Irish and UK records. He has been awarded an EU pro-rata State pension (contributory) at a weekly personal rate of €76.80 with effect from 09 August 2010, together with an increase for qualified adult of €51.20 per week, in respect of his spouse. This decision was notified to him on 5 March 2013. Arrears of pension will issue this week.

Back to Education Allowance Applications

Questions (133)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

133. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm receipt of documentation in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 in support of an application for back to education allowance; the reason a reply has not issued to date; and if she will expedite a decision on this application. [12241/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Further documentation was received by my Department recently in support of the application for back to education allowance from the person concerned. This confirmed that she did not complete her Veterinary Assistant Level 5 course in 2008. However, as she completed a level 5 course in Computers and wishes to do a course in Photography at the same level, she still does not qualify for back to education allowance as she does not meet the progression criteria stipulated in the qualifying conditions.

Child Benefit Eligibility

Questions (134)

Denis Naughten

Question:

134. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection when the audit of the child benefit scheme will be published; the reason for the delay in publishing the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12247/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Fraud and error surveys are an integral part of the Department’s overall approach to control and tackling social welfare fraud. They provide the Department with an indicator of the estimated risk of non-compliance with scheme rules within the specific schemes surveyed and enable it to enhance procedures and processes to build control across the relevant schemes. The Department establishes the risk and exposure of fraud and error within its schemes by conducting fraud and error surveys at regular intervals. A key commitment in the Department's Fraud Initiative 2011-13 is to undertake at least two fraud and error surveys each year up to the end of 2017. Four fraud and error surveys have been completed by the Department in the past year. The survey on Child Benefit was completed in January 2013. The survey report is now finalised and will be published shortly.

The survey showed a very low level of fraud in relation to the scheme which underlines the effectiveness of the scheme's control policy. Survey results are presented in terms of the net rate of fraud and error. The net rate refers to the position after account is taken of decreases in weekly rate, increases in weekly rate, terminations of payment, transfers to other payments and the position following appeal of any cases affected. In order to ensure the measure of the fraud and error level for the scheme surveyed is accurate and is in line with the criteria that has been previously agreed with the Comptroller and Auditor General, a certain amount of time must be allowed following the survey to ensure that all cases that go back into payment or the outcomes of appeal cases are included in the final report.

Wildlife Conservation

Questions (135, 136)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

135. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an extension on prescribed gorse burning in view of the adverse weather conditions of the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12243/13]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

136. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on whether the 28 February deadline for gorse burning is too early; his further views on the fact that it is over six weeks earlier in this jurisdiction than in Northern Ireland; if he will review the date in view of the difficulty and impracticality that is causes for farmers and the fire services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12105/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 136 together.

Under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts, the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction by other means of vegetation growing on uncultivated land or in hedges or ditches is prohibited during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife, from 1 March to 31 August subject to certain specific exceptions. Hedgerows are an important reservoir of biodiversity and habitat for birds, insects, wild flowers and other wildlife during the summer breeding season. The purpose of these provisions is to protect bird life during the nesting season, to prevent forest fires, and to protect vegetation and wildlife habitats during the months of growth and reproduction. I have no current plans to extend this period.

While hedgerows and scrub are important as wildlife habitats, they need to be managed in the interests of both farming and biodiversity. Accordingly, I included a commitment in the National Biodiversity Plan 2011-16 to review the overall policy in this area. The commitment is to review, in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, both hedgerow and scrub regulation with a view to producing guidelines to encourage best practice for hedgerow and scrub management for wildlife. As part of that review, the potential for setting the relevant dates by statutory instrument, rather than in primary legislation as is the position currently, will be examined.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (137)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

137. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the recent incident of a deer hunted by the Ward Union Hunt, based in Dunshaughlin, County Meath, into the River Boyne, during a search and recovery operation for a body, and previous incidents of deer hunted, which the Ward Union claim are accidental, if he will put a monitoring system in place to ensure that the Ward Union are obeying the 2010 Wildlife Amendment Act in order to reduce accidental hunting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12110/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to her Question No. 317 of 5 March 2013.

Public Service Reform Plan Measures

Questions (138, 139)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

138. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will set out and itemise the precise details of the savings he specifically intends to accrue from his decision to abolish the statutory independent boards of the National Museum and the National Library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12152/13]

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Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

139. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the costs incurred by his Department to date in preparing to abolish the statutory independent boards of the National Museum and National Library; if these costs reflect the cost of the input of his Department's personnel to date, the costs incurred by the Attorney General's office, the parliamentary draftsman's office, the Oireachtas and other agencies involved in the preparation and consideration of such legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12153/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 139 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Service Reform Plan published by the Government on 17 November 2011 outlined a series of rationalisation measures, some of which related to a number of the bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group. The Public Service Reform Plan is not solely focussed on monetary savings but also on creating efficiencies and streamlining services and structures. In this context, my Department developed a comprehensive and practical approach to the implementation of the various Government Decisions in this area, which was endorsed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

As part of that process, my Department conducted an examination of the board structures of the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and the National Museum of Ireland (NMI), as well as the issue of shared services. My Department also examined the issues that would be involved in merging the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and the Irish Manuscripts Commission (IMC) into the NLI, while maintaining separate identities. Arising from this, the Government has decided that the boards of the NMI and NLI will be discontinued and, as board fees totalling over €80,000 were paid out to members of these boards in 2012, direct recurring annual savings of that order will be made as a result. In addition, the current provision by my Department of shared corporate support services to the NAI will be extended to the NMI and NLI. This will lead to significant savings on administration, as it will facilitate greater sharing of staff and expertise, as well as freeing up staff of the institutions for frontline and core services. Savings of approximately €200,000 are expected to be achieved in staff costs, with a further €350,000 in savings to be achieved through additional shared services.

No specific additional costs were generated by my Department or by other bodies (such as the Office of the Attorney General or by the Oireachtas) in the development or implementation of these Government Decisions. The preparation of the relevant proposals for consideration by Government and the implementation of the Government Decisions in this area are part of the routine duties of the relevant civil and public servants involved.