Disabled Drivers Grant Eligibility

Questions (198)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

198. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for remission of vehicle registration tax in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13115/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 134(3) of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) and Statutory Instrument No: 353 of 1994 (Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994 (as amended) provide for permanent relief from the payment of specified maximum amounts of VAT and VRT for persons registered under the scheme. The person (details supplied) registered an imported vehicle on 26th October 2011 and received a remission of VRT under the Disabled Drivers/Passengers Tax Concession Scheme. Where a person receives a remission under this scheme, that person must undertake to use the vehicle in question for the transport of the disabled passenger for a period of 2 years from the date the vehicle was registered. The person may dispose of the vehicle within the two year period for the purpose of changing to an alternative vehicle provided a refund of a portion of the VRT remitted is made to the Revenue Commissioners. To facilitate the calculation of the refund, the invoices in respect of the purchase and adaptation of the existing vehicle should be submitted to the Central Repayments Office, Monaghan. Alternatively, the person will be eligible to avail of a further remission in respect of an eligible replacement vehicle on/after 26th October 2013 without the need to refund a portion of the previous remission.

Construction Sector Strategy

Questions (199)

Joe McHugh

Question:

199. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills his strategy and its achievements since March 2011 in supporting displaced construction workers to develop skill sets for deployment in growing and secure industries; if he will acknowledge the employment challenges that face displaced construction workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12893/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The training and upskilling of the country's workforce through a variety of further education and training programmes is a vital element of this country's recovery from the current downturn. It will also play a vital part in securing the future competitive advantage of all enterprises and in enhancing future growth in productivity in this country. My Department is providing a range of supports to unemployed people, including former construction workers, to up-skill and re-skill so that they are in a better position to avail of jobs as the economy recovers.

Unemployed construction workers can avail of a suitable training intervention from a range of FÁS training courses at levels 3-6 on the National Qualifications Framework, to meet their career and employment aspirations taking into account their previous education and experience, skill and expertise, the evolving labour market and skill needs of employers/sectors. Courses of particular interest to unemployed construction workers are FÁS 'green' energy courses as follows:

- Passive House ("A" rated) Building Envelope;

- Passive House Construction Mech Systems;

- Rainwater Harvesting;

- Domestic Thermal Insulation;

- Intelligent Building Control Systems;

- Small Scale Wind Systems Implementation;

- Micro Solar Photo Voltaic Systems Implementation.Pilot FÁS courses for which unemployed construction workers, amongst other groups, are being targeted:

- Overhead Line Worker being piloted by Tralee Training Centre, primarily aimed at unemployed construction operatives;

- Wind Turbine Maintenance to be piloted later this year by Tralee Training Centre, primarily aimed at unemployed electrical, plumbing mechanical construction craft workers).

The impact of the economic downturn has led to a collapse in demand for apprentices from employers, particularly in construction related trades. Significant numbers of apprentices have also been made redundant before completion of their training. To assist redundant apprentices to complete their apprenticeships, FÁS has put the following interim measures in place:

The temporary Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme (RAPS) provides supports for redundant apprentices to be placed with an employer to complete the minimum duration necessary to complete the on-the-job phases at Phase 3/5/7. Employers can apply to FÁS to participate in RAPS subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

FÁS has also introduced a Competency Determination Mechanism (CDM). This mechanism will provide redundant apprentices who have a time deficit in their apprenticeship with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge against the occupational standard for the specified trade over a number of days in a FÁS Training Centre.

The Labour Market Activation Fund (LMAF) was launched in March 2010 and was designed to assist in the creation of training and education provision for specific priority groups among the unemployed, namely the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors including the construction sector. Over 12,500 unemployed people, including many former construction workers, benefited from training and education programmes when the fund ended in June 2011.

As part of the Government's "Action Plan for Jobs" initiative, FÁS is administering the Labour Market Education & Training Fund (LMETF) which was launched as MOMENTUM in December 2012. €20 million has been committed by the Department of Education & Skills through the National Training Fund. The aim of MOMENTUM is to provide a range of quality, relevant education & training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long-term unemployed including former construction workers.

Skillnets funds enterprise-led training through a network model, where companies from networks representing specific industry sectors or geographical regions co-operate to deliver training programmes appropriate to current market requirements. It is committed to supporting former construction workers. While some of the training is designed to allow such job-seekers to secure employment within the construction sector, the main focus is on retraining former construction workers to enter alternative sectors with sustainable employment opportunities.

Job-seekers from the construction sector can access training in two ways: - 1 Training Networks Programme (TNP) In 2012 612 job-seekers from the construction sector undertook TNP/Finuas Training across 251 different training events. 162 of the trainees undertook certified training from Level 5 -9 on the NFQ or was certified by a professional body. Training was provided across a wide range of areas in growth sectors including ICT, Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, Food, Financial Services, Green Economy, Agriculture, and Manufacturing. - 2 Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP) Approximately 3,000 job-seekers benefited from training and work placements/internships offered through the JSSP in 2012. Of those trainees who indicated their prior sector of employment, over 400 came from the construction sector.

EGF

A significant number of redundant construction workers have been assisted, under the aegis of my Department, through the completion of a programme of supports co-financed by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in 2012. The EGF programme targeted a cohort of redundant construction workers and apprentices across three specific sub-sectors of the construction industry who had been verifiably made redundant between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. The sub-sectors covered by the programme were: construction of buildings; specialised construction services; and architectural and engineering services. The EGF programme ran from 1st July 2009 to 9th June 2012 and provided a range of co-financed guidance, training, education and enterprise measures. These included occupational guidance supports including tailored career planning courses provided by VECs; training courses and allowances administered by FÁS including on and off the job apprenticeship supports to allow those apprentices made redundant to progress their apprenticeships while unemployed; further and higher education courses delivered by the VECs and HEA-funded institutions; and entrepreneurial guidance and supports provided by the City and County Enterprise Boards for those clients interested in becoming self-employed.

The programme also provided for the awarding of EGF Training Grants where a required training or education measure could not be delivered by a public institution but was available to the client through the private sector. In total almost 11,000 separate interventions were provided to a total EGF eligible cohort of just over 8,000 redundant construction workers and apprentices in the relevant implementation period.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (200)

Simon Harris

Question:

200. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way the parents of a child (details supplied) in County Wicklow who have a recommendation from the early intervention team to split their child's school day between mainstream and a special needs school can go about ensuring that this happens; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12313/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such supports. SENOs are a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children or on deciding the most appropriate placement for their child.

The parents of the child concerned should contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Student Support Schemes Issues

Questions (201)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

201. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding he will allocate to the student assistance fund for the academic year beginning September 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12327/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Third Level Access Measure comprises two sub-priorities: the Student Assistance Fund and the Fund for Students with Disabilities. The overall value of the Fund for the 2013/14 academic year is €16.2m.

The management of the Third Level Access Measure Fund rests with the Higher Education Authority and the allocation of funding for the sub-priorities in a particular year is a matter for that authority. The value of the Student Assistance Fund for the 2013/14 academic year will not be known until the HEA takes a decision in this matter, as normal, in the run up to the commencement of that academic year.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (202)

Robert Troy

Question:

202. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the costs of providing hardware and software to his home and the home of Ministers of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12365/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has not provided any hardware or software to either my home or the homes of Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D. or Minister Seán Sherlock T.D.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (203)

Robert Troy

Question:

203. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the costs of providing telephone in the homes of Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12383/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The total cost to my Department of providing a telephone in my home from when I took up office as Minister for Education and Skills in 2011 to date is €440.98.

My Department does not pay home telephone costs in respect of Minister of State Ciarán Cannon.

It is worth noting that Ministers, unlike all other Oireachtas Members, are not able to claim for telephone calls relating to the performance of his/her duties as a Member under the Public Representation Allowance provided by the Houses of the Oireachtas as this facility is instead provided by their Departments.

School Staffing

Questions (204)

Simon Harris

Question:

204. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider allowing schools to combine their learning support hours allocation and their resource hours allocation to enable them to provide the maximum amount of support to students with special educational needs and to give them the flexibility to provide such supports within a school community without the need for teaching time to be lost travelling from one school to the next; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12395/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Shared full-time posts and travel between schools is a long standing feature of the primary system. There were a plethora of long-standing clustering arrangements in place which were not the most practical, efficient or cost effective way to allocate resources. The new arrangements introduced in the current school year are designed to address the limitations of the previous arrangements. Under the reforms to the teacher allocation process introduced for the current school year, schools were empowered to cluster and arrange their General Allocation Model resources in a manner that best suits their local needs, including in a manner that reduces travel between schools. This school led process has resulted in over 97% of the overall GAM allocation being in full-time stand-alone or shared posts.

Aside from the reforms to the GAM, the allocation of resource hours for individual pupils vary from year to year. This is because of the ongoing individual assessment of pupils through the NCSE must operate on a later timescale. The new arrangements involve the allocation of a network of permanent posts in base schools and again are designed to make the system work more smoothly at school level. 85% of all NCSE approved resource teaching hours in the 2012/13 school year were allocated to schools that had resource base posts.

The staffing arrangements for the coming school year 2013/14 are outlined in Circular 0013/2013 which is available on the Department website. When the allocation and redeployment process is completed later in the Summer schools that have complied with the arrangements outlined in the Circular will be given some discretion to operate, where possible, their own temporary local arrangements in relation to the day to day work arrangements of teachers in full-time shared posts. These arrangements are aimed at minimising any time lost in travelling between schools.

School Staffing

Questions (205)

Simon Harris

Question:

205. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details in tabular form of the number of learning support hours and resource hours allocated to each school in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12396/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There is detailed historical information contained in the Statistics Section of my Department's website relating to the number of teaching posts in schools. The most recent published information relates to the 2011/2012 school year. The NCSE has notified all schools of their allocation of resource hours for low incidence special needs for the 2012/13 school year and has published this information on its website. The arrangements for how schools access these resource hours in teaching posts are set out in the primary staffing schedule (Circular 0013/2013) which is available on the Department website.

Under these arrangements a network of over 2,500 full-time resource posts has been put in place in close to 1,700 base schools throughout the country. The list of these schools is set out at Appendix C in the published circular. The allocation of GAM/EAL (learning/language support) hours by school and county is also published at Appendix C of the primary staffing schedule.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (206)

Robert Troy

Question:

206. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of telephones and ICT provided to the constituency offices including monthly phone bills of Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12402/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Minister Quinn's Constituency Office is operated from within the Department of Education and Skills. Apart from telephone handsets, which were replaced in April 2012 as part of a standard upgrading of all telephones within my Department, no additional or replacement ICT equipment has been assigned to this office since March 2011. Mobile phone costs for this office since March 2011 amount to €411.02.

The following costs were incurred by the Department in respect of Minister Ciarán Cannon's Constituency Offices:

- ICT equipment: €1,199.13;

- Fixed Voice (including broadband in Loughrea): €4,722.40

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (207)

Robert Troy

Question:

207. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any additional costs other than telephones, ICT and monthly phone bills are being paid to constituency offices by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12420/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The total cost to my Department for the provision on non-ICT related office equipment in constituency offices is €3,846.59 in respect of a photocopier purchased for Minister of State Cannon's constituency office in Galway in July 2011. Other incidental office costs, such as heating and lighting, are met as part of my Department's overall energy costs.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (208)

Robert Troy

Question:

208. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of mobile phones in use by him, Ministers of State and politically appointed staff; the total costs of the mobile phones since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12438/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There are 8 mobile phones used by myself, Minister Ciarán Cannon and politically appointed staff. The total cost of these phones since March 2011 is €9,113.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (209)

Robert Troy

Question:

209. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of drivers of each vehicle assigned to him and Ministers of State in his Department since March 2011; the mileage and other costs claimed in respect of each since March 2011; the overall yearly costs of ministerial cars in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12456/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The following tabular statement contains the information sought by the Deputy. My Department does not hold details of the yearly costs of ministerial cars in 2010, as the provision of ministerial cars and garda drivers at that time was administered by the former Department of Justice.

However, I understand the cost of the previous Ministerial Transport arrangements under the last Fianna Fail - Green Party government was estimated at the time of costing €280,000 per Minister per annum.

On taking office the Government introduced new travel arrangements for Ministers. The majority of Ministers now use their own cars and are paid for official mileage up to 96,540 kilometres or 60,000 miles per annum. Civilian drivers are paid a weekly wage.

The following is a tabular statement of costs associated with the provision of Ministerial Transport for the 31 st Dáil from 2011 to March 2013.

Mr. Ruairí Quinn, T.D.

Minister for Education & Skills

Payment Type

Amount

Drivers Remuneration (including Employer’s PRSI) May 2011 to March 2013

€142,021.00

Drivers Subsistence Expenses May 2011 to March 2013

€3,446.00

Ministerial Mileage/Travel Expenses May 2011 to March 2013

€24,462.00

TOTAL

€169,929.00

Mr. Ciaran Cannon, T.D.

Minister of State

Department of Education & Skills

Payment Type

Amount

Drivers Remuneration (including Employer’s PRSI) March 2011 to March 2013

€149,390.00

Drivers Subsistence Expenses March 2011 to March 2013

€21,089.00

Ministerial Mileage/Travel Expenses March 2011 to March 2013

€36,707.00

TOTAL

€207,186.00

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (210)

Robert Troy

Question:

210. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of credit cards issued to staff and Ministers in his Department; the total costs of each card since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12475/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Two business credit cards are held and operated by staff in my Department. One card is held in the name of and operated by the Private Secretary in the Minister's Office and the second is held in the name of and operated by the Private Secretary in the Minister of State's Office. These cards allow for expenditure to support the business needs of the Department, in extremely time limited circumstances, where the spending needs cannot be easily satisfied by the Department's normal billing process.

The total expenditure incurred on these credit cards since March 2011 is as follows: Private Secretary to the Minister: €3,846. Private Secretary to the Minister of State: €1,050.74

State Examinations Issues

Questions (211)

Michael Lowry

Question:

211. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons that reasonable accommodation has not been made available to a leaving certificate student (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if his attention has been drawn to the circumstances at play in this case; if he will review this decision; if he will ensure that reasonable accommodation is made for this student; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12536/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. The State Examinations Commission operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate examinations. Applications for such accommodations are submitted by schools on behalf of their students. Full details of the scheme is available for downloading from their website: www.examinations.ie/candidates/reasonableaccommodations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (212)

Tom Fleming

Question:

212. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 334 of 16 January 2013, if he will intervene and assist with the co-operative initiative by a school (details supplied) in County Kerry which is in compliance with his Department's directive, these schools are 2.5 km apart and the imposition of full transport costs on the students and their families will be detrimental to the progress of this scheme; and based on information provided, if he will examine this viable proposition with a view to subsidising the ongoing costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12542/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school or education centre. There is no provision within the terms of the Scheme to provide funding towards the cost of the transport services outlined by the Deputy in the details supplied.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (213)

John Lyons

Question:

213. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a third level grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12565/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland, that on 8th March 2013, a request for further documentation was issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Student Support Schemes Issues

Questions (214)

Clare Daly

Question:

214. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be fairly treated; and if he will restore the grant for Gaeltacht courses in order to ensure equality of access. [12567/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As part of the Government's budgetary considerations and the Comprehensive Expenditure Review carried out in 2011, a decision was made to abolish the payments by this Department towards the cost of attendance at Gaeltacht courses by students commencing their programme of primary initial teacher education. The decision came into effect for the 2012/13 academic year. As the Deputy will be aware, priority is being given to protecting resources for front line services in the coming years.

To assist with the costs of the Gaeltacht placement, primary initial teacher education students who are in receipt of a student grant which includes a 100% fee grant, or who would have qualified for a full fee grant but for the Free Fees Schemes, can apply for funding towards travel and accommodation costs under the field trip element of a fee grant, subject to the normal terms and conditions of the student grant scheme.

Apart from the student grant system, in circumstances of particular need students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund which assists students in third-level institutions in exceptional financial need. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (215)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

215. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if it is true that three out of five grant applications for students are overturned on appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12580/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland that as of 10 March 2013, 6,041 appeals were received by SUSI and that, of these 3,486 were overturned, 2,049 decisions were upheld and 506 are awaiting a decision from the appeals officer.

The Department has asked SUSI for a report on the overturn rate.

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (216)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

216. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills as of 1 March 2013, the number of students still waiting to have their Student Universal Support Ireland grant applications dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12642/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland that it is up to date with processing all complete applications.

In this regard, as at close of business on 10th March 2013, 57,957 applications have been processed to completion. As part of the close out strategy for the 2012/13 academic year, SUSI is currently contacting applicants who have not completed their application by submitting the required documentation. SUSI is providing these with a final opportunity to submit the documentation so that applications for 2012/13 can be closed out. Support for students to complete their applications has been put in place.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (217)

Simon Harris

Question:

217. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills what happens if a person's (details supplied) financial circumstances change during an academic year which would make them eligible for a third level maintenance grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12644/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Eligibility for a student grant or for an increased level of grant may be assessed or re-assessed,as the case may be, during an academic year where a permanent change of circumstances arises.

Applicants should contact their grant awarding authority for advice where such circumstances occur.

School Accommodation

Questions (218)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

218. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding accommodation works at a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12645/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy has been approved devolved funding under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme to build one mainstream classroom.