Employment Support Services

Questions (345)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

345. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection the rationale for excluding certain unemployed persons from State supported re-employment and re-entry courses because they have not been unemployed long enough; and if any efforts are under way to reduce the relevant period. [12942/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Given the scale of the unemployment crisis, the key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective prioritises scarce resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments. Accordingly the employment services and schemes provided by the Department are focused in the first instance on this cohort of unemployed people. In this context, the major elements of the Government’s response are set out in the Pathways to Work policy which is aimed at ensuring that as many as possible of the job vacancies that are created are filled by people from the Live Register, with a particular focus on those who are long term unemployed or at risk of long-term unemployment. Many of those who became unemployed at the height of the jobs crisis in 2009 have found it particularly difficult to find employment. They are now a target priority group for activation measures.

The Government must also take account of the fact that many people who sign on to the Live Register will exit it again within a short-time frame, without any recourse to employment schemes or intensive activation measures. For example, in 2012, of those who signed on to the Live Register, 43% had left the Register within 3 months of first signing on. Given these high exit rates, it is appropriate to apply a qualifying duration on the Live Register as a criterion to allocate scarce resources, including places on employment and training/educational schemes, to those most in need of support. Of course, some services (for example assistance with job-search activities, use of online job search tools, participation in part-time/evening and on-line training courses) are available to all unemployed persons, regardless of their duration of unemployment, if they register with the Department’s employment services offices.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Eligibility

Questions (346)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

346. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection the criteria that must be met to be eligible for the exceptional heating payment. [12943/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, a supplement may be paid in respect of exceptional heating needs where the claimant satisfies the general conditions of entitlement to SWA. In order to qualify for a heating supplement, the applicant must live alone or with a qualified adult or child/children and must have exceptional heating needs due to ill-health or infirmity.

In addition, an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional and unforeseen expenditure such as heating costs which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.

There is no automatic entitlement to these types of payments. Heating supplements and ENPs are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payment targets those most in need of assistance.

Persons who consider that they may have an entitlement to a heating supplement or ENP under the SWA scheme should contact the local officials administering the scheme.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (347)

Sean Conlan

Question:

347. Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a carer's allowance application that was made in June 2012 in respect of a person (details supplied) has still not been reached and remains in the backlog of applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13011/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 11th June 2012. The application was awarded on 11th of March 2013 and the first payment will issue to the person’s nominated bank account, payable from 14th of March 2013. Arrears of allowance due from 14th of June 2012 to 13th of March 2013 have issued to the person in question on the 11th of March 2013.

Redundancy Rebates

Question No. 349 withdrawn.

Questions (348)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

348. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will investigate the reason it took nine years for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 to receive their rebate from her Department in respect of their last remaining employee who was made redundant in 2003; if she will agree to pay the person the interest lost on the refund over the nine years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13024/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Responsibility for the processing of claims under the redundancy payments scheme transferred from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation (DJEI) to the Department of Social Protection in January 2011.

In April 2012 a Chartered Accountant, acting on behalf of company concerned contacted the Department in regard to a redundancy rebate claim in respect of a redundancy which occurred in 2003.

I understand that the forms which should have been submitted in 2003 in order to apply for a redundancy payment were as follows: RP1 - Notification of redundancy; RP2 - calculation of Redundancy and Declaration of receipt of payment and RP3 - Redundancy Application Form.

On foot of the query raised a review of the Department’s records was undertaken and the information found indicates that an RP2 form may have been submitted at the time of redundancy. However, there is no record of receipt of an actual redundancy rebate claim form (RP3).

I am advised that a claim would not have been considered as valid at that time until receipt of all the above detailed forms. I am further advised that the documentation submitted in April 2012 included a copy of the RP2 form only. Despite searches undertaken, it is regretted that it is not possible to ascertain whether or not original RP1 or RP3 forms were submitted in 2003.

Notwithstanding the above, the Department took into account the significant timeframe since the redundancy occurred and has accepted the bona fides of the company’s stated position on this matter, namely, that a valid redundancy rebate claim was submitted in 2003. In so doing, the Department has acted in good faith and promptly investigated the matter following contact from the accountant in April 2012. On the basis of the documentation provided to my Department at that time, a redundancy rebate payment was authorised and payment issued by cheque to the company concerned on 4th September 2012.

The Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 to 2013 do not contain any provisions enabling a payment to be made in respect of lost interest.

Question No. 349 withdrawn.

Ministerial Appointments

Questions (350)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

350. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide the names of the four persons she appointed to the Social Welfare Tribunal Board; the amount each member has been paid in expenses and so on from the date of their appointment to 1 March 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13034/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The purpose of the Social Welfare Tribunal is to deal with cases where entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance is refused due to an involvement in a trade dispute. Due to its structure and purpose the revised Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies does not apply to the Social Welfare Tribunal. The Chairperson is sourced by the Department of Social Protection by way of a recommendation from the Labour Court with regard to a particular candidate’s suitability. The current Chairperson has held the position since 2003. He is a former Rights Commissioner (1982 to 2001) with extensive experience in dispute resolution and has been proven to hold all of the qualifications, skills and competencies necessary for the position.

In view of his proven suitability and his stated willingness to continue in the position I re-appointed the Chairperson for a further three year term commencing on 5th October 2012.

Relevant legislation provides that the four ordinary members of the Tribunal are appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and the Irish Business Employer Confederation (IBEC). As the term of appointment to the Tribunal expired in October 2012 both ICTU and IBEC were requested to forward their nominations for the next term and I subsequently appointed the four ordinary members recommended for a three year period effective from 5th October 2012.

The names of the Chairperson and of the four Ordinary Members of the Board will be supplied to the Deputy directly.

Members of the Tribunal do not receive a salary although attendance fees are payable for hearings and meetings. Members are also entitled to standard travel and subsistence allowances if appropriate. However, demand for the services of the Social Welfare Tribunal is very infrequent. From 2004 to date only three applications for adjudication by the Tribunal have been made, two in 2009 and one in 2010. The total expenditure for all expenses/fees relating to three hearings in 2009 and 2010 came to €6,084. No expenditure has been incurred by any member of the Tribunal since 2010.

Employment Support Services

Questions (351)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

351. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on the training and internship schemes that are open to self-employed persons who are not signing on but not working; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13073/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Given the scale of the unemployment crisis, the key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective prioritises scarce resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments. Accordingly the employment services and schemes provided by the Department are focused in the first instance on this cohort of unemployed people. With specific regard to the Department’s internship programme – JobBridge – in order to be eligible to participate an individual must be currently be in receipt of a live social welfare claim (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/One Parent Family Payment/Disability Allowance/Signing for Credits).

It is recognised, however, that not all unemployed people (including those previously self-employed) are dependent on the State for financial support and some services (for example assistance with jobsearch activities, use of online job search tools) are also available to such people if they register with the Department’s employment services offices.

Unemployed persons (including the previously self-employed) not in receipt of payments may also be eligible to avail of up-skilling opportunities, for example through FÁS training, but are not eligible to receive a training allowance while undertaking such training.

Farm Assist Scheme Appeals

Questions (352)

Brendan Smith

Question:

352. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for farm assist will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; the reason for the delay in making the decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13122/13]

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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, including that adduced at oral hearing, allowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision on 8th March 2013.

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.

Departmental Bodies

Questions (353)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

353. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 456 of 19 February 2013, if he will provide the names of the three board members who have decided to gift their fees back to the State. [12350/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The board members who gifted their fees back to the State are Ms. Pat Moylan, Mr. John O'Donnell and Mr. John Fanning. They are all members of the board of the Arts Council.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (354)

Robert Troy

Question:

354. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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. [12361/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

My Department has not deployed any such computer hardware or software and thus associated costs do not arise.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (355, 356, 357, 358)

Robert Troy

Question:

355. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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. [12379/13]

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Robert Troy

Question:

356. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the cost of telephones and ICT provided to 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. [12398/13]

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Robert Troy

Question:

357. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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. [12416/13]

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Robert Troy

Question:

358. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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. [12434/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 355 to 358, inclusive, together.

It has not been possible to collate the information requested by the Deputy in the time-frame permitted for a Parliamentary Question but it will be sent directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (359)

Robert Troy

Question:

359. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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. [12452/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was established on 2 June 2011, following substantial Departmental reconfigurations. The total amount spent by my Department on drivers and Ministerial transport since that date, in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidance on such matters, is € 415,253.44.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (360)

Robert Troy

Question:

360. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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. [12471/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was established on 2 June 2011. The number of cards issued to staff in my Department since that date is two. The value of payments made to date using those credit cards is €19,329.33.

No credit cards have been issued to Ministers during the period referred to.

Departmental Funding

Questions (361)

Joan Collins

Question:

361. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total amount of grant aid provided under ACCESS I and II for the development of a new museum in County Sligo; the total estimated capital cost of the museum project; where the balance of the funding is to be sourced; the current status of the museum project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12586/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

In August 2001, an amount of €2.9 million was allocated to Sligo County Council from the Arts and Culture Capital Enhancement Support Scheme (ACCESS I), as a contribution towards the construction costs of a proposed new purpose-built county museum.

For a number of reasons the project did not go ahead. The grant was withdrawn in December 2008, following a meeting between Sligo County Council and officials of my Department. The monies were reallocated to other projects. These included The Model - an alternative project put forward by Sligo County Council. A further grant was made to The Model from ACCESS 11 and it received a total of €3.4 million from my Department. That project was completed and the centre is now re-opened.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Properties

Questions (362)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

362. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total number of leases held by Udarás na Gaeltachta to which they are the lessor and the total of such leases that have upward only rent clauses. [12588/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The Deputy will appreciate that the details sought by him are extensive and, accordingly, it has not been possible to collate the requested information in the time available. Údarás na Gaeltachta has been requested to supply the relevant data as soon as possible and I can assure the Deputy that it will be forwarded directly to him when it becomes available.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Funding

Questions (363)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

363. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the cost per job created and cost per job retained by Udarás na Gaeltachta. [12589/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I have been informed by Údarás na Gaeltachta that the grant cost per job for 2012 was €8,091 and that the average cost per job over the past five years, which reflects the cost per job sustained, was €10,230.

The figures provided reflect grant expenditure on capital, employment, research and development and training paid by Údarás na Gaeltachta to its client companies but excludes FIFG (Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance) and Research, Development and Innovation (R&D&I) funding and certain other expenditure on training and education.

Broadband Services Provision

Questions (364)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

364. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total number of Udarás na Gaeltachta business units that have broadband; the number with broadband access with download speeds less than 5 Mbps; between 5 and 10 Mbps; between 10 to 30 Mbps; between 30 to 70 Mbps; between 70 to 100 Mbps; and more than 100 Mbps. [12590/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I understand that all tenants in business units owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta make their own arrangements with various broadband suppliers, depending on the options available in the areas in question.

I am advised also that virtually all Údarás na Gaeltachta properties could potentially have access to very fast broadband speeds, as detailed in the Deputy’s Question, via point to point radio links. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, this is a matter for the individual companies to decide.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (365)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

365. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will explain the miswording on the advertisement in relation to submissions for the environmental impact statement on Moore Street, Dublin, the lack of clarity on the proposed demolition; if the veracity of the study is now compromised; if he will ensure that the next advertisement is advertised nationally with the EIS available online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12804/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

My Department has informed the applicant for consent under the National Monuments Acts for works on the site of the Moore Street national monument that the newspaper notice published on 18 January 2013 in relation to the submission of the related environmental impact statement was not compliant with the requirements of section 14D of the National Monuments Act 1930 in that it did not state “the nature and extent of the proposed demolition”. The applicant has, accordingly, been required to publish a further public notice, the timing of which is a matter for the applicant. In practical terms, the requirement for a new public notice will recommence the five week period for submissions or observations to my Department in relation to the environmental impact statement already submitted.

Under section 14D of the National Monuments Act 1930: a person submitting an environmental statement is required to publish “notice of his, her or its intention to do so in at least one newspaper circulating in the district in which the relevant national monument is situated”; the environmental impact statement is required to be “available for inspection free of charge or purchase, at a fee not exceeding the reasonable cost of making a copy, during office hours at the offices of the Minister or such other convenient place as the Minister may specify”.

The production of an electronic version of the environmental impact statement and any question of making it available on the internet or advertising it more widely would be matters for the consent applicant.