Question No. 155 withdrawn.

National Internship Scheme Placements

Question No. 157 withdrawn.

Questions (156)

Dara Calleary

Question:

156. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding persons approaching the end of their nine-month JobBridge placement; if she will outline the timeframe involved for such persons being eligible to secure a further placement and-or FÁS scheme placement; the options that are available to such persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32437/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The JobBridge Scheme has made very significant progress since it came into operation on the 1st July 2011. Over 18,500 internships have commenced to date with circa; 6,000 participants currently undertaking an internship and over 2,000 internship opportunities presently advertised on www.jobbridge.ie. A recent independent evaluation conducted by Indecon Economic Consultants found that 61% of interns progress to paid employment after completing their internship. These progression outcomes into employment are among the best in Europe for similar schemes. The eligibility to access the Scheme is based on the overall objective of labour market policy to provide a pathway to paid employment for people who are unemployed.

At present, an individual may avail of up to two placements on the Scheme, the total cumulative time not exceeding 9 months (39 weeks). The duration of any individual internship is determined, within these guidelines by the host organisations. The maximum cumulative period that an intern may undertake on one or more internships is currently being reviewed in line with other findings and recommendations contained in the Indecon evaluation report. Any amendments to the Scheme will be communicated clearly on the JobBridge website www.jobbridge.ie. Alternatively, a person who has completed nine months on JobBridge may apply to take-up a Work Placement Programme with another organisation.

Question No. 157 withdrawn.

Social Insurance Issues

Questions (158)

Michael Creed

Question:

158. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 363 of 25 June 2013, if her Department has a mechanism of tracking employees who have switched from direct employees to C2 operators without any intervening period of unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32448/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

There is no specific mechanism to identify or track employees who were previously employed under a contract of service and who subsequently become C2 operators or self-employed and who have no intervening periods of unemployment. The allocation and issue of C2s is in the first instance a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. However, when determining whether an individual is employed or self-employed, consideration is given to the Code of Practice for Determining the Employment or Self-employment Status of Individuals. As indicated in my reply to the Deputy's previous question on this matter (No. 30220-13) which was answered on the 25th June 2013 the class of PRSI payable by an individual is effectively determined by the terms and conditions of the employment in which they are engaged. Generally an individual is classified for PRSI purposes as either an employee or self-employed.

Departmental Funding

Questions (159)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

159. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Vantastic have had to introduce a flat rate charge for passengers on their hospital routes in Dublin Fingal; if her Department has reduced its funding to Vantastic; if this is a result of a reduction of funding from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32458/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Vantastic, like all community and not-for-profit contract holders with the community services programme (CSP), acts independently of the Department of Social Protection in the determination of and the fees that it charges for the services it offers to its membership and the general public. Vantastic is funded from income from its membership, charges for journeys and funding under the CSP. The grant for Vantastic in 2012 was €835,000 and was set at €822,000 in 2013. The CSP grant reflects the nature of the contract with the programme rather than any reduction in the level of funds available to the Programme. The charge introduced by Vantastic for this particular service is a matter for the Board of the company and does not relate to the services that are part funded by the Department of Social Protection. A key feature of the CSP is the requirement of the contract holder to generate a substantial level of its resources from the fees charged or other traded income from service provision. The overall level of funding provided to the CSP was increased in 2013.

Social Welfare Replacement Rates

Questions (160)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

160. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide in tabular form the current respective replacement rates for the most common scenarios in the social protection system. [32485/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Almost three-quarters of the people on the Live Register (317,004 people) are only claiming a personal rate for themselves. They are either single or may have a spouse or partner who is working. In addition, just over half (53%) of the people on the Live Register receive less than the maximum personal weekly rate. This means that the great majority of people on the Live Register have a strong financial incentive to work and significant numbers leave the Register each year. The replacement rate for given income levels is a tool used to measure the degree to which of out-of-work benefits when unemployed replace take home income from work. The replacement rates my Department calculate highlight the strong financial incentive that the majority of jobseekers have to enter employment. While there is no predetermined level of replacement rate which would influence every individual’s decision to work, higher replacement rates may indicate lower incentives to take up employment. In this regard a replacement rate in excess of 70% may be considered to be excessive.

Generally, my Department calculates replacement rates for the following family types:

- Single claimants

- Married or co-habiting couples:

- Couple with no Children (1 earner);

- Couple with 1 Child(1 earner +1 Child Dependent);

- Couple with 2 Children (1 earner +2 Child Dependent);

- Couple with 4 Children (1 earner +4 Child Dependent).

The following table sets out replacement rates values, which compare social welfare income, assuming that fuel allowance is payable, with net income at National Minimum Wage (NMW), two thirds of the Average Weekly Earnings (67% AWE) and Average Weekly Earnings (AWE).

Replacement Rates 2013

-

NMW

67% AWE

AWE

Single

61%

50%

37%

Couple 1 earner

68%

64%

55%

Couple 1 earner +1 Child Dependent

72%

68%

61%

Couple 1 earner +2 Child Dependent

75%

71%

66%

Couple 1 earner +4 Child Dependent

75%

72%

66%

In general, replacement rate analysis demonstrates that for the overwhelming majority of social welfare recipients, replacement rates are relatively low and they have a strong financial incentive to take up employment. Replacement rates for certain jobseekers can be higher than those listed in the above table if the jobseeker is in receipt of rent supplement or mortgage interest supplement. However, the vast majority of jobseekers do not receive these additional supports.

Free Travel Scheme Applications

Questions (161)

Seán Fleming

Question:

161. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when a companion travel pass will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32540/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

This application for the person named has been medically assessed by a Medical Assessor on 1 July 2013. The medical opinion has been conveyed to Household Benefits Section, Sligo, and the customer in question will be contacted shortly regarding the decision on the application.

Mobile Telephony

Questions (162)

Seán Kenny

Question:

162. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the arrangements put in place by the regulatory authorities to prevent exorbitant roaming charges being imposed on customers by mobile phone operators in the Border areas between here and Northern Ireland. [32322/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

On 26th June I announced that I have signed new regulations to combat excessive roaming fees imposed on mobile service users. The regulations will enable the Communications Regulator, ComReg, to use its investigative and enforcement powers to oblige mobile telephone service providers to implement retail price reductions required by the EU Roaming Regulation. The regulation of roaming charges is an EU competency following the introduction of an EU Regulation in 2007, which introduced harmonised maximum charges for roaming voice services across the European Union.

From 1 July 2013, the new EU Roaming Regulation lowered the price caps for data downloads by 36%, making it much cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check emails and update social networks while travelling across borders. Data roaming is now up to 91% cheaper in 2013 compared to 2007. The Regulation also introduced per megabyte price limits of €0.70 per megabyte from July 2012, which reduced to €0.45 on July 1st. It will reduce further to €0.20 in July 2014.

The reduction in maximum retail prices (excluding VAT) required by the current EU Regulation over three years is outlined as follows.

Service

1 July 2012

1 July 2013

1 July 2014

Outgoing call

- per minute

0.29

0.24

0.19

Incoming call

- per minute

0.08

0.07

0.05

Call to voicemail

free

free

free

Outgoing SMS/text

0.09

0.08

0.06

Incoming text

free

free

free

Data

-per megtabyte

0.70

0.45

0.20

It is a matter for the regulatory authority in each Member State to ensure that service providers do not exceed the maximum permitted retail roaming charges. The regulatory function is performed by ComReg, in Ireland.