Local Authority Work Placement Programme

Questions (189)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

189. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 111 of 25 September, the timeframe that is intended for placements to last, the rate of payment the participants receive, the level and types of training that will be provided to participants and what budget will be allocated for training. [41259/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Gateway is a new initiative between my Department and county and city councils, the objective being to providing 3,000 part-time quality work placements by the end of the first quarter 2014. Participants will be randomly selected for this initiative by this Department from those on the Live Register for 24 months or more and currently in receipt of a jobseekers payment. Those agreeing to be considered then have their contact details referred to the appropriate council for recruitment. Participants will be offered the opportunity to work for up to 22 months only and will receive a payment equivalent to their rate of jobseeker's allowance plus €20 per week, with a minimum payment of €208 per week.

The design of Gateway has been largely completed and local authorities have been engaged in a process of identifying the nature and range of work opportunities that can be made available across their administrative and operational areas. The primary focus of Gateway is to improve the employability and work readiness of participants by providing them with opportunities to put their work skills into practice and to learn new skills to enable them to progress to work, further education or other development opportunities. In line with Pathways to Work, Gateway will provide, for those selected, opportunities to maintain work readiness and to bridge the gap between unemployment and re-entering the workforce.

County and city councils will have primary responsibility for identifying and arranging for the delivery of training requirements. The Government has provided funding of €2.835 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund to defray the costs of inputs and compliance/training costs. The process of identifying work opportunities is currently underway in each county and city council, including the necessary consultation with stakeholders.

Local Authority Work Placement Programme

Questions (190)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

190. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the recruitment embargo on local authorities, the employment opportunities envisaged under the new Gateway scheme. [41260/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Gateway aims to improve the employability and work readiness of participants by providing them with the opportunities to put their work skills into practice and to learn new skills to enable them to progress to work, further education or other development opportunities. In line with Pathways to Work, Gateway will provide, for those selected, opportunities to maintain work readiness and to bridge the gap between unemployment and re-entering the workforce. The process of identifying work opportunities is currently underway in each county and city council, including the necessary consultation with stakeholders.

The Deputy will appreciate that my Department has no role in determining the positions that might be made available within each council given the range of services that county and city councils deliver. I understand, however, that a variety of tasks will be identified and made available to Gateway participants. This will include a mixture of new opportunities and opportunities to work in services that have not been provided by county and city councils due to the pressure of scarce resources.

Labour Activation Projects

Questions (191)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

191. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the consideration given to immediately offering ECDL, manual handling, first aid and safe pass courses to those recipients of jobseeker's allowance and JobBridge who would like to participate in them when they are first awarded their payment. [41261/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Formal offers of a place on a suitable full-time training course are made to persons in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance as part of the Department's activation process. The timing and nature of an offer depends on the Jobseeker's individual characteristics, the availability of training places and the demand by employers for staff with particular skills. Some of the courses cited are available primarily on a part-time/evening basis through FÁS. There is no charge to attend these evening courses for persons in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, including persons who are on a JobBridge internship.

Property Taxation Collection

Questions (192)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

192. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if Tús scheme participants are having the property tax deducted from their allowance; if so, if they have been informed of these deductions; and, if not, the reason that is so and how the rate of deduction has been calculated. [41262/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

In line with the arrangements in place by the Revenue Commissioners for the local property tax (LPT), property owners can voluntarily opt to have their liabilities met by deduction at source from salary or occupational pension. This includes Tús participants. Where individuals do not submit an LPT return or fail to meet their LPT payment obligations, mandatory deduction at source from salary or occupational pension will be imposed by the Revenue Commissioners. Employers/pension providers will not know from a taxpayer's tax credit certificates whether the LPT was chosen voluntarily or imposed mandatorily. All certificates simply show the amount of LPT to be deducted.

How a liable person is informed of LPT deductions is a matter for the taxpayer and the Revenue Commissioners. My Department, or its payroll agent, does not have any role in such matters, other than facilitating the arrangements set out in respect of the LPT.

Labour Activation Projects

Questions (193)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

193. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on the progress made in delivering targets under Pathways to Work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41265/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

As per the commitment made under Action 52 of the Action Plan for Jobs, my Department releases a quarterly report on performance against the Pathways to Work targets. The Pathways to Work Performance report for Quarter 2 is available at www.welfare.ie at the following link: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Your-Pathway-to-Work.aspx.

Free Travel Scheme Administration

Questions (194)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

194. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the policy position of the National Transport Authority to tender the provision of the bus service both nationally and in Dublin, the steps she has taken to ensure that the free travel pass will be accepted on all of these new services; if she has had discussions with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on this matter; the result of these discussions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41266/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I understand that the National Transport Authority (NTA) earlier this month launched a public consultation process on its plans to enter into another direct award contract with Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann from December 2014, to amend those contracts in 2016 to reduce the services within those contracts by approximately 10% and, to provide the removed services through separate contracts following an open tender process.

At present, the free travel scheme operated by my Department can be used on services provided by CIE, Luas and some 90 private operators. The changes proposed by the NTA would have no impact on services until after 2016 when there could be additional operators providing the "removed services". An interdepartmental group, chaired by my Department and including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the NTA, is currently examining the free travel scheme. This is one of the issues which will be considered as part of that review.

Pensions Regulation

Questions (195)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

195. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the ESB occupational pension scheme; the date on which the description of this scheme was changed to a defined contribution scheme; if she will outline the details regarding the Pensions Board's decision to wind up the scheme; if she will acknowledge the genuine concerns of active ESB staff who do not generally have an entitlement to a State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41273/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I cannot comment on issues relating to a particular pension scheme. The Pensions Board supervises the regulation of individual schemes in accordance with the Pensions Act.