Social Welfare Fraud Data

Questions (146)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

146. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of reports her Department received from members of the public in 2012 regarding social welfare fraud; the number of reports that were investigated; the number investigated successfully; the number of prosecutions brought; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45532/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

All anonymous or confidential reports received are examined and where relevant, are referred to scheme owners and/or to the Department's inspectors for follow-up action. It is very important to note that a payment is not suspended or stopped on the basis of an anonymous report. The anonymous report, however, may be a “trigger” for a review of a customer's entitlement. In 2012, 28,022 anonymous reports were dealt with by the Department's Control Division. In 18,306 cases, a report of suspected fraud was sent to the relevant area for examination.In 9,716 of the cases received, it was not possible to issue a report due to lack of information, no claim being in payment or the information reported would not impact on entitlement.

It should be borne in mind that while there is sometimes a perception of fraud, when a case is examined the individual may be doing something that is allowed under the rules for the particular payment that they are in receipt of. For example, a claimant can be working and receiving a One Parent Family payment provided earnings are within the limits and the Department is aware the situation is legitimate. Anonymous reports are not available to deciding officers when making their decisions. A deciding officer's decision will be based on the full facts and circumstances of the case, including in many instances the report of a social welfare inspector. As a result, statistics on the outcomes of anonymous reports are not available. In addition, prosecutions are not instigated on the basis of anonymous reports.

It is the Department's policy to consider for prosecution cases of fraud against the social welfare system. The Department ensures that all cases that merit prosecution are forwarded for consideration of legal proceedings. In considering cases of social welfare fraud for legal proceedings the Department applies defined and recognised best practice standards. This includes the duration of the fraud, amount overpaid, previous incidences of social welfare fraud etc. At the end of 2012, 675 cases were in the courts system (i.e. on hand with the Chief State Solicitor/Local State Solicitor), at various stages of the process.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (147)

Seán Fleming

Question:

147. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the expenditure adjustment that will be made within her Department in 2014; the full-year impact of expenditure measures that will be taken in 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45590/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Budget 2014 provided for: expenditure reduction measures of €226 million in 2014; €30 million in savings through additional fraud and control measures; and €34 million in savings through efficiencies and lower than anticipated expenditure on certain schemes, an overall expenditure reduction package of €290 million in 2014. The savings in 2015, 2016, 2017 and in a full year arising from these expenditure reductions will be an estimated €334 million, €351 million, €363 million and €372 million respectively.

Departmental Funding

Questions (148)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

148. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a committee (details supplied) will receive the balance of funding sought in view of the fact that additional information was supplied and approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45390/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

My Department sanctioned a grant of €30,000 in 2011 to the committee in respect of which details have been supplied by the Deputy. This grant was for improvement works on the roof of the facility in question. A total of €14,651.26 of this funding was paid out in 2012 as a first instalment. However, I am advised that the remaining works that were grant aided have not yet been completed. The complete refurbishment of the building will require major investment as the building in its present condition cannot be used for its intended purpose. I understand that the committee is now seeking other sources of funding to complete the restoration work. My Department will be willing to further examine the application to have the balance of the grant in question paid when the completion of the relevant works has been satisfactorily advanced.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

Questions (149)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

149. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a payment in respect of the turf cutting compensation scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45398/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy's Question. I am advised that a payment of €1,500 in respect of year 1 of 15 (2012) and a payment of €1,518 in respect of year 2 of 15 (2013) have been made to this applicant. Under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, legal agreements have been issued and are being issued to qualifying applicants by my Department. Turf cutters who sign and return their legal agreement to my Department will also receive a once-off incentive payment of €500. The applicant has returned his legal agreement and I am advised that this payment of €500 will be made to him in the coming weeks.

Departmental Agencies Issues

Questions (150)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

150. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will instruct the National Parks and Wildlife Service on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45399/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The relevant person has been informed by staff of my Department that the item in question is available for collection.

Living City Initiative

Questions (151)

Ann Phelan

Question:

151. Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the extension of the Living City initiative announced by him in budget 2014 (details supplied) will have an effect on the three existing pre-1915 houses in Vicar Street, Kilkenny, in view of the proposed central access scheme for the city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45424/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer to my reply to Question No. 76 of 22 October 2013. I welcome the announcement by my colleague, the Minister for Finance, that the Living City Initiative will be extended to include designated areas of four other cities, including Kilkenny, and to all buildings in the relevant areas built prior to 1915. The initiative will provide tax incentives for works performed to refurbish residential and retail buildings in the designated areas, either to bring them up to a habitable standard or to make improvements to buildings which are currently inhabited. I understand that the areas within Kilkenny city to which the initiative will apply have yet to be defined and that legislation for the Living City Initiative will be provided, subject to commencement order which will be dependent on EU State Aid approval. There is no direct relationship between the Living City Initiative and the current archaeological issues being examined with regard to the Kilkenny Central Access Scheme project.

Energy Schemes Issues

Questions (152)

Ciara Conway

Question:

152. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will request EirGrid to facilitate the expansion of the EirGrid Grid Link consultation phase for a further three months beyond 26 November in order to allow local interest groups (details supplied) and concerned parties more time to consider and collect information and make submission on the proposed route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45396/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

This is a matter for EirGrid and one in which I, as Minister, have no function.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (153)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

153. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the requirements of the national broadband scheme in respect of quality of service to customers availing of the broadband service; if his Department or ComReg is responsible for the oversight of this scheme to ensure the service meets the required standard of service and speed and is not subject to contention at times of high usage which leaves the service below the standards set out by the Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45406/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The broadband service contracted under National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is a basic, affordable, scalable product in keeping with EU State Aid clearance for the Scheme in September 2007. Under the terms of the contract which my Department has in place with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (trading as “3”), the NBS mobile wireless service currently offers minimum download and upload speeds of 2.3Mbps and 1.4Mbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 18:1. The NBS satellite service, which is utilised in a small number of cases for technical reasons associated with the location of the premises, offers minimum download and upload speeds of 3.6Mbps and 384 kbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 48:1.

My Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Throughout the contract period, network utilisation and performance data is submitted by “3” to my Department on a monthly basis. The NBS contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on “3”, with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. The NBS contract also provides that where NBS customers do not receive the minimum guaranteed service, as set out in the terms and conditions of their contract, they are entitled to service rebates. Should any NBS customer experience problems with the NBS service, they are advised to contact 3's customer care centre, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, by phone at 1913 (free of charge), via email to nbssupport@three.ie or by post to 3 Customer Services, Hutchison 3G Ireland Limited, PO Box 333, Dublin 2.

My Department has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and consider that their complaint has not been resolved. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie, with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service. My Department will then liaise with “3” personnel at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy any service performance issues.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (154)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

154. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when it is intended to roll out a minimum service of 30 MB across the country; the reason for the delay in his roll-out, which is causing a severe digital divide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45407/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government's National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment; and

- a State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas. ComReg has put in place a new regulatory regime for fixed line Next Generation Access and for service bundles, both of which are designed to incentivise the roll-out of services by service providers. ComReg's multiband spectrum auction, completed in 2012, is also enabling the roll-out of advanced mobile broadband services.

The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market fails to deliver such services. In order to progress the State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained. My Department is engaged in a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector to identify where the market is expected to deliver high speed broadband services over the coming years. The results of this mapping exercise will inform the precise areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are ongoing. The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched in 2014. Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I am committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland have access to high speed broadband, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in, and maximise the benefits of, a digitally enabled economy and society.

Energy Schemes Issues

Questions (155)

John Deasy

Question:

155. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will request EirGrid to grant an extension on the current deadline for submissions for the Grid Link project for the south east to allow members of the public ample time in which to make their submissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45443/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

This is a matter for EirGrid and one in which I, as Minister, have no function.