Question No. 309 withdrawn.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (310)

Noel Coonan

Question:

310. Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for a carer's allowance appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4948/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to convene an oral hearing in this case. Every effort will be made to hear the case as quickly as possible and the appellant will be informed when arrangements for the oral hearing have been made. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (311)

Pat Deering

Question:

311. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 333 of 26 November 2013, where it was acknowledged that an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) for carer's allowance was not acted on promptly, when a decision will issue. [4954/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer has fully considered all of the available evidence in the case of the person concerned and has decided to disallow her appeal by way of a summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

Questions (312)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

312. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a jobseeker's appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4962/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (313, 314)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

313. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will itemise in tabular form the occasions on which her Department has engaged the services of external professional advice such as a company (details supplied) on the appointment of persons to State boards; if she will list the fees paid in respect of such services; the persons who were ultimately appointed on foot of advice received; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4993/14]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

314. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will identify any instances where a person appointed to a State board after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role; the costs incurred in obtaining advice in respect of each such instance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5009/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 313 and 314 together.

The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Board, the Pensions Ombudsman (which does not have a board) and the Social Welfare Tribunal. The Department has not engaged any companies to provide external professional advice on the appointments of persons to the above statutory bodies.

Back to Education Allowance Eligibility

Questions (315)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

315. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will indicate eligibility for back to education allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5095/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

According to the records of this Department the person concerned has not applied for a back to education allowance. It is open to the person concerned to make such an application to her local office.

Social Welfare Offices

Questions (316)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

316. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection the timeframe for the provision of an Intreo office (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5124/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

A total of 44 Intreo offices have now been opened. The Department is working closely with the OPW on the roll out of the service (including the refurbishment and where necessary the acquisition of offices). It is expected that the remaining 16 offices, including Swords, will be delivering the full Intreo service by the end of 2014. Swords is scheduled to be delivered by Quarter 4 2014.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (317)

Pat Breen

Question:

317. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a carer's allowance appeal will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5137/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 2 January 2014. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (318)

Pat Breen

Question:

318. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an invalidity pension appeal will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5138/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, has decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Question No. 320 withdrawn.

Questions (319)

Pat Breen

Question:

319. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a review of carer's allowance will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5140/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 30 July 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 12 November 2013 and the case was referred to an Appeals Officer on 11 December 2013 who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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.

Question No. 320 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (321)

Jack Wall

Question:

321. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been reached following an oral hearing in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5145/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at oral hearing, decided to disallow the appeals of the person concerned. The person concerned was notified of this decision in writing on 30 January 2014. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Application Forms

Questions (322)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

322. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 257 of 10 December 2013, if she will review the decision on physical inspection of the form as there appears to have been a technical-accounting error in the calculation (details supplied) of the applicant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5151/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned was in receipt of a mortgage interest supplement from March 2008 until September 2013 when his claim was reviewed and he was found to have no further entitlement. Under Social Welfare legislation a person in receipt of weekly supplementary welfare allowance is required to make a minimum contribution towards their rent. In his case the minimum contribution was €35.00 and his mortgage interest was €31.84; he was therefore considered to have the means to pay his weekly mortgage interest, and had no entitlement to a rent supplement. This decision was upheld on appeal by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 13 January 2014.

There is a discrepancy on the application form which his lender completed on his behalf on 30 August 2013. The gross monthly mortgage interest payment is given as €138.00 and this is the amount relevant to the assessment; the gross interest paid for 2013 is stated by his lender to be €2198.47, which was provided in August 2013. However this would appear to be an error and actually relates to 2012. To clarify matters we are in the process of writing to the person concerned with a view to establishing the correct position whereupon we will contact him with updated position.

Rent Supplement Scheme Appeals

Questions (323)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

323. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider providing an exemption to the rent cap in respect of a person (details supplied) in view of the special circumstances of the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5153/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 10 January 2014, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Invalidity Pension Application Numbers

Questions (324)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

324. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide, in tabular form, the number of applications for invalidity pension received in her Department in 2009-2013, inclusive; the number of these applications that were refused; the number of these refusals that were subject to an appeal; the number of these appeals that were successful; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5155/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Invalidity Pension claim intake has increased substantially from 2011. This resulted in initial claim processing backlogs which my Department have cleared over the last two years. An outcome of this level is claim clearance is the resulting higher than normal volume of reviews and appeals which have and are been processed by the Department.

Table 1 below shows the number of claims received, awarded and disallowed in the period requested. Unfortunately, it is not possible to identify, of the number awarded, how many were awarded in the first instance and how many were awarded following deciding officer review or appeal. Table 2 shows the data in respect of appeals received and decided in the same period, as reported by the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Table 1. Invalidity Pension Claims Processed 2009 to 2013

Year

Received

Awarded

Disallowed

Total decided

2009

7475

4580

2933

7513

2010

8774

3445*

3411*

7614

2011

14621

2107#

4697#

12829

2012

11510

6352

11423

17775

2013

9640

9494

9298

18792

* Breakdown for period January 2010 - November 2010 inclusive

# Breakdown for period June 2011 - December 2011 inclusive

A breakdown of Invalidity claims awarded and disallowed is not available from December 2010-June 2011. A dual payments system was in operation from December 2010 until all claims were migrated onto a new computer platform in May 2011.

Invalidity Pension Appeals – 2009 -2012

Year

Opening Balance

Appeals Lodged

Revised Deciding Officer Decision(*)

Total Decided by Appeals Office

Appeals Allowed

Appeals Partly Allowed

Appeals Disallowed

Appeals Withdrawn

Closing Balance

2009

310

642

82

403

243

1

136

23

467

2010

467

1,024

185

694

341

6

314

33

612

2011

612

2,285

345

970

408

6

489

67

1,582

2012

1,582

4,765

474

1,517

1,031

4

430

52

4,356

2013

4,356

4,501

2,243

4,665

3,336

18

1,311

60

1,889

(*) Where a person has received a decision to disallow a payment, it is open to them to ask for a review by a deciding officer. These figures reflect those cases where a disallowed claim was revised on review by a deciding officer prior to determination by an Appeals Officer. Generally these cases arise where a person submits additional information, not already considered, in support of their claim following a decision to disallow.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (325)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

325. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection if applicants appealing a decision refusing them invalidity pension are entitled to an oral hearing if they request it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5156/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that legislation provides that where an Appeals Officer is of the opinion that an appeal can be properly determined without an oral hearing, he or she may determine the appeal summarily on the basis of the documentary evidence provided. A request for an oral hearing will be considered by an Appeals Officer in the light of the documentary evidence before them. Generally, a request for an oral hearing will be granted unless the Appeals Officer considers that a positive decision can be given without recourse to an oral hearing. However, in some cases, where there is clearly nothing to be gained from an oral hearing, for example when a decision relates to a question of social insurance contributions or means, the Appeals Officer may decide the appeal on a summary basis.

Of the 4,665 invalidity pension appeals decided by appeals officers in 2013, 3842 (82.36%) were decided by summary decision. Of these 2,744 (71.42%) had a successful outcome for the appellant. 823 (17.64%) invalidity pension appeals were decided following an oral hearing. Of these 610 (74.12%) had a successful outcome for the appellant while 213 (25.88%) were disallowed.

Poverty Data

Questions (326, 327)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

326. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress that has been made in achieving the national social target for poverty reduction to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5157/14]

View answer

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

327. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a brief evaluation of the various means and steps being employed by Government to achieve the national social target for poverty reduction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5159/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 326 and 327 together.

Tackling poverty remains a fundamental aspiration of Irish society and the Government. The Government has re-affirmed its commitment to reducing poverty by revising and enhancing the national social target for poverty reduction. This aims to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and to 2% or less by 2020. The Department published the inaugural Social Inclusion Monitor last year, to track progress on the national social target in an open and transparent manner, using data from the CSO Survey on Income and living Conditions (SILC). The latest published data for 2011 show the consistent poverty rate was 6.9 per cent, which according to the CSO ‘is not a statistically significant change on the 2010 figure of 6.3 per cent’. The Department is awaiting publication of the results of the 2012 SILC from the CSO, to update the Monitor.

The Social Inclusion Report for 2011-2012 reports on implementation of the Government’s policy framework for achieving the national social target, the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion. It shows that across diverse policy areas government departments and state agencies reported progress on many targets/actions associated with the National Action Plan’s high level goals. However, evidence of the adverse impact of the economic downturn during this period continues.

A key component in the fight against poverty is the provision of a minimum standard of living through the social protection system. In 2013, my department spend over €20 billion in providing income support to 1.5 million recipients with a further 750,000 beneficiaries. Recently published ESRI research shows that welfare payments and other social transfers lifted almost 40% of the population out of at-risk-of-poverty in 2011, which equates to a reduction of 71% in the pre-social transfer poverty rate. Over time, the effectiveness of social transfers in lifting people of poverty has increased from 53 per cent in 2004 to 71 per cent by 2011. As a result, Ireland is among the best performing countries in the EU in reducing poverty through social transfers. This reflects the continuation of substantial State investment in the social protection system, despite the constraints of the economic and fiscal crisis.

Another key intervention in tackling poverty is to reduce unemployment, especially among jobless households. The latest unemployment figures show a decrease in the unemployment rate from 13.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 to 12.8 per cent in the third quarter – the sixth consecutive fall and a sign of the steady progress being made. I particularly note the fact that long-term unemployment has reduced from 8.9 to 7.6 per cent over this period.

There remains a great challenge to meet the national social target for poverty reduction. The Government is committed to growing the economy and to creating new employment opportunities. At the same time, we have to ensure that the most vulnerable in society, notably jobless households and children, are enabled to benefit from economic recovery through activation programmes and services. I am confident that the delivery of targeted policies across Government departments will lead to future progress on the national social target.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (328)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

328. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if an oral hearing will be provided on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5160/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 9 January 2014, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. The Appeals Officer has been notified of your request for an oral hearing. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (329)

John McGuinness

Question:

329. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if domiciliary care allowance will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; if the appeal will be expedited; and if an oral hearing will be arranged. [5164/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 8th November 2013. This application was referred to one of the Department’s Medical Assessors whose opinion was that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on the 5th December 2013 advising of the decision to disallow the application.

The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision. As part of the appeal process, the case has been forwarded to another of the Department’s Medical Assessors for further consideration, including a review of any new information supplied. Upon receipt of the Medical Assessor’s opinion, the case will be further examined and if necessary forwarded for consideration by the Appeals Office. An oral hearing will be arranged by the Appeals Office if it is considered necessary.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (330)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

330. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5185/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, has partially allowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision. 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 in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Community Employment Schemes Data

Questions (331)

Joe Higgins

Question:

331. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Social Protection the action an employer may take at an organisation where community employment workers are employed (details supplied) if overtures are made to the CE workers by a representative of another organisation to switch their CE placement to that organisation. [5195/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The community employment scheme (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis. In this way local organizations help to develop their areas by sponsoring projects and at the same time enabling unemployed people to re-enter the open labour market, by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine while enhancing both their technical and personal skills.

Some CE schemes provide participants to various suitable community sub groups. These sub groups are required to be of charitable status and to be non-profit making organisations. Furthermore, confirmation is required that there has been no displacement of previously employed persons who were previously engaged in the proposed work.

All participants are the employees of the Project Sponsors who are directly responsible and accountable to this Department for the participants’ work experience, placement and training. The Department are contracted to the Sponsor Group only and engage with the Sponsor Group on a regular basis, regarding monitoring the programme.

It is not within the remit of the Department to engage directly with sub groups who have local arrangements with the Sponsor and do not have a contract with the Department; the only engagement by the Department on this basis is to ensure that the sub groups are not commercial entities and that there is no displacement of paid employment due to the placement of CE participants with a particular sub group.

Any organisation that meets these requirements can approach any CE scheme to request facilitation of CE places for its service. However, it would not be appropriate for the Department to make representations on behalf of any group or organisation; it would be the responsibility of the organisation to contact relevant schemes directly.

Carecall is one of the community groups that avail of CE participant places from the Network 15 CE Scheme, at the discretion and by agreement with Network 15 Sponsoring Group. However Carecall do not have a dedicated CE scheme and are therefore a subgroup of the main sponsors. At present there are three participants allocated to Carecall. Participants can if desired apply for a transfer to any other scheme for any advertised CE vacancy. Movement across schemes is often relevant to provide the participants with varied work experience opportunities. However, on examining records, the three participants currently based in Carecall have not applied for any CE transfers.

Furthermore, I can confirm that no existing CE schemes have received applications from the persons referred to in the question requesting the allocation of CE participants to this new service. I can also confirm that my Department have not received any request from these parties or related parties to apply for a dedicated CE Scheme to support the service referred to in the question.