Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (132)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

132. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the decision to discontinue the payment of dietary allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15488/14]

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.

Household Benefits Scheme

Questions (133)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

133. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to reinstate the telephone allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15502/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The monthly allowances under the household benefits package are a contribution towards the cost of services; they are not intended to meet those costs in full. The telephone allowance was introduced at a time when telephones were expensive and uncommon and a landline service was the only option available to the client. The market has changed considerably since the introduction of the allowance, with several companies providing a range of services and rates with bundled services including television, telephone, broadband and pay-as-you-go mobiles. In addition, the cost of the telephone allowance scheme has risen each year with the number of eligible clients also increasing significantly. In 2007 there were some 316,000 people receiving the telephone allowance compared with almost 396,000 at the end of September 2013, an increase of 25%. Each year almost 10,000 extra clients became eligible for the allowance because of the increased number of pension recipients.

The overall concern of the Government in recent budgets has been to protect the primary weekly social welfare rates. Maintaining the rate of the State pension and other core payments is key in protecting people from poverty. To allow us to preserve these core payments, we have had to look very carefully at other additional payments. Accordingly, the telephone allowance was abolished from 1 January 2014. I am not in a position to reinstate the allowance.

I am keenly aware of the impact on the Department's clients and particularly those who are living alone. In Budget 2014, I was able to maintain the rate of the living alone allowance at €7.70 per week. While the decision to abolish the telephone allowance was a difficult one, it allowed my Department to fully maintain the other elements of the household benefits package, such as the free electricity/gas allowance and the free television licence. These are very valuable supports for clients. We have also maintained the value of the fuel allowance and free travel.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Questions (134, 140)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

134. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection if the refusal of some landlords to accept a rent supplement as payment is legally permissible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15504/14]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

140. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of expenditure incurred by her Department in respect of rent supplement in Dublin 3, 5, 13 and 17 in the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, and to date in 2014. [15580/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 140 together.

The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short-term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently approximately 78,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014.

Under the legislative provisions governing rent supplement, the Department's relationship is with the tenant. Rent supplement is specifically for the benefit of tenants to assist them with their accommodation needs. The tenant's engagement with the Department usually takes place after the tenant has reached an agreement with the landlord. There is no contractual relationship established between the landlord and the Department.

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2011, prohibit discrimination in the provision of services that are generally available to the public whether provided by the state or the private sector including lettings and accommodation. There are nine grounds prohibiting discrimination namely - gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, race, disability and membership of the Traveller community. Refusal by landlords to accept tenants, including those in receipt of rent supplement, under any of these grounds would be in breach of the equality legislation.

The fact that approximately 78,000 people are currently in receipt of rent supplement proves that a significant number of landlords are accommodating applicants of the scheme and that rent supplement recipients are able to access accommodation.

A breakdown of rent supplement expenditure in Dublin by postal code is not available.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Questions (135)

Dan Neville

Question:

135. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding jobseeker's allowance in resect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15524/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned changed address and the file was forwarded to a social welfare inspector for investigation as a new means assessment had to be carried out. The inspector's investigation is now complete, file papers have been forwarded to the Limerick Intreo office for decision and the person will be notified of the outcome of the application as soon as possible.

Community Welfare Services Provision

Questions (136)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appointment to see a community welfare officer can be facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15562/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of basic supplementary welfare allowance of €186 per week. If he wishes to make an appointment with a designated officer he should ring 1800 383 800 and his call will be returned within one working day.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (137)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

137. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date in respect of an appeal for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15567/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 13 June 2012 and her claim was refused on 13 September 2012 as a deciding officer decided that she failed to satisfy the medical conditions for receipt of the allowance. The person subsequently appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. On 6 March 2014 the Social Welfare Appeals Office notified the person that the appeal on medical grounds was allowed and advised the person that subject to a means test that she may qualify for disability allowance.

In order to establish the person's means, the deciding officer has recently written to the person requesting additional information not already supplied. A decision will be made upon the receipt of the requested information and the person will be notified directly of the outcome.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Question No. 139 withdrawn

Questions (138)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

138. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date in respect of appeal for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15568/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a disability allowance appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 24th March 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 papers 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.

I am advised by the appeals office that, in addition to his disability allowance appeal, the person concerned also registered an invalidity pension appeal with that office on 9th December 2013. The invalidity pension appeal was referred to an Appeals Officer on 28th March 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.

Question No. 139 withdrawn.