Child Benefit Appeals

Questions (349)

Pat Breen

Question:

349. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a child benefit appeal will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20992/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was received in that office on 24 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.

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Question No. 351 withdrawn.

Questions (350)

Pat Breen

Question:

350. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a carer's allowance appeal will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20995/14]

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 20 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.

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Question No. 351 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (352)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

352. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a one-parent family appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21014/14]

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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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Question No. 354 withdrawn.

Questions (353)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

353. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for domiciliary care allowance in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Cork. [21016/14]

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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.

Question No. 354 withdrawn.

Pension Provisions

Questions (355)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

355. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made regarding the payment of pensions to the Waterford Crystal workers in view of the fact the court of justice of the European Union has made a ruling on this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21022/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am not in a position to comment on individual schemes.

Given this matter remains before the courts it would not be appropriate that I comment further on the issue you have raised or any specific aspects of the case at this time. However, I can advise that this case will be heard in Court in late autumn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Questions (356)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

356. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in the payment of social welfare payments and pensions on 1 and 2 May 2014; if her Department had been made aware of the issues surrounding the single euro payments area and advised to make payments for the previous working day to ensure clients were not inconvenienced; the reason they do not follow this course of action; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21023/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO) advised that Thursday 1 May 2014 was a bank holiday in most euro area/EU countries and, as a result, the Euro payments clearing and settlement system would be closed. This meant that all Euro electronic payments due to be processed on Thursday 1 May would not be credited to accounts until Friday 2 May. IPSO encouraged business and consumers to make payments one day earlier on Wednesday 30 April.

Accordingly, the Department of Social Protection brought all social welfare payments due to be paid via electronic funds transfers to its customers which were due on Thursday 1 May forward to Wednesday 30 April. All customers due an EFT payment to an account in financial institution on Thursday 1 May received payment on Wednesday 30 of April.

I want to emphasise that IPSO did not advise my department to bring forward payments due on Friday 2 May to Wednesday 30 April. IPSO did advise my department that there would be a "slight delay" to payments on Friday 2 May as a result of the closure of the settlement system a day earlier. IPSO also advised my department that payments would begin arriving in accounts from early morning. This department placed notices for customers and staff to this effect on its website.

It is very disappointing that despite advices from IPSO that there would be a "slight delay" with EFT payments on Friday 2 May, many of my department's customers and staff experienced substantial delays in receiving their social welfare payments and salary payments on Friday 2 May.

I want to emphasise that my department transferred the necessary payment files to its banking provider well in advance of the required timeline to ensure prompt payments to its customers and staff on that date.

As part of putting in place measures to ensure my department’s customers and staff will not experience any other delays in our payments around future bank holidays my department require an understanding as to what exactly happened in the inter-bank payment system on Friday 2 May which gave rise to the significant payment delays that occurred on that day. The department has written to the Chief Executive Officer of IPSO seeking a clear outline of the reasons for the delays across the payment services of financial institutions on 2 May last.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (357)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

357. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21026/14]

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 19 March 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.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Questions (358, 363, 379, 387, 388, 394, 397, 401)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

358. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when the caps on rent supplements will be reviewed; if she will provide an update on the number of counties currently utilising the housing assistance payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21055/14]

View answer

Dessie Ellis

Question:

363. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of increasing numbers at risk of homelessness due to rising rents, if she has issued instructions to community welfare officers to use their discretion to breach rent supplement caps in the case where a recipient is at risk of losing their home, if she has not, if she will do so immediately; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21105/14]

View answer

Michael Lowry

Question:

379. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will increase rent supplement levels to reflect the real and rising level of rents across the country; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of families are being made homeless on a weekly basis as they cannot access rented accommodation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21276/14]

View answer

Tom Fleming

Question:

387. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the rent supplement levels for families and ensure that they reflect the cost of rents that have increased rapidly across the country (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21336/14]

View answer

Jim Daly

Question:

388. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection her views regarding the current rates of rent supplement payment (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21339/14]

View answer

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

394. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will reverse the decision to reduce rent supplement to families who are experiencing great difficulty while on council waiting lists and cannot afford to meet the increasing rents being imposed by landlords, which is resulting in families being accommodated in hotels at very high cost to the State. [21415/14]

View answer

Billy Timmins

Question:

397. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding increasing rent supplement for families in order that they reflect rents and that families can hold on to their homes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21439/14]

View answer

Terence Flanagan

Question:

401. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to increase the rate of rent allowance (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21450/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 358, 363, 379, 387, 388, 394, 397 and 401 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources. 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 77,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014.

The Department continues to monitor trends in the private rental market to determine the impact on rent supplement recipients. Following the most recent review of the private rental market revised maximum rent limits were introduced from Monday 17 June 2013 until 31 December 2014. Despite the overall pressures on the social protection budget, there were increases in the rent limits in Dublin, Galway, North Kildare and Bray areas.

Any further changes to the rent limits would have to be considered in a budgetary context. A full rent limit review will be commenced shortly and will be completed in time to feed into the budgetary process.

All prospective tenants, including those seeking to access rent supplement, are now finding it increasingly difficult to secure appropriate accommodation due to the reduced availability of rental properties. The market shows no sign of reaching its equilibrium and increasing the maximum rent limits for rent supplement will not resolve the current difficulties due to the reduced level of supply, and would result in further increases in rental costs for all persons renting including those on reduced incomes and students.

The Community Welfare Services, including through its work in the Homeless Persons Unit and the Asylum Seekers & New Communities Unit, works closely with local authorities and other stakeholders to facilitate homeless persons to access private rented accommodation. This ensures that where possible, people are diverted away from homeless services and towards community-based supports. Department officials have discretionary powers to award a supplement where it appears that the circumstances of the case so warrant and is of an exceptional nature.

In addition and in view of the current supply difficulties, the Dublin local authorities are currently engaging with the Department in finalising a further interagency intervention system to identify vulnerable families who are in receipt of rent supplement and at risk of becoming homeless due to the imminent loss of their tenancy to ensure that the necessary supports can be put in place. These cases will be assessed on an individual basis having regard to the individual circumstances and families requiring additional support will receive the necessary assistance, financial or otherwise.

The Department is represented on the Homelessness Implementation Team, chaired by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, which will ensure greater integration between the key agencies involved in the area of homelessness as recommended by the First Report of the Homelessness Oversight Group.

The Department's strategic policy direction is to return rent supplement to its original purpose of a short term income support. In July 2013 the Government approved the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). Under HAP, responsibility for recipients of rent supplement with a long-term housing need will transfer from the Department of Social Protection to local authorities. Officials in the Department are working closely with those in the lead Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, in piloting HAP in Limerick City and County Council with further roll out to a further six selected local authorities during the year.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (359)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

359. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date in respect of determination of appeal for carer's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21059/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

A child under 16 years is deemed medically eligible for carer's allowance when domiciliary care allowance is in payment for that child. Once the child reaches 16 years of age and entitlement to domiciliary care allowance ceases, a review of the continuing entitlement to carer’s allowance is undertaken as medical eligibility is no longer automatically satisfied and must be confirmed. This resulted in a review in this case. Following that review carer’s allowance was stopped on 20th November 2013 in respect of the care recipient in question as it was decided that the medical criteria were no longer satisfied.

The person in question submitted additional medical evidence in support of their application. This evidence was reviewed but the decision remained unchanged. The person in question was notified of this decision on the 23rd January 2014 the reason for it and of her right of appeal. The person concerned has appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. An appeals submission will be prepared and the file and papers will be referred to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination as soon as possible.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (360)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

360. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue in respect of recent oral hearing concerning eligibility for carer's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21061/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 8 April 2014 and that the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all of the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing and it is expected that a decision on the appeal will issue to the person concerned within the next week.

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 (361)

Tom Fleming

Question:

361. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21076/14]

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 16 April 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.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Question No. 363 answered with Question No. 358.

Questions (362)

Jack Wall

Question:

362. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21081/14]

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.

Question No. 363 answered with Question No. 358.

Job Initiatives

Questions (364)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

364. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the threat to the 42 JL workers and two supervisors currently employed by the D12 Congress Centre; if she will work to ensure that a new sponsor is identified as soon as possible to ensure these jobs are not permanently lost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21110/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

This Department funds the Dublin 12 job initiative (JI) scheme which currently has 44 participants and 2 Team Leaders. These participants are placed in various community facilities in the Crumlin, Walkinstown and Drimnagh.

On 4 April 2014, the Dublin 12 Congress Centre as sponsors officially informed the Department that they did not wish to renew their sponsorship of the JI scheme, and they requested that the Department source an alternative host sponsor for the project. Departmental officials are currently in confidential discussions with two organisations who have stated that they are prepared to sponsor this scheme, and it is expected that these discussions will be concluded in the near future. In the meantime, the current sponsors have assured Departmental officials that they will continue to employ all of those involved until such time as a new sponsor is in place.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (365, 366)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

365. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of the underspend by her Department for 2013; the amount returned to the Exchequer; and the amount that was re-allocated and to which other Departments. [21127/14]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

366. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of the underspend by her Department against its projected spending this year to date; if it has been allocated to other Departments; and if so the amount and to which Departments. [21128/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 365 and 366 together.

The overall expenditure of the Department of Social Protection in 2013 was just under €20,237.5 million (provisional out-turn) or €6 million less than provided for in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2013. PRSI income in 2013 was €7,303m (provisional out-turn) or €203 million ahead of profile.

The Budget Day Estimates published last October provided for expenditure of €19,649.5 million in 2014. This subsequently reduced to €19,603.5 million in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2014. The allocation of monies generally to other Votes is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Overall expenditure to end of April 2014 is €6,548 million. This is €9 million ahead of profile. It should, however, be noted that expenditure to end April includes €40 million of expenditure on payments to welfare recipients which was brought forward which from May 1 to April 30. This initiative was taken in order to ensure that there was no delay in the payment of certain welfare payments arising from the closure of the European Clearing and Settlement System (TARGET2) on the May Bank Holiday (in certain EU countries) on 1st May 2014. There have been no changes to the allocation for 2014 since the publication of the Revised Estimates Volume.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Question No. 368 answered with Question No. 348.

Questions (367)

Willie Penrose

Question:

367. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a social welfare appeal hearing in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath regarding the refusal of a claim for disability allowance due to a re-classification of a research grant, which is being classified by the deciding officer as income in the hand of the recipient rather than expenses to enable them to continue their research; if this appeal can now be expedited due to the impact it is having upon this person’s ability to complete their educational qualification as part of a rehabilitation process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21135/14]

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 partially allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer's decision in writing on 8 May 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. 368 answered with Question No. 348.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (369)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

369. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a non-contributory pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21183/14]

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 29 April 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.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (370)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

370. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding 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. [21184/14]

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 disallow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer's decision in writing on 7 May 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.

Carer's Benefit Eligibility

Questions (371)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

371. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection further to correspondence dated 10 March 2014, if she will make an exemption to the employment condition in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21193/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The department received an application for carer’s benefit from the person in question on 6 December 2013. The person concerned was refused carer's benefit on the grounds that PRSI conditions and employment conditions were not satisfied as laid down in carer’s benefit legislation. She was notified of this decision on 31 January 2014.

The decision was subsequently reviewed and the date of application was back-dated to the date the department received an application for carer’s allowance i.e. 22December 2011. This back-dating meant that the PRSI condition was satisfied. However the employment condition that the applicant should be engaged in remunerative full-time employment as an employed contributor for not less than 8 weeks in the 26 week period prior to claiming carer's benefit was still not satisfied. The person concerned was notified of this decision on the 10 February 2014, the reason for it and of her right of appeal.

There is no period from 2011 where the person concerned satisfies both the employment and the PRSI conditions. The conditions for receipt of carer's benefit are statutorily based and therefore there is no scope for discretion to be applied. I regret to inform you that it is not possible for an exemption to be made.