Legislative Programme

Questions (333)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

333. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when he will publish the draft scheme and the regulatory impact assessment of the workplace relations Bill. [22266/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Workplace Relations Bill. As the Deputy may be aware, the ongoing programme which I have initiated to reform the State’s employment rights and industrial relations structures is at an advanced stage. This reform programme will result in the establishment of a new two-tier Workplace Relations structure comprising two statutorily independent bodies replacing the current five. We will have a new single body of first instance to be called the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and a separate appeals body, which will effectively be an expanded Labour Court.

A significant amount of work has been completed on the preparation of the legislation which will give statutory effect to the new structures and associated processes. In July 2012, I published a policy document – Legislating for a World Class Workplace Relations Service - which was submitted to the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in order to give the Committee an early opportunity to shape the legislation. I had a constructive dialogue with the Committee on the basis of this document.

The Draft Scheme of the Workplace Relations Bill has been approved by Government for priority drafting. The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel has assigned resources to ensure the earliest possible publication of the Bill and drafting is at an advanced stage. My intention is to publish the Bill during the Spring/Summer Dail session 2014 with a view to having the new structures in place during 2014.

The legislation will provide for the services of the Equality Tribunal, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Labour Relations Commission and the first instance functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) to come together under the remit of the Workplace Relations Commission. The appellate functions of the EAT will be amalgamated into a reconfigured Labour Court.

A Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) in relation to the Workplace Relations Bill was prepared by my Department in July 2012 and was included in the Memorandum for Government submitted to Cabinet on 24 July 2012 seeking approval for priority drafting of the Bill. It has been brought to my attention that due to an oversight this RIA was not on my Departments website in the intervening period. However, this matter has now been rectified and the RIA has been published on my Department’s website (www.djei.ie) and is available to be downloaded at the following link: http://www.djei.ie/publications/ria/2012RIAWorkplaceRelationsBill.pdf.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (334)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

334. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the amount of foreign direct investment in Industrial Development Agency Ireland supported companies in the cities and counties of Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway and in counties Laois and Offaly in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012; if IDA has met its Horizon 2020 strategy aims in terms of regional development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22411/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I am informed by IDA Ireland that in the three year period 2010 to 2012 inclusive, IDA Ireland has paid a total of €221,920,153 in grant aid to its client companies in the cities and counties of Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway and in counties Laois and Offaly. Detail of the amounts paid in respect of each county in respect of each of the years 200, 2011 and 2012 are set out in the attached tabular statement.

The IDA Ireland Strategy for the period 2010 to 2014, “Horizon 2020”, set an ambitious regional economic development target of 50% of investments in regions outside Dublin and Cork and this has proven to be a challenge. During the period 2010 to 2013, approximately 35% of all FDI announcements were in locations outside of Dublin and Cork, while 40% of all FDI site visits by potential investors were to locations outside of Dublin and Cork. In terms of IDA supported job numbers, the latest figures to hand which are contained in the Forfás Annual Employment Survey, 2013 show that 72,500 people, roughly 44% of the total employment in IDA Ireland’s base of companies including those that were former clients of Shannon Development, are located outside of Dublin and Cork.

It must be acknowledged that some regional locations outside of Dublin and the main urban centres already facilitate the presence of a large number of multinational companies who have invested over the years, span multiple sectors and employ significant amounts of people. The primary opportunity for regional locations is in respect of the existing client base and potential further investment opportunities from same. Approximately 70% of all FDI investments won by IDA Ireland is from the existing client base.

Under the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are working with my Department to develop a framework for a Regional Enterprise Strategy to better integrate the efforts of enterprise agencies and the other regional stakeholders in building enterprise based on sustainable competitive advantage of the region. This exercise will complement the in-depth analysis of our FDI strategy which is currently being undertaken by Forfás and which will take account of factors such as key trends emerging in FDI best practice internationally, Ireland’s strengths in attracting FDI and any changes to the EU’s State Aid Rules, which will come into effect on 1st July, 2014. The results of these two exercises will form the basis of IDA Ireland’s strategy from 2015 onwards.

Table showing IDA Ireland grant payments to its client companies in the cities and counties of Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway and in counties Laois and Offaly in each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012

-

2010

2011

2012

Total

Cork (city and county )

€20,119,751

€15,092,610

€14,308,619

€49,520,980

Dublin (city and county )

€46,420,938

€43,043,936

€22,156,125

€111,620,999

Galway (city and county )

€9,448,677

€14,107,397

€12,252,609

€35,808,683

Limerick (city and county )

€5,104,862

€7,801,591

€11,209,462

24,115,915

Laois

€274,324

€21,182

€0

€295,506

Offaly

€211,870

€338,200

€8,000

€558,070

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (335)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

335. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to ensure that the business development manager grant for local small businesses and enterprise centres will be continued in 2015. [22425/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I have been informed by Enterprise Ireland that since the launch of the first Community Enterprise Centre scheme in 1989, €64 million has been approved by Enterprise Ireland for the development of Community Enterprise Centres across the country. Many centres were developed in areas of low employment and population, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, Local Development Groups and other local organisations. In January 2012, Enterprise Ireland introduced a €2m fund to support the appointment of Business Development Managers to sustain and scale up tenants and employment numbers within Community Enterprise Centres that were previously funded by Enterprise Ireland. At present, there are 46 Business Development Managers in the network of centres, which have been supported by Enterprise Ireland under the 2012 Community Enterprise Centre Business Development Manager Scheme.

I am aware that Enterprise Ireland is reviewing the Business Development Managers Scheme and I expect them to report back to me shortly on this matter.

Examinership Arrangements

Questions (336)

John McGuinness

Question:

336. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of firms and the number of small and medium enterprises that have availed of the new examinership arrangements through the Circuit Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22528/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Amendments to the Circuit Court Rules are required to allow small private companies to apply directly to the Circuit Court to have an examiner appointed. These Circuit Court Rules are currently being finalised and will be the subject of an Order by the Minister for Justice shortly, with an operational date to apply some four weeks from the date of signing.

Upon the signing by the Minister for Justice of the Order in question, I will make an Order commencing Section 2 of the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 with an operational date to coincide with the date of applicability of the Circuit Court Rules.

Small private companies can avail of the new examinership arrangements from the operational date of the Orders in question.

Employment Rights

Questions (337)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

337. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if a person working 15 hours per week while in receipt of carer's leave-benefit is entitled to payment for public holidays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22552/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Under Section 13(3) of the Carer’s Leave Act 2001, during an absence on carer’s leave, an employee can benefit from public holiday entitlements for the first 13 weeks of the leave. This entitlement is not conditional on the employee having worked during those 13 weeks.

After the 13-week period referred to in Section 13(3) of the Carer’s Leave Act, the general rules regarding public holidays, set out in Sections 21 and 22 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, apply to employees on Carer’s Leave. Section 21(4) of the 1997 Act provides that a part-time employee must have worked at least 40 hours for their employer during the 5-week period ending on the day before the public holiday to qualify for the public holiday entitlement.

Public holiday entitlement can take the form of whichever of the following the employer determines:

(a) A paid day off on the public holiday (if the public holiday falls on a day that the employee normally works)

(b) A paid day off within a month of that day

(c) An additional day of annual leave

(d) An additional day’s pay

Calculation of pay for public holiday entitlement is determined by S.I. No. 475/1997 – Organisation of Working Time (Determination of Pay for Holidays) Regulations 1997.

Employment Rights

Questions (338)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

338. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will address the concerns expressed in correspondence (details supplied) regarding sick leave and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22586/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

As the Deputy will appreciate, I cannot provide legal advice in relation to the employment rights applying to any employee’s specific circumstances. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any concerns an employee may have about their situation. The employee concerned will then be in a position to assess the range of remedies that may be available either under the common law, statute law or otherwise through negotiation or mediation, for example. General information (but not legal advice) on employment rights is available from the Workplace Relations Customer Service (website www.workplacerelations.ie).

In relation to legislation administered by my Department, the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 provides that information on provisions regarding any terms or conditions relating to an employee’s incapacity for work due to sickness or injury and paid sick leave should be included in a written statement of an employee’s terms and conditions of employment.

The Industrial Relations Act 1990 Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (Declaration) Order 2000 provides guidance to employers, employees and their representatives on the general principles which apply in the operation of grievance and disciplinary procedures. Any procedures for dealing with such issues must comply with the general principles of natural justice and fair procedures. A useful guide to the Code is available at the following link:

http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Good_Workplace_Relations/Grievance_and_Disciplinary_Procedures/ .

The Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 lay down criteria by which the fairness or otherwise of dismissals are adjudicated upon. While the Acts provide for some potentially fair reasons for dismissal, the onus is generally on the employer to show that there were substantial grounds justifying the dismissal. Each case is adjudicated upon on its merits and the facts of the case.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011 may also be of particular interest to the employee concerned. The Acts, which are administered by my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, deal with discrimination (including discriminatory dismissal) related to nine grounds. Complaints of discrimination in employment under the Employment Equality Acts are dealt with by the Equality Tribunal.

The Equality Authority (which is a separate body to the Equality Tribunal) has a general remit to promote equality under Employment Equality law, and it may be in a position to provide the employee in question with more specific information on their situation (website www.equality.ie) or Phone 1890 245 545.

She may also wish to contact the Workplace Relations Customer Service on 1890 80 8090.

Labour Court Recommendations

Questions (339)

Willie Penrose

Question:

339. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the reason a Labour Court recommendation, which recommended that persons receive the same cessation payments as workshop manager is being not applied in accordance with the said recommendation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22666/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I regret that it is not possible to answer the Deputy’s question in the absence of details of the specific Labour Court recommendation referred to or the workshop involved in the dispute.

As the Deputy has indicated to my Department that he will provide further details I will further consider the issues raised on receipt.

Microenterprise Loan Fund Applications

Questions (340)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

340. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will deal with the following matter (details supplied) regarding financial help; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22738/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Anyone interested in starting their own business should in the first instance contact their Local Enterprise Office (LEO). The LEOs support the indigenous micro-enterprise sector in the start-up and expansion phases and stimulate enterprise potential at local level. They are the first port of call in terms of advice, direction, training and grant support for anyone who wishes to start or expand a business.

The LEOs are required to give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector, which over time can develop into strong export entities and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio.

In addition, any start-up can use the LEOs as a gateway to accessing finance from Micro Finance Ireland, which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start-up, newly established or growing microenterprises employing less than 10 people with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. The Fund has a significant entrepreneurship focus and is open to anyone with a viable business proposal. Applications for the Microfinance Fund should be channelled through the local LEO.

Also, locally trading businesses, including start-ups, can avail of non-financial assistance from their LEO in the form of a wide range of business advice and information services, management capability training and development programmes, e-Commerce training initiatives etc. Training courses include such topics as internet marketing, ideas generation and negotiation skills.

Contact details for LEO Dublin City are: Local Enterprise Office Dublin City, 5th Floor, O’Connell Bridge House, D’Olier Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 6351144.

Email: info@leo.dublincity.ie.

Work Permit Applications

Questions (341)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

341. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the timeframe a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 has been employed in the country with or without a work permit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22789/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

An application in respect of the person named by the Deputy was refused by my Department on 11th April 2014 for the following reasons. It appeared from the information received supporting the application that the position on offer was one of the occupations currently ineligible for a new employment permit. In addition it appeared that insufficient efforts were made to recruit an Irish or EEA/Swiss National for this position by advertising with DSP Employment Services/EURES and also in national or local newspapers or on a job website (other than DSP). Finally, the level of remuneration offered in respect of a post for which a permit was sought was less than the minimum remuneration of €30,000 per annum required.

It was open to the applicant in this case to request that this decision be reviewed in accordance with Section 13 of the Employment Permits Act, 2006, within the prescribed timeframe of twenty one days of the date of the refusal letter. An appeal was received by my Department after the expiration of the prescribed timeframe. In light of these developments there is no further action that my Department can take with regard to this application.

Company Closures

Questions (342, 343)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

342. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details of the auction of equipment and stock at Lufthansa Technic in County Dublin which took place in May following the closure of the plants and compulsory redundancy of the staff. [22989/14]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

343. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details of all state aid and support provided to Lufthansa Technic in County Dublin since the plant opened; and if the State will be reimbursed for any of this aid from the auction of equipment and stock that took place this month. [22990/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 342 and 343 together.

The contents of the former Lufthansa Technik plant at Rathcoole, County Dublin are the property of the owners and neither my Department nor the IDA had any stake or involvement in this recent sale of that equipment. Accordingly, as this disposal and consequent dispersal of material was solely a matter for the company, it was a private commercial transaction, in respect of which the State had no role.

Since its establishment in 1980, Lufthansa Technic received payments totalling €10,746,827 in grant assistance from IDA Ireland over that 34 year period. The company complied with the grant liability process attaching to the grants they received and did not owe any monies at the time of the announcement of the closure of the Rathcoole site.

There are currently 60 people working on site and this will be reduced over the next 6 weeks to full closure at the end of next month. This closure is very much regretted. Every effort was made by the State to safeguard this operation, including by myself personally and through intensive engagement by the IDA, but the decision to close was a commercial decision by the parent company, in light of the difficult global business environment they were facing.

Work Permit Applications

Questions (344)

John O'Mahony

Question:

344. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the reason an application for a work permit was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23115/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Between October 2011 and August 2012 an employer submitted six work permit applications in respect of the person named by the Deputy. In each instance the applications were returned as the application form itself was not properly completed or there was supporting documentation outstanding. There is no record in my Department of a current work permit application in respect of this person.

Job Creation Data

Questions (345)

Dara Calleary

Question:

345. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will outline the Industrial Development Agency Ireland plans for Castlebar; if it has initiated a feasibility study for future investment in the town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23267/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Through its range of overseas offices IDA Ireland markets Castlebar for inward investment as part of the West Region, which consists of Counties Mayo and Galway.

There are 78 IDA Ireland supported companies in the West Region, employing 17,000 people, of which 18 companies are located in County Mayo and employ over 3,700 people, mainly in the medical technologies and pharmaceutical sectors.

IDA Ireland is committed to supporting the growth and development of the West Region by working with the existing client base to retain jobs regionally and marketing to overseas clients in order to secure new Greenfield investment. IDA works closely with Enterprise Ireland to look at ways of positioning and strengthening the West Region for investment and is very keen to work with all stakeholders in the Region to enhance the region’s offering.

The IDA Business & Technology Park in Castlebar is situated on 10.85 ha (approx. 27 acre) site, of which 4.88 ha (approx. 12 acres) is currently available for investment projects. IDA Ireland also partners with the private sector to market suitable buildings as property solutions to potential foreign investors and has been actively marketing the former APC premises, which offers 75,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space on a 5.3 acre site.

Under the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are working with my Department to develop a framework for a Regional Enterprise Strategy to better integrate the efforts of enterprise agencies and the other regional stakeholders in building enterprise based on sustainable competitive advantage of the region. This exercise will complement the in-depth analysis of our FDI strategy which is currently being undertaken by Forfás and which will take account of factors such as key trends emerging in FDI best practice internationally, Ireland’s strengths in attracting FDI and any changes to the EU’s State Aid Rules, which will come into effect on 1st July, 2014. The results of these two exercises will form the basis of IDA Ireland’s strategy from 2015 onwards.

Free Travel Scheme Review

Questions (346)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

346. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will make an exemption to the cap on the payment of the free travel scheme to bus companies operating new routes and, in particular, the bus route from Buncrana to Derry by a new bus operator, following the closure of the Lough Swilly bus company, in order that pensioners and those qualifying for the free travel scheme do not have to pay on this route; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22293/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by almost 90 private transport operators. There are currently over 780,000 people in receipt of free travel.

Funding for the free travel scheme was capped by the previous Government as outlined in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014. To implement this funding cap during a time in which passenger numbers have been increasing each year the Department has had to impose a freeze on the amounts paid to companies and a complete restriction on the admittance of new companies or routes to the scheme. This has included new companies taking over previously extant routes.

Given the increasing number of recipients and the funding pressures, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and I established a working group with representatives from the two Departments, as well as the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Transport Authority to review the free travel scheme. The purpose of this review is to examine and report on the current operation and future development of the free travel scheme.

I appreciate the importance of the scheme to customers, particularly pensioners. I am aware of the closure of Lough Swilly Bus Company and the implications for travel pass holders in that area. My officials have had discussions with the National Transport Authority on this and other matters of concern to the scheme in the context of the review of the scheme. The work of this group is expected to conclude shortly.

Registration of Births

Questions (347)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

347. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the registration of children who are stillborn (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23228/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The loss of a child in any circumstances is an extremely tragic event and I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to those families who have lost a child. The voluntary registration of stillbirths is provided for in section 28 of the Civil Registration Act 2004. The definition of a “stillborn child” is contained in section 2(1) of that Act and provides that a stillborn child means a child who, at birth, weighs not less than 500 grammes or has a gestational age of not less than 24 weeks and shows no sign of life.

Registration of stillbirths was first provided for in the Stillbirths Registration Act 1994. The definition of a stillbirth contained in that Act was carried forward to the 2004 Act.

When the 1994 Act was passed by the Oireachtas, detailed consideration was given as to what the most appropriate definition of a stillbirth should be. The position varies from country to country. Some countries use gestational age only, while others use weight, or a combination of both.

Currently, there are no plans to amend the definition of stillbirth as provided for in the 2004 Act.

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Questions (348, 378, 406, 410, 425)

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

348. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the increases in rents that have taken place in recent months, if she will consider revising the levels of rent supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22123/14]

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Derek Nolan

Question:

378. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection if there will be more regular increases for families or persons on rent supplement to keep their payment in line with the more regular increases in rents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22387/14]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

406. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will increase the levels of rent supplement for families to reflect the real level of rents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22631/14]

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Damien English

Question:

410. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of recent residential rental price increases reported, her plans to reflect such increases that those in receipt of rent supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22649/14]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

425. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of times Article 38 was notated in the remarks field on ISTS system from 2009 to 2014 broken down by year and where possible, the categories or payments to which discretion was applied; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22759/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 348, 378, 406, 410 and 425 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 finding it increasingly difficult to secure appropriate accommodation due to the reduced availability of rental properties. 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.

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.

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. The Department does not maintain statistics on the information requested by the Deputy in relation to the use of discretion under Article 38.

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.