State Pension (Contributory) Expenditure

Questions (301)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

301. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the annual saving being achieved in 2014 arising from the reduction in payment of State pension to persons who do not have an average of 48 contributions per annum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24104/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The State pension (contributory) is a very valuable benefit. Therefore, with the challenges facing the pension system given increased number of older people living longer, it is important to ensure that those qualifying for State pension (contributory) have made a sustained contribution to the Social Insurance Fund over their working lives.

As provided for in Budget 2012, from September 2012, new rate bands for State pension (contributory) were introduced. These additional payment rate bands more accurately reflect the social insurance history of a person and ensure that those who contribute more during a working life benefit more in retirement than those with lesser contributions.

The exchequer savings arising are estimated to be in the region of €5m for 2014 and €8 million in 2015. However, it is expected that this will increase over time, as the provisions are applied to new pensioners entering the system.

Legislative Measures

Questions (302)

Seán Fleming

Question:

302. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the legislative provisions in respect of her Department that has been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011 but have not come into effect to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24155/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

A number of amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 which have been enacted since 2011 have still to come into effect and these are set out in the table.

Social Welfare Consolidation Act which have still to come into effect.

Provision

Description

Status

Section 7(1) of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011

Provides for an increase in pensionable age for State pension purposes from 66 to 67 years

Comes into operation on 1 January 2021

Section 7(3) of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011

Provides for an increase in pensionable age for State pension purposes from 67 to 68 years

Comes into operation on 1 January 2028

Section 11 of the Social Welfare Act 2011

Provides for a reduction in the weekly income disregards for the purposes of the one-parent family payment

Reduction in weekly income disregard from €90 to €75 comes into effect from 1 January 2015 and further reduction from €75 to €60 comes into effect from 1 January 2016

Section 14 of the Social Welfare Act 2012

Provides for reduction in qualifying age for youngest child for the purposes of one-parent family payment and for associated saving and transitional provisions

Reduction in qualifying age from 10 years to 7 years comes into effect from 3 July 2014.

-

-

Associated saving and transitional provisions to operate until 2 July 2015

Section 13 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013

Provides for the recovery of the value of certain illness-related social welfare payments from compensation awards made to persons as a consequence of personal injuries claims

Expected to come into operation within the next two months

-

Section 14 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013 also provides for a related amendment to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003

Expected to come into operation within the next two months

Youth Employment Initiative

Questions (303)

Micheál Martin

Question:

303. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the programme for Government commitment on youth employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20849/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Government will spend over €500 million in 2014 on employment, education and training opportunities for young people. This will support the gradual implementation of the new Youth Guarantee which will seek to offer young people employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed. As part of the Intreo process young people will be prioritised for case officer support and personal progression planning.The Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan provides for 28,500 programme opportunities for unemployed young people in 2014. This figure excludes some 24,000 places provided for young people through PLC courses and apprenticeships. These PLC and apprenticeship places, together with the wide range of vocational third-level courses provided for the young, although not reserved for unemployed jobseekers, also contribute to the programme. In relation to the 28,500 places for unemployed young people, approximately 5,000 of these were taken up in the first four months of 2014. This is broadly in line with expectations, as some programmes such as the student intake on programmes such as the Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme (VTOS) and Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) are concentrated in September/October in line with the academic calendar. The table supplied displays the total number of under 25s who have started across the various programmes outlined in the Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan in the first four months of 2014. A new intake of young people to the second iteration of the Momentum programme for long-term unemployed jobseekers is also scheduled for later in the year.

A further €2 million of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects funding will be used for future employment of young people at risk of becoming involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour.

In addition, it is important to note that some of the initiatives planned under the guarantee require primary legislation to allow positive discrimination on age grounds in the provision of employment services and supports. This legislation will be enacted as part of the Spring Social Welfare Bill due before the Oireachtas in June. Two employment schemes in particular, the Youth Guarantee developmental internship programme and the JobsPlus variant for young people, are dependent on this legislation being passed. The JobsPlus variant will be available as soon as possible after the relevant legislation has been cleared. The developmental internship which will include a pre-internship training period, will be in place no later than autumn. Passage of the legislation will also permit the introduction of earlier and more intensive engagement by INTREO with the young unemployed.

Under 25 starters on Youth Guarantee programmes, End April 2014

Programme

2014 YTD

Note

Youthreach/CTC

499

Only CTC starters – Youthreach

figures not available for 2014

JobBridge (including planned reserve)

1228

-

Tus

247

-

JobsPlus

362

As of 30th April 2014

Momentum*

13

-

BTEA (excl Momentum)**

Not available

-

BTWEA

61

Including 5 persons on STEA

VTOS

Not available

-

FAS/Solas

2441

Based on SST, Traineeship, Bridging & LTI starters YTD

CEB youth Entrepreneurship

Training and Mentoring supports

Not yet commenced

CEB/MFI micro-loans for young people

Not yet commenced

International Work Experience and Training

Not yet commenced

Gateway

6

-

Community Employment

147

-

Total

5,004

Excluding where figures are not available

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Questions (304)

Finian McGrath

Question:

304. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a cut in jobseeker's payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24171/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

As the person concerned failed to attend a scheduled National Employment Action Plan review meeting on 9th May 2014 with his Case Officer, his weekly rate of jobseeker’s allowance was reduced by €44 with effect from 14th May 2014. When he attended his Intreo Office on 27th May 2014 to enquire about the deduction in his payment, the person concerned informed this Department that he had failed to attend his review meeting because he was attending a course of education; he had not previously informed the Department of this fact. In order that his entitlement to jobseeker’s allowance could be assessed correctly, the person concerned was requested to obtain confirmation of his course start date, content and finish date. Limited details were supplied on 27th May 2014 whereupon he was again requested to provide the relevant details.

His review meeting with his Case Officer was re-scheduled for 3rd June 2014, and following his attendance at this interview the full rate of payment was restored to his jobseeker’s allowance claim with effect from 4th June 2014. He was again requested to provide confirmation of the relevant details of his educational course, and until he furnishes this information his past entitlements, including the imposition of a penalty rate for a short period, cannot be assessed correctly.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Question No. 306 withdrawn.

Questions (305)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

305. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24219/14]

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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 14 May 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. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision when the appeal has been determined.

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. 306 withdrawn.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (307)

Jack Wall

Question:

307. 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. [24224/14]

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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 21st May 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.

Pension Provisions

Question No. 309 answered with Question No. 101.

Question No. 310 answered with Question No. 108.

Questions (308)

Clare Daly

Question:

308. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to protect pensioners in terms of allowing more flexibility to recognise service and pension contributions, in view of the serious undermining of defined benefit schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24116/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I assume the Deputy is referring to the recent changes to the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act, 2013. As I have previously highlighted, a detailed consultation process was undertaken to inform the deliberative process regarding the wind-up priority provision in section 48 of the Pensions Act. This included a Department-sponsored review by Mercer Consultants on the technical aspects of the distribution of assets. This review involved specific consideration of a service-related priority – the principle of which is that those who have contributed the longest should get the most from the scheme on wind-up. The Mercer review was published by the Department (www.welfare.ie ) on the 9th December 2013.

It was acknowledged at that time that, generally speaking, defined benefit schemes by their nature take an employee’s length of service (and by association their contributions) accrued in a pension scheme into account when calculating pension entitlement. It is arguable therefore that this longevity principle is naturally satisfied by the structure of DB schemes.

The principle underlying an additional service tapered approach would be that those who have contributed for longest should get proportionately more out of the scheme in the event of the wind-up of the scheme. However, ‘overlaying’ such a service-related scale could be regarded as overweighting the priority in favour of service or ‘double counting’.

To demonstrate how the service principle works, consider two members of a scheme, one with 30 years’ service completed and one with 15 years’ service completed. Assume the pension formula is 1/60th of pensionable salary per year of service, with both having the same pensionable salary of €30,000 and both being aged 55. The accrued pension of the first member is 30/60ths of €30,000, which is €15,000. The accrued pension of the second member is half this amount, which is €7,500. This example demonstrates that the most appropriate approach has been adopted in the legislation.

Question No. 309 answered with Question No. 101.
Question No. 310 answered with Question No. 108.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions Nos. 312 to 314, inclusive, withdrawn.

Questions (311)

Jack Wall

Question:

311. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24295/14]

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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.

Questions Nos. 312 to 314, inclusive, withdrawn.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Question No. 316 withdrawn.

Questions (315)

John McGuinness

Question:

315. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an invalidity pension appeal will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [24309/14]

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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 12 May 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. 316 withdrawn.

Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Eligibility

Questions (317)

Jack Wall

Question:

317. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a person who is in receipt of partial capacity benefit wishing to take up employment under the wage subsidy scheme; if it is permissible for a person who is in receipt of partial capacity benefit to take up an employment position when the employer is in receipt of wage subsidy scheme for the position; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24318/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Partial capacity benefit (PCB) is a statutory scheme introduced by the Department in 2012 which is open to people who currently are in receipt of illness benefit for a minimum of 6 months or are in receipt of invalidity pension. The objective of the scheme is to support people who acknowledge that they may have capacity to undertake some level of employment and wish to return to the workplace. Under PCB, a person may return to work and continue to receive a payment from the Department. Payment of partial capacity benefit lasts as long as the person has an entitlement to illness benefit or invalidity pension.

On the other hand, the wage subsidy scheme (WSS) is an employer support payable to the employer where a person with a disability is hired and works a minimum of 21 hours per week.

However, as PCB and WSS are stand- alone supports, one aimed at employees the other at employers, both are not available simultaneously to support a single employment vacancy. So, if a person in receipt of PCB wishes to resume employment, the employer cannot also claim WSS in respect of that employment.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (318)

Martin Heydon

Question:

318. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal in relation to disability allowance will be expedited in respect of a person (detail supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24321/14]

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 12 May 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.

If the means of the person concerned are insufficient to meet his needs pending the completion of the appeal process, it is open to him to make an application for Supplementary Welfare Allowance. 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.