Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (338)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

338. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the current eligibility for jobseeker's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24583/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned has been awarded a jobseeker’s allowance payment at the full personal rate. No details of a qualified child dependant were included on the application form. If there is further information that could affect payment it should be forwarded to the Department.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Questions (339)

Noel Coonan

Question:

339. Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a domiciliary care allowance application will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24606/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned was notified on the 23rd May 2014 that her domiciliary care allowance application was successful and that the allowance has been awarded from 1st March 2013. Payment of the allowance, along with arrears due, will be available for collection at the nominated Post Office on the 17th June 2014 and on the third Tuesday of each month thereafter.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Questions (340)

Paudie Coffey

Question:

340. Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Social Protection when a domiciliary care allowance application will be processed and issued to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24660/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned was notified on the 6th June 2014 that her domiciliary care allowance application was successful and that the allowance has been awarded from 1st May 2014. Payment of the allowance, along with arrears due, will be available for collection at the nominated Post Office on the 17th June 2014 and on the third Tuesday of each month thereafter.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (341)

John McGuinness

Question:

341. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if appeals for social welfare payment under the occupational disablement benefit scheme and the invalidity pension scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be expedited; if an outcome to either one of the applications will be approved as the applicant cannot work as instructed by their general practitioner and has no income. [24730/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an Occupational Injury Benefit appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 10th April 2014. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 28th May 2014 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. The appeals office has advised that they have no record of any Invalidity Pension appeal from the person concerned. 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 Appeals Status

Questions (342)

Pat Breen

Question:

342. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 4 June 2014, when a decision will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24738/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am informed by the Department of Social Protection that the person concerned was notified by letter dated 19th March 2014 that she was deemed to be not incapable of work and was therefore not entitled to illness benefit with effect from 25th March 2014. The Social Welfare Appeals Office has confirmed that an appeal from the person concerned was registered on 16th April 2014, and that she submitted further medical evidence in support of her appeal on 13th May 2014. The person concerned was called for a further medical assessment on 20th May 2014 and the result of this assessment was that she was still deemed to be not eligible for illness benefit. The Social Welfare Appeals Office was notified by the Department on 22nd May 2014 of the outcome of the further medical assessment and, in accordance with the statutory requirements, the appeals office then wrote to the person concerned on 26th May 2014 asking her to set out the complete grounds of her appeal. The appeals office has no record of any response having been received to date to that request. As soon as the person concerned provides clarification as to the grounds of her appeal as requested on 26th May 2014 the Department will be asked to provide a submission on the grounds of the appeal and the relevant departmental papers. When these have been received, the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Deputy made reference in his question to an oral appeal hearing attended by the person concerned two weeks ago. I would like to clarify that this was not an oral appeal hearing, but was a further medical assessment carried out by the Department, as outlined. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister of Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (343, 352)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

343. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which she expects to be in a position to bring appeals in respect of various social welfare payments up to date in the near future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24740/14]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

352. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she has taken or will take to streamline the appeals system in respect of all payments issuing from her Department with a view to minimising hardship on those awaiting the outcome of appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24751/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 343 and 352 together.

The workload of the appeals office has increased dramatically in recent years. Up to 2009 the average number of appeals received was 15,000 per annum, whereas in 2012 the number of appeals received peaked at 35,484, reducing to 32,777 appeals in 2013. This has placed considerable pressure on the office. Significant effort and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeals process to manage this increased workload, reduce backlogs and improve appeals processing times for appellants, while, at the same time, recognising the need to ensure that quality and fairness are not compromised. An additional 15 Appeals Officers have been assigned to the office over the past three years, in addition to 10 former Community Welfare Service Appeals Officers who joined the appeals office in 2011, bringing the total number to 41. A new operating model has been introduced in the appeals office and a major programme of process redesign and modernisation is also underway in the Department in relation to many of its scheme areas, aimed at reducing backlogs and reducing the time taken by the Department to respond to requests from the appeals office for submissions in relation to appeals.

These measures have achieved significant improvements. The number of appeals cases processed in 2013 increased by 18%, to over 38,400. The average processing time for appeals peaked in 2011 when the average time for an oral hearing was 52.5 weeks and for a summary decision was 25.1 weeks. In 2012 the average processing time for an oral hearing dropped to 39.5 weeks and the time for a summary decision increased slightly to 27.8 weeks. Further improvements were achieved in 2013, when the average appeal processing time reduced to 33.9 weeks for an oral hearing and 25.8 weeks for a summary decision, and to date in 2014. As at 31 May 2014, the time take to process an appeal requiring an oral hearing reduced to 29.9 weeks and 22.5 weeks for a summary decision.

In addition to the improvements in processing times mentioned above, these measures have also led to a significant increase in the number of appeals finalised in the appeals office from 17,787 in 2009 to 38,421 in 2013. An additional 5,863 appeals were finalised in 2013 compared to 2012. Good progress also continues to be made in reducing the number of appeals on hands from 20,414 at 1 January 2013 to 12,846 at 3 June 2014.

By its nature and because it is a quasi-judicial function, the processing of appeals takes time and reflects the fact that, by definition, the appeal process cannot be a quick one. However, where an appellant’s means are insufficient to meet their needs pending the determination of their appeal, it is open to them to apply for a means-tested Supplementary Allowance payment. 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.

Employment Support Services

Question No. 346 withdrawn.

Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 326.

Questions (344, 345)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

344. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which various training schemes continue to attract applicants; the extent to which the schemes are successful in the creation of permanent placements in each of the past three years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24741/14]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

345. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of upskilling placements provided in each of the past three years to date; the degree to which permanent jobs accrued thereafter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24742/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 344 and 345 together.

Training and upskilling schemes are a matter for the Department of Education and Skills.

Question No. 346 withdrawn.
Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 326.

Youth Unemployment Measures

Questions (348)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

348. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which the issue of youth unemployment is being addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24745/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

In the first instance, the Government’s primary strategy to reduce unemployment (including youth unemployment) is through policies to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth. This strategy is working. Employment rose by 42,700 in the year to Q1 2014. Unemployment decreased by 33,900 (-11.6%) in the year to Q1 2014 bringing the total number of persons unemployed to 258,100. This is the seventh quarter in succession where unemployment has declined on an annual basis. The unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds (youth unemployment rate) decreased from 26.7% to 25.3% over the year to Q1 2014. Nevertheless, despite the progress that has been made, the Government recognises that youth unemployment remains unacceptably high. Hence, the Government also recognises the need for additional activation measures in the interim while the economy recovers. This is the rationale behind the Government’s Pathways to Work strategy and the Youth Guarantee, both of which are being led by the Department of Social Protection.

The Youth Guarantee initiative is specifically aimed at those under 25 who are unemployed with specific targeting of those who are either long-term unemployed or are most at risk of becoming long-term unemployed. The implementation of the Guarantee is a medium-term policy of the Irish Government. The guarantee of an offer of training, education or work experience for those aged 18-24 years after a four month period should be implemented on a phased basis. By the end of 2014, processes and programmes will be rolled out to ensure that all of those young unemployed people who need most support (i.e. are assessed as having a low probability of securing employment in the absence of support from the Public Employment Services) will receive a Youth Guarantee offer within four months.

In keeping with the Government’s broader focus on tackling long-term unemployment, we will first target interventions at those young people most at risk of long-term unemployment. In this way, the Department ensures that resources are prioritised to help those who are most in need. In 2012 some 56,000 young people joined the Live Register as wholly unemployed, and some 35,000 (63%) of these remained unemployed for four months or more. The target of the guarantee approach will, over time, be to reduce this level of persistent unemployment among young people. As part of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee it is proposed, subject to labour market and economic developments, to review the targeted nature of the Youth Guarantee offer, before the end of 2015.

Progress to Date on National Rollout

The Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan was published in January. It provides for over 28,000 programme opportunities for unemployed young people in 2014, as set out in the following table as an appendix to this statement. 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, nevertheless contribute to the spirit of the guarantee.

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. 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.

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.

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 the year. The following table 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 .

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

Employment Support Services

Question No. 350 answered with Question No. 94.

Questions (349)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

349. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which JobBridge and other unemployment alleviation measures continue to be successful; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24746/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Since the lowest point of the jobs crisis, the unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of over 15% to 11.8% at present. The long-term unemployment rate has fallen from 9.5% to 7.3%. The number of long-term unemployed has fallen from 204,000 in early 2012 to 156,000 at present. In terms of the Live Register, a target was set that 75,000 of those who were long-term on the Register at the beginning of 2012 would move into employment by the end of 2015; the number who have already done so is now over 46,000 and we are well on track to beating our target –a target that was considered by many to be overly ambitious.

The Department operates four main schemes whose purpose is to provide a pathway to employment:

- JobsPlus is targeted specifically at encouraging employers to recruit people who are long-term unemployed. Over 2,300 long-term unemployed people have been placed in employment as a result of JobsPlus and over 60% of these have been unemployed for 2 years or more.

- Community Employment and Tús provide work experience opportunities for long term unemployed jobseekers mainly within the community and voluntary sector. The numbers of participants on Community Employment and Tús as of May 2014 were 23,150 and 7, 379 respectively up from 21,250 and 5131 in May 2013.

- The JobBridge scheme provides a stepping stone for unemployed people to employment in the wider economy. The Scheme is specifically intended to give jobseekers an opportunity to increase their employability through real-workplace experience. In May 2014 there were just under 6,900 participants on the Scheme. To date nearly 30,000 people have participated in the scheme. Evaluation results indicate that 61% of leavers from JobBridge find employment within 5 months of leaving their internship. The independent research indicates that JobBridge, based on 2011 and 2012 performance generated positive value to the exchequer.

Question No. 350 answered with Question No. 94.

Employment Support Services

Question No. 352 answered with Question No. 343.

Questions (351)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

351. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the uptake to date under the JobsPlus scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24750/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

JobsPlus provides a direct monthly financial incentive to employers who recruit employees from those who are long-term on the live register (LR). The incentive is payable, on a monthly basis, over a two year period if the employee is retained in full-time employment for two years. JobsPlus is biased in favour of those who are longer term unemployed. The value of the aggregate monthly payments is €7,500 for employing a jobseeker 12 to 24 months on the LR and €10,000 if the jobseeker was on the LR for over 24 months. Since its launch in July 2013, JobsPlus is supporting some 2,385 jobseekers in full-time employment with 1,811 employers nationally. Some 60% of jobseekers being supported had been on the LR for over 24 months at the time of recruitment.

At the end of May 2014, payments under the JobsPlus scheme thus far amounted to approx. €4.5 million. Progress is detailed on the following table.

TABLE: JobsPlus - Numbers Supported

Month

Employees supported

Business supported

Grants paid

August 2013

85

78

31,771

September 2013

235

208

88,031

October 2013

517

456

194,063

November 2013

844

707

316,772

December 2013

1,114

888

418,856

January 2014

1,286

1,117

483,440

February 2014

1,589

1,230

596,357

March 2014

1,874

1,434

704,066

April 2014

2,115

1,611

794,691

May 2014

2,385

1,811

896,254

Question No. 352 answered with Question No. 343.

Legislative Measures

Questions (353)

Seán Fleming

Question:

353. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the legislative provisions in respect of his Department which have been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011 but which have not come into effect to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24144/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I would like to inform the Deputy that there are no legislative provisions in respect of my Department, passed by the Oireachtas since 2011, which have not yet come into effect.

Inland Waterways Development

Questions (354)

Willie Penrose

Question:

354. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, in the context of proposed Waterways Ireland canal by-laws, which fail to take cognisance of user requirements, tourism development and local communities, he will ensure that conciliation and agreement is reached with the relevant groups prior to the implementation of any such regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24475/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy is aware, the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow system make a vital contribution to tourism, attracting visitors from around Ireland and from abroad, and are a vital resource to their local communities. The proposed new bye-laws are intended to support the investment already made by Waterways Ireland in new infrastructure and facilities along these waterways. That investment has made the waterways more attractive for boat owners and is helping to develop them as a vibrant recreational and tourist amenity. Against that background, it is now considered timely to update the bye-laws to ensure that the rules governing use of the waterways are fit for purpose and best meet the needs of all waterway users. As the Deputy will be further aware, Waterways Ireland undertook a public consultation process in relation to the proposed bye-laws earlier this year. I am informed by Waterways Ireland that key stakeholders, including the Inland Waterway Association of Ireland, the Heritage Boat Association, the Royal Canal Amenity Group and the Irish Boat Rental Association, were contacted individually and invited to meet with the Chief Executive and the senior management team of Waterways Ireland prior to submitting their views. I am also advised that all current permit holders on the three waterways, including traditional canal users and canal dwellers, received individual written notice and were given the opportunity to make their views and requirements known.

I understand that over 2,000 submissions were made in the course of the public consultation process. Waterways Ireland has now concluded its analysis of the public consultation. A summary of the process and of the submissions received is available on the Waterways Ireland website at www.waterwaysireland.org and work is continuing on finalising the proposed bye-laws. To that end, Waterways Ireland will prepare a report setting out its proposed approach, including any revisions to its original proposals, which will be submitted to my Department and referred to me, with recommendations for consideration and final decision.

I am satisfied with the extensive consultation that Waterways Ireland undertook and that the proposed bye-laws, when finalised, should enhance the ability of Waterways Ireland to manage these waterways for the benefit of all their users. The intention is that the proposed bye-laws will introduce a new framework to regulate the use of moorings that will provide all visitors, including tourists and recreational users to the canals, the opportunity to use public moorings at key locations close to amenities, visitor attractions and places of interest.

As I indicated during a debate in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday 26 February 2014, I will afford interested Deputies and Senators an opportunity to discuss the matters with me, prior to making a final decision on the proposed new bye-laws.