Child and Family Agency Policy

Questions (204)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

204. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the protections and protocols in place to avoid a recurrence of a traumatic removal in which trauma was caused for the child, the mother and the professionals involved (details supplied); and the special arrangements in place, including a provision of a mother and baby unit, to minimise the trauma, particularly for the child in these circumstances. [48785/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Deputy will be aware that I am not in a position to comment on individual cases, or on matters which are the subject of court decisions.

 The decision to remove a child from the care of their parents is not one that is taken lightly, particularly at a young age. In all cases, the safety, wellbeing and best interests of the child must be the primary concern. 

I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in relation to the operational matters raised by the Deputy. A further reply will issue when I have had their response.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (205)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

205. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48681/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned is now fully paid up to the 24th November 2018 and arrears due have been issued.

If the customer remains ill and unfit for work, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department as soon as possible in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (206)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

206. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an illness benefit application by a person (details supplied); when payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48688/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned is medically certified and paid up to the 15th November 2018.

This customers next medical certificate was due on the 16th November 2018.

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department as soon as possible in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions

Questions (207)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

207. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48691/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

On 23 January last, the Government agreed to allow pensioners, born on or after the 1st September 1946, affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands, to have their state pension (contributory) entitlement calculated under an interim “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA).  The changes also provide for up to 20 years of home caring periods in the calculation of that entitlement, for those who took time out of the workplace for parenting children under age 12, or individuals who needed increased levels of care.

The changes apply to those who reached pension age on or after 1st September 2012  who were awarded less than maximum rate, on post Budget 2012 rate bands.  The changes do not apply to anyone already entitled to maximum rate state pension (contributory).

Currently there are approximately 79,000 pensioners in this category.  My Department has already issued Information Letters to over 70,000 of these pensioners who are resident in Ireland.  Over 8,000 pensioners residing outside of Ireland are expected to receive their letters in December. 

The Information Letter informs pensioners that my Department will contact them directly with the outcome of their individual pension review, or a request for further information regarding gaps in their social insurance record, if this information is required in order to complete their review.  It is not necessary for anyone to contact the Department on this matter.  

Work on examination of the social insurance records of the pensioners concerned commenced in September.  As social insurance records are unique to individual pensioners, this is a manual examination phase and it is expected to continue until the end of the year.  To date, over seventy temporary staff members have been recruited to work on this phase. 

Further recruitment will take place in January 2019, when the first pension reviews are expected to get under way, following enactment of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2018.  In line with this timeframe, it is anticipated that the first review outcomes will be notified to these pensioners during Quarter 1 2019.  

Payment of increases, where awarded, will be made immediately after an individual's review is completed.  Given the numbers involved, it will take my Departments a number of months to work through all the reviews.  In all cases,  where the outcome of the review results in an increase in state pension (contributory) entitlement, the increase will be backdated to 30 March 2018 or the date of a person's 66th birthday if later, and arrears will be paid.   

If a pensioner does not qualify for an increased rate under the new arrangements, they will continue to receive their existing rate of entitlement.  No personal pension entitlement rate will be reduced as a result of this review.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

One-Parent Family Payment Payments

Questions (208)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

208. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48692/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The customer’s One Parent Family (Jobseekers Transition) Payment had a Penalty Rate applied.  This decision was reviewed and the penalty rate was lifted. The arrears issued to the customer on 15 November 2018.

I trust this clarifies the matter. 

Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Applications

Questions (209)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

209. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a partial capacity benefit application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48703/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Partial Capacity Benefit claim for the person concerned has now been processed and all payments and arrears due to him up to 20th November 2018 have been issued. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (210)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

210. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason payment of illness benefit has not issued to a person (details supplied) who made a claim at the end July 2018. [48722/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned has been processed and all arrears due up to the 10th September 2018, the date of the customers final medical certificate, have been issued.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (211)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

211. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of further information furnished to her Department in respect of an illness benefit claim in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48733/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned is both certified and paid up to 14th November 2018.

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department as soon as possible in order for further payments to issue to him.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (212)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

212. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which correspondence issued on 30 October 2018 which appeared to have the situation resolved in the case of a person (details supplied) was then followed by further correspondence on 12 November 2018 suggesting otherwise. [48749/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of a Jobseekers payment and was requested on 30th October 2018 to submit documentation to show that they are genuinely seeking work (GSW). Unfortunately the person concerned returned limited information relating to efforts seek work. It was then considered that the person concerned was not genuinely seeking full-time employment.

On the 12th November the Deciding Officer issued a Natural Justice letter to the person. The person concerned was advised that if they had any other supporting evidence to show to the Department that they were genuinely seeking work that they should summit such evidence within 14 days from the 12th November 2018 .

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (213)

Willie Penrose

Question:

213. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an outstanding illness benefit for a person (details supplied) will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48796/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned has been processed and any arrears due have been issued.

The claim is paid up to the 26th November 2018 and medically certified up to the 29th November 2018.

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work after that date,  further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (214)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

214. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48801/18]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 23rd April 2018.  The application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance.  A letter issued on the 3rd July 2018 setting out the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

An appeal was registered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 25th July 2018.  As part of the appeals process, the application was re-examined by a deciding officer and the person concerned was notified on the 31st October 2018 that the review was unsuccessful.  Following that, the file was sent to the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 13th November for consideration by an Appeals Officer.  The Social Welfare Appeals Office will contact the person concerned directly about outcome of the appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

House Prices

Questions (215)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

215. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which he remains satisfied that first-time house buyers or the purchasers of a family home are not being priced out of the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48765/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Ensuring that we have a supply of housing that is affordable for people to buy or rent, depending on their choice and circumstances, is a priority for the Government.

The underlying factors driving house prices now are fundamentally different from those which drove prices leading up to the financial crisis: current pressures in the housing market reflect a shortage of  supply to meet the present demographic demands for housing, whereas previously credit was one of the primary factors contributing to house price inflation.

The credit environment now is markedly different. There is now an enhanced regulatory regime in place to monitor and manage risks to the economy emerging from the housing sector. The Central Bank's macro prudential rules, which are working effectively, aim to increase both bank and borrower resilience and mitigate the risks of credit fuelled house-price spirals emerging.

The availability of appropriate development finance for commercially viable residential projects has been identified as a key contributory factor to underpin further progress in addressing the shortfall in housing supply. The Government is meeting this challenge through the launch of Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) which will utilise up to €750 million to provide debt funding for residential development, funding new housing construction across all regions in the country.

In overall terms, the key elements of the Government’s approach to addressing the issues in our housing sector are set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, and Project Ireland 2040, which sets out a comprehensive set of measures designed to address the on-going structural constraints within the construction sector and restore the housing market to a sustainable equilibrium.  The CSO’s most recent Residential Property Price Index , published on 14 November 2018, shows a moderation in house price growth rates; in the year to September 2018, residential property prices at national level increased by 8.2%, compared with an increase of 8.9% in the year to August and an increase of 12.0% in the twelve months to September 2017. In Dublin, residential property price growth continued to moderate, with an annual increase of 5.8% in the year to September 2018.

Increasing housing supply, however, is the most important element of our response to the housing crisis. In that regard, the most recent data show the continuation of some very positive trends:

- Planning permissions (Q2 2018) granted up 39% year on year;

- Commencement notices (August 2018) up 20% year on year;

- New homes available for use (Q3 2018) up 20% year on year;

- Registrations (July 2018) up 7% year on year.

The Government continues to address affordability specifically.  In particular, for those households earning low to moderate annual gross incomes (up to €50,000 for single applicants and €75,000 for dual applicants), a multi-stranded approach is being taken to the targeted delivery of affordable housing.

In order to support the affordable housing programmes of local authorities, the Government has committed €310 million, over the three years 2019 to 2021, under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) announced as part of Budget 2019. The funding is available for key facilitating infrastructure, on public lands, to support the provision of affordable homes to purchase or rent. I envisage a maximum amount of SSF funding of €50,000 per affordable home and on this basis at least 6,200 affordable homes could be facilitated.

A first call for proposals under the Fund issued to the four Dublin local authorities; Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Louth and Cork County Councils, and Cork and Galway City Councils.  Fifteen proposals were received, from nine of the local authorities targeted under this first call and I expect to announce funding decisions in relation to these applications shortly. I expect infrastructure works on approved projects to begin as soon as possible thereafter and delivery of affordable homes from late 2019/early 2020 onwards.

More broadly, all local authorities are carrying out economic assessments of the requirement for affordable housing in their areas and the viability to deliver such affordable housing from their sites. My Department hosted a workshop for local authorities on 8 November to discuss these issues.

A second call for proposals under the Fund will be made shortly. The scope of that call will be influenced by the information received from local authorities, as part of the aforementioned assessments, which they have been requested to submit by 30 November.

In terms of the type of affordable housing that will be delivered on local authority sites it may be affordable housing for purchase, for example, under the recently commenced provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, or cost rental, which is being advanced on a number of pilot sites before being rolled out further. The Regulations to support the operation of Part 5 will be finalised shortly. These initiatives complement other Government actions which help first-time buyers to buy a home, such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan.

Finally, the new Land Development Agency (LDA) will contribute significantly to the delivery of affordable housing. All of the State land developed by the LDA will include 40% social and affordable homes to purchase or rent.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (216)

Joan Collins

Question:

216. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the next tranche of moneys will be provided for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme (details supplied). [48748/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has sanctioned sufficient funding to local authorities in order to approve loans under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme (RIHL).

In relation to the specific case that the Deputy has raised, she will be aware that under Section 63(3) of the Local Government Act 2001, a local authority is independent in the performance of its functions. In addition, under Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the Minister's power to issue policy directions and guidelines to housing authorities in relation to their housing functions should not be construed as enabling the Minister to exercise any power or control in relation to any individual case with which a housing authority is or may be concerned. As such, I am precluded from intervening in relation to individual cases.

Under the Regulations that govern the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan it is a matter for each local authority to make the decision on loan approval applications. Each authority must establish a Credit Committee, in accordance with the  statutory Credit Policy, to consider these applications on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the recommendations of the assessment of applications undertaken by the Housing Agency.

The statutory Credit Policy also obliges local authorities to establish an appeals process to which applicants, who are dissatisfied with a decision of a Credit Committee, may appeal that decision.  It is therefore open to the persons referred to by the Deputy to make such an appeal. Details of the appeals process can be obtained from the relevant local authority.

In relation to the details supplied by the Deputy, I am advised that the relevant Local Authority has sufficient financial capacity to address the application referred to.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (217)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

217. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of social houses built in County Waterford in the past 12 months; if Waterford Council sought funding from his Department in order to build housing; and the housing waiting list figure for Waterford city and county. [48787/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Statistics on the number of social housing properties constructed, purchased and leased by local authorities and approved housing bodies, including for Waterford City & County Council, are published on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

All local authorities, including Waterford City & County Council, have been advised of their individual social housing targets across build, acquisition and leasing for 2018 and also for 2018-2021. Full details of the targets for all local authority areas, including Waterford, are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-delivery-targets-for-local-authorities-2018-2021/.  New social housing construction projects are listed in the quarterly Construction Status Report, with the most recently published version available at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-latest-social-housing-construction-report/.  This shows a significant level of such projects in Waterford, including projects completed and currently on site, many of which I expect to be completed in the near future.

Funding for new social housing delivery is provided to local authorities as they deliver the projects.  Accordingly, Waterford City & County Council is continuously drawing down funding as they advance such projects. 

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area are provided in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA), which has been carried out on an annual basis since 2016. The results of each SSHA are available on my Department’s website and include breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories. The 2018 Report can be accessed at: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/summary_of_social_housing_assessments_2018_-_key_findings.pdf.  The SSHA is a point in time exercise, with 11 June 2018 being the count date for the most recent report.  Waterford City & County Council reported 1,117 households on its waiting list at that time.

Planning Guidelines

Questions (218)

Willie Penrose

Question:

218. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 620 of 13 November 2018, the way in which commitments given to an organisation (details supplied) at a meeting on 4 October 2018 can be incorporated into the forthcoming regional spatial and economic strategies in order to ensure that the necessary changes to help deliver on the practical aspects as set out therein are implemented; if he as a statutory consultee will ensure that they are incorporated into the RSESs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48798/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

As set out in the reply to Question No. 620 of 13 November 2018 referred to, clarification of the practical aspects of implementation of the National Planning Framework policies across existing local authority plans and Regional Spatial Economic Strategies has been provided through ongoing engagement by my Department and the Regional Assemblies.  My Department will continue to provide support and guidance as appropriate and this engagement will feed into and help inform my assessment of the draft Strategies that are now being published for consultation, in my role as a statutory consultee.

Local Authority Staff Data

Questions (219)

Robert Troy

Question:

219. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the percentage of women in each county council holding positions of county managers and director of services, in tabular form. [48823/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The information requested is set out in the following table.  The numbers include Executive Managers and Heads of Finance, who are at Director of Service level.

It should be noted that grades at this level are required to be recruited by competition through the Public Appointments Service.

Local Authority

Chief Executive

Director of Service

 

Total

Female

% Female

Total

Female

% Female

Carlow 

1

1

100%

4

1

20%

Cavan

1

0

0%

4

0

0%

Clare

1

0

0%

5

3

60%

Cork City

1

1

100%

8

1

13%

Cork County

1

0

0%

10

3

30%

Donegal

1

0

0%

6

0

0%

DLR

1

1

100%

9

7

78%

Dublin City

1

0

100%

12

5

42%

Fingal

1

0

0%

7

3

43%

Galway City

1

0

0%

4

2

50%

Galway County

1

0

0%

5

1

20%

Kerry 

1

1

100%

6

1

17%

Kildare 

1

0

0%

6

2

33%

Kilkenny

1

1

100%

4

1

25%

Laois

1

0

0%

3

0

0%

Leitrim

1

0

0%

3

1

33%

Limerick

1

0

0%

9

3

33%

Longford

1

0

0%

3

1

33%

Louth

1

1

100%

5

1

20%

Mayo

1

0

0%

6

2

33%

Meath

1

1

100%

5

2

40%

Monaghan

1

0

0%

4

1

25%

Offaly

1

1

100%

4

0

0%

Roscommon

1

0

0%

3

1

33%

Sligo

1

0

0%

4

2

50%

South Dublin

1

0

0%

8

3

38%

Tipperary

1

0

0%

8

2

25%

Waterford

1

0

0%

5

0

0%

Westmeath 

1

0

0%

4

0

0%

Wexford

1

0

0%

5

1

20%

Wicklow

1

0

0%

7

0

0%

 Totals

31

8

26%

176

50

28%