Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Questions (454)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

454. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure no interruption occurs in respect of rent supplement in the case of a person (details supplied); the maximum rent support available in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22434/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The purpose of rent supplement is to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible persons living in private rental accommodation, where they are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources and do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. It is subject to a means test and other criteria.

Rent supplement payments are subject to on-going reviews and payments may be affected if relevant information is not provided, or if there are changes of circumstances. The person concerned is currently in receipt of a rent supplement payment. Information has been requested recently in relation to the provision of a current Housing Needs Assessment. Payment may be affected if the requested information is not provided.

The maximum rent limit for the family composition of the person concerned, a single person living in Kildare is €500 per calendar month. As an exceptional measure, under Article 38, the person concerned was awarded rent supplement based on a current lease of €970 per month. This is in excess of €470 or 94% of the maximum rent limits set for this family composition. The person concerned has been advised to engage with HAP and the local authority in order to have her long-term housing needs addressed. In line with these measures the person concerned was recently requested to supply a current Housing Needs Assessment.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Exceptional Needs Payments

Questions (455)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

455. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an urgent exceptional needs payment will be made in the case of a person (details supplied); if the case will be examined with a view to alleviation of the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22435/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application form issued to the person concerned on 16th April 2019 which was returned on the 15th May 2019. In a letter dated the 16th May 2019, the Community Welfare Officer (CWO) requested further information in order to allow for a decision on the application. The CWO made further contact by telephone with the person concerned on the 20th May 2019 to clarify the outstanding information needed but the information required has not been provided yet. A decision will be made by the CWO on receipt of this outstanding information.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Payments

Questions (456)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

456. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the correct payment in respect of a working family payment in the case of a person (details supplied); the extent to which entitlement is likely to be affected by the recovery of a debt weekly payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22436/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

The person concerned has an outstanding debt with the Department and this debt is being recovered through an agreed direct debit recovery plan which amounts to repayments of €30.00 per week.

It is the Department's policy is to pursue all overpayments & debts and to ensure the recovery of outstanding debt in the shortest possible time frame. When scheme arrears are due to a customer, all or part of the arrears may be withheld to repay a debt.

The Department wrote to the person concerned on 15 May 2019 to inform them of the proposal to withhold all WFP arrears which are currently due. The person concerned may submit any comments relating to this proposal within 21 days for consideration by the debt recovery officer before any decision is made.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of WFP at the weekly rate of €121.00 and no deductions from this rate will take place until 21 days. Weekly deductions from a customer's Social Welfare rate are determined by factors such as debt balance, a person's circumstances, means and capacity to repay etc.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Questions (457)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

457. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the correct level of jobseeker's allowance and-or rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22449/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of jobseeker's allowance at the following rate:

Personal rate: €203

Half rate for 5 qualified children € 91

Sub total €294

Less means from employment €20

Total weekly payment €274

An increase is not payable in respect of a Qualified Adult due to maternity benefit currently in payment. Half rate payment for 5 qualified children is applicable while maternity benefit is in payment and means have also been halved from €40 to €20 for the same period. According to the records of the Department the person concerned is in receipt of the correct payment for a person of his circumstances.

The person concerned does not have an application for rent supplement with the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (458)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

458. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) can qualify for jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22450/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

It is open to the person concerned to apply for Jobseekers Allowance. Once an application is received, a decision will be made by the Deciding Officer to determine if the person concerned is eligible for payment. The person concerned should be advised to contact their local Intreo Centre where information is available on all schemes and services offered by my Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Questions (459)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

459. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the correct level of jobseeker's allowance payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22451/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of a jobseeker's allowance payment at the following rate:

Personal Rate €203

Increase for 2 Qualified Children over 12 €74

Sub Total €277

Nil Means assessed -

Weekly rate of jobseeker's allowance €277

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (460)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

460. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22478/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance from this gentleman on 8 May 2019. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

The processing time for individual DA claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information they provide in support of their claim.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Appeals

Questions (461)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

461. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) is being refused rent supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22480/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned was in receipt of rent supplement from 24/9/09 to 30/11/18. She was requested to provide the Department with relevant documentation regarding her rent supplement claim, which she failed to provide. The person concerned informed the Department on 19/12/18 that she had received notice to quit her privately rented accommodation and accordingly, her rent supplement claim was closed. The person concerned was subsequently provided with exceptional needs payments (ENPs) to assist with her rental costs from November 2018 to January 2019. However, as ENPs are designed to be one-off payments for unforeseen and exceptional circumstances and rent is a regular and recurring expense, this was not a long-term solution.

The strategic policy of this Department is to return rent supplement to its original purpose of being a short-term income support scheme. As the person concerned has an identified long-term housing need, she is therefore advised to engage with her local authority at her earliest opportunity to ascertain her eligibility for the housing assistance payment (HAP).

The person concerned has not made a new application for rent supplement and this option is available to her to do. However, if she were to fully complete the review document from November 2018 then her case would be reviewed based on that information provided.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

EU Directives

Questions (462, 463)

John Curran

Question:

462. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 157 of 9 May 2019, if the timeline by which schemes of one to 14 members and 15 to 100 members, respectively, will be required to be in compliance with the provisions of the IORP II directive; her plans to introduce legislation in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22493/19]

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John Curran

Question:

463. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the consultation with pension scheme representatives and other industry bodies her Department has undertaken in respect of the transposition of IORP II into law; her plans for further such meetings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22494/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 462 and 463 together.

The transposition of the IORP II Directive will result in significant improvements to the regulation and governance of funded occupational pension schemes in Ireland. Officials in my Department, supported by the Pensions Authority, are managing the transposition process of the IORP II Directive. This is a substantial Directive and preparation of regulations to transpose it is at an advanced stage.

In 2014, the Department undertook an open public consultation on the IORP II Directive. Further to that, the Pensions Authority undertook a consultation process on the reform and simplification of supplementary funded private pensions in 2016. In addition, officials of my Department have engaged on the provisions of the Directive with numerous representatives and stakeholders over a number of years.

As previously stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 157 of 9 May 2019, an application has been granted for a judicial review for a set of reliefs and a stay in relation to the transposition into Irish law of the IORP II Directive. As such, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on matters that are currently before the Courts.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Reform

Questions (464)

John Curran

Question:

464. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the recent progress in relation to the implementation of A Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023; if she is satisfied that it is on target to be completed on time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22495/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023’ represents an all-of-Government approach to reforming pensions in Ireland. The plan details 43 individual actions that, taken together, will modernise our pension system while continuing to target resources at those most in need. Given the wide breadth of actions included under the plan, action owners include three Government Departments, two Government agencies, a public body and some interdepartmental structures (where policy responsibilities span a number of departments).

In delivering on the actions contained within the reform plan, extensive consultation exercises have been undertaken with respect to a new Total Contributions Approach for calculation of the State Pension Contributory, the development of a new Auto Enrolment system for occupational pensions, and general reform and simplification of the existing pensions landscape. This level of engagement, and the subsequent collation and analysis of views, takes considerable time, both to allow people the opportunity to engage and subsequently feedback on proposals made. The time and effort expended on this analysis and consideration of options is invaluable to the deliberative process and is critical in ensuring optimum design of solutions that will follow.

In this context, the majority of actions set out in the Roadmap due for delivery within the plan's first year of operation have been completed or are at a very advanced stage of progression. I am also encouraged that the general feedback to date has been very supportive of the proposed reform measures and efforts will be continuing apace to implement these over the coming years in accordance with the Roadmap’s ambitious targets.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (465)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

465. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22533/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 4 March 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s employment was requested by a deciding officer from the person concerned on 21 May 2019. Once the information is received the application will be processed and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (466)

Robert Troy

Question:

466. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance will be awarded to a person (details supplied). [22535/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 13 March 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Questions (467)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

467. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration will be given to reintroducing the household benefit package for carers who do not live with the person they care for in view of the heavy workload for carers who are living on low means; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22555/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The household benefits package (HHB) comprises the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence. My Department will spend approximately €248 million this year on HHB for over 446,000 customers. The package is generally available to people living in the State aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to some people under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments.

Since 1 April 2012, new applicants in receipt of Carers Allowance who are not living with the person for whom they provide care do not have an automatic entitlement to the household benefits package. Carers who live with the person they are caring for still have an entitlement of their own to the household benefits package and do not have to satisfy the household composition criteria.

The Government values the role of carers very much and it is for this reason that they receive significant income supports from the Department. In addition to carer’s allowance carers receive additional support in the form of free travel and household benefits (for those who live with the person for whom they care) and the annual carers support grant (€1700) in respect of each person for whom they care. Where a person is in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments, and also providing full time care and attention to another person, they can keep their primary social welfare payment and also get the half-rate carer's allowance.

It should be noted that Carer's payments are made at a higher level than other working age income-maintenance payments made by my Department. The weekly rate for Carer's Allowance is €219 where one person is being cared for, and €328.50 where it is two or more, compared to €203 for most other income-maintenance payments to those below pension age. The means test for Carer's Allowance is also significantly more generous than those applying to other schemes.

Any decision to change the qualifying criteria for HHB would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of budget negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications

Questions (468)

Tom Neville

Question:

468. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a hearing aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22575/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is entitled to the hearing aid grant under the Department's PRSI scheme.

A claim was received on 9th May 2019, payment will issue to her provider on the next payment date, which is 14th June 2019.

I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Review

Questions (469)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

469. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans for rehabilitative community employment schemes within her Department to be transferred to the Department of Health and the HSE; if there are plans, the details and decision making process of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22577/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Community employment (CE) is the largest employment programme administered by my Department. It aims to enhance employability and mobility by providing work experience and training opportunities for unemployed persons within their own communities.

A key function of CE is supporting social inclusion and counteracting the drift into structural unemployment. It is a broad and flexible programme that has been utilised to address many social challenges presenting at individual and/or societal level. 5% of CE placements are reserved to support the re-integration of participants referred to a CE place on a drug rehabilitation scheme through the delivery of the agreed inter-agency CE Drug Rehabilitation Programme within the CE Social Inclusion strand.

All CE placements are categorised as either a training/activation strand or a social inclusion strand. This is to acknowledge that not all CE places are the same. The Social Inclusion placements provide an opportunity for those who are very distant from the labour market to gain employment and deliver services in their local communities while the activation placements are more directly related to employment opportunities for participants who are long-term unemployed with a view to providing them with more labour market relevant work experience.

Deputies on all sides of the House are fully aware of the positive benefits derived from schemes like CE. Communities benefit from the skills and talents of participants and, in addition, participants are provided with the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing valuable work in their local communities. Furthermore, many CE schemes provide vital community services across the country, all of which are well embedded in these communities.

The Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore the most appropriate organisational arrangements, in particular in respect of those CE schemes whose primary focus is social inclusion and the delivery of social services. The first meeting of the IDG was held on 26th March and my Department are currently engaging with key stakeholders.

I am fully committed to the future of this programme and will continue to support and improve the programme for the benefit of the participants and the valuable contribution it makes to local communities.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (470)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

470. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) who is in receipt of a payment, is receiving this payment in their State pension (contributory) in view of the fact they were advised that this payment would be paid separately to their pension; and if the person has received homecaring credits for caring for their children. [22648/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

The person has 751 reckonable paid contributions which combined with the maximum permissible number of HomeCaring periods and reckonable credits of 1,040, as set out in legislation, results in an increase from 85% to 86.11% of maximum rate State pension contributory. A review outcome letter has issued to the person, outlining details of their increase of State pension contributory and includes a breakdown of their social insurance contribution record.

Under the terms of the restorative justice payment, a claimant aged over 66 years is entitled to a maximum payment of €248.30 per week (which is equivalent to maximum rate state pension (contributory)). The rate of restorative justice payment is the difference between the person's personal rate of social welfare entitlement and the maximum rate of state pension (contribution). The person concerned was previously in receipt of a state pension contributory payment at the weekly rate of €211.40 and their applicable rate under the restorative justice scheme was €36.90 per week. As the person's state pension contributory rate has increased to €213.90, the applicable weekly rate payable under the restorative justice scheme is now €34.40.

The provision of a weekly income of €248.30 per week under the scheme, for a person over state pension age, is intended to put the person in a position that they would have occupied had they acquired sufficient contributions to qualify for the maximum rate of state pension contributory. Any person who is already in receipt of another state benefit, such as state pension contributory, does not receive the restorative justice payment in addition to their social welfare entitlement, but as a top up payment to bring the person's rate of payment up to the current maximum rate of state pension (contributory).

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Legislative Reviews

Questions (471)

Willie Penrose

Question:

471. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to update the Civil Registration Act 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22706/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Civil Registration Act 2019 passed its final stages through the Dáil and Seanad on 15 May and has been signed into law by the President. This Act will facilitate commencement of existing legislation that provides for registration of children of donor-assisted births.

The Act will make possible the registration, as parents, of both partners in a female same-sex relationship, whereas formerly only the particulars of the mother could be recorded in the birth register. Inclusion of both partners as parents on birth certificates will assist in affirming their parental rights in practical day-to-day matters. These new arrangements will support easier access to services such as passports for their children, school enrolment, interaction with medical practitioners, and other situations where the demonstration of parental relationship may be required.

Another key provision in the Act brings civil registration legislation in line with current legislation governing the presumption of paternity. This will make it less onerous on a woman to rebut automatic presumption of paternity of her estranged husband in the birth registration process. It will be possible for a woman to present her own evidence of separation in order to rebut automatic presumption that her estranged husband is the father of a child she may subsequently give birth to with a new partner.

The Act also includes other amendments to civil registration that include provisions:

- to allow a role for family members in registering a death in cases involving a coroner;

- to allow the Civil Registration Service to share historical records with a body under the aegis of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht;

- to enable the Central Statistics Office to comply with EU Regulations concerning data collected as part of the death registration process; and

- other technical amendments concerning civil registrations.

I will keep under review the need to bring forward further amendments to the Civil Registration Act, to ensure that the legislative provisions keep pace with new developments.