Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Questions (205)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

205. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average turnaround time for appeals to be dealt with in the social welfare appeals office; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that departmental papers are taking at least two months to be forwarded to the appeals office after an appeal is registered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24633/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements. 

All claim decisions taken by the Department’s Deciding Officers and Designated Persons are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer.  In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and just 1% are appealed.  Nevertheless, the Department is concerned that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.

Accordingly, significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years.  As a result, appeal processing times in respect of all schemes improved between 2011 and 2017 from 52.5 weeks for an oral hearing in 2011 to 26.4 weeks in 2017 and from 25.1 weeks for a summary decision in 2011 to 19.8 weeks in 2017.  The corresponding processing times for the year 2018 were 30 weeks for an oral hearing and 24.8 weeks for a summary decision.  The figures for the first five months of 2019 show some improvement with 28.2 weeks taken to process an oral hearing and 23.3 weeks taken to process a summary decision.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with Appeals Officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de-novo’ basis.  In addition, appeals decisions are themselves subject to review by the High Court and decisions have to be formally written up to quasi-judicial standards.  The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times continue to be a priority for her Office.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects all aspects of the appeal process including the time spent in the Department reviewing the decision in light of the appeal contentions and / or preparing the appeal submission.  In advance of sending a person's file papers to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, a review of the case is undertaken to assess if the decision can be revised based on the appeal information.  In some cases it is necessary for the Department to go back to customers for additional information.  The average time an appeal spent in the Department in 2018 was 9.6 weeks.  The equivalent figure for the first five months of 2019 was 9.1 weeks.  The Department continues to work with the Social Welfare Appeals Office to reduce the time taken to submit appeal files and Deciding Officer submissions. 

Finally, where a claimant has been refused a social welfare payment, regardless of the scheme involved, and is appealing that decision, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs it is open to them to apply for supplementary welfare allowance in the interim.  If their application for supplementary welfare allowance is refused, they can also appeal that decision.  The supplementary welfare allowance appeal will be prioritised for attention within the Appeals Office as soon as the appeal file and submission is received from my Department.   

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (206)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

206. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of an appeal for a disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24636/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 20 May 2019.  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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection.  These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 6 June 2019 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 Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Places

Questions (207)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

207. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the wishes of persons (details supplied) regarding participation on a community employment scheme will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24650/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The persons concerned were originally approved for participation on Community Employment (CE) under the Part-Time Integration (PTI) option. 

Under the PTI option, a person may be eligible to participate on CE for a maximum continuous period of two years. After the two year period elapses, they must leave the program and be on the live register for 12 months before re-qualifying for any additional participation on CE.  Any further participation on CE is limited to a maximum lifetime duration of 3 years for persons under 55 years of age and 6 years for persons over 55 year of age.

The individual concerned will complete his 6th year on CE on the 27th September 2019 and he will reach the maximum eligible time on CE on this date.  He does not qualify for an extension beyond this date.

However, the Department's activation service can work with him to ensure that the benefits of the experience and training he received during his time on CE are maximised.  This process will help identify potential employment opportunities and offer support to him in overcoming any barriers to employment.

 I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy. 

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

Questions (208)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

208. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a companion pass application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24667/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by my Department that an application for a Free Travel Companion Pass from the person in question, has been reviewed again by a Deciding Officer.  The person is still not eligible for the Free Travel Companion Pass.  As part of this review, the Deputy Chief Medical Advisor re-assessed all the medical evidence available.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Invalidity Pension Payments

Questions (209, 210)

Willie Penrose

Question:

209. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amounts paid to a person (details supplied) in respect of the increase the person received in payments for two qualified children from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24678/19]

View answer

Willie Penrose

Question:

210. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount received by a person (detail supplied) for the person and the person's spouse as adult dependants for the year ended 31 December 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24679/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 and 210 together.

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The gentleman concerned is in receipt of IP from 07 September 2017. He is in receipt of payment at the maximum weekly personal rate of €208.50. In addition, he is in receipt of an increase for a qualified adult (IQA) payable at the maximum weekly rate of €148.90 and receives an increase for two qualified children (IQC) payable at the maximum weekly rate of €37.00 per child. A statement of his IP including IQA and IQC paid in 2018 has issued to the gentleman.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (211)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

211. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the file of a person (details supplied) will be forwarded to the appeals section in order for the appeal to be further investigated; if this will be forwarded as soon as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24694/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) was received form the person concerned on the  18th September 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 6th December 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 4th March 2019.   Further medical evidence that was submitted with the appeal was forwarded to the Department's Medical Assessor for their medical opinion. As part of the appeals process, the application will be re-examined by a deciding officer and a revised decision will be made if warranted.  Alternatively, the case will be referred for consideration by the Social Welfare Appeals Office.  The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of the deciding officer's review as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Carer's Allowance Data

Questions (212, 213)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

212. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has compiled data on young carers here; if so, if the data will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24707/19]

View answer

Willie O'Dea

Question:

213. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons aged 15 to 18 years of age who are considered carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24708/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 and 213 together.

The Government acknowledges the crucial role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role through a range of supports and services.  This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.

The main income supports to carers provided by my Department are Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Carer’s Support Grant.  A principal condition for the receipt of these income supports is that the carer is in a position to provide full-time care and attention to a person in need of such full-time care.  A person must be at least 18 years of age to apply for Carer's Allowance.  It should be noted, however, that Carer’s Benefit  and the Carer's Support Grant may be applied for from the age of 16 years.  A carer under 18 may also apply for Domiciliary Care Allowance in respect of caring for a child who meets the conditions of that scheme.

Accordingly, data for carers aged under 18 is only available for those who claim Carer's Benefit. The youngest carer in receipt of Carer’s Benefit as of May 2019 is aged 22.

Data for carers aged under 25 who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit  is provided in the tabular statement overleaf.  

Age breakdowns for those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance is currently published on an annual basis in the Statistical information of Social Welfare Services Report. The number of carer’s aged under 25 for the years 2014 – 2018 are provided in the tabular statement overleaf. 

 Apart from the income supports available, last December I also approved funding of €1.763 million to provide a range of training and supports for family carers for 13 projects under the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2018.  The funded projects provide structured training, information and support networks under the theme of personal and social development for family carers, including young carers.

 In order to stay informed of, and assess, priorities within the sector, my Department actively engages with carers’ representative groups.  As part of its commitments under the National Carer's Strategy , which is lead by the Department of Health, my Department hosts the Annual Carers Forum.  The most recent Forum was held in May this year and featured a dedicated discussion group on "Supports for Young Carers" and attendees included a number of individual young carers as well as carer representative groups.  Tusla - the Child and Family Agency who co-facilitated this group along with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, also offer a number of family and support services for young carers nationwide including the Family Support and Meitheal programmes.

Age 

Carer's Benefit Recipients (May 2019) 

Carer's Allowance Recipients  (May 2019)

 16

 0

 -

 17

 0

 18

 0

 19

 0

 47

 20

 0

 101

 21

 0

 133

 22

 1

 171

 23

 0

 229

 24

 0

 245

 Total under 25

 1

 935

Carer's Allowance

 Age

 December 2014

 December 2015

December 2016 

December 2017 

December 2018 

 18

 5

10 

11 

10 

 19

 31

26 

50 

53 

62 

 20

 44

58 

65 

96 

84 

 21

 72

69 

104 

109 

135 

 22

 140

119 

123 

150 

150 

 23

 148

 182

185 

 185

213 

 24

 189

 209

 261

 244

 242

 Total under 25

 629

668 

 798

848 

 896

Social Welfare Code

Questions (214)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

214. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department provides supports, financial or otherwise, to carers under 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24709/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Government acknowledges the crucial role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role through a range of supports and services.  This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.

The main income supports to carers provided by my Department are Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Carer’s Support Grant.  A principal condition for the receipt of these income supports is that the carer is in a position to provide full-time care and attention to a person in need of such full-time care.  A person must be at least 18 years of age to apply for Carer's Allowance.  It should be noted, however, that Carer’s Benefit and the Carer's Support Grant may be applied for from the age of 16 years.  A carer under 18 may also apply for Domiciliary Care Allowance in respect of caring for a child who meets the conditions of that scheme.

Apart from the income supports available, last December I also approved funding of €1.763 million to provide a range of training and supports for family carers for 13 projects under the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2018.  The funded projects provide structured training, information and support networks under the theme of personal and social development for family carers, including young carers.

In order to stay informed of, and assess, priorities within the sector, my Department actively engages with carers’ representative groups.  As part of its commitments under the National Carer's Strategy, which is lead by the Department of Health, my Department hosts the Annual Carers Forum.  The most recent Forum was held in May this year and featured a dedicated discussion group on "Supports for Young Carers" and attendees included a number of individual young carers as well as carer representative groups.  Tusla - the Child and Family Agency who co-facilitated this group along with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, also offer a number of family and support services for young carers nationwide including the Family Support and Meitheal programmes.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Questions (215)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

215. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when arrears of jobseeker's allowance and rent support is payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24727/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of a jobseeker's allowance payment amounting to €274 per week.  Arrears of jobseeker's allowance amounting to €2,826.03 for the period 23/1/19 to 9/4/19 have been withheld to offset against an overpayment of €23,873.33 incurred during the period 5/6/07 to 27/11/18.  The person concerned was notified in writing on 2/5/19 that arrears were being withheld to be offset against this overpayment.  The person concerned was given the opportunity to comment on the contents of this letter within 14 days, setting out any facts or evidence he might wish the Department to take into consideration in examining the claim.  To-date no communication has been received.

According to our records the person concerned does not have a current rent supplement application registered with the Department. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Social Welfare Overpayments

Questions (216)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

216. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the manner in which an overpayment occurred in the case of a person (details supplied); if a nominal amount of repayment can be agreed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24728/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned incurred two separate jobseeker's allowance overpayments. The first overpayment amounts to €915.32 and covers the period 20/3/18 to 6/5/18 and occurred as the person concerned failed to inform the Department that the adult dependant had two employers.  The second overpayment amounts to €1,752, covering the period 1/8/18 to 1/11/18 and occurred as the person concerned failed to inform the Department that the adult dependant was absent from the state.

The person concerned has entered into an agreement with the Department to repay the debts by direct debit of €50 per week with effect from 7/6/19.

If the person concerned is experiencing financial hardship with the recovery plan as agreed.  It is open to her to contact her local Intreo Centre and renegotiate an alternative recovery plan, better suited to her current circumstances.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Social Welfare Overpayments

Questions (217)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

217. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an alleged overpayment in case of a person (details supplied) is eligible for late appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24731/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a working family payment appeal by the person concerned was referred on 6 June 2019 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 hearing. 

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme

Questions (218)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

218. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the correct level of rent support payable in the case of a recipient of invalidity pension paying a rent of €500 per month; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24732/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Rent supplement continues its important role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting some 20,600 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

Rent supplement is a statutory means tested scheme; payable at differentiated rates of payment according to the applicant’s means and accommodation requirements.  It is normally calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the rate of supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) appropriate to their family circumstances less a weekly minimum contribution which recipients are required to pay from their own resources.  

The frequency and the amount of rent supplement support being provided is primarily based on:

- the means assessment of the individual;

- their employment status; and

- the amount and frequency of rent being paid. 

Assuming that the person concerned has no other income, apart from an invalidity pension, then the level of rent support provided would be about €361 per month.  This can be calculated by subtracting the minimum contribution expected (€32 per week or €129 per month) away from the monthly rent agreed to be paid to the landlord (in this case €500).

Given the nature of the means assessment for rent supplement, and the different types of cases that can present, the calculation provided should be seen as indicative only.  If the Deputy has concerns in respect of a particular case, he should bring the details to the attention of the Department as soon as possible.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (219)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

219. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24735/19]

View answer

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.

I confirm that my department received an application for CA from the person concerned on 29 April 2019.  Additional information in relation to the person’s application was requested by a deciding officer on 30 May 2019.

Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy .

Exceptional Needs Payments

Questions (220)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

220. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an exceptional needs payment will be made in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24737/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Community Welfare Officer (CWO) with responsibility for the area in which the person concerned resides advises that no application for an exceptional needs payment (ENP) has been received from the person concerned.

An application form has issued to the person concerned today (10 June 2019).

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Payments

Questions (221)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

221. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the exact weekly payment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24738/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I can confirm that the person concerned is in receipt of disability allowance (DA) at the maximum personal rate payable for a single person. 

If the gentleman’s circumstances have changed and he wishes to have his claim reviewed, he may apply in writing to the DA section, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (222)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

222. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an appeal will be determined in respect of a person (details supplied); if the precise indicative level of payment in the person's case has been posted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24739/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned together with the relevant Departmental papers were received by that office on 21st May 2019 and that the case 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 hearing.  

In general, where an appeal is successful, the decision of the Appeals Officer is implemented by the Department without undue delay. 

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Questions (223)

James Browne

Question:

223. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to delays affecting carer’s benefit applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24757/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers.  This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

Currently the average time taken to process a new CARB applications is 12 weeks.

Before a decision can be made on entitlement to CARB, a person has to show that they have the required level of PRSI contributions, that they have left full-time employment, that they are providing full-time care and attention and that the person being cared for has such a disability that they require full-time care and attention.

In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process.  This is compounded if the documentary evidence provided at initial application stage is incomplete or insufficient; this is sometimes the case with CARB applications.

Where any scheme area experiences delays, all possible steps are taken to improve processing times including the assignment of additional resources, where available. A review of business processes is also underway, to ensure efficient processing of applications. It is intended that the current review of business processes will identify opportunities to implement improvements and efficiencies over the coming months.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Dietary Allowance Administration

Questions (224)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

224. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the circumstance in which a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who moved from an invalidity pension to a State pension, contributory, received an additional €50 per week but as a result of this the person lost their diet allowance of €47.87 per month; the reason a person on a State pension, contributory, is not entitled to a diet allowance; and the rationale for a decision in this case. [24778/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I understand from my Department that the Diet Supplement of the person concerned was reviewed in June 2018.  Following this review it was decided that he no longer qualified for this supplement from August 2018.

The person concerned appealed this decision and an Appeals Officer has upheld the Deciding Officer's decision.

Diet Supplement is calculated by taking the weekly diet cost and by deducting one third of a persons weekly social welfare payment from this amount.   

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Domiciliary Care Allowance Review

Questions (225)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

225. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding a review of claimants of the domiciliary care allowance; the purpose of this review; the person or body that initiated it; if parents of children with lifelong permanent conditions will not be subject to this review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24788/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

In line with other Social Welfare schemes, Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is subject to review to ensure that the qualifying conditions for the scheme continue to be met.

In the case of DCA, scheduled eligibility reviews were suspended in May 2012 pending a review of the operation of the scheme and have remained suspended in the intervening period for a number of operational reasons; including introducing the recommendations of report on the review of the scheme  and the assignment of all available staff resources to process the increased volume of applications received in recent years. New claims are currently processed in line with the departmental standard (90% to be processed within 10 weeks), with claims finalised on average within 10 weeks.

The re-introduction of eligibility reviews by department management at this time, is made possible in the context of having sufficient staff resources available to undertake reviews, without impacting on new claim processing times.  It also fulfills the requirement to have proper control and oversight of claims in payment, as required by the comptroller and auditor general.

Eligibility for DCA is not based on the child's particular disability or the severity of the condition, but rather on the additional care needs arising from the disability.  So the purpose of the review is to assess the child's current care needs, which may have changed over time as the child developed and as a result of receiving appropriate treatment/support.

Children recommended by the departments medical advisors, as not requiring review due to their particular disability, will be exempted from reviews.  Some 15% of claims are marked as 'not to be reviewed', due to the severity of the disability of the child.

 I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Irish Coast Guard Issues

Questions (226)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

226. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider exploring the possibility that the Irish Coast Guard air sea rescue could assist the Air Corps in dealing with wildfire control in times of absolute emergency; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that such arrangements exist in other countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24363/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of a fire service in its functional area and the assessment of fire cover needs having regard to the nature of the fire hazards and the probable incidence and extent of fires in its area is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under Section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981.

The priority of fire services in responding to incidents of wildland fires is the protection of life in local communities and among emergency responders. An important secondary objective is working with local communities to try to protect infrastructure, houses and other property, as well as conservation areas, where it is safe to do so.  

The response to such wildfires is supported by well established arrangements where local authority fire services may, through the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department, request the assistance of the Defence Forces. The kind of support provided to local authority fire services by the Defence Forces in wildland fire-fighting has been effective and is greatly appreciated.

Irish Coast Guard helicopters provide a vital search and rescue service, both marine and inland. In the latter context they may be called to assist in rescuing persons who are cut-off or endangered by wildland fires.

Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report

Questions (227)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

227. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the process for changes to local election boundaries; the way in which local residents can input to such processes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24628/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 23 of the Local Government Act 2001 empowers the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to divide a local authority area into local electoral areas and to amend those areas.  However, in advance of deciding to make an order under section 23 of the Act, the Minister must, in accordance with section 32(2) of the Local Government Act 1991, request a boundary committee to make a report having regard to such matters as may be specified by the Minister.  The Minister must publish the report of the boundary committee and must have regard to the report of that committee when deciding to make an order in relation to local electoral area boundaries.

Boundary committees are independent in the performance of their functions and stand dissolved on the expiration of such period of time as may be specified by the Minister at the time of the committees’ establishment.

Section 33 of the Local Government Act 1991 provides that, in preparing such a Report, the Boundary Committee shall consult any local authority concerned.  In addition, Boundary Committees also invite submissions in relation to their review from interested stakeholders, including the public.

For information, the most recent Local Electoral Area Boundary Committees were established on 13 December 2017 and reported on 13 June 2018.  Notice of the Committees’ establishment and role was advertised in the print media and, following a consultation which was also publicly advertised, a total of 372 individual submissions were received by the Committees.  I understand that all contributions were considered by the Committees and helped inform their deliberations.

Orders giving effect to the recommendations in the Reports of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committees in relation to the configuration of local electoral areas were made on 19 December 2018 in the case of all local authorities except Cork.  Orders for Cork City Council and Cork County Council were made on 31 January 2019.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Review

Questions (228)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

228. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the final report of the review of the tenant purchase scheme will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24637/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been completed and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations. 

Following consideration of a number of implementation issues arising, I expect to be in a position to publish the Review shortly. I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the Review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be progressed as part of that process.

Pyrite Remediation Programme

Questions (229)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

229. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when pyrite remediation works will be concluded at a location (details supplied) in County Dublin. [24641/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board, and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” and is limited in its application and scope.   The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme which is available on the Board’s website, www.pyriteboard.ie.

In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Board is independent in the performance of its functions, and as Minister, I have no role in the operational matters pertaining to the implementation of the scheme. The Board may be contacted by phone at Lo call 1890 252842 or by email to info@pyriteboard.ie or alternatively at oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie.

The latest figures available indicate that a total of 2,393 applications have been received under the pyrite remediation scheme. Of these, 1,939 dwellings have been included in the scheme, with the applicants notified accordingly, and 1,579 dwellings have been remediated. 

A sum of €32 million is available to fund the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme this year.  This will facilitate the remediation of some 460 additional dwellings and is a clear signal of the continuing importance attached by Government to addressing the issue of significant pyritic damage in private dwellings. This will bring to approximately €126m the total funding provided under the scheme since 2014.

Ultimately, the Pyrite Remediation Board, together with the Housing Agency, will arrange for all eligible dwellings to be remediated to a high standard and at no additional cost to the affected homeowners. Remediation works will continue to be carried out at the earliest possible opportunity having regard to the existing demands of the scheme and the optimum use of available resources. There is no closing date for applications.