Defence Forces Personnel Data

Questions (45)

Jack Chambers

Question:

45. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces members referred to the HSE for psychiatric services and placed on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist since 26 July 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25903/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The number of Defence Forces personnel availing of psychiatric services through the HSE since July 2018, is not readily available. Personnel in need of psychiatric assessment are referred through their primary carer. To ascertain if a referral had been made for psychiatric assessment would involve each individual primary carer conducting a review of all their patients' records.

Defence Forces Medical Services

Questions (46)

Jack Chambers

Question:

46. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the mental health supports and services available for ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25904/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Deputy will be aware that a range of both medical and non-medical services are provided to serving members of the Defence Forces who experience traumatic events in the line of duty. These include:

- Access to Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) in the event of a traumatic incident;

- A network of Personnel Support Service (PSS) Officers and occupational social workers at formation, unit and barrack level, which also provides some limited support to veterans;

- A 24-hour confidential counselling, referral and support helpline;

- Primary medical care from a dedicated team of Defence Forces Medical Officers and contracted civilian GPs, whose role it is to assess, diagnose, treat and refer individuals for psychiatric and psychological assessment, as appropriate;

- Clinical psychiatric and psychological treatment, as necessary; and

- For those personnel deploying overseas, a rigorous programme of training which includes briefing by qualified PSS staff on critical incidents and their effects, stress management and wellness.

All efforts are made to ensure that any serving personnel who experience traumatic events, avail of access to all available supports.

I recognise the valued contribution made by ex-service personnel to the State. As with other members of society, former members of the Permanent Defence Force can experience difficulties. In such circumstances they have access to the range of supports available to all citizens.

My Department works with the recognised Veterans Associations to help them deliver services to their members who may experience difficulties post-retirement. In recognition of their ongoing valuable work in representing veterans, an annual subvention is made to in the order of €100,000 to ONE and €11,000 to IUNVA. This is to assist them in their support work and branch and drop-in centre networks across the country.

State Claims Agency Data

Questions (47)

Jack Chambers

Question:

47. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of cases lodged with the State Claims Agency for a condition (details supplied) in each of the past ten years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25943/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) manages personal injury claims of this nature on behalf of the Minister for Defence. The information sought by the Deputy could not be compiled by the SCA within the timeframe allowed to answer this Parliamentary Question. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as the information is provided to me.

Civil Defence

Questions (48)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

48. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the role of the auxiliary fire service has been impacted as a result to the issues in relation to the pre-hospital emergency care council issue; if a circular has been issued on the role of the auxiliary fire service in the Civil Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25947/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

In September 2018, I announced a review of the existing roles and activities of Civil Defence. The intention of this review is to set out a road map for the Civil Defence organisation over the next 10-15 years. The outcome of this review will be a policy document, titled "Towards 2030", which I intend to publish in the coming months.

As part of the review, there has been a wide ranging consultation process with all stakeholders, including Local Authority management, Civil Defence Officers and Assistant Civil Defence Officers, volunteers, and the Principal Response Agencies.

To inform the consultation process, a draft document has been prepared setting out proposals for consideration in relation to future roles.

In terms of the auxiliary fire service, this has been an integral part of Civil Defence since its establishment in 1951. However Civil Defence have had limited involvement in fire fighting in recent years with their role focused on wild land fires in a small number of counties. Frontline fire fighting has become increasingly professionalised in recent years and it requires significant investment in both training and equipment because of the inherent dangers involved. My Department will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that all views are considered in mapping the way forward.

The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) issue is a different issue and unrelated to the review of the roles and activities of Civil Defence that I launched last September. There has and continues to be on going contact between my officials, the County and City Management Association and PHECC with a view to finalising licensing arrangements for Civil Defence.

I can assure you that I am committed to ensuring that the excellent emergency medical service provided by Civil Defence volunteers continues.

Civil Defence

Questions (49)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

49. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the matter regarding the pre-hospital emergency care council issue in respect of the Civil Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25948/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is the regulator for emergency medical services in Ireland and their role is to protect the public. PHECC is an independent statutory agency with responsibility for standards, education and training in the field of pre-hospital emergency care.

Organisations who wish to be operational and deliver emergency medical services, and use the PHECC Clinical Practice Guidelines must apply to PHECC for an annual licence to operate.

In advance of Civil Defence renewing its operating licence last October, my officials reviewed the Statutory Declaration that must be signed by organisations who wish to provide emergency medical services. That review identified that some assurances and details required as part of the licensing process are not within the control or remit of the Department of Defence, as responsibility for local Civil Defence operations rests with the relevant Local Authority.

Since then, my officials have been engaging with PHECC and with local authorities through the County and City Management Association (CCMA).

Following a three way meeting between my officials, the CCMA and PHECC on the 15 May 2019, there is now a process in place which will involve local authorities providing assurance for some of the elements in the Statutory Declaration. The Department of Defence should then be in a position to sign the Statutory Declaration for Civil Defence.

It will take a period of time to put in place the necessary processes and collate the required assurances. In that context, my officials have applied to PHECC for an extension of Civil Defence’s current licence which expires on 30 July 2019. That extension request will be considered by the PHECC Council at its June monthly meeting.

Such an extension will allow Civil Defence to continue to provide emergency medical services in their communities. I can assure you that I am committed to ensuring that the excellent emergency medical service provided by Civil Defence volunteers continues.

My officials will continue to keep Civil Defence Officers in the Local Authorities abreast of developments.

Defence Forces Remuneration

Questions (50)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

50. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the cost of restoring all allowances to the Defence Forces to pre-FEMPI levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25949/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The cost of restoring Defence Forces allowances (excluding Military Service Allowance) to pre-FEMPI levels could cost in the region of €7 million. This figure is based on estimates for 2019. As many of the duties are demand led and the number of duties can fluctuate year on year, this variable must be taken into consideration in comparing any actual figures with speculative amounts.

Employment Rights

Questions (51)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

51. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the additional whole-time equivalent that would be required to give effect to the working time directive for the Defence Forces; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25950/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Working Time Directive has been transposed into national legislation by way of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997. The Government has committed to amending the Organisation of Working Time Act and bringing the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána within the scope of its provisions.

The Organisation of Working Time Act sets out the requirements to be met by employers in regulating working time and allows for derogation and exemptions from some of those provisions. These issues and others are currently the subject of discussions between civil and military management and the Representative Associations and will shape the manner in which the work of the Permanent Defence Force is organised.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (52)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

52. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the additional cost of restoring fixed period promotion in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25951/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Fixed Period Promotion in the Permanent Defence Force was previously part of the terms and conditions of Special Service Officers.

The Defence Sector Action Plan of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, (the Croke Park Agreement), contained a commitment to review promotion procedures to ensure merit based competitive promotion policies are the norm. The policy of fixed period promotions was at variance with a competitive merit based promotion system. Following discussions under the Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force, in September 2015, the policy was discontinued and new arrangements put in place .

There are no plans to restore the policy of fixed period promotions for Special Service Officers in the Defence Forces, outside of the arrangements agreed through the C&A scheme and in this regard a costing exercise has not been conducted.

Defence Forces Pensions

Questions (53)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

53. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to implement a review of pension age for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25952/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) carried out a review in relation to the retirement ages of Public Servants in 2017. It was agreed at that time with DPER, that the retirement age for members of the uniformed fast accrual group, which included members of the Permanent Defence Force along with the Gardaí, Firefighters and Prison Officers, was best dealt with at sectorial level. The detailed policy, operational and manpower issues relevant to these groups could be appropriately considered at that level.

The White Paper on Defence (2015) contains a commitment to conduct, in the medium term, a review of HR policies which includes retirement policies and age profiles for personnel across the Defence Forces.

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (54)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

54. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of increasing the military service allowance by 10%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25953/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

It is estimated that the cost of increasing Military Service Allowance by 10% would be approximately €4.8 million in a full year.

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (55)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

55. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the allocation for the military service allowance to serving members of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25954/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The allocation for Military Service Allowance (MSA) is included within the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) Pay allocation of the Defence Vote. In 2019, the PDF Pay allocation is €446.7 million. Total expenditure on MSA in 2018 was €46.5 million. MSA is paid to all ranks from Private up to the level of Colonel.

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (56)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

56. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost to restore the Saturday and Sunday premium rates for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25955/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

In accordance with the Public Service Stability Agreement, 2013-2016, (the Haddington Road Agreement), all sectors across the public service were required to contribute to additional pay and productivity measures. Other sectors delivered these savings through a variety of approaches including additional working time and reduced rates of overtime payments.

The contribution from the Defence sector included a further reduction of 10% on the rate of certain allowances payable to the Defence Forces. As part of the cost saving measures to be secured under the agreement, it was also agreed with the Representative Associations that the Saturday and Sunday rates for Security Duty Allowance would be flat rated.

The cost of restoring the premium rates and the 10% cut to SDA introduced in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016, would be in the region of €2 million per annum. This figure is based on the 2018 payments of SDA. As security duties are demand led and the number of duties can fluctuate year on year, this variable must be taken into consideration in comparing any actual figures with speculative amounts.

It should be noted that the representative associations for the Permanent Defence Force, PDFORRA and RACO have made claims for the restoration of the premium rates which is being processed through the Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) Scheme. As discussions under the C&A scheme are confidential to the parties involved, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

Defence Forces Training

Questions (57)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

57. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of recruits and personnel undergoing three star training in the Defence Forces in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25956/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The following table, provided by the military authorities, sets out the number of General Service inductions that took place in each of the five years from 2014 to 2018.

General Service Recruits undertake initial training to qualify as two star Privates before proceeding to further training to qualify as three star privates. On average, over 20% of General Service recruits leave the Defence Forces before completing their initial training and qualifying as two star Privates.

Year

Total

2014

444

2015

307

2016

588

2017

607

2018

492

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (58, 59)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

58. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the allowances paid to members of the Naval Service; the value of each; the number of those eligible; the amount paid for each allowance in each of the past five years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25957/19]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

59. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the allowances paid to members of the Air Corps; the value of each; the number of those eligible; the amount paid for each allowance in each of the past five years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25958/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 59 together.

The specific information sought by the Deputy is not maintained in the format requested and it is not possible to prepare the material in the timeframe given. I will write to the Deputy with the information requested at the earliest opportunity.

Defence Forces Allowances

Questions (60)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

60. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of providing rent allowance to the Defence Forces similar to that provided to An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25959/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

There are no plans to introduce a Rent Allowance similar to that provided to An Garda Síochána for members of the Defence Forces, I can therefore not speculate on the cost of providing it.

Foreign Policy

Questions (61)

Seán Crowe

Question:

61. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the recent protests in Hong Kong against an extradition Bill (details supplied) that would allow the authorities in Hong Kong to extradite persons to mainland China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25923/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am aware of the protests which have been taking place in Hong Kong over recent weeks. The Consulate General in Hong Kong has been monitoring and reporting on the developments in relation to the demonstrations and on the proposed extradition bill to which the Deputy refers. The Consul General, along with the EU Office and representatives of other EU Member States, has also engaged directly with the Hong Kong authorities on the proposed bill. I note that the passage of this legislation has now been suspended indefinitely by the Hong Kong authorities.

Ireland fully supports the right to assembly and freedom of expression, as provided for under Hong Kong's Basic Law, and I welcome the peaceful passing of the most recent demonstration on the 16 June. In this House on 18 June, I urged the security forces to respect these rights and to exercise restraint in their response, and called upon the demonstrators to express these rights in a peaceful manner.

Ireland also fully supports the EU statement on this matter, which was issued by the Spokesperson for High Representative Mogherini on the 12 June.

An updated travel advice notice alerting people to the demonstrations and advising that areas of potential unrest be avoided has been issued by my Department. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and, together with our EU partners, will engage with the Hong Kong authorities and others on this issues as it develops.

Economic Policy

Questions (62)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

62. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he continues to make comparisons with other economies throughout Europe, including those within and without the European Union, with a view to ensuring the maximisation of opportunities for the economy while maintaining accord with European colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26022/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I regularly monitor the latest economic developments. My Department continually analyses and prepares briefing on short and medium-term macroeconomic trends in European and international economy. This includes informing me of the latest forecasts from the international institutions for the global economy, and for our key trading partners.

At European level, through both the ECOFIN and Eurogroup meetings, Ministers work alongside the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) to take stock of the latest economic situation, including the risks and opportunities for European economies in the short to medium-term.

As published in the Stability Programme Update (SPU) 2019, my Department has forecast economic growth to moderate to a more sustainable rate of 3.9 per cent in 2019, and to continue at the broadly similar pace of 3.3 per cent for 2020. Although growth rates have moderated from 2018, they still compare very favourably to other EU, and significant non-EU, trading partners.

Growth in the Irish economy is expected to come from both modified domestic demand, which is set to increase by 4.0 per cent in 2019, and an expansion in Irish exports – which are set to grow by 5.2 per cent this year. Modified domestic demand excludes the volatile components of investment spending – giving a more accurate picture of the health of domestic economic activity.

The SPU sets out the principal economic risks facing the Irish economy (e.g. domestic overheating and capacity constraints, trade disruptions, Brexit), along with an assessment of their relative likelihood and economic impact. The balance of risk is firmly tilted to the downside, both in the short-term and over the medium-term.

Ireland’s economic data compare favourably to those of our main trading partners – with growth, unemployment, and inflation performing better than the Euro Area and EU averages - as the data in Table 1 below illustrate.

The European economy is projected to grow for the seventh year in a row in 2019, albeit moderately, with expansion forecast in all Member States. The pace of growth is expected to ease compared to the high rates of recent years – to 1.4 per cent this year and picking up slightly to 1.6 per cent in 2020. For the Euro Area, the Commission is forecasting growth of 1.2 per cent this year, strengthening slightly to 1.5 per cent in 2020.

Annual UK GDP growth slowed from 1.8 per cent in 2017 to 1.4 per cent in 2018 due to a range of factors including falling business investment and slowing external demand. In the light of Brexit, projections for 2019 and 2020 of 1.3 per cent are based on a purely technical assumption of status quo in terms of trading patterns between the EU27 and the UK. Growth in the US economy will slow but remain relatively strong at 2.4 per cent for 2019, easing further to 1.9 per cent in 2020.

In common with Ireland, unemployment continues to fall in the EU and US, with the US labour market set to tighten further as it approaches full employment. In the UK, unemployment will remain stable as employment growth slows in the context of subdued GDP figures.

The Government has taken significant action to ensure Ireland is aware of, and ready for developments in major partner countries. We have worked hard to rebalance our economy from where it was in the previous decade, before the global financial crisis. Growth in our economy today is evenly spread across a range of sectors, equipping us to better withstand the challenges ahead. The Government will continue to work to strengthen the resilience of the economy, to maximise opportunities while working in accordance with our EU partners.

Table 1

Real GDP

Inflation

Unemployment

2018

2019

2020

2018

2019

2020

2018

2019

2020

Ireland (SPU 2019 forecasts)

6.7

3.9

3.3

0.7

0.9

1.1

5.7

5.4

5.2

UK

1.4

1.3

1.3

2.5

2.0

2.1

4.0

4.1

4.2

Euro Area

1.9

1.2

1.5

1.8

1.4

1.4

8.2

7.7

7.3

EU28

2.0

1.4

1.6

1.9

1.6

1.7

6.8

6.5

6.2

US

2.9

2.4

1.9

2.4

2.0

2.0

3.9

3.8

3.7

Source: European Commission Spring 2019 forecasts and Department of Finance SPU 2019 forecasts for Ireland

Brexit Staff

Questions (63)

Joan Burton

Question:

63. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of additional Revenue Commissioners' staff who have been recruited to meet the challenges posed by Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25888/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that since the start of 2019, Revenue has appointed over 550 staff from open recruitment and interdepartmental competitions, the majority of these have been assigned to customs roles or to backfill positions from which existing Revenue staff have been assigned to customs duties. As serving staff take up their new Brexit-related roles, Revenue is back-filling the vacancies created, from panels established in its general recruitment activity. Additional staff recruited in preparation for Brexit are deployed across a number of functions with approximately half on import and export trade facilitation activities. To date, Revenue has trained over 450 staff in preparation for Brexit.

The impact of the decision to extend the deadline on Brexit to 31 October 2019 is being assessed by Revenue having regard to resources, infrastructure and trader engagement including additional recruitment and training requirements.

Carbon Tax Collection

Questions (64)

Seán Fleming

Question:

64. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if VAT is charged on carbon tax that is included on domestic gas bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25889/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that what constitutes consideration for a supply of goods or services is defined in EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply, and consists of everything which the supplier is entitled to receive in return for goods or services supplied including taxes, duties, levies and charges, excluding the VAT itself. Therefore, VAT is chargeable on the carbon tax element of domestic gas bills.

Property Tax Exemptions

Questions (65)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

65. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance his plans to include property owners affected by mica and registered for the mica redress scheme in the list of properties exempt from the payment of the local property tax as opposed to only accepting acknowledgement of devaluation of properties due to mica; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25927/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The legislation governing the administration of Local Property Tax (LPT) provides for a limited number of exemptions from LPT. There is no specific exemption for properties affected by Mica and there are no plans to introduce such an exemption.

LPT operates on a self-assessment basis and it is a matter for the property owner in the first instance to file an LPT Return, if they have not already done so, and to calculate the tax due based on his or her assessment of the market value of the property as at 1 May 2013. When making an assessment, issues such as the presence of Mica would be one of the factors that a property owner should take into account in valuing their property.

Further information and assistance in regard to valuations is available via the Revenue LPT Helpline on 01-738 36 26.

Banking Sector Data

Questions (66)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

66. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the number of payment accounts with basic features that have been created in each of the years since the inception of SI No. 482 of 2016 by the financial institution providing same. [25944/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Payment Accounts Directive, transposed in September 2016 by the European Union (Payment Accounts) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 482 of 2016), contains a right to open a payment account with basic features with a credit institution.

The Central Bank is the designated competent authority for the purposes of the European Union (Payment Accounts) Regulations 2016. The most recent information that I have available to me from the Central Bank indicates that in the period from September 2016 to the end of June 2018, 69,182 accounts that met the criteria of a payment account with basic features were opened across all six Irish credit institutions.

The Central Bank collects this data from firms for the purposes of evaluation of the Payment Accounts Directive, and I do not have a further breakdown of the number of payment accounts by institution.

Motor Insurance Costs

Questions (67)

Niall Collins

Question:

67. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence from a person (details supplied) on driver insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25945/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the outset, the Deputy should note that the legal framework governing insurance regulation is determined at EU level through the Solvency II Directive. This is transposed into Irish law by the European Union (Insurance and Reinsurance) Regulation 2015 (SI No. 485 of 2015). Solvency II provides the basis for how insurers can operate in the EU and amongst other things prohibits interference by me or the Central Bank of Ireland in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. It also precludes models such as the fuel tax one proposed in the attached correspondence. The second proposal to establish a national insurance scheme for under 25s would also be problematic as any such arrangement would have to comply with the standard prudential rules that apply to private insurers. Because of the concentration of such a high risk category in one company, such insurance would likely be very expensive. In relation to the third option, of a cross-subsidisation of younger drivers, it is difficult to see that there would be much support from already hard pressed motorists for this proposal as it could add significantly to their existing premiums.

In pricing insurance, I understand that motor insurers use a combination of rating factors in making their individual decisions on whether to offer cover and what terms to apply. Factors include those such as the age of the driver and the relevant driving experience, as well as the age and type of vehicle, how the vehicle is used, the claims record, and the number of drivers. Insurers do not all use the same combination of rating factors, and as a result prices vary across the market. In addition, insurance companies also price in accordance with their own past claims experience. I acknowledge the point that it would be helpful if insurers provided appropriately anonymised actuarial data to support their case with regard to pricing policy for younger motorists, however insurers argue that such information is commercially sensitive and unfortunately I am not in a position to compel them to disclose such information.

Notwithstanding the above, the Cost of Insurance Working Group was established in July 2016 and undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance. The initial focus of the Working Group was on motor insurance premiums The Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 201 and makes 33 recommendations with 71 associated actions to be carried out in agreed timeframes, which are set out in an Action Plan. In January 2018, the Working Group published the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance. This Report makes a further 15 Recommendations with 29 associated actions.

There has been significant work to date in implementing the recommendations of the two aforementioned reports, including the following:

- the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission, and its subsequent recommendations relating to addressing award levels for soft tissue injuries – this has provided the objective evidence we need to be able to address award levels;

- the establishment of the National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank to increase transparency around the future cost of private motor insurance;

- reforms to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 ;

- amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected;

- the reform of the Insurance Compensation Fund to provide certainty to policyholders and insurers; and,

- various reforms of how fraud is reported to and dealt with by An Garda Síochána, including increased co-ordination with the insurance industry, as well as the recent decision by the Garda Commissioner to develop a divisional focus on insurance fraud which will be guided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) which will also train Gardaí all over the country on investigating insurance fraud, and the recent success under Operation Coatee , which targets insurance-related criminality.

I believe that these reforms are having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from May 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24.5% lower than the July 2016 peak). It is acknowledged however that this is an average figure and young drivers may not be benefitting to the same degree.

Undoubtedly the single most essential challenge which must be overcome if there is to be a further sustainable reduction in insurance costs for motorists is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions. In this regard, the Personal Injuries Commission has highlighted the significant differential between award levels in Ireland and other jurisdictions, and has made a number of recommendations to address this issue, in particular the establishment of a Judicial Council to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.

It should be noted that work is progressing as a matter of priority on the Judicial Council Bill, and it is due to complete Report and Final Stages in the Seanad this week, prior to being submitted to Dáil Éireann shortly thereafter. I would hope that members of both Houses of the Oireachtas can collectively work together to ensure that the Judicial Council Bill is enacted by the summer.

Finally, I would advise younger drivers who are quoted increased premiums to consult the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website (https://www.ccpc.ie/), which has an informative section regarding the purchase of car insurance generally. One of the key tips listed to help cut costs is to “shop around” and “always get quotes from several insurance providers when you need to get or renew insurance”. Insurance Ireland also operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to obtaining insurance. Insurance Ireland can be contacted at feedback@insuranceireland.eu or 01-6761914.

Tax Reliefs Data

Questions (68)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

68. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the tax reliefs or schemes that are due to end in the next 12 months; the annual cost of the relief or scheme in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25936/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I can advise the Deputy that there are four tax reliefs that are scheduled to terminate within the next 12 months. Whether a relief or scheme is to be extended will be considered as part of the deliberative process in relation to Budget 2020. The four reliefs are a capital allowance scheme, known as the Living City Initiative, a farm restructuring scheme allowing relief from capital gains tax, a Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) refund scheme for hybrid electrical vehicles and the Help to Buy scheme for first time owners of residential property.

The Living City Initiative, a scheme of property tax incentives that was enacted in Finance Act 2013 and commenced on 5th May 2015, is due to terminate on 4th May 2020. The scheme provides tax relief for qualifying expenditure incurred on the refurbishment and conversion of both residential and commercial buildings and is aimed at the regeneration of certain areas in the historic centres of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford. There are three types of relief available; owner occupier residential relief, rented residential (landlord) relief and commercial or retail relief. The rented residential relief was introduced with effect from 1 January 2017. Owner occupier relief is given by writing off expenditure incurred at a rate of 10% per annum over ten years. Rented residential and commercial/retail relief is given by way of capital allowances (expenditure incurred is written off over a 7 year period at a rate of 15% per annum over 6 years and 10% in the final year).

The most recent statistics available for this scheme are as follows:

2016Amount claimed €M

2016Minimum tax cost assumed @ 40% for IT and 12.5% for CT €M

2016Number of claimants

0.5

0.2

15

Section 604B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides relief from capital gains tax for farm restructuring by individuals where the sale, purchase or exchange of agricultural land takes place on or before 31 December 2019. To qualify for relief under that section, Teagasc must certify that the sale and purchase or the exchange of the land is carried out for farm restructuring purposes.

Information in relation to this relief was only first included in the tax returns for 2018 and therefore there is no current information available from Revenue sources as to the cost of this relief.

Finance Act 1992 provides for a remission or repayment of Vehicle Registration Tax on both series production hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles up to a maximum of €1,500 in the case of hybrid electrical vehicles and €2,500 in the case of plug-in hybrid electrical vehicles. These reliefs are due to expire on 31 December 2019.

I am informed by Revenue that the annual cost of providing a remission or a repayment of Vehicle Registration Tax for plugin hybrids and hybrid electric vehicles for 2018 and to 31 May 2019 is provided in the following table.

Year

€ Costs Millions

2018

€22.5

2019 (End of May 2019)*

€17.7

The Help to Buy (HTB) Scheme was introduced with effect from 1 January 2017 and is due to end in December 2019. It was introduced to assist first-time purchasers with the deposit required to buy or build a new house or apartment. The incentive gives a refund of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid over the previous four years, subject to certain limits applying, as set out in the legislation.

It is open to HTB claimants to select any or all of the previous 4 tax years for the purposes of calculating the HTB refund. The maximum refund is calculated at the lowest of:-

(1) €20,000,

(2) income tax and DIRT paid in the previous 4 years, or

(3) 5% of the purchase price, or valuation in the case of a self-build, up to a maximum of €500,000 (a €600,000 maximum applied where, in the period from 19 July 2016 to 31 December 2016, a contract for the purchase of a new house was entered into, or in the case of a self-build, the first tranche of a qualifying loan was drawn down by the claimant).

The HTB scheme provides for the registration of building contractors with Revenue for participation in the scheme and for clawback of tax relief given in certain circumstances. The scheme applies where, in the period from 19 July 2016 to 31 December 2019, an individual enters into a contract with a qualifying contractor for the purchase of a qualifying residence or has drawn down the first tranche of a qualifying loan in respect of the individual’s self-build qualifying residence.

Revenue has provided me with the following information in relation to the annual cost of this scheme.

2018Number of claims

2018Tax cost €m

4,957

73.1

Knowledge Development Box

Questions (69)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

69. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies by size, that is SME or larger companies, that have availed of the knowledge development box tax scheme to date; the cost to the Exchequer by these categories; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25937/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the annual cost of the Knowledge Development Box (KDB) and the number of claimants that availed of the credit are published in Revenue’s paper on 2018 Corporation Tax payments and 2017 tax returns, which is available on the Revenue website at https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/research/ct-analysis-2019.pdf The table referencing the KDB is extracted below:

Year

Number of Claimants

Cost €m

2016

12

9.4

2017 (preliminary)

10

13.9

With regard to the figures for 2017, a claimant company has a period of up to 24 months to make a claim for KDB relief. The KDB is available only to companies that carry out R&D within the meaning of Section 766 TCA 1997. It is anticipated that more companies will make use of the 24 month time frame available. As such, more claims in respect of the year ended 31 December 2017 may be made by September 2019.

Due to the small numbers of taxpayers claiming KDB, Revenue cannot comment further on the size of the claimant companies.