Carer's Allowance Data

Questions (341)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

341. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons receiving a carer's allowance by age profile in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28569/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.

Recipients of Carer's Allowance by Age at 30th June 2019

Age of Recipient

Recipients

18

7

19

44

20

100

21

132

22

169

23

229

24

242

25

337

26

425

27

511

28

630

29

696

30

852

31

931

32

1,090

33

1,182

34

1,328

35

1,458

36

1,507

37

1,689

38

1,811

39

1,940

40

2,043

41

1,935

42

1,919

43

1,936

44

2,134

45

2,224

46

2,277

47

2,297

48

2,273

49

2,299

50

2,169

51

2,153

52

2,125

53

2,157

54

2,025

55

2,053

56

1,878

57

1,719

58

1,654

59

1,627

60

1,527

61

1,476

62

1,410

63

1,334

64

1,332

65

1,295

66

1,307

67

1,181

68

1,219

69

1,141

70

1,203

71

1,083

72

1,094

73

972

74

847

75

827

76

699

77

632

78

544

79

515

80

448

81

360

82

295

83

265

84

196

85

155

86

115

87

87

88

59

89

35

90

32

91

20

92

16

93

2

94

3

95

6

99

2

JobPath Programme

Questions (342)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

342. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision to refer a person (details supplied) to the JobPath scheme will be reviewed in view of the fact they have recently completed higher level education with distinction and now wish to pursue further high level education in order to secure employment in their chosen industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28303/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

As the Deputy will be aware, the primary goal of the Department’s activation services is to move people from long-term unemployment to full-time and sustained employment.

My Department refers long-term job seeking customers to the JobPath service to receive one-to-one intensive and regular engagement with a personal adviser who will assess their skills, experience, challenges and work goals and agree a “personal progression plan” that includes a schedule of activities, including relevant training and educational programmes to assist them in finding full-time sustainable employment. There are no barriers to any participants pursuing training, including further education and training courses, providing they are relevant to the agreed personal progression plan

All persons in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance must be capable of, available for and actively seeking full time employment. The Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended, specifies that participation in activation meetings is mandatory

In regard to the individual case raised by the Deputy, this person has already availed of the Department’s Back to Education Allowance scheme while completing a third level course. Any client engaged with the JobPath service who wishes to make a further application for support under this scheme is entitled to do so. If their application is approved and awarded, they then will be released from the JobPath service.

Until such time as an application for the Back to Education Allowance scheme is made the individual must engage and actively participate with the JobPath service.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (343)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

343. Deputy Eamon Scanlon 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. [28310/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I confirm that my Department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 24 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.

Free Travel Scheme

Questions (344)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

344. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of extending the free travel pass to those categorised as unable to drive a vehicle on medical grounds or due to the fact they do not meet regulations set out by the Road Safety Authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28315/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 948,000 customers with direct eligibility. Following recent announcements in Budget 2019, the funding for the free travel scheme was increased by €5 million to a total of €95 million.

In general, access to a free travel pass for those aged under 66 is linked to a person being in receipt of certain primary Social Protection payments such as disability allowance, invalidity pension, carer’s allowance, blind pension and partial capacity benefit. In 1997 the free travel pass was extended to all registered blind people regardless of whether they qualify for the Department's blind person's pension or any other Social Protection payment. Blind people remain one of the only cohorts of people aged under 66 who can qualify for a free travel pass while not in receipt of a qualifying Social Protection payment.

Any possible extension to the eligibility criteria for free travel would have significant costs implications for the free travel scheme and would also require additional administrative processes to be put in place to adjudicate eligibility. Any decision to do so could only be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA), the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may award a travel supplement in any case where the circumstances of the case so warrant. The supplement is intended to assist with ongoing or recurring travel costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. Every decision is based on consideration of the circumstances of the case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need and of the resources of the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

Questions (345)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

345. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount spent on external consultancy reports between May 2016 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28316/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection engages consultants (individuals or organisations) to provide expert analysis over a wide range of areas, which includes the delivery of reports, studies, assessments, recommendations and proposals that contribute to decision making or policy making.  I am advised by my Department that the amount spent on external consultancy reports between May 2016 and to date in 2019 was €1,792,127 for 32 reports.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (346)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

346. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied) will be decided. [28323/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 5 April 2019. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds as it was not found that this gentleman was substantially restricted in taking up employment.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 27 June 2019 and was also notified of their right to request a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

Flexible Work Practices

Questions (347)

Catherine Martin

Question:

347. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there has been an investigation into the feasibility of introducing a four day work week on the grounds of improving employee well-being and reducing workplace stress as desired by 57% of office workers in a survey (details supplied). [28405/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

In March this year, the Government launched Future Jobs Ireland, a framework of focused ambitions which will form a key part of Ireland’s future economic agenda over the medium term. Primary responsibility for the programme rests with my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.

Future Jobs Ireland addresses challenges to participation in the labour force by developing and implementing a range of new initiatives aimed at easing barriers to entry into the workforce including investment in Early Learning and Care, providing tailored activation and training supports and generating attractive employment opportunities including intelligent working arrangements.

As the nature of work and society changes, the way we organise work must also. One of the ambitions in Future Jobs Ireland 2019 is to foster participation in the labour market through flexible working solutions. Flexible working solutions, including part-time, remote working, compressed hours, home-working and job sharing, are understood to have the potential to improve labour market participation, particularly amongst women with young children, as well as those with caring responsibilities, older people, and people with disabilities. Flexible working can also provide solutions for those who would otherwise take unpaid parental leave but cannot afford to do so.

Flexible work can assist in the development of an inclusive society by offering options to the benefit of employers, workers and wider society. We already have many companies in Ireland who offer remote working to their employees and this trend is expected to increase in the future. For workers, flexible work solutions such as remote working can mean substantial savings in terms of rents and property costs while also reducing the need to commute, leading to a better work-life balance. For businesses, intelligent working arrangements can support staff retention, a more motivated workforce with fewer sick days, and greater productivity, as well as the opportunity to draw workers from a larger pool of talent.

Under Future Jobs Ireland 2019, the Department of Justice and Equality will develop guidance to support employers in offering more family-friendly working options and promoting the adoption of flexible and or remote working solutions and structures for parents. In addition to this, the Department of Justice and Equality will commence a national consultation on the extension of flexible working options to all employees. The findings of the research and the outcome of the national consultation may lead to the development of further, new deliverables for inclusion in the next stage, Future Jobs Ireland 2020.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (348)

John McGuinness

Question:

348. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance will be approved for a person (details supplied). [28449/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 20 February 2019. The first payment was made by her chosen payment method on 26 June 2019.

Arrears of payment due will issue as soon as possible once any necessary adjustment is calculated and applied in respect of any overlapping payments (if applicable).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (349)

Joan Collins

Question:

349. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the main contractor (details supplied) fully complied with the community nursing unit contract in relation to the €18 million community nursing unit on Tymon North Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24; and if she will provide the supporting evidence to ensure that the main contractor and its sub-contractors are fully compliant with all employment law as required by the contract at each interim payment made during the contract. [28452/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Responsibility for the enforcement of contract clauses is a matter for the contracting body, which in this case I understand is the HSE, which comes within the remit of my colleague, Simon Harris, T.D., Minister for Health.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (350)

Robert Troy

Question:

350. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [28524/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing, decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned was notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision on 9 April 2019.

The implementation of the Appeals Officer's decision is a matter for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The Department has advised the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the disability allowance claim concerned is now being put into payment.

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.

Planning Data

Questions (351, 358)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

351. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the strategic housing developments before An Bord Pleanála in north County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28311/19]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

358. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of strategic housing developments submitted to An Bord Pleanála; the number of units in each of the applications; the number granted planning permission; the length of time it took for permission to be granted; the number of commencement notices that have been issued for those that were granted permission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28384/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 351 and 358 together.

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 provides for new temporary streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHD), of 100 housing units or more or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

In the period from the new arrangements coming into operation in July 2017 up until 30 May 2019, the Board has received 195 valid pre-application consultation requests in respect of which 162 opinions have already issued. Further to this process, the Board has subsequently received 93 planning applications and has issued decisions in respect of 62 cases to date, all of which were made within the prescribed 16-week decision timeframe.

There have been 11 SHD applications made in respect of developments in Kildare, all of which have been decided. Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any case with which a planning authority or the Board is or may be involved.

The 2017 SHD Regulations provide for the publication of a weekly list of applications received and applications determined or otherwise disposed of by the Board in relation to SHD cases. These weekly lists are available to view on the Board's website at http://www.pleanala.ie/.

Arrangements have been put in place by all bodies under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. This provides a speedy, efficient and cost effective system to address queries directly. The contact email address for An Bord Pleanála is Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie.

Planning Issues

Questions (352)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

352. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the consideration that is given and-or evaluation made when planning permission is granted for strategic housing developments on the impact of high density developments in relation to local services such as schools, medical services and road infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28312/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 provides for new temporary streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHD), of 100 housing units or more or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

In making a decision on an application for permission in respect of an SHD proposal, the Board has regard to a number of matters including the report of the relevant planning authority on the proposed development, the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the development plan, including any relevant local area plan, local infrastructure and services, any submissions or observations received, as well as any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by my Department.  

A detailed and national level policy approach in relation to residential densities in urban areas is set out in my Department’s 2009 Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas, issued under section 28 of the Act. The objective of these Guidelines is to ensure planning authorities bring about high quality and sustainable urban development by balancing the need to ensure the highest standards of residential design which encompasses building lay-out, design and heights and the need to ensure the efficient use of scarce land and infrastructural resources and the avoidance of urban sprawl.

Planning authorities, and, where applicable, the Board, must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts.

National Planning Framework

Questions (353)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

353. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if private developers are being encouraged to build higher density developments in view of the fact that such developments are in contrast with local area plans. [28313/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under Project Ireland 2040, including the National Planning Framework (NPF), the Government has identified the achievement of compact growth as a key mechanism to support the future sustainable development of our cities and towns, addressing  issues such as regional development, urban sprawl, long-distance commuting, housing supply and climate action.

The compact growth objectives set out in the NPF and the emerging Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies are wholly in accordance with and underpinned by statutory planning guidelines on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas, published by my Department in 2009 under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). 

The guidelines generally require net housing densities in the range of 35-50 dwellings per hectare (dph) in urban areas and over 50 dph in more central urban areas or on sites served by high frequency public transport.  Many examples of the successful achievement of these density levels are set out in an accompanying Urban Design Manual. 

In addition, it is important to note that the guidelines also provide scope for densities under 35 dph in smaller towns and villages, to assist in delivering sustainable urban housing alternatives to one-off rural houses.  Both the guidelines and the manual are available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/planning-guidance

In relation to the preparation of their Local Area Plans (LAPs), planning authorities are required to have regard to these guidelines and broader Government policy. It is also necessary for the content of LAPs within the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) to be consistent with the transport strategy for the GDA.

In relation to the assessment of planning applications and/or appeals on planning decisions, local planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála must have regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the development plan, including any relevant local area plan, any submissions or observations received and relevant Ministerial guidelines or Government policies.

I am satisfied that the compact urban growth objectives of the National Planning Framework are consistent with and supported by the Guidelines for Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas and that these policy and guidance documents provide a robust framework for decision making on planning applications in a variety of different contexts.

My Department will continue to engage with planning authorities, the home-building industry and other sectoral interests to address any issues arising, particularly in the context of the review of development plans and related guidance, that will follow the making of the three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies by the Regional Assemblies as part of the implementation of the National Planning Framework throughout the planning system.

Local Authority Staff Recruitment

Questions (354)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

354. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 913 of 10 July 2018, the outcome of the review by the Local Government Management Agency of the common recruitment pool; and the actions he has taken on foot of the review. [28328/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Local Government Management Agency is currently engaged with FORSA trade union relating to changes to current recruitment procedures for clerical/administrative grades, including in respect of the “Common Recruitment Pool”. Engagement is taking place under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission with a view to bringing the matter to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Questions (355, 365)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

355. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an income guidelines review for social housing is underway; if so, when an outcome is likely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28331/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

365. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the reviews of income limits for social housing by local authorities will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28509/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 355 and 365 together.

Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended. 

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI and the universal social charge. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is under way. The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (356)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

356. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on a report commissioned by Dublin City Council and carried out by persons (details supplied) which show the negative impacts of homelessness on children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28341/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I understand that the report referred to by the Deputy refers to the experiences of homeless families in hotels.

The Government is committed to minimising the use of hotels as emergency accommodation.  In this regard, my Department is working with the local authorities to support the introduction of family hubs. Family hubs provide more appropriate emergency accommodation for families, with better facilities for cooking, laundry and recreation.  There are currently 27 family Hubs in operation with capacity to cater for approximately 660 families.  Further hubs will be developed over the course of the rest of 2019.  

The Government has also increased the funding available to local authorities to deliver homeless services to €146m in 2019, an increase of over 25% on the 2018 budget allocation.   Families experiencing homelessness are supported by the local authorities and their service delivery partners to identify and secure an independent tenancy.  In 2018, 5,135 adults exited homelessness into an independent tenancy. The Government is committed to securing housing solutions for all of the households currently experiencing homelessness.

Housing Issues

Question No. 358 answered with Question No. 351.

Questions (357)

Jack Chambers

Question:

357. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the working group established to examine the judgment of the European Court of Justice regarding the construction of one-off houses also known as the Flemish Decree; the names of those in the working group; when the group will report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28383/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Following engagement between the European Commission and my Department regarding the European Court of Justice ruling in the "Flemish Decree" case, a working group was established to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.  The working group comprises senior officials from the Planning Division of my Department and senior officials from the Planning Divisions of local authorities, nominated by the local government sector. 

Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission regarding revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines and subject to the completion of the ongoing deliberations by the working group, I will be in a position to finalise and issue to planning authorities revisions to the 2005 Guidelines that take account of the relevant European Court of Justice judgment.

Question No. 358 answered with Question No. 351.

Local Authority Housing Data

Questions (359)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

359. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of vacant council houses in counties Mayo and Sligo; the areas in which these vacant council houses are located; the length of time each house has been vacant for; the number of these vacant council dwellings that are under repair, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28398/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The number of vacant local authority houses is one of a number of issues reported on by the National Oversight & Audit Commission (NOAC) every year.  NOAC’s activities in this regard are summarised in its Annual Performance Indicator Reports for the years 2014-2017; the most recent data on a local authority basis, including Mayo and Sligo County Council, are set out in their 2017 report, which is available on the NOAC website at the following link: http://noac.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NOAC-Performance-Indicators-Report-2017.pdf.  The previous annual reports are also available on the NOAC website. 

While Mayo and Sligo County Councils are responsible for the management and maintenance of their own housing stock, it should be noted that the number of vacant properties is not static. As would be expected in the management of several thousand properties, the position in relation to vacancies changes regularly, as tenants move in and out. 

My Department is continuing to engage with local authorities, to support them in returning both short and longer-term vacant properties to use as swiftly as possible, including through the Voids funding programme. Elected Councils also have a role to play in supporting this work by making adequate budgetary provision for housing repairs and maintenance, utilising the housing rental income available to them. 

Derelict Sites

Questions (360)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

360. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the derelict housing register by county over the past five years by commercial and residential properties. [28420/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The information requested by the Deputy is not collected by my Department. 

Under section 8 of the Derelict Sites Act 1990, each planning authority is required to maintain a register of derelict sites, including derelict houses and structures, in their respective functional areas and to have it available for inspection at its offices during office hours. In addition, some planning authorities publish their register online, although this is not required by statute.