Departmental Contracts Data

Questions (392)

Martin Heydon

Question:

392. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the contracts her Department and agencies under her remit are engaged in for the provision of security services; the name of each contractor; the procurement process involved; the duration of each contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30241/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection currently has a contract in place with Secureway At Risk Security Group Ltd (SARs) for the provision of security services.  The contract was tendered through the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) security framework and resulted in a nationwide contract for a period up to 4 years.  The Department is currently engaging with the OGP in the preparation of a new security tender that is due for publication at the end of this year.  This contract also covers security services, as required, to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, Social Welfare Tribunal and the Labour Market Council (agencies under the remit of the Department) whilst the Citizens Information Board and Pensions Authority have their own security arrangements in place through their building leases.

Community Employment Schemes Places

Questions (393)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

393. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a community employment scheme placement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be extended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30260/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Requests for extending participants on Community Employment Schemes are considered by this Department at the request of the Project Sponsor. A request has been received from Castlemaine Community Services Group to extend the participation of Mairead McCarthy on her current Community Employment Scheme and this request is currently being examined.

 A reply will issue to the sponsor shortly.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (394)

Joan Burton

Question:

394. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the requirement for additional revenues in 2020 to meet demographic costs as outlined in the summer economic statement for her Department by programme; the expected allocation her Department will require as submitted to the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform; the specific resources required to fund in terms of additional payments such as pensions or child benefit by scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30281/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Demographic costs are contributing to increased expenditure in the Department of Employment Affairs on Social Protection each year, particularly in the areas of pensions, and disability and caring payments.

Over the coming months, as in previous years, the Department will continue to monitor trends in expenditure and recipients with a view to agreeing an Existing Level of Service requirement for 2020 with the Department of Public Service and Reform, taking account of demographic costs, in advance of Budget 2020.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Parental Leave

Questions (395, 396, 397)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

395. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the new paid parental leave benefit as announced at budget 2019 for parents will be available; when the application process will open; the number of parents she expects to avail of the new benefit in the remainder of 2019; the estimated number of applicants in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30322/19]

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Brendan Howlin

Question:

396. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the eligibility criteria for the new paid parental leave benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30323/19]

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Brendan Howlin

Question:

397. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the new paid parental leave benefit will be available to all new parents of children born since the budget 2019 announcement in October 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30324/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 395 to 397, inclusive, together.

In Budget 2019 I announced the introduction of a new social insurance based parental benefit scheme to take effect in November 2019.

The new scheme will provide two weeks paid leave to both parents, including those who adopt a child, who take parental leave from their employment to care for their child. The scheme will support parents during the first year of the child's life, in line with the Programme for Government commitment and allows parents more flexibility in achieving and managing a work life balance.

This new leave and benefit will be available to parents in respect of children born on or after the date of its implementation in November 2019.

The benefit will be available to employed and self-employed parents who satisfy certain pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions similar to that required for Maternity and Paternity Benefits. The qualifying conditions for the new benefit include that a claimant must:

- Be in employment or self-employment and

- Be certified by their employer as entitled to leave and

- Have sufficient PRSI paid before the first day of their leave

The following is the estimate of the volume of recipients for 2019 and 2020.

-

2019

2020

Parental Benefit scheme recipients

3,000

41,000

There is a lead-in time required following the announcement of any new scheme to facilitate its implementation. My officials are currently working alongside officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, which has overall policy responsibility for parental leave.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Social Welfare Benefits Expenditure

Questions (398)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

398. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing child benefit and domiciliary care allowance by €5 in 2020; the estimated full year cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30325/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Child Benefit is a monthly payment to the parents or guardians of children under 16 years of age. It is paid at a rate of €140 per month for each child under 18 years of age if they are in full-time education, full-time training or have a disability and cannot support themselves.

The estimated full year cost of increasing Child Benefit by €5 per month per child is€73.3 million. 

Domiciliary Care Allowance is a monthly payment of €309.50 for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age.  It is not means tested.

The estimated full year cost of increasing Domiciliary Care Allowance by €5 per month per child is €2.9 million.

Therefore, the estimated full year cost of increasing both Child Benefit and Domiciliary Care Allowance by €5 is €76.2 million.

It should be noted that these costings are subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients for 2020.  Any increases to Child Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance would need to be considered in an overall budgetary context.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Questions (399)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

399. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has been provided with sufficient expenditure allocation for the payment of a full Christmas bonus in 2019; the projected cost of a 100% Christmas bonus in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30326/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Christmas Bonus payment is made to long-term social welfare recipients, such as pensioners, carers, people with disabilities, lone parents and long-term unemployed people who rely wholly or mainly on their social welfare payments for financial support.

As is the case every year, the payment of a Christmas Bonus is a discretionary decision made by Government in the context of the annual Budget process and available resources.  A decision to pay the bonus this year will be made when announcing the 2020 Budget in October and must be consistent with the legal requirements set out in the Fiscal Responsibility Acts 2012 and 2013, and within the context of achieving targets set for Ireland by the EU rules. 

The cost of paying a 100% Christmas Bonus in 2019 is currently estimated at approximately €270 million.  This estimate will change and will be revised in the light of trends on the relevant schemes over the coming months.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Data

Questions (400)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

400. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons aged 26 years of age and under in receipt of jobseeker's allowance by age and payment; the number of qualified adult rates included in these groups; the estimated cost in a full year of restoring all the reduced payments for persons under 26 years to the full adult rate and with the qualified adult rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30327/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of persons aged 26 years of age and under in receipt of jobseeker's allowance by age and payment; the number of qualified adult rate is detailed in the attached tabular statement.

The estimated full year cost to pay the full adult rate of €203 per week to persons under 26 years of age on Jobseeker's Allowance is €59.9 million. This costing includes increasing the €112.70 qualified adult rate to €134.70 per week.

Young jobseekers who participate in an education, training or employment programme currently qualify for the maximum weekly rate of payment.  Age-related reduced rates of payment also do not apply in certain circumstances, such as when the claimant has a dependent child, or transferred to Jobseeker's Allowance from Disability Allowance, or was in State care during the 12 months prior to applying for Jobseeker's Allowance. 

It should be noted that any change to the reduced rates of Jobseeker's Allowance would need to be considered in a budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.   

Tabular Statement Attached

Number of recipients  of a Jobseekers Allowance aged 26 and under payment by age and rate with the number of adult dependents on the 30th of June 2019.

Age

€112.70

€157.80

€203.00 

Total Recipients

Adult Dependents 

 18

 1,289

0

57

1,346 

 12

 19

 2,111

141 

 2,253

 44

 20

 2,197

 0

 240

 2,437

 113

 21

 2,128

 0

 311

 2,439

 161

 22

 1,965

 1

 391

 23,57

 200

 23

 1,778

 2

 510

 2,290

 294

 24

 1,702

 9

 598

 2,309

 340

 25

 0

 2,095

 689

 2,784

 411

 26

 0

 3,352

 3,358

 496

 Totals

 13,170

 2,114

6,289

 21,573

 2,071

Carer's Benefit Eligibility

Questions (401)

John Brassil

Question:

401. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed to allow a full and final decision on the case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30366/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to a person 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.

Entitlement to carer’s benefit (CARB), is dependent on the provision of evidence of the care recipient’s care requirement, the level of care the carer provides, the carer’s hours of employment and their PRSI record.  Under current legislation for CARB, a carer cannot qualify for payment where the care recipient is in hospital. CARB payment can only be made from the date of discharge from hospital.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 1 May 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s application was requested by a deciding officer on 8 July 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 .

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Questions (402)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

402. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of social welfare appeals lodged in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the percentage of appeals which were successful; the average waiting time in these years in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30409/19]

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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.  

Appeals which had a favourable outcome for the appellant consist of appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer, or which were resolved by way of a revised decision in favour of the appellant by a Deciding Officer / Designated Person.

In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and just 1% are appealed.  Nevertheless, the Department continues to work to ensure that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.  

There are a number of reasons why a decision which was refused at first instance might be successful on appeal and it is not necessarily the case that the first decision was incorrect.  It is often the case that new evidence is provided with an appeal and that, as a result, the original decision may be revised by the Deciding Officer or Designated Person.  This was the case in 37.6% of such successful outcomes in 2017, 31.5% of such outcomes in 2018 and 36.9% of such outcomes to the end of June 2019.  

Where the decision was not revised by the Department in light of the appeal contentions, further evidence is often provided by the appellant as the appeal process proceeds and, in addition, the Appeals Officer may gain insights when they meet the appellant in person at oral hearing which may influence the outcome of the appeal.  

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.  There has been some improvement for the first six months of 2019 with an oral hearing decision taking 28.2 weeks and a summary decision taking 23.2 weeks.  

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.  Other factors that influence appeals processing times include the quality of the initial decision – in this respect the Department has changed the decisions process in respect of medical schemes, in order to provide more information to the claimant.  I expect that this will help to reduce the number of appeals over time.  

In addition, a considerable number of new Appeals Officers have joined the Appeals Office over the past 12-18 months to replace staff leaving on retirement.  Given the complexity of the appeals process it takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise and this has led to somewhat longer processing times during this period.  The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times continue to be a priority for her Office.

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.  

The statistics required by the Deputy are set out in the following tables.  

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Appeal Receipts and Percentage of Favourable Decisions of Appeals Finalised 2012 – 2019

 -

Appeal Receipts  

Appeals Finalised  

Favourable Decisions  

Appeals Disallowed  

Withdrawn  

2012

35,484

32,558

50.4%

42.6%

7.0%

2013

32,777

38,421

55.0%

39.0%

6.0%

2014

26,069

31,211

56.5%

37.7%

5.8%

2015

24,475

25,406

58.8%

36.1%

5.1%

2016

22,461

23,220

59.2%

35.9%

4.9%

2017

19,658

18,980

60.1%

33.9%

6.0%

2018

18,854

18,507

58.8%

36.1%

5.1%

2019 (to 30/6/2019)

11,182

10,544

58.6%

36.4%

5.0%

Appeal Processing Times 2012 – 2019

Year

Average processing times (weeks)

Summary Decisions  

Average processing times (weeks)

Oral Hearings

2012

27.8

39.5

2013  

25.8

33.9

2014

21.1

28.6

2015

18.1

25.5

2016

17.6

24.1

2017

19.8

26.4

2018 

24.8

30.0

2019 (to 30/6/2019)

23.2

28.2