Child Poverty

Questions (403)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

403. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the target for child poverty; the number of children who would have to be lifted out of poverty for the target to be met within the timeframe set; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30410/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

In 2014, as part of the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (Better Outcomes Brighter Futures) the Government set an ambitious and challenging child poverty target: to lift 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level (or 107,000 children).  To achieve this target the Government undertook to adopt a multi-dimensional, whole-of-Government approach which would build on the life cycle approach employed in the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (NAP inclusion) and be informed by the European Commission’s Recommendation on ‘Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, as part of the Social Investment Package.’

The 2017 SILC data indicates that there were 105,000 children in consistent poverty in 2017, a decrease of 25,000 children on 2016.  Budgets 2018 and 2019 included DEASP measures specifically aimed at supporting families on low incomes through raising income thresholds for the Working Family Payment, increasing qualified child rates, increasing earnings disregards for One Parent Family and Jobseeker Transition payments, and increasing the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.  These improved supports – along with increasing employment rates - are not reflected in the 2017 SILC data.  This would suggest that we can expect further reductions in the child poverty rates once the 2018 figures become available.

My Department is finalising the new social inclusion strategy which is aimed at addressing the challenge to overcoming poverty in Irish society, with a proposed six year timeframe covering the period 2019 – 2025. It will continue to have a ‘whole of government’ approach which recognises the shared responsibility across Government to achieve improved outcomes for the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society.  The new strategy will be published in the coming weeks.

Working Family Payment Data

Questions (404)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

404. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of households in each county in receipt of the working family payment in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30411/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly in-work payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children.  WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependents and to offer a financial incentive to take up employment.

The number of households (recipients) in each county in receipt of WFP is as follows:

County

Recipients

Dublin 

 12,376

Cork 

   5,355

Donegal

   2,656

Limerick 

   2,283

Kildare 

   2,279

Wexford 

   2,193

Meath

   2,060

Tipperary

   2,027

Louth

   1,991

Waterford 

   1,741

Kerry

   1,627 

Mayo 

   1,495

Galway 

   1,466

Wicklow 

   1,261 

Cavan 

   1,192

Clare 

   1,144

Westmeath 

   1,127 

Offaly

      999

Laois

      996

Monaghan 

      984

Galway

      981

Kilkenny 

      924

Carlow 

      913

Longford

      774

Roscommon 

      718

Sligo 

      711

Leitrim 

      367

Down

        46

Fermanagh 

        25

Armagh

        18

Derry

        17

Tyrone 

        15

Antrim 

          1

Grand Total

 52,762

It should be noted that the above figures refer to the number of households in receipt of WFP at the end of June 2019.  The figures may fluctuate from week to week.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (405)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

405. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in each of the years 2011 to 2018, and to date in 2019, who have been subject to sanctions and have had their social welfare payment reduced or ceased due to no compliance as determined by her Department in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30412/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Penalty rates were introduced in 2011 as a means of encouraging jobseekers to engage with activation measures and to co-operate with efforts of the Department to assist them in securing employment.  The Department is committed, under Pathways to Work, to incentivise the take-up of activation opportunities, and this includes implementing sanctions for failure to engage where appropriate.

The legislation underpinning the application of penalty rates is provided for in the Social Welfare Act.  Penalty rates can only be applied in specific circumstances and the decision to impose a penalty can only be made by a Deciding Officer of the Department.  If dissatisfied with that decision it is open to the Jobseeker to appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeal’s Office. 

A total number of 66,628 Penalty Rates have been applied to 46,300 people over the full period from 2011 to 2 June 2019. The following table includes individuals who may have had a Penalty Rate applied in more than one year.

Details of the numbers of people who were subject to penalty rates each year since their introduction in 2011 and up to 2 June 2019.

Year Penalty Rates applied

 2011

 2012

 2013

 2014

 2015

 2016

 2017

 2018

 2019

No. of People Penalty rated

 353

 1,471

 3,179

 4,969

 6,115

 9,565

 13,503

 12,380

 5,821

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (406)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

406. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the rate of severe material deprivation for lone parent households here as measured by EUROSTAT in tabular form; the way in which this rate compares to the EU average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30413/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The material deprivation rate is an indicator derived from Eurostat EU-SILC (Survey on Income and Living Conditions) data that expresses the inability to afford some items considered by most people to be desirable, or even necessary, to lead an adequate life. The indicator distinguishes between individuals who cannot afford a certain good or service, and those who do not have this good or service for another reason e.g. because they do not want or do not need it.

The indicator adopted by the Social Protection Committee of the European Commission measures the percentage of the population that cannot afford at least three of the following nine items:

1. to pay their rent, mortgage or utility bills;  

2. to keep their home adequately warm;

3. to face unexpected expenses;

4. to eat meat or proteins regularly;

5. to go on holiday;

6. a television set;

7. a washing machine;

8. a car; or

9. a telephone.

The severe material deprivation rate is defined as the enforced inability to pay for at least four of the above-mentioned items.

As the following table shows, the EU-SILC severe material deprivation figure for Irish single parents for 2017 was 17.9%.  It is important to note that there has been a steady reduction of the severe material deprivation rate for single parents in Ireland over the period from 2012 to 2017, and the rate has almost halved from its high point of 32.3% in 2013. With the social welfare improvements in Budgets 2018 and 2019, this rate of reduction should continue to bring it more in line with the EU average.

Budget 2019 raised the weekly rates of payment for working age schemes and also increased the income disregard for one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s transitional payment recipients to €150 per week with effect from 25/03/19 (the highest disregard level to date).  The weekly rates of the Qualified Child Allowance in 2019 also increased by €2.20 per week (from €31.80 to €34) for children under 12, and by €5.20 per week (from €31.80 to €37) for children of 12 and over.  This measure will benefit over 370,000 children and will help to further tackle child poverty.

With regard to increases introduced in Budget 2019 alone, for example, a lone parent working 15 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage is now better off by almost €1,000 per year.

The Department’s social impact assessments of the last five Budgets (2015 to 2019) are an indicator of the improvements over that time for lone parents. These show a cumulative increase of €43.75 in the average weekly household income of employed lone parents (and €45.00 for unemployed lone parents). This compares favourably with a weekly increase of €39.25 for the average household. 

Severe Material deprivation rate: household type - Single Person with dependent children

 

 2010

 2011

 2012

 2013

 2014

 2015

 2016

 2017

 EU-28

 17.1

 18.4

 21.6

 20.7

 19.2

 17.1

 15.7

 13.3

Ireland 

 12.8

 23.3

 27.4

 32.3

 25.1

 22.6

 23.2

 17.9

Source: EU-SILC Data

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Data

Questions (407)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

407. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons aged 65 years and older signing on for a jobseeker's payment due to the fact that they are not eligible for the State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30414/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by my Department that at the end of June there were 5,266 aged 65 years of age and older in receipt of a jobseeker's payment.

Pensions Data

Questions (408)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

408. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the 2012 pension review; the number of persons to date who had their pensions reviewed; the number of persons still awaiting their pension to be reviewed; the percentage of persons who received an increase in their pension following the review; the percentage of such persons who received an increase of €20 or more; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30417/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

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

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary Regulations which, together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made.  As at 4 July 2019, 77,193 reviews have been completed.   Of these, 42% pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment and 58% are remaining on their existing rate of payment.

The detailed breakdown requested by the Deputy is not readily available, however based on an analysis of sample of cases where an increase was awarded, the best estimate at this stage is that 51% of those who received an increase received a weekly increase in excess of €20.00.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Youth Employment Initiative

Questions (409)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

409. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the youth employment support scheme; the number of persons who participated in the scheme since it was launched; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30418/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) was introduced on Monday 1 October 2018 and has been open to applications from that date.

YESS is a work experience programme, targeted at young jobseekers who are long-term unemployed or who face significant barriers to employment.  The scheme aims to provide participants with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement.

A total of 339 jobseekers have participated on YESS since its inception, with 190 participating currently.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Review

Questions (410)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

410. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the interdepartmental review of community employment schemes; when the review is expected to be completed; his plans to engage with relevant stakeholders before changes are made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30419/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how social inclusion schemes might best be organised into the future including which Department should hold lead responsibility for sponsoring CE schemes focused on social Inclusion, the Rural Social Scheme and the Job Initiative scheme. 

Meetings of the IDG have taken place along with bilateral meetings with appropriate Departments.  There has also been a consultative process relevant stakeholders and their submissions are being considered as part of the deliberation process.  I expect to have a final report shortly.

Referendum Campaigns

Questions (411)

Micheál Martin

Question:

411. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on the referendum on future presidential elections; and the progress being made on same. [30016/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

At its meeting on 5 February 2019, the Government agreed that the preferred option to be put to the people in a referendum to extend the franchise at Presidential elections is for an extension of the franchise to all citizens resident outside the State, including citizens resident in Northern Ireland. More recently, at a meeting of the Government on 11 June 2019, the general scheme of a Constitution Amendment Bill was approved for drafting and for circulation to the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence, for pre-legislative scrutiny. The Committee agreed at its meeting on 27 June 2019 to waive pre-legislative scrutiny.

My Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are currently working in close consultation with the Office of the Attorney General on the preparation of the necessary Constitution Amendment Bill. It is intended that a Bill will be brought to Government shortly for approval to initiate in the Dáil in accordance with Article 46.2 of the Constitution. The publication of the Bill will allow for the establishment of a Referendum Commission in good time and to allow for the holding of a referendum in October/November 2019, subject to the passage of the Bill by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (412)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Question:

412. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons in the Louth County Council area who availed of the Rebuilding Ireland home loan to date. [30123/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Information up to the end of Quarter 1 2019, including in relation to number and value of mortgage drawdowns, broken down by local authority, is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

An Bord Pleanála Data

Questions (413)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

413. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the rate of overturning decisions of planners by An Bord Pleanála since 2011; if the planner upheld the planning authorities decision; the details of each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30139/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since the establishment of An Bord Pleanála in 1977, planning legislation has clearly assigned final responsibility for decisions on planning appeals to the Board and not to inspectors preparing reports and making recommendations to the Board.

The number of inspectors’ recommendations not generally accepted in the final decisions made by the Board for the years 2011- 2017 is outlined in the following table.

Year

No. of recommendations not accepted

% of recommendations not accepted

2017

202

12.6

2016

244

14.8

2015

204

12.7

2014

229

15.4

2013

339

17.7

2012

284

19.9

2011

289

14.9

This information, and other related statistics, are publically available in An Bord Pleanála's Annual Reports which can be accessed at the following link:

http://www.pleanala.ie/publications/index.htm .

An Bord Pleanála is required by section 34(10) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to state the main reasons and considerations on which its decisions on planning appeals are based, including reasons for the imposition of any conditions. The Board is also required to indicate the main reasons for not accepting any recommendation to grant or refuse permission by an inspector engaged by it to report on a planning case.

The main reasons and considerations, referred to above, are stated on the Board decision order in each case and also on the Board direction sheet which precedes the making and signing of the formal Board order and records the outcome of the Board meeting at which the relevant case was discussed and decided. These documents are publicly available for inspection on the website of An Bord Pleanála and at its offices within 3 days following the making of the Board decision.

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 to the relevant bodies. The contact email address for An Bord Pleanála is Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie.