Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (2717)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

2717. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if this parliamentary question can be accepted as grounds for appeal in the disability allowance case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32745/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I confirm that my Department received an application for disability allowance from this lady on 21 June 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 disability allowance 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.

One-Parent Family Payment Applications

Questions (2718)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

2718. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a one-parent family allowance will be approved and issued in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32746/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned made an application for One Parent Family Payment (OFP) on the 18th June 2019. In order to qualify for this payment certain conditions must be met including satisfying a means test.

On the 9th July 2019, the person concerned was advised of outstanding documentation relating to a previous employment. Once the outstanding documents are submitted, the Deciding Officer will be in the position to finalise their decision on the person concerned's application for OFP.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Appeals

Questions (2719)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

2719. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons (details supplied) qualify for a working family allowance in view of their low income; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32747/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an income-tested weekly payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children. WFP provides financial support for employees who have low earnings/income relative to their family size. The WFP rate payable is 60% of the difference between the average weekly family income and the relevant prescribed income limit.

In order to qualify for WFP, a family's income must be below a prescribed limit which varies in accordance with the number of qualified children. All family and household income is assessable for WFP and includes an applicant's and their spouse/partner's average net weekly assessable earnings from employment plus any other income such as other social welfare payments , income from self employment, etc.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 27 November 2018 and was disallowed as their weekly family income was not less than the prescribed income level for their family size (1 qualified child). Following an unsuccessful appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) the Department's decision was upheld and the person concerned was notified of the appeal outcome on 04th July 2019.

If the person concerned has a change in their financial circumstances or they satisfy the conditions for WFP at a later stage they may reapply for WFP. To date no further application has been received from the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (2720)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

2720. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the resources provided to increase the number of trained sign language and deaf interpreters since the implementation of the national inclusion strategy 2017-2021. [32776/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), which is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board, (CIB) is the national service for the development, promotion and delivery of sign language interpreting services to the Deaf community in Ireland.

CIB has allocated a budget of €700,000 to SLIS for 2019. This includes over €300,000 in addition to its regular operational grant, to expand its activities in order to deliver on the commitments set out in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017 - 2021, which include:

- the extension of the operating hours of Irish Sign Language (ISL) remote interpretation service to evenings and weekends;

- to increase the number of trained Sign Language and Deaf interpreters; and,

- to put a quality-assurance and registration scheme for interpreters in place and to provide ongoing professional training and development.

To date, four additional permanent part-time Irish Sign Language interpreters and a part time Administrator have been recruited, which has allowed for the extension of service hours provided by the Irish Remote Interpreting Service ( IRIS), over the period from March 2018.

The Irish Remote Interpreting Service ( IRIS) is now available throughout the following hours:

8am-8pm - Monday to Friday

10am – 4pm – Saturday

12pm – 2pm - Sunday

A research report commissioned by SLIS, into ways in which the number of Sign Language Interpreters in Ireland could be increased, has recently been completed and its recommendations are under consideration by SLIS and by CIB.

SLIS has also recruited a Quality Development Officer who is working with its key stakeholders to research, develop and deliver a national registration scheme for ISL interpreters. In addition, a continuous professional development and training programme to support the provision of a high quality sign language interpreting service is being developed.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Question No. 2722 answered with Question No. 2646.

Questions (2721)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

2721. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the circumstances under which persons in the deaf community can access trained sign language and deaf interpreter services. [32777/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 was signed into law in December 2017 and provides for the following:-

- Recognition of the right of ISL users to use ISL as their native language;

- The placing of a duty on public services to provide free interpretation services when accessing statutory services; and

- The placing of an obligation on courts to take all reasonable steps to allow persons competent in ISL to be heard in ISL.

The Act will come into operation not later than December 2020.

Section 9 of the Act provides that the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection may, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, provide funds to facilitate users of Irish Sign Language to access social, educational and cultural events and services (including medical) and other activities, as specified in guidelines made by the Minister.

The Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), which is mainly funded by the Citizens Information Board is in the process of developing guidelines for how such a scheme might operate. When complete , guidelines will be submitted to me for approval, as required by the legislation. The intention then, is for SLIS to pilot a scheme and the outcome of that pilot will inform further more detailed proposals and revised guidelines, as may be required, which will in turn, inform future annual funding requirements for such a scheme.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 2722 answered with Question No. 2646.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (2723)

Mary Butler

Question:

2723. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 813 of 9 July 2019, the percentage of the 32,307 pensioners who received an increase (details supplied) in their payments in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32782/19]

View answer

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.

The detailed breakdown requested by the Deputy is not readily available, however based on a sample of cases where increases were awarded, the best estimates of review outcomes per category requested is set out below:

Post review rate (based on sample)

Percentage of pensioners per rate category

Maximum rate

62%

90% - 99% of maximum rate

24%

80% - 89% of maximum rate

8%

70% - 79% of maximum rate

4%

60% - 69% of maximum rate

1%

50% - 59% of maximum rate

less than 1%

40% - 49% of maximum rate

less than 1%

Less than 40%

less than 1%

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Homemakers Scheme

Questions (2724)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

2724. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason homemaker's credits awarded under a State pension (contributory) review have not been considered under the averaging system in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32786/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

For those people who reached state pension age since September 2012, two different methods of calculating their entitlement to a contributory state pension are used. There are several differing elements involved in each calculating method. For example, the Yearly Average (YA) method does not include a limit on credited contributions. The interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA), as launched in January 2018, does have a limit on credits but allows up to 20 years HomeCaring periods be added to paid contributions to increase a person’s rate. The YA method rewards those with a shorter timespan between first and last social insurance contributions while TCA looks at a person’s aggregated contributions without regard for timespan. Under YA, there is no maximum number of contributions required, while under TCA 40 years is the maximum required.

The elements which make up each method are set out in law. Accordingly, it is not possible to choose those elements from either method that may prove most advantageous to an applicant. To allow pensioners choose the elements in how their pension is calculated would likely incur very significant costs which could further undermine the sustainability of the State Pension. My department will spend over €8 billion on pensions in 2019 and this figure is already increasing year on year to the tune of c.€1 billion every five years based on demographic changes alone. Instead, pensioners are paid using whichever of the two methods of calculation is most beneficial to them.

The person in question applied for a pension and was assessed with having a YA of 19, based on 571 reckonable paid contributions and 356 reckonable credited contributions over a 49 year working life. The rate payable to a person with a YA of 19 is equivalent 65% of the maximum rate of pension.

Following review under the new arrangements, having included their due 291 HomeCaring periods, the person qualified for a rate equivalent to 58.56% of the maximum rate pension. As the person is already in receipt of a 65% pension, it is more financially beneficial for them to remain on their existing rate.

A review outcome letter has issued informing the person concerned that their existing rate of payment will continue unchanged.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (2725)

Tom Neville

Question:

2725. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a review will be carried out in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32803/19]

View answer

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.

A Deciding Officer has examined the entitlement of the person concerned under the new arrangements and determined that even if all gaps in their social insurance record were filled with HomeCaring Periods no increase in rate would result.

A review outcome advisory letter has issued to the person concerned. This letter encourages the person to contact the dedicated helpline if they want this outcome explained in more detail. If the person concerned wants a formal review decision, this will be provided to them, on request, together with an associated right of appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Questions (2726)

Tom Neville

Question:

2726. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32807/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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

The Department received a claim for IP for the lady concerned on the 14 June 2019. On 16 July 2019, two medical forms issued to her for completion and a Deciding Officer of the department wrote to her requesting further information relevant to her claim. The claim will be finalised as quickly as possible on receipt of the requested information.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Code Reform

Question No. 2728 answered with Question No. 2659.

Questions (2727)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

2727. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce changes to means testing in the social welfare system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32830/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that, for means-tested social assistance schemes, all income and assets belonging to the claimant, and his or her spouse / partner where applicable, is assessable for means testing purposes. Specific disregards apply for certain sources of income. The purpose of the means test is to ensure that resources are directed to those with the greatest need for income supports.

There have been a number of recent improvements in social welfare means testing.

As part of Budget 2019, the earnings disregard for the One Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker's Transitional Payment was increased to €150 per week.

Also, I introduced a disregard for maintenance payments (up to €95.23 per week) for the Working Family Payment scheme, in line with the disregards that currently apply across most social assistance schemes.

Where a person in receipt of disability allowance or blind pension is engaged in employment, the first €120 per week of earnings is fully disregarded in the means assessment, with earnings between €120 and €350 per week assessed at 50%. The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 included the provision to remove the legislative requirement that this employment be of a rehabilitative nature.

In addition, disregards have recently been introduced for specific payments. These include:

- any payments made by Sport Ireland under the International Carding Scheme;

- payments made by the Northern Ireland Victim and Survivor Service in accordance with the Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order 2006;

- any ex-gratia payments made by the Minister of Health in accordance with recommendations proposed by the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme;

- the Special Transport Grant for Children with Special Education Needs;

- Payments made by Uversity for its Higher Education Scholarships for Adult Learners up to a maximum of €7,000 per annum.

Each of these payments is now fully disregarded for social assistance means-testing purposes.

Any further changes to means testing in the social welfare system would need to be considered in a budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 2728 answered with Question No. 2659.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (2729)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

2729. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a disability allowance payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32850/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 14 March 2018. The first payment will be made by her chosen payment method on 7 August 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.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Questions (2730)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

2730. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of employers that accessed the wage subsidy scheme over the past three years; the amount of funding provided to the scheme; the locations the scheme has been accessed by employers by area; the number of disabled persons that accessed the scheme; the estimated cost of increasing funding to the scheme by 10%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32874/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) is an employment support to private sector employers, the objective of which is to encourage employers to employ people with disabilities and thereby increase the numbers of people with disabilities participating in the open labour market. The scheme provides financial incentives to private sector employers to hire people with a disability for between 21 and 39 subsidised hours per week under a contract of employment. The basic rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour giving a total annual subsidy available of €10,748 per annum based on a 39 hour week.

Financial Supports for Employers Availing of WSS

The financial supports for employers are structured under three separate strands and companies could benefit under one strand or under two or three strands simultaneously, as the case may be, depending on the number of people with a disability employed, as below.

Strand I is a general subsidy for any perceived productivity shortfall in excess of 20% for a person with a disability, in comparison to a colleague without a disability. The subsidy is based on the number of hours worked.

Strand II subsidy is payable when an employer employs three or more people with disabilities who are supported by a WSS Strand I payment. Strand II is intended to cover the additional supervisory, management and other work based costs relating to such employees. This top-up payment is a percentage of the Strand I subsidy and is based on the overall number of employees with a disability employed under Strand I. It ranges from an additional 10% of wage subsidy for 3 to 6 employees with a disability to a maximum of 50% of wage subsidy for 23+ employees with a disability.

Strand III subsidy enables employers who employ 30 or more workers with a disability on the Wage Subsidy Scheme to be eligible for a grant of up to €30,000 per year towards the expense of employing an Employment Assistance Officer to support these employees.

The information requested for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June) is set out in Tabular Form below.

Table 1 sets out WSS employer numbers for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June).

Table 2 sets out the funding provided to the scheme for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June).

Table 3 shows the number of WSS employers at end of June 2019, broken down by County. This breakdown is only available for 2019 as the scheme has moved from a paper based system to a central IT platform. This has enabled the provision of more informative data regarding the use of the subsidy and will allow the Department to review same with a view to increasing its effectiveness and efficiency.

Table 4 sets out WSS participant numbers for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (to end of June).

Table 5 shows the estimated cost of increasing funding to the scheme by 10%, based on current active numbers. It should be noted that as the WSS is a demand-led scheme, it is not possible to provide a reliable estimate without significant additional information on other likely effects of such a change, for example an increase in demand.

Any changes to the scheme would have to be considered in a Budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the issue for the deputy.

Table 1: WSS employers

2017 (end year)

2018 (end year)

2019 (to end June)

WSS Employers

1,489

1,537

1,671

Table 2: WSS Expenditure

2017

2018

2019 (to end June)

Wage Subsidy Scheme

€19.3 million

€21.2 million

€10.1 million

Table 3: WSS Employer Engagement per County

County

Employer Engagement/County

CO CARLOW

42

CO CAVAN

82

CO CLARE

48

CO CORK

194

CO DERRY*

1

CO DONEGAL

91

CO DUBLIN

152

CO GALWAY

116

CO KERRY

73

CO KILDARE

49

CO KILKENNY

26

CO LAOIS

20

CO LEITRIM

21

CO LIMERICK

43

CO LONGFORD

41

CO LOUTH

93

CO MAYO

37

CO MEATH

47

CO MONAGHAN

95

CO OFFALY

32

CO ROSCOMMON

33

CO SLIGO

24

CO TIPPERARY

61

CO WATERFORD

48

CO WESTMEATH

52

CO WEXFORD

85

CO WICKLOW

65

Grand Total

1671

Table 4: WSS participants

2017 (end year)

2018 (end year)

2019 (to end June)

WSS Participants

2,475

2,633

2,722

*Derry: Irish registered employer operating in Derry where the (Donegal) participant is employed.

Table 5: Estimated costs of increasing WSS scheme funding by 10%

Annual Forecast based on Current Numbers Contracted Hours @ €5.30 Rate

Current Strand 1

€24,696,791.60

Current Strand 2

€2,232,828.52

Total

€26,929,620.12

8 Active EAO's @ 30K PA

€240,000.00

-

Annual Forecast based on Current Numbers Contracted Hours & 10% Increase @ €5.83 Rate

10% Increase Strand 1

€27,166,470.76

10% Increase Strand 2

€2,456,111.37

Total

€29,622,582.13

8 Active EAO's @ 33K PA

€264,000.00

Estimated Additional Total Increase Strand 1&2

€2,692,962.01

Estimated Additional Total Increase Strand 3

€24,000.00

Additional Estimated Cost

€2,716,962

Qualified Child Allowance

Questions (2731)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

2731. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost if the weekly rate of qualified child allowance for children aged under 12 years of age increased from €34 to €37 and for children aged over 12 years of age from €37 to €43; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32896/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The full year cost of increasing the Qualified Child Increase for children under the age of 12 from €34 to €37 and for children aged 12 and over from €37 to €43 is €66.7 million.

The cost is based on the estimated number of beneficiaries in 2019. It should be noted that this costing is subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of beneficiaries for 2020.

Any change to the Qualified Child Increase would need to be considered in a budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (2732)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2732. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing each social protection payment by €5, €7 and €10, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32911/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The estimated costs of increasing weekly social welfare payments by €5, €7 and €10 respectively are presented in the table below:

General Rate Increase

Cost (€m)

€5

347.3

€7

486.3

€10

694.4

The costs shown above are on a full year basis and are based on the estimated number of recipients in 2019. 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.

It should also be noted that these costings include proportionate increases for qualified adults and for those on reduced rates of payment, where relevant.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

One-Parent Family Payment Data

Questions (2733)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2733. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the income disregard for the one-parent family payment to €160, €180 and €200 per week, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32912/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The estimated full-year cost of increasing the earnings disregard for the o-##ne parent family payment to €160, €180, and €200 per week, respectively is set out in tabular form below:

Estimated additional Annual Cost

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ €160 disregard

€3.0M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ €180 disregard

€9.0M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ €200 disregard

€15.5M

The above costings are based on the number of recipients who were working and earning in excess of €150 per week on the One-Parent Family Payment as of June 2019.

The costings do not take into account potential behavioural changes, or the inflow of new entrants, which may arise from the introduction of higher income disregards. There would be additional costs on foot of these two factors, which are not possible to calculate and have not been factored into the above costing.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (2734)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2734. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of granting a cost of disability payment of €20 to recipients of social protection payments related to their disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32913/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The full year cost of a €20 weekly payment to recipients of invalidity pension, partial capacity benefit, disablement pension, blind pension, disability allowance and injury benefit is estimated to be €217.1 million.

The cost is based on the estimated number of recipients in 2019. It should be noted that this costing is subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients for 2020.

Following the announcement in Budget 2019, my Department commissioned research into the cost of disability in Ireland. It is envisaged that the research will provide quantitative estimates of the cost of disability using a number of approaches (‘mixed-method’) including data based on the direct experience of people with disabilities.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Data

Questions (2735, 2737)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2735. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of the fuel allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32914/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2737. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of a credit for those in receipt of the fuel allowance to offset increased carbon taxes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32916/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2735 and 2737 together.

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April, to over 372,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household.

My Department also pays an electricity or gas allowance under the Household Benefits Package at an estimated cost of €187 million in 2019.

Additionally, under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, a special heating supplement may be paid to assist people in certain circumstances that have special heating needs. Exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which an applicant is unable to meet out of his / her own resources.

It is not possible to state the cost of the measure proposed by the Deputy, as the relevant cost of any increase in carbon tax would vary upon a number of factors, notably the energy efficiency of the homes of fuel allowance recipients, and the amount and type of fuel they use.

Any decision to increase the fuel allowance payment to cover the cost of energy or carbon taxes would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of budget negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Data

Question No. 2737 answered with Question No. 2735.

Questions (2736)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2736. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost if the fuel allowance was increased by €2.50, €5 or €7 per week, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32915/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The costings sought by the Deputy are presented in the following table.

Fuel Allowance Rate Increase

Cost (€m)

€2.50

26.2

€5

52.3

€7

73.3

The costs shown above are on a full year basis and are based on the estimated number of recipients in 2019. 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 change to the Fuel Allowance would need to be considered in a budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 2737 answered with Question No. 2735.

Jobseeker's Payments

Questions (2738)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

2738. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of fully restoring jobseeker's payments to persons under 26 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32917/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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 has 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.

Departmental Reports

Questions (2739)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

2739. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of feasibility studies conducted by her Department in County Galway in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the names of each project being studied; the amount allocated and drawn down for each study; the person or body that sought each study; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32941/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department has not carried out any feasibility studies of the nature referred to by the Deputy in respect of projects in County Galway in the timescale outlined.

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Questions (2740, 2758)

James Browne

Question:

2740. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of social welfare appeals lodged in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by type of appeal per scheme and by county of appellant; the percentage of appeals allowed for each scheme in each of the years by county and type of appeal, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32987/19]

View answer

Michael Moynihan

Question:

2758. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of claims approved of following an appeal of the original decision in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33245/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2740 and 2758 together.

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.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office does not maintain appeal statistics on a county by county basis and it is therefore not in a position to supply that specific information.

The statistics required by the Deputy are available at the following link:.

Social Welfare Appeals

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (2741)

John McGuinness

Question:

2741. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal for carer's allowance by a person (details supplied). [33053/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 15 November 2018. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These papers were received in the Appeals Office on 11 April 2019 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.