Local Employment Service

Question No. 2793 answered with Question No. 2643.

Questions (2792)

John Brady

Question:

2792. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons referred to the local employment service by county in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [33674/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Local Employment Services (LES) engages primarily with long-term unemployed jobseekers, but may also engage with short-term unemployed jobseekers where a local need arises. Jobseekers are referred directly to the LES by Intreo offices. In line with best international practice, the contract sets a maximum caseload per mediator (120:1) and jobseekers are referred to LES offices on a replacement basis only. Consequently the LES caseload is fairly constant at around 31,000 clients. The engagement period is for a maximum of 12 months.

The below table shows the number of activation customers who have attended/engaged with the Local Employment Service, by County, in 2017, 2018 and year to date 2019. As the LES is not available in all counties, the table reflects the area where the LES office is located. The Department records when a customer attends/engages with the LES service and some of the numbers below may include those persons who were referred towards the end of the 2016, but who attended/engaged with the service in 2017.

Where caseloads permit the LES increase the time they allocate to work with each individual jobseeker. A Mediator with 101-120 clients may be expected to meet their clients monthly, whereas with 81-100 clients they meet them every three weeks and with 80 or fewer client every two weeks.

Smaller caseloads are key to providing the one to one intensive type of engagement which long term unemployed clients benefit from most.

County

2017

2018

2019 (YTD)

Cork

1787

1781

1203

Dublin

15877

15652

10792

Galway

818

944

671

Kerry

1329

2030

1336

Kildare

1993

2102

1405

Limerick

1936

2371

1683

Louth

1827

1856

1487

Mayo

607

935

971

Monaghan

626

770

632

Waterford

1451

1553

1115

Wexford

1562

1659

1229

Wicklow

598

953

633

Grand Total

30411

32606

23157

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 2793 answered with Question No. 2643.

Social Welfare Rates

Questions (2794)

John Brady

Question:

2794. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the breakdown of the full-year cost of ensuring all weekly social welfare payments are brought into line with the minimum essential standard of living developed by an organisation (details supplied) in tabular form. [33676/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) is an assessment, developed by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, of the minimum needed to live and partake in the social and economic norms of every day life of various household types. Bringing weekly working age social welfare rates in line with the MESL entails increasing the maximum personal rate to €245 and the Qualified Child Increase to €48.50 for children under 12 and €82.40 for children aged 12 and over. There would be no proportionate increase in the current rate for Qualified Adults in order to meet the MESL.

The costings sought by the Deputy are presented in the table below:

Scheme

Full year cost of bringing rates in line with MESL

€m

Social Insurance Schemes

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Con) Pension

56.49

Deserted Wife's Benefit

5.64

Death Benefit

0.12

Invalidity Pension

109.4

Partial Capacity Benefit

2.89

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

3.6

Disablement Pension

2.83

Illness Benefit

110.72

Injury Benefit

3.21

Incapacity Supplement

1.79

Jobseeker's Benefit

67.68

Carer's Benefit

3.59

Health and Safety Benefit

0.1

Maternity & Adoptive Benefit

0.0

Paternity Benefit

0.0

Total Social Insurance Schemes

368.06

Scheme

Full year cost of bringing rates in line with MESL

€m

Social Assistance Schemes

Blind Pension

2.64

Widow/ers or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Con) Pension

3.01

Deserted Wife's Allowance

0.21

One-Parent Family Payment

85.88

Carer's Allowance

68.81

Half Rate Carer's Allowance

18.39

Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)

1.69

Jobseeker's Allowance

281.81

Jobseeker's Allowance - for those aged 18 to 24 years of age

78.59

Jobseeker's Allowance - for those aged 25 years of age

8.09

Disability Allowance

310.24

Farm Assist

14.31

Back to Education Allowance

11.53

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

12.17

Community Employment

21.15

TÚS

6.25

Rural Social Scheme

3.3

Jobs Initiative

1.36

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

34.8

Total Social Assistance Schemes

964.63

Overall Total

1,332.69

The MESL also requires increasing the Qualified Child Increases for under 12-year-olds from €34 per week to €48.50 per week, and from €37 per week to €82.40 per week for children aged 12 years and over. The estimated full year cost of these measures is €420.89 million.

Thus, the overall full year cost of bring Social Welfare payments in line with the MESL is €1.753 billion.

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.

Fuel Allowance Expenditure

Questions (2795, 2796)

John Brady

Question:

2795. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of extending the fuel allowance scheme by one week. [33679/19]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

2796. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the fuel allowance to €25.95 per week and reintroducing the 32-week payment period. [33683/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2795 and 2796 together.

The estimated full year cost of extending the Fuel Allowance scheme by one week is €8.4 million.

The estimated full year cost of increasing the Fuel Allowance rate to €25.95 and extending it to 32 weeks is €74.9 million.

Any changes to Fuel Allowance would need to be considered in a budgetary context.

Jobseeker's Payments

Questions (2797)

John Brady

Question:

2797. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the age-related jobseeker's payment rates for 18 to 25 year olds to the top rate of €203. [33684/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The estimated full year cost to pay the maximum rate of €203 per week to persons under 26 years of age on Jobseeker's Allowance is €59.9 million. This estimate 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.

Child Benefit Expenditure

Questions (2798)

John Brady

Question:

2798. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of making a one-off annual double payment of child benefit to all recipients in September 2019. [33685/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The estimated cost of a one off annual double payment of child benefit to all recipients in September 2019 is an additional €174m.

There is no provision in the 2019 Revised Estimates for such a payment.

Qualified Child Increase Payments

Questions (2799)

John Brady

Question:

2799. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the qualified child increase payment by €5 for all children over 12 years of age. [33686/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The estimated full year cost of increasing the qualified child increase payment by €5 for children aged 12 years or over is €30.1 million.

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

One-Parent Family Payment Expenditure

Questions (2800)

John Brady

Question:

2800. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of raising the cut-off age of the one-parent family payment to 14 years of age. [33687/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The full year cost of increasing the age limit of the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) to 14 would be very difficult to estimate with any great accuracy.

There are a number of significant barriers to undertaking such an exercise. Firstly, an increase in the age limits could result in a cohort of lone parents that are currently not in receipt of a social welfare payment becoming eligible and therefore moving onto a social welfare payment. As members of this cohort are not currently in receipt of a social welfare payment it would be difficult to for the Department to estimate the numbers involved.

Secondly, some customers could seek to move from alternative payments such as Jobseekers Allowance (JA), the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) and the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) back to the OFP. Again, it would be difficult for the Department to estimate the magnitude of this flow between schemes with any degree of accuracy.

Thirdly, such changes would also increase the incidence of dual payments of OFP and the Working Family Payment (WFP). It is not possible to predict the impact on payments as a result of the interaction between both schemes without having detailed knowledge of individuals’ working patterns and the degree to which these might change.

These factors are critical to providing a reliable costing. The Department is therefore not in a position to provide the costing requested.

Jobseeker's Payments

Questions (2801)

John Brady

Question:

2801. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of raising the cut-off age of the jobseeker's transitional payment to 18 years of age. [33688/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department provides a number of options for income support to lone parents once their entitlement to the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) ceases. These include the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) payment where the youngest child is aged 7-13 years (inclusive) and the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) payment which may be paid to lone parents where the youngest child is aged 14 or over. The Working Family Payment (WFP), is also available to lone parents who are working 19 or more hours per week. Lone parents who move to WFP may also apply for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).

The cost of increasing the age limit for a qualified child for the jobseeker's transitional payment (JST) to while the youngest child remains in secondary school is not easily estimated as there are significant barriers to undertaking such an exercise. For example, customers may no longer be within the welfare system, while others could seek to move from alternative payments such as Jobseekers Allowance (JA), the Working Family Payment (WFP) and the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) back to JST. It would be difficult for my Department to estimate the magnitude of this flow into and between schemes with any degree of accuracy.

Likewise, the number of young people 18 years of age and over who are still in secondary education, and the proportion of those who are the children of lone parents in receipt of benefits is not readily available or easily estimated. As these unknown factors are critical to providing a reliable costing my Department is not in a position to provide the costing requested.

Working Family Payment Expenditure

Questions (2802)

John Brady

Question:

2802. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of reducing the working family payment weekly hours threshold from 19 to 15 hours for lone parents. [33689/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children. WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependants and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment. Estimated expenditure on WFP in 2018 is approximately €430 million and it is currently paid to almost 53,000 families in respect of some 119,000 children.

To qualify for WFP, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

A recent review of in-work supports found that the current range of supports works very well for the vast majority of families and facilitates an element of choice which allows them to select the option which best suits their needs.

For low income workers with less than the minimum hours of employment for WFP and working on a casual basis (that is, up to and including 3 days per week) the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme provides in-work income support through daily disregards and tapered withdrawal of payments.

Apart from the jobseeker schemes if a person cannot meet the 19 hours WFP threshold or if their hours vary significantly from week to week, the Department offers a number of other schemes which can provide income support that can be combined with earnings from employment, subject to each individual’s circumstances. These include One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST), and the Part-Time Job Incentive (PTJI) scheme

The number of families working between 15-18 hours and are earning below the relevant WFP thresholds is currently unknown which means it is not possible to estimate a full year cost of reducing the hours.

It is important that WFP does not inadvertently subsidise unsustainably low earnings or encourage employers to offer minimal hours of employment. The longer term goal of WFP, as an incentive to take up and remain in work, could be compromised if the nature of the work taken up is not ultimately sustainable.

This and any changes to any social welfare scheme would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Working Family Payment Expenditure

Questions (2803)

John Brady

Question:

2803. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of disregarding carer’s allowance and carer’s benefit in the means assessment of the working family payment. [33690/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Working Family Payment (WFP) provides in-work income support for low-income employees with children. The payment is designed to preserve the financial incentive to take-up or remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might be marginally better off in employment than on social welfare payments. It also seeks to alleviate child poverty. To qualify for WFP, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. The family income must also be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

In assessing weekly family income for WFP purposes, most weekly social welfare payments are taken assessed. Budget 2012 contained a measure which provided for the assessment of carer’s benefit and carer’s allowance payments in determining entitlement to WFP. This measure brought the treatment of these two payments for WFP purposes into line with the treatment of all other primary social welfare payments. It also provided for a more consistent approach to the concurrent payment of WFP with other social welfare payments. Moreover, while this measure reduced a person’s secondary payment (WFP) it did so without affecting their primary payment, in this case carer’s benefit and carer’s allowance, therefore targeting available resources at those in most need.

The income disregard and means test for Carer’s Allowance is the most generous within the social welfare system. The amount of weekly earnings disregarded is €332.50 for a single person and €665 for a couple.

Welfare expenditure plays a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable people in Irish society. I am advised that an estimated cost of disregarding carer’s allowance and carer’s benefit in the means assessment of the working family payment is not readily available.

Any changes to the current arrangements regarding any social welfare payment would have expenditure implications which could only be decided in a budgetary context.

Medical Aids and Appliances Expenditure

Questions (2804)

John Brady

Question:

2804. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the amount available for the hearing aid grant under treatment benefit to €1,000 per hearing aid. [33669/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The cost of increasing the hearing aid grant, which is available under the treatment benefit scheme, to €1,000 per device will depend on a number of variables. These would include the volume of claims received, the cost of the appliance/s purchased, whether increasing the available grant amount leads to an increase in the price of appliances and the percentage cost of appliances covered by the grant at that time.

Currently the grant covers 50% of the purchase price of a hearing aid to a maximum of €500 per appliance.

Based on 2018 expenditure figures, when grants towards the purchase of over 26,000 appliances were provided, a doubling of the available grant from €500 to €1,000 could potentially increase expenditure from the €12.7m cost in 2018 to over €25m per annum.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Expenditure

Questions (2805)

John Brady

Question:

2805. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of making child benefit payable for all those aged 18 years of age and up to 22 years of age in circumstances in which they are in full-time education. [33678/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid, as of end-June 2019 to almost 632,000 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement to parents of full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age is not currently considered a targeted approach. The adoption of such a proposal would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context. The estimated cost of extending child benefit as proposed is estimated to be in the region of €80-100 million.

Families on low incomes may be able to avail of a number of social welfare schemes that support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

- Increase for a Qualified Child (IQCs) with primary social welfare payments;

- the Working Family Payment for low-paid employees with children;

- the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

These schemes provide targeted assistance that is directly linked to household income and thereby support low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.

Public Services Card

Questions (2806)

John Brady

Question:

2806. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the investigative report by the Data Protection Commissioner in respect of the public services card will be published; if she has requested that the report be published; the status of the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33670/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department received the Data Protection Commissioner's draft investigation report in respect of the Public Services Card in August 2018.

The draft report contained a number of provisional findings and requested further information and clarifications on certain matters. The Department was specifically asked by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner not to share the draft report with any other party and it has abided by that request.

My Department was given an opportunity to make submissions on the draft report so that the Commissioner could take account of such matters in their further considerations and in finalising their report. Those detailed and comprehensive submissions were provided in late November 2018.

A response from the Commissioner is now awaited. It is a matter for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner as to when the Department will be provided with the next draft of the report.

A decision as to the publication of the final version of the report will be made once it has been made available to, and has been considered by, my Department.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions Payments

Questions (2807)

John Brady

Question:

2807. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of payments (details supplied) in tabular form. [33692/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

The number of persons in receipt of in receipt of a state pension and the number of associated qualified adult increases at the end of June 2019.

Type of Pension

Recipients

Qualified Adult Increase

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

95,132

3,132

State Pension (Contributory)

419,453

62,122

State Pensions Payments

Questions (2808)

John Brady

Question:

2808. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of a State pension who are not resident here in tabular form. [33693/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Non-resident recipients of pension payments, June 2019

Invalidity Pension

State Pension Contributory

Widow's/er's Contributory Pension

Total

Total non-resident recipients

1,193

46,276

7,517

54,986

Child Maintenance Payments

Questions (2809)

John Brady

Question:

2809. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the arrangements in place for lone parents in order to seek maintenance via the courts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33694/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The issues relating to maintenance are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, who has responsibility for the Family Law Acts, which govern maintenance requirements.

The Family Law Acts place a legal obligation on parents to maintain their children. In cases where the family unit has broken down these obligations continue to apply. Relevant maintenance payments can be arranged either directly between the parties themselves, or with the assistance of supports from the Department of Justice and Equality, such as the Family Mediation Service and the Legal Aid Board, or ultimately through the Courts.

Child Maintenance Payments

Questions (2810)

John Brady

Question:

2810. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she or her officials have held discussions with the Minister for Justice and Equality and-or his officials in respect of the procedures in place for lone parents seeking child maintenance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33695/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

With regard to contact with the Department of Justice and Equality, I understand the Deputy to be referring to the requirement for recipients of one-parent family payment to seek maintenance. My Department is currently reviewing the maintenance and liable relative procedures, insofar as they relate to the one-parent family payment scheme, and has had an initial preliminary contact with the Department of Justice and Equality. Further formal contacts with that Department, which is the Department responsible for the Family Law Acts, which govern family maintenance arrangements, will be required in the context of this review.

Child Maintenance Payments

Questions (2811)

John Brady

Question:

2811. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that an organisation (details supplied) representing lone parents has carried out research on child maintenance and is calling for a statutory child maintenance agency; if this option will be examined with the Minister for Justice and Equality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33696/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am well aware of the calls for the establishment of a child maintenance agency by various bodies in the community and voluntary sector. Issues relating to maintenance are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, who has responsibility for the Family Law Acts, which govern maintenance requirements. I understand that this matter is being considered within the Department of Justice and Equality.

Qualified Child Allowance

Questions (2812)

John Brady

Question:

2812. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of households in receipt of a qualified child payment by county in tabular form. [33697/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

At the end of June, over 630,000 families with 1.2 million children benefited from Child Benefit. Nearly 120,000 children in over 52,000 families were supported by Working Family Payment and 45,000 children in nearly 41,000 families were supported by Domiciliary Care Allowance.

Moreover, additional payments for qualifying children were made to 340,000 recipients of other social welfare payments.

These figures are detailed by social welfare payment in the table below. I am advised that a breakdown by county of these figures is not readily available.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Table 1 - Recipients of social welfare payments, with numbers of child beneficiaries, at the end of June 2019

Type of Payment

Recipients

Child beneficiaries

Child Benefit

631,779

1,209,065

Working Family Payment

52,775

118,998

Domiciliary Care Allowance

40,952

45,106

Back to Work Family Dividend

6,617

12,734

State Pension (Contributory)

419,453

1,867

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension

122,329

11,140

Jobseeker's Allowance

146,882

99,589

One Parent Family Payment

39,570

73,026

Supplementary Welfare Allowance (2)

15,874

7,363

Direct Provision Allowance

3,931

932

Farm Assist

6,132

4,730

Jobseeker's Benefit

32,374

6,223

Deserted Wife's Benefit

0

Maternity Benefit

19,507

1,129

Adoptive Benefit

5

0

Health and Safety Benefit

33

7

Paternity Benefit

650

104

Community Employment Programme

21,367

8,291

Back To Work Enterprise Allowance

5,038

4,218

Back To Education Allowance(3)

830

654

Partial Capacity Benefit

2,712

43

Total Number of Recipients of Working Age on Employment Supports

30,823

13,206

Disability Allowance

143,154

44,259

Carer's Allowance

81,941

50,387

Illness Benefit

48,487

10,156

Injury Benefit

1,099

154

Invalidity Pension

57,987

13,201

Disablement Benefit

15,086

133

Carer's Benefit

2,699

0

Carer's Allowance Review

Questions (2813)

John Brady

Question:

2813. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the review into the carer’s allowance payment as committed to in section 14 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33758/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

As required under Section 14 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018, my Department has recently finalized a review of the financial hardship faced by carers who must provide full-time care in order to receive carer’s allowance restricting them from taking up other work to supplement their income, examining their access to pension entitlements as well as the barriers to the labour market they face after a period of caring. I expect the report will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas shortly.

I trust that this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.

Child Maintenance Payments

Questions (2814)

John Brady

Question:

2814. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the review into means testing of maintenance payments as committed to in section 21 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33759/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

As required under section 21 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act, my Department recently finalized a report on the financial effects of the consideration of maintenance payments as household income in the means test for various social welfare payments.

I expect the report to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas shortly.

Departmental Consultations

Questions (2815)

John Brady

Question:

2815. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of her consultation with stakeholders on examining ways in which social welfare rates are increased with the aim of ensuring adequacy for all recipients as committed to in section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018; the outcome of the consultation; the stakeholders met as part of this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33760/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 provides that I, as Minister, will arrange to "consult with stakeholders on examining ways in which social welfare rates are increased with the aim of ensuring adequacy for all recipients and shall do so in quarter 1 of 2019".

In this context, my Department met with numerous interested stakeholders to solicit views on how the adoption of a benchmark, and a system of indexation, might apply to social welfare rates. This involved bilateral meetings with certain stakeholders and roundtable meetings with a range of groups. The organisations consulted included the community and voluntary pillar, ICTU, IBEC, the ESRI and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Various views were put forward as part of the consultation process including adopting an earnings link for social welfare payments, benchmarking and indexing to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) measure produced by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, adopting a twin-lock approach to indexation (wages and prices), and maintaining the current system of adjusting rates in line with available resources at Budget time.

In addition, the issue was considered and discussed at my Department's Pre-Budget Forum earlier this month. The Pre-Budget Forum included representatives from the community and voluntary sector, ICTU and IBEC, among others.

As the Deputy is aware, the Roadmap for Pensions Reform, published last year, commits the Government to examine and develop proposals to set a formal benchmark of 34% of average earnings for the State Pension and to institute a process whereby future changes in pension rates of payment are explicitly linked to changes in consumer prices and average wages. My Department is currently considering options to implement this commitment.

Any change to the current process of setting social welfare rates of payment would require Government approval and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context. This would include taking account of stakeholder views, as well as considerations of cost, work incentives, poverty alleviation, policy alignment and the administration of any proposed system.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Questions (2816)

Robert Troy

Question:

2816. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application will be expedited for a carer's benefit by a person (details supplied). [33761/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 13 May 2019.

It is a condition for receipt of a CARB that the person being cared for must have such disability that they require full-time care and attention.

This is defined as requiring from another person, continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions or continual supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that this evidence did not indicate that the requirement for full-time care was satisfied.

The person concerned was notified on 19 July 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.