Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (2817)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

2817. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33763/19]

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 7 June 2019. 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 Social Welfare Appeals Office on 5 July 2019 and the case will be 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.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Questions (2818)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

2818. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address a matter in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33846/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised that the person concerned has been awarded Jobseeker's Allowance with effect from the 1st July 2019. She has been assessed with nil means, resulting in her qualifying for the full personal rate of Jobseekers Allowance.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

General Register Office

Questions (2819)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

2819. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the rules regarding the duration of time that must pass before genealogical records held by the General Register Office can be made publicly available; and the statutory basis for these rules. [33852/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The General Register Office, which operates under the aegis of my Department, has worked in partnership with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to make available to the public historic register entries to aid family and genealogical research via the irishgenealogy.ie website.

Historic birth, marriage and death records are available free of charge to the public and researchers. Annual tranches of register entries are made available as they reach the legal threshold for release (designed to protect the privacy of the living).

The thresholds are set out in section 61 of the Civil Registration Act 2004, as amended. The thresholds are 100 years for births, 75 years for marriages and 50 years for deaths.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Questions (2820)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

2820. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason additional funding is not allocated to the disability section in order that applications can be expedited in view of the fact the waiting times are perceived as unacceptable at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33873/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to making decisions on all applications for benefits under its schemes as quickly as possible.

The processing time for individual Disability Allowance (DA) claims will vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information that is provided in support of their claim. By their nature individual DA claims are complex; the Deciding Officers must consider the applicant’s medical condition and its impact on their ability to work, the applicant’s means and the applicant’s residency situation. In a significant number of cases additional information is required in order to make a decision. Because of this complexity these claims by their very nature take time to complete and require substantial consideration to ensure a full decision. The average processing time for a DA new application for the first six months of 2019 was 14 weeks.

People who are awaiting a decision on their DA application can and do access Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments via their local Community Welfare Service administered at Intreo Centres across the country. These regular weekly payments as well as once off Exceptional Needs Payments where appropriate ensure that people are not without a source of income while they wait for the processing of their DA application to be completed.

Like all Government departments and agencies, my Department is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget. The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the on-going need to respond to new increasing demands in a wide range of services. This is to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department.

Carer's Allowance Waiting Times

Question No. 2822 answered with Question No. 2756.

Questions (2821)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

2821. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason additional resources can not be allocated to the carer's section to speed up the applications in view of the fact the waiting time at present is perceived as unacceptable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33875/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and 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.

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed as quickly as possible.

In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. In some cases the documentary evidence provided at initial application stage is incomplete or insufficient and this can lead to delays in processing.

To qualify for CA, the carer must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that they are providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires this level of care and that their means are less than the statutory limit.

Where any scheme area experiences delays, all possible steps are taken to improve processing times. This includes the assignment of additional resources, where available, and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications.

At the end of June 2019 the average waiting time for a decision on a new CA claim was 13 weeks. A review of business processes has identified opportunities to implement a number of improvements and efficiencies. Additional resources will be applied to claim processing to reduce delays. The position is being closely monitored and kept under review by the Department to ensure that all CA applications are dealt with promptly.

Like all Government departments and agencies, my Department is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget. The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the on-going need to respond to new increasing demands in a wide range of services. This is to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department.

Question No. 2822 answered with Question No. 2756.

Tús Programme

Questions (2823)

Martin Heydon

Question:

2823. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to review the workings of the Tús scheme to allow more flexibility around the time limits in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34057/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Tús commenced operation in 2011 as a response to the high level of unemployment and the large numbers on the Live Register.

It is a community work placement initiative which aims to provide short-term work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. The duration of the Tús contract is a maximum of 12 months and this ensures that as many people as possible, who are unemployed for over 12 months, are able to benefit from the initiative.

It is recognised by Government that Tús is a positive initiative that enables the long-term unemployed to make a contribution to their communities whilst up-skilling themselves for prospective future employment.

If a person is interested in pursuing a work placement with training and development opportunities, it is open to them to apply for a placement on a Community Employment (CE) scheme. CE participants between 21 and 55 years are entitled to one year on the programme. This can be extended by up to 2 more years if they are engaged in a recognised training or education award that is helping them progress towards employment. All CE participants age 55 and over can avail of 3 consecutive years on a CE scheme. The overall limit of participation on CE is 6 years from 1st January 2007 (7 years if on a disability payment).

Participants aged 62 and over are allowed to participate on a continuous basis up to the State Pension age on the CE Service Support Stream (SSS). These places are subject to limitation and criteria.

My Department will continue to review its activation programmes to ensure the best outcomes for participants. The Government is very mindful of the large number of work programme places involved in service delivery and other valuable services to individuals and communities across Ireland.

I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (2824)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

2824. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of capital projects within the remit of her Department; the amount spent on each project to date; and the anticipated completion date. [34201/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department’s capital allocation is split across three subheads i.e. A.2. (v) Office Equipment and External IT Services, A.2. (vi) Office Premises Expenses and A.2. (ix) eGovernment Related Projects.

The following table outlines the status of the 2019 capital projects within my Department, the amount spent on each project to date, and the anticipated completion date.

A.2. (v) Office Equipment and External IT Services

Project

Status of capital projects

2019 Spend to date

Anticipated completion date

Ongoing purchase of computer hardware, photocopiers, other non-IT office machinery, software licenses including storage technology, investment in server infrastructure and in virtualisation technology etc.

This relates to ongoing purchase of a range of equipment and software to support the Department in its daily functions.

2,587,224

Not applicable

Intreo Centre Online Self- Service

Project has commenced.

20,770

2019

Sub Total

2,607,994

A.2. (vi) Office Premises

Project

Status of capital projects

2019 Spend to date

Anticipated completion date

Dungarvan

Contract issued. Work to begin shortly.

Nil

2019

Lifford

OPW negotiating lease on premises. Design team in place.

Nil

2020

Fermoy

OPW progressing project. Design Team being assembled.

Nil

2020

Killybegs

OPW preparing to go to tender.

Nil

2019

Mallow

OPW progressing project and preparing to appoint Design Team.

Nil

2020

Clonakility

OPW to undertake upgrade works.

Nil

2020

Limerick City - Consolidation

At feasibility stage.

Nil

2020

Blanchardstown - Expand public office

Additional space to be allocated. Feasibility studies to take place.

Nil

2020

Kilmainham

Under review. Likely 2020.

Nil

2020

Kilbarrack

Specification for works required in progress.

Nil

2020

Bantry

Lease progressing and tender documents prepared.

Nil

2020

Nenagh

OPW progressing project. Design Team being assembled.

Nil

2020

Ballybofey Residual

Fit out of new office premises completed and building occupied.

8,647

2019

Longford

Project nearing completion.

4,123

2019

Sligo - residual

Project nearing completion.

Nil

2019

Buncrana

Work commenced on 15 July 2019.

Nil

2019

Gandon

Specification for works required in progress.

Nil

2020

Infinity

Tender documents for works prepared.

Nil

2020

Generators - Residual

Generator installation project ongoing.

114,853

2019

AMD Building Projects - Canteen /M&E Services

Canteen and office refurb completed.

635,884

2019

Energy Efficiency - LED lighting/EV charging points

OPW preparing tender for installation of two EV chargers at 3 sites.

Nil

2020

Digital Signage Programme

Specification for new office and signage in progress - Trial in Kilbarrack.

Nil

2020

AMD - Building Refurbishment - Plans

Initial Plans due from OPW shortly. Some remedial works underway (see above).

Nil

2019

Sub-Total

843,507

A.2.(ix) eGovernment Related Projects

Project

Status of capital projects

2019 Spend to date

Anticipated completion date

No current projects

No current projects

0

Not applicable

Community Employment Schemes Funding

Questions (2825)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

2825. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she will take to secure the future of a centre (details supplied) through multi-annual funding in order that it can continue to provide vital employment services to at-risk groups; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34515/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The centre concerned runs a community employment project which employs 49 community employment participants and 2 full time supervisory staff. It is currently in Year 2 of its three year plan. In total my Department is providing just over €2 million in approved funding in that period to the centre to cover community employment wages, participant training and training materials. The annual breakdown of that amount is set out in the following table.

2018 (Year 1)

€682,628.00

2019 (Year 2)

€687,355.32

2020 (Year 3)

€692,087.32

There has been no reduction in funding from my Department to this centre.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Payments Administration

Questions (2826)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

2826. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the branch office digital claim model under discussion in her Department; if staff working under the model will be civil servants employed by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34520/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The digital claim introduces electronic capture, storage and transmission of claim information. It is now in operation in 55 of the Department’s 58 Branch Offices and it is planned to implement it in the remaining 3 Branch Offices by end 2019.

The introduction of a digital claim does not change the division of work between Branch Office and Departmental staff.

Carer's Allowance Waiting Times

Questions (2827)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2827. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process applications for carer's allowance; the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34543/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and 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.

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed as quickly as possible.

In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. In some cases the documentary evidence provided at initial application stage is incomplete or insufficient and this can lead to delays in processing.

To qualify for CA, the carer must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that they are providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires this level of care and that their means are less than the statutory limit.

Where any scheme area experiences delays, all possible steps are taken to improve processing times. This includes the assignment of additional resources, where available, and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications.

At the end of June 2019 the average waiting time for a decision on a new CA claim was 13 weeks. This is well improvements from a high of 18 weeks in the last year, the Department will continue to work to reduce this figure.

There is currently some 4,000 applications on hand awaiting processing.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Data

Questions (2828)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2828. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process applications for domiciliary allowance; the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34544/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Applications for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) are currently taking approximately 10 weeks to process, with 94% of applications finalised during June completed within this timeframe. The departmental standard for DCA is to have 90% of claims finalised within 10 weeks and this standard has been met consistently over recent months. There are currently some 1,200 applications on hand to be processed, with claims received in mid May being deal with at present.

Over 8,500 DCA applications were finalised in 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (2829)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2829. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process applications for the State pension (contributory); the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34545/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

At the end of June, the average waiting time to award a state pension (contributory) was 8 weeks.

There were 8,151 claims pending a decision at that time.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Data

Questions (2830)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2830. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process applications for the State pension (non-contributory); the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34546/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

At the end of June, the average waiting time to award a state pension (non- contributory) was 10 weeks.

There were 1,577 claims pending a decision at that time.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Data

Questions (2831)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2831. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process applications for the disability allowance; the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34547/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The processing time for individual Disability Allowance (DA) claims will 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. By their nature individual DA claims are complex – the Deciding Officers must consider the applicants’ medical condition and its impact on their ability to work, the applicants’ means and the applicants’ residency situation. In a significant number of cases additional information is required in order to make a decision. Because of this complexity these claims by their very nature take time to complete and require substantial attention to ensure a full decision.

The average processing time for a DA new application for the first six months of 2019 was 14 weeks.

People who are awaiting a decision on their DA application can and do access Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments via their local Community Welfare Service administered via Intreo offices across the country. These regular weekly payments as well as once off Exceptional Needs Payments where appropriate ensure that people are not without a source of income while they wait for the processing of their DA application to be completed.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Data

Questions (2832)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2832. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process applications for the invalidity pension; the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34548/19]

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 average time taken to process a new IP claim in June 2019 was 11 weeks. At the end of June there were 2,544 applications pending. The Department is committed to ensuring that claims are processed as expeditiously as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Respite Care Grant Data

Questions (2833)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2833. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times to process payment of the respite care grant; the number of applications on hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34549/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Carer’s Support Grant is paid by the Department, on the 1st Thursday in June each year, to persons in receipt of Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance. The annual grant is paid at the rate of €1,700 in respect of each person being cared for. Over 105k payments were made that day.

A carer who is not in receipt of one of these payments can still qualify for the grant, once they make an application and satisfy certain conditions. As entitlement to the grant has to be established, which takes some time for to make a decisions on such claims. This is currently eight weeks, but as there are only 1,002 claims remaining to be decided and this is at the end of the claim season for 2019 applications this number will reduce quickly.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (2834)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2834. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the review process into those affected by the changes in eligibility for the State contributory pension introduced in 2012 will be completed; the number of reviews already conducted; the number of reviews remaining; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34562/19]

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.

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 18 July 2019, 82,962 reviews have been completed. Of these, 34,316 pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment.

Where an increase is due, the person's rate of payment is adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the person's 66th birthday if later. Outcomes will continue to issue to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed.

It will take a number of months to complete the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (2835)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2835. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of reviews carried out by county in the review process into those persons affected by the changes in eligibility for the State contributory pension introduced in 2012, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34563/19]

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.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.

Increases, where awarded, vary depending on the nature and extent of a person's social insurance record. The rate of increase awarded under this review is influenced by the extent to which a person benefits from the new calculation method, or the inclusion of new HomeCaring Periods, or both.

The detailed geographical statistics the Deputy requests are not readily available at this time. I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (2836)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2836. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons by county who have received an increased pension after the review process into those persons affected by the changes in eligibility for the State contributory pension introduced in 2012 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34564/19]

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. 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. Increases, where awarded, vary depending on the nature and extent of a person's social insurance record. The rate of increase awarded under this review is influenced by the extent to which a person benefits from the new calculation method, or the inclusion of new HomeCaring Periods, or both.

As at 18 July 2019, 34,316 pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment. The detailed geographical statistics the Deputy requests are not readily available at this time.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Communications

Questions (2837)

Shane Cassells

Question:

2837. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the expenditure by her Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year, in tabular form. [34612/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

For this response, I interpret “social media advertising and promotional material” as digital advertising, including both social media and online advertising.

My Department administers over 70 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the State. The Department is committed to ensuring that members of the public are fully aware of the welfare supports and services that are available to them, and online public information campaigns, including via social media and online advertising, are an important part of this work.

Public information campaigns are developed and targeted carefully in to ensure that the Department’s messages reach members of the public effectively, while ensuring value for money. Digital advertising includes programmatic adverts (across a range of media websites/news outlets), Video on Demand (VoD), sponsored digital inserts/pages, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advertising.

Details of digital advertising costs, which includes social media and online advertising costs, in 2018 and to date in 2019, broken down by campaign, are detailed in the following table:

Campaigns in 2018 which included digital advertising

Digital advertising costs (incl. VAT)

Promotion of Jobs Week 2018

€2,126

Advertising for the Dundalk Jobs Fair

€984

Advertising for the Blanchardstown Jobs Fair

€369

Awareness-raising of false self-employment & Department's role in determining employment status

€14,896

Awareness-raising of changes to the National Minimum Wage

€7,366

€25,728

Campaigns in 2019 to-date which included digital advertising

Digital advertising costs (incl. VAT)

Promotion of Jobs Week 2019

€3,502

Launch and promotion of MyWelfare.ie online service

€24,600

Awareness-raising campaign of changes to employment legislation (Employment Miscellaneous Provisions) Act)

€4,485

Promotion of Cross Border Job Fair

€1,599

Promotion of Working Family Payment*

€23,493

Promotion of JobsIreland.ie*

€12,291

Promotion of MyWelfare.ie: Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance*

€14,521

Promotion of MyWelfare.ie: Maternity /Paternity Benefits*

€30,705

€115,196

* Please note this is budgeted spend. Not all invoices have yet been received for this activity.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Eligibility

Questions (2838)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

2838. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the termination of the entitlement to basic supplementary welfare payment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34643/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department's Community Welfare Service (CWS) administering the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme in the Carrick-on-Shannon area received an SWA application from the person concerned on 11th July 2019. The person concerned visited the Carrick-on-Shannon office last week and during a meeting with the CWS officer, she was advised that on the provision of additional supporting information, that is required as part of the application process, a decision regarding her entitlements can be made.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (2839)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

2839. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address matters regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34659/19]

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 22 October 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 Social Welfare Appeals Office on 24 January 2019. The appeal was referred on 8 May 2019 to an Appeals Officer. The Appeals Officer will now consider this case as a priority and will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the 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.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (2840)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

2840. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons working in her Department on a wage of less than €12.30 per hour; the number disaggregated by professional role; and the estimated cost of increasing salaries of those on a wage of less than €12.30 per hour to a wage of €12.30 per hour. [34677/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised that the number of staff in my Department on a wage less than €12.30 per hour is as follows:

Professional Role

Number

Clerical Officer (including temporary clerical officers)

1,121

Cleaners

3

Service Officers

58

Service Attendants

2

Telephonist.

1

The estimated cost to my Department of increasing the salaries of staff below €12.30 is €2,023,339.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Septic Tank Inspections

Questions (2841, 2842, 2844)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2841. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 78% of septic tanks in County Mayo for the period 2017 and 2018 had a failed rating; if so, the provisions in place in order to resolve the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32579/19]

View answer

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2842. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that nearly one third of septic tank systems in County Mayo that failed inspections in the period from 2013 to 2018 have still not been fixed; the reason this is the case; his plans to try to rectify the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32580/19]

View answer

Lisa Chambers

Question:

2844. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the promised changes to the septic tank grant, that is, that the grant will no longer be means tested, will be implemented and operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32646/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2841, 2842 and 2844 together.

Section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007 (the 2007 Act) places a duty of care on the owner of a premises to ensure that their on-site waste water treatment system (more commonly known as a septic tank) is kept so as not to cause, or be likely to cause, a risk to human health or the environment, including a risk to water, the atmosphere, land, soil, plants or animals, or create a nuisance through odours. The duty of care provisions have been augmented by the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 and associated regulations. Any person who considers that his or her treatment system constitutes, or may constitute, a risk to human health or the environment is responsible for having any necessary remediation works carried out without delay.

The Act assigns responsibility to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a National Inspection Plan (NIP) for domestic wastewater treatment systems. Local authorities are empowered by the 2007 Act, as amended, to direct the owner of a premises to remedy any treatment system that has been inspected and constitutes, or may constitute, a risk to human health or the environment. Neither I nor my Department has any direct role in monitoring the implementation of the Plan by the local authorities.

On 8 February 2019, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included improved funding for on-site wastewater treatment systems, which are mostly septic tanks.

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services.

The new funding scheme will replace the grant which was brought into operation by the Domestic Waste Water Treatment System (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013. Under certain conditions, households can receive a grant to assist them in carrying out remediation, repair or upgrading works to, or replacement of, their individual domestic wastewater treatment system.

In order to ensure greater uniformity with other measures in the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme the means test that previously applied to this grant scheme is being removed and the level of grant support is being increased to 85% of the eligible costs of installation/upgrade or €5,000, whichever is the lesser. This represents an increase of 25% and 100%, respectively, relative to the current maximum means tested grant levels of €4,000 and €2,500.

In developing the necessary regulatory and administrative changes to underpin the revised grant scheme, my Department has over recent months consulted and met with key stakeholders, including the County and City Management Association, the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the new scheme. I expect that the process will be completed shortly when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.