Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (1861)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

1861. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36065/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 6th March 2019. The application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance. A letter issued on the 8th May 2019 setting out the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

An appeal was registered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 27th May 2019. As part of the appeals process, the application was re-examined by a deciding officer and the person concerned was notified on the 20th August 2019 that the review was unsuccessful. An appeal submission was prepared and forwarded to the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 20th August 2019 for consideration by an Appeals Officer. The Social Welfare Appeals Office will contact her directly about the outcome of the appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Consultations

Questions (1862)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1862. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 782 of 9 July 2019, the work undertaken by the data specialist her Department engaged at a cost of €97,150 in 2019; if they were engaged on matters in respect of the public services card and or reports examining the public services card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36079/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The work undertaken by the data specialist related to the provision of technical assistance in relation to data analysis and statistical modelling work that is ongoing in the Department. The data specialist was an expert in SAS, the statistical software package used by the Department.

I can confirm the data specialist was not in engaged in respect of the Public Services Card and/or reports examining the Public Services Card.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Questions (1863)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1863. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of recruiting ten additional medical assessors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36105/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget. Any additions above and beyond this require the approval of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).

The staffing needs for all areas within my Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the ongoing need to respond to new and changing 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.

The estimated full year cost of recruiting ten additional medical assessors would be approximately €1,277,870.00. This calculation is based on the DPER recommended standard estimation methodology using service-wide averages, covering pay and non-pay costs.

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions (1864)

Mary Butler

Question:

1864. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the average wait time for applicants to receive illness benefit; the length of time applications are taking to process; if the process is handled in a timely and efficient manner; her plans to streamline the process further; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36111/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Currently, the average time to award an Illness benefit claim is one week. Applicants for Illness Benefit who are due a payment, and whose medical certificates and claims are in order, receive their payment promptly.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Internships

Questions (1865)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1865. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of unpaid internships issued and or granted to persons to work in her Department over the past five years to 28 August 2019; the number of persons that took up unpaid internship roles in that timeframe; if her Department continues to offer unpaid internships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36147/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department has not issued or granted unpaid internships over the past five years.

My Department runs two annual internship programmes which are advertised in participating colleges. Up to nine interns are assigned to the Information Systems Internship Programme and up to four are assigned to the Data Science/Statistics Internship Programme. The programmes run for six and nine months respectively and the interns are assigned at the Executive Officer grade.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (1866)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1866. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for an invalidity pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36169/19]

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 24 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 have been received and the case 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 Appeals

Questions (1867)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1867. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a jobseeker's appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36179/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 20 August 2019 and that the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all of the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision when the appeal has been determined.

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.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Questions (1868, 1877)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1868. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a matter (detail supplied); if further discussions have taken place with unions on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36208/19]

View answer

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1877. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a matter regarding proposed industrial action by community employment supervisors will be examined (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36466/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1868 and 1877 together.

First, I wish to acknowledge the valuable and dedicated service that Community Employment (CE) sponsor organisations provide in running CE Schemes all over the country. CE supervisors, as employees of these organisations, are an integral part of that good work. We simply could not sustain a lot of our local community services without their work and it is, of course, a concern to me that the Supervisors felt compelled to take industrial action earlier this year.

As the Deputy is aware the industrial action relates to a claim by CE supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking for a number of years, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.

I would like to confirm that it was never intended that my Department would withdraw funding from any CE sponsor as a result of industrial action by CE supervisors. However, sponsors were asked to ensure that their application for funding for payroll costs for the period of industrial action reflected the withdrawal of labour, in accordance with industrial relations practice.

It is important to emphasise the fact that CE scheme supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector that receive public funding. They are not employees of my Department or public servants, and as such were not subject to pay reductions, pension contributions or the Pension-related Deduction (PRD) under the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) which only applied to public servants.

The State is not responsible for funding pension arrangements for employees of private companies, even where the companies in question are reliant on State funding. Pension arrangements are a matter to be agreed between employees and their employers. All employers, including CE sponsoring organisations, are legally obliged to offer access to at least one Standard Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) under the Pension (Amendment) Act 2002. CE supervisors may qualify for the State Pension (Contributory) if they have accrued sufficient PRSI contributions. The State Pension (Contributory) is not means-tested.

The issue was examined by a Community Sector High Level Forum, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. A number of Departments including my own Department were represented on this group, as were the unions and Pobal.

A detailed scoping exercise was carried out with input from the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) on the potential costs of providing Exchequer support for the establishment of such a pension scheme for employees across the Community and Voluntary sector in Ireland. This exercise estimated a potential cost to the State of between €188 million per annum and €347m depending on the numbers involved, which is hard to establish. This excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension as sought, which could entail a further Exchequer cost of up to €318 million.

Notwithstanding the above, I am currently engaging with representatives of CE supervisors to discuss issues arising following the 2008 Labour Court Recommendation (LCR 19293). All parties to the engagement process have agreed that the detail of the discussions should remain confidential while the engagement is ongoing and I would ask Deputies to respect these wishes and allow the talks to continue free from speculation which might prove unhelpful. I expect that it will take a number of weeks to reach a conclusion.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Cyber Security Data

Questions (1869)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1869. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there are dedicated, professionally trained and certified cybersecurity staff in relation to cybersecurity protocols under the remit of her Department; if such specialists are being recruited; if her Department maintains a risk register of security breaches; if so, if there are staff that analyse, log and maintain such a register; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36227/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department has a dedicated and fully trained cyber security team. Staff receive regular training to become proficient with new products, to update their skills, and to advance their knowledge of cyber security. My Department has also engaged an independent security partner who supplements and advises the cyber security team.

I am advised that my Department maintains a register of security related events and that security events are processed within a central Security Incident and Event Management platform. This platform is monitored, and all security events are fully investigated by the cyber security team and appropriate actions are taken.

Departmental Operations

Questions (1870)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1870. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has a disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan and-or disaster recovery sites; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36243/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised that my Department has a Disaster Recovery plan, a business continuity plan and a Disaster Recovery site all of which are regularly reviewed and tested.

Disability Allowance Data

Questions (1871)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1871. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of cases approved for a disability allowance and in which the arrears due have not been paid to date; the reason for the delay; when the matter will be rectified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36257/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

When a disability allowance (DA) application is being awarded and the person was in receipt of another social welfare payment there are a number of necessary administrative steps which must be completed before arrears are issued.

In these cases, once the first payment of DA has been issued, there will be inter-scheme adjustment required to reconcile overlapping benefit periods. In other cases the amount due to the person concerned may need to take account of an outstanding debt owing to the department. Once these calculations have been made, the final arrears due can be established and paid.

Due to the above reasons the current number of cases awaiting arrears stands at 1,042.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit Payments

Questions (1872)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1872. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of persons (details supplied) will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36350/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

A jobseeker’s payment is paid for days of unemployment where the person is not in receipt of holiday pay from their employer for those days and where they also satisfy the conditions of the scheme.

In general, there is no delay in processing jobseeker benefit claims in Intreo Centres if the relevant claim application forms and supporting documentation are completed by the customer, in a timely manner.

Seasonal workers should apply for jobseeker’s benefit as soon as they become unemployed. Initially, when a person makes an application for jobseeker’s benefit, 3 waiting days apply and payment is made from the 4th day of the claim where there is no accrued holiday entitlement from their employer.

If, however, a person makes a repeat claim for jobseeker’s benefit within 26 weeks of their previous claim, the repeat claim links to the earlier claim and no waiting days apply.

People who are laid off on a temporary basis during the school breaks and who have previously been in contact with the Department, are issued with a repeat jobseeker’s application form and holiday form in advance of the school holiday periods. This advance process facilitates an efficient service to these customers and allows for speedy processing of their claim when the period of unemployment actually arises. It is important that customers complete these forms and bring them with them when they call to their Intreo Centre or Branch Office to make their claim. However, it is important to note that these customers are still required to sign on for each period of unemployment.

There have been some claim processing delays in recent weeks which are due to the seasonal increase in claims over the summer period. These are being worked down at present.

I want to assure the Deputy that prompt processing of all claims remains a priority for my Department. Scheme areas are monitored on an on-going basis and processing procedures are reviewed to ensure that claims are paid to customers as quickly as possible.

If the Deputy could provide the specific details of any such cases my Department can follow up accordingly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Treatment Benefit Scheme Eligibility

Questions (1873)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

1873. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the treatment benefit scheme will be extended to allow parents that pay PRSI contributions to claim for their dependent children’s eye care and glasses while they are in secondary school in view of the fact that the free eye care scheme ends when a child leaves primary school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36389/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Entitlement to treatment benefit is based on having paid PRSI contributions, with customers required to have a certain number of PRSI contributions paid or credited in order to qualify. The scheme is based entirely on the PRSI records of the claimant or if they are a dependent adult, their spouse/partner’s PRSI record. The number of contributions required varies with age, to take account of the capacity of the person concerned to have paid the required contributions. The scheme is not available for dependent children.

Any changes to the current arrangements would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pacáiste Sochair Teaghlaigh

Questions (1874)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1874. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Gnóthaí Fostaíochta agus Coimirce Sóisialaí an féidir aon eisceacht a dhéanamh, agus iarratas ar Íocaíocht do Theaghlaigh i bhFostaíocht á mheasúnú, maidir leis an riail go gcaithfear 38 uair an chloig oibre a dhéanamh sa choicís, i gcás múinteoir (sonraí tugtha) atá ag cónaí ar oileán amach ón gcósta agus a bhfuil triúr páistí aici agus a bhíonn ag múineadh ar feadh 21 uair an chloig sa choicís ar meán; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [36393/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Is éard atá san Íocaíocht do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht (ÍTF/WFP) ná íocaíocht inoibre a bhfuil taca ioncaim á chur ar fáil tríthi d’fhostaithe a bhfuil leanaí acu agus atá ar thuilleamh íseal i gcomparáid le líon a dteaghlaigh.

Chun cáiliú don Íocaíocht do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht, ní mór don iarratasóir, nó ní mór don iarratasóir agus a c(h)éile, a p(h)áirtnéir nó a c(h)omhchónaitheoir, a bheith ag gabháil d’fhostaíocht chúititheach lánaimseartha mar fhostaí ar feadh méid nach lú ná 38 n-uaire an chloig in aghaidh na coicíse (nó 19 n-uaire an chloig in aghaidh na seachtaine) – tá feidhm ag Alt 232(2) (c) den Acht Comhdhlúite Leasa Shóisialaigh 2005 mar a fhoráiltear in Airteagal 175 d’IR 142/2007, arna leasú. Ní foláir an coinníoll príomha fostaíochta seo a chomhlíonadh ar bhonn leanúnach. Chun críche na hÍocaíochta do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht, sainmhínítear an fhostaíocht lánaimseartha mar fhostaíocht ar phá a mhaireann 38 n-uaire an chloig in aghaidh na coicíse (nó 19 n-uaire an chloig in aghaidh na seachtaine) ar a laghad. Tá na hearnálacha go léir d’iarratasóirí ar an Íocaíocht do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht agus d’fhaighteoirí na hÍocaíochta do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht faoi réir an choinníll cháiliúcháin seo agus faoi réir an choinníll teidlíochta leantaigh seo ó thaobh an Íocaíocht do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht a fháil, gan beann ar chineál a bhfostaíochta ná ar phatrún oibre a bhfostaíochta.

Ní dhéanann an reachtaíocht rialúcháin leasa shóisialaigh foráil maidir le díolúine ón gcoinníoll príomha a luaitear thuas (uaireanta an chloig a oibrítear) ó thaobh na teidlíochta ar an Íocaíocht do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht.

Fuarthas iarratas ar an Íocaíocht do Theaghlach i bhFostaíocht an 24 Meitheamh 2019 ón duine lenar bhain agus dícheadaíodh an t-iarratas sin toisc nach gcomhlíontar an coinníoll fostaíochta a luaitear thuas.

Cuireadh cinneadh na Roinne in iúl an 15 Lúnasa 2019 don duine lenar bhain agus insíodh don duine sin freisin faoin gceart achomhairc chuig Oifig neamhspleách na nAchomharc Leasa Shóisialaigh.

Tá súil agam go soiléiríonn sé seo an scéal don Teachta.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Questions (1875)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1875. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the policy reason for the rule that a person must be working 38 hours in a fortnight to be eligible for the working family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36394/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work support which provides an income to employees on low earnings with children. WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependents and to offer a financial incentive to take up employment. 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 week or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria.

The “hours worked” eligibility criterion has been reduced significantly since the introduction of the scheme in 1984, from 30 hours per week to 19 hours per week in 1996. Indeed, in-work supports work very well with the vast majority of families and facilitate an element of choice which allows them to select the option which suits them best.

It is crucially important that WFP does not inadvertently subsidise unsustainable 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 without ever-increasing and perhaps ultimately unsustainable levels of subvention.

Notably every 1000 additional claimants would increase the budget by almost €7.02m. A 10% increase in the current numbers of WFP recipients (5,300 claimants) would increase the budget by €37.2m. Therefore any plans to reduce the WFP hours-worked threshold would have to be considered in the overall budgetary context.

The rationale for 38 hours per fortnight requirement is based on a number of reasons:

- Unemployed couple families are incentivised to gain employment with the option to combine their hours to reach the minimum requirement and raise themselves out of poverty by increasing their income.

- A working lone parent who works 15 hours per week is raised significantly above the poverty line and is therefore incentivised to work additional hours to qualify for WFP.

- WFP is not paid with Jobseekers Transitional Payment so a change in hours would not affect this group other than aggravate the 'cliff effect' of coming off the dual OPF/WFP payment.

A possible reduction in hours could also result in the following behavioural effects:

- A reduced incentive to increase part-time hours, resulting in low incomes.

- Permits employers to offer reduced hours contracts resulting in WFP subsidising earnings

- Possible incentive for those on higher earnings to reduce hours to qualify.

WFP is not intended to subsidise unsustainably low earnings or incentivise employers to offer minimal hours of employment. WFP as a policy instrument is designed to provide in-work support and not contribute to greater number of workers in low hours employment.

Social Insurance Fund

Question No. 1877 answered with Question No. 1868.

Questions (1876)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1876. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 1222 of 7 September 2018, the progress made in respect of the 4% PRSI charge in cases in which there is debt forgiveness in relation to the property of a person in view of the fact that Finance Act 2013 provided for the losses incurred not to be subjected to the income tax rules; when there will be consistency between her Department in respect of the same losses for assessment under PRSI; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36424/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The issue to which the Deputy refers is the tax provision applying to the release/forgiveness of a debt relating to land held as trading stock. This provision applies to individuals -

- who own land as part of their trade,

- the value of that land was previously written down, in many cases giving rise to large trading losses, and

- who benefitted from debt forgiveness on borrowings made to purchase that land.

The 2013 tax provision was introduced to ensure that, where loans are taken out to acquire land by individuals engaged actively or otherwise in a trade of dealing in or developing land and these loans are subsequently released or forgiven, the amount forgiven is treated as a receipt of income. The debt forgiveness is accordingly regarded as “reckonable income” for PRSI purposes and is liable to PRSI at the Class S rate of 4%.

While generally PRSI and tax rules are similar, they do differ in terms the treatment of trading losses carried forward from a previous year. Tax is charged after losses brought forward from previous years while PRSI is charged only on the profits generated in a particular year, without regard to losses in prior years. This difference means that the treatment of debt forgiven needs to ensure that it does not give rise to a loss of PRSI income.

My Department is finalising its examination of this issue to ensure the appropriate treatment of debt forgiven for PRSI purposes and will liaise with the all relevant bodies on completion of its deliberations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 1877 answered with Question No. 1868.

Child Benefit Eligibility

Questions (1878)

Robert Troy

Question:

1878. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the child benefit payment to cover pupils who will be 19 years of age sitting their leaving certificate (details supplied). [36510/19]

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-July 2019 to almost 630,000 families in respect of nearly 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Extending the payment in respect of full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age 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.

Departmental Strategies

Questions (1879)

John Curran

Question:

1879. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when she plans to publish the new social inclusion strategy, which was due for publication in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36580/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The new social inclusion strategy "Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2019-2025", is being finalised and I expect that the new strategy will be published shortly.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Questions (1880)

John Curran

Question:

1880. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to increase the rate of jobseeker's allowance being paid to young persons who are unable to live with family and are experiencing homelessness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36582/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Reduced rates for JA recipients aged 18-25 were introduced on a phased basis to tackle high youth unemployment and to prevent long term welfare dependency. This is in line with other EU and OECD jurisdictions. Receiving the maximum rate of JA without a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training can lead to long-term welfare dependency from a young age. If a young jobseeker participates in education or training the personal rate that applies is €203 per week.

There are a number of measures in place to assist young people into employment or training. In 2013 the EU adopted a Council Recommendation to member states on a Youth Guarantee. Under the Youth Guarantee process a case officer engages with the young jobseeker on a monthly basis, to prepare and implement a personal progression plan for employment, tailored to their specific skillset.

Where young people do not find work quickly, they are supported through placement on employment and training schemes, which are closely aligned to the needs of the labour market. For example, the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) which I launched last year is a work experience scheme targeted exclusively at young jobseekers facing barriers to employment and participants on the scheme receive a payment of €229.20 per week. These policies have been effective in reducing both youth and long-term unemployment. For example, the most recent data shows that Irish youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% in 2012 to 14.7% in August 2019.

My Department actively engages with Tusla and non-Government organisations to provide supports to vulnerable young people leaving care who are experiencing homelessness or who are in insecure situations. Age-related reduced rates of payment do not apply in certain circumstances, such as when the claimant has a dependent child or was in State care during the 12 months prior to the age of 18 years. The Department's Community Welfare service engages with a range of stakeholders and advocacy groups working with vulnerable young people and may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help with essential expenses which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. ENPs can be paid to assist with rent deposits and the costs of setting up home.

Any changes to the rate of payments for young jobseekers would have to be considered in a budgetary context and within the scope of the overall resources available for welfare improvements.

I trust that this information is of assistance to the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Questions (1881)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1881. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for jobseeker's allowance will be accepted in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36593/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance and has made an application for Back To Education Allowance (BTEA). The BTEA application was refused by a Deciding Officer on 3rd September 2019 as the person concerned is under 21 years of age, not 3 months in receipt of a qualifying payment and already holds a level 5 qualification. This was communicated to the person concerned by letter which issued on the 3rd September 2019.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Questions (1882)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1882. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a review into the qualification for the working family payment can be undertaken in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36594/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children. In order to qualify for WFP, an applicant must have a qualified child and be engaged in full-time paid employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight.

All household income is assessable for Working Family Payment.

We received your representations on 3rd September 2019. As a result of your representations we intend carrying out a review of the working family payment entitlement for the person concerned. When this has been completed we will contact you with the outcome of this review.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Invalidity Pension

Questions (1883)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1883. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) can transfer to invalidity pension from their present payment if they qualify for a disablement payment or alternative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36595/19]

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 gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 16 May 2019. Payment will issue to his nominated bank account on 19 September 2019. Any arrears due from 16 May 2019 to 18 September 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible. The gentleman in question was notified of this decision on 04 September 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Payments

Questions (1884)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1884. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a working family payment can be adjusted in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36604/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Based on the evidence supplied in support of their application for disability allowance (DA), this person’s application was disallowed on the grounds that the medical qualifying condition was not satisfied. They were notified in writing of this decision on 20 March 2019.

The person concerned requested an appeal of the decision. The social welfare appeals office (SWAO) decided, that the medical qualifying condition was satisfied and the DA was awarded to the person concerned with effect from 30 January 2019.

DA is a means-tested payment. Means were assessed from the employment of the person concerned and a reduced amount of DA was awarded. Additional evidence was received from the person concerned on 23 August 2019 and a review of this persons means was carried out. On 4 September 2019, the person concerned was informed of this decision and she was also notified of her right to seek a review of this decision or appeal directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (1885)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1885. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on the review of further medical evidence submitted in support of an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36608/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing, decided to disallow the appeal of the person concerned. Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed in the light of additional evidence or new facts.

I am advised that the person concerned has submitted additional evidence and that the Appeals Officer is finalising a review of this case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of his/her appeal has been finalised later this week.

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.