Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (297)

Barry Cowen

Question:

297. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of capital projects that cost €100 million or more in the past five years; the cost of outside consultants for each of the projects costing €100 million or more; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42862/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can confirm that my Department has not incurred any costs in excess of €100 million in respect of capital projects over the past five years.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (298)

Barry Cowen

Question:

298. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of capital projects anticipated to commence in the next five years that cost €100 million or more; the expected cost of external consultants for each project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42878/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

There will be a significant requirement for early learning and care capital investment over the next number of years. This is currently recognised in the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027.

The NPF highlights the contribution of early childhood care and education to the important role of childcare provision in terms of underpinning future patterns of labour force participation. The Government's commitment to this is demonstrated by the commitment of €250 million of resources under the NDP over the period to 2027. It is too early at this stage to identify any associated consultancy costs as planning is still at very early stages. 

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (299)

Alan Kelly

Question:

299. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will provide a copy of all correspondence between him and-or his office and-or his advisers and Pobal from 2016 to 10 October 2019 (details supplied). [42782/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department is currently working on the Deputy's request. Any material identified will be forwarded to the Deputy when that process is complete.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (300, 301)

Barry Cowen

Question:

300. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of capital projects that cost €100 million or more in the past five years; the cost of outside consultants for each of the projects costing €100 million or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42874/19]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

301. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of capital projects anticipated to commence in the next five years that cost €100 million or more; the expected cost of external consultants for each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42890/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 300 and 301 together.

Since its establishment in July 2017, my Department has not been responsible for delivery of any projects costing in excess of €100 million; and I do not anticipate that any such projects will arise in the next five years.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Questions (302)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

302. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding a claim by community employment supervisors for a pension such as a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42697/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am currently engaging with representatives of the Community Employment supervisors and assistant supervisors to discuss issues arising following the 2008 Labour Court Recommendation.  All parties to the this process have agreed that the detail of the discussions should remain confidential while discussions are ongoing.  I would ask Deputies to respect these wishes and allow the talks to continue free from speculation which might prove unhelpful at this stage. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Support Grant

Questions (303)

Michael McGrath

Question:

303. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to the decision in budget 2020 to increase the maximum number of hours a person can work and still qualify for the carer’s allowance to 18.5, her plans to also increase the maximum number of hours to 18.5 in order for a person to qualify for the carer’s support grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42661/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

As part of Budget Measures 2020, I announced that family carers in receipt of my Department's income supports for carers  could increase the number of hours they can work, study or attend a training course outside the home from 15 to 18.5 hours.  This applies to those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Carer’s Support Grant.  Over 1,200 family carers are expected to benefit from this change at a cost of €11.6 million. 

I particularly prioritised this measure in response to the carers I have met who have told me that they found the current number of 15 hours to be too restrictive. 

An increase from 15 hours to 18.5 will accommodate increased participation by carers in work or training to strengthen their connection with the labour force, while also serving the additional purpose of reducing the social alienation experienced by many carers. 

I hope this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (304)

Robert Troy

Question:

304. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance appeal will be expedited for a person (details supplied). [42723/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Disability allowance (DA) is subject to periodic reviews. This lady's entitlement was recently reviewed and it was established that she no longer satisfied the medical condition for receipt of DA. She was notified of this decision on 8 May 2019.

The person concerned requested an appeal of the decision and submitted additional medical evidence for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office decided, based on this additional evidence, that the medical qualifying condition was satisfied. 

This lady's disability allowance (DA) has been re-instated with effect from 5 June 2019. The first payment was made by her chosen payment method on 11 September 2019. Arrears of payment due, less any overlapping payments for the period have issued to the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (305)

Robert Troy

Question:

305. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance appeal will be expedited for a person (details supplied). [42724/19]

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 24 September 2019. At the hearing the Appeals Officer requested that some additional documentation be provided by the person concerned and that information is still awaited. 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.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (306)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

306. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance application will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42737/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 5 June 2019. 

On 7 September 2019 and on 20 September 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on her eligibility.  On receipt of this information a decision will be made on her DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Questions (307)

Tom Neville

Question:

307. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for the household benefits package for a person (details supplied); and if the award will be backdated to the date of the person's 70th birthday. [42746/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

An application for the Household Benefits Package was received from the person concerned on 10 October 2019.  The claimant was awarded the Household Benefits and the claim will be backdated to the date of their 70th birthday. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (308)

Alan Kelly

Question:

308. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will provide all correspondence between her and or his office and or her advisers and or the Secretary General and or the office of the Secretary General and the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform in September 2019 and to 10 October 2019. [42779/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy cannot be provided within the timeframe available.

The Department is compiling the documentation sought by the Deputy and will provide the relevant documentation to the Deputy under separate cover as soon as possible.

Illness Benefit Payments

Questions (309)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

309. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal was not paid illness benefit on 12 October 2019, in view of the fact the person's certificate was posted to her Department on 4 October 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42799/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned experienced a delay in his payment as the Department had not yet received his most recent medical certificate and therefore there was a delay in processing it.

The person concerned was previously medically certified until the 3rd October 2019, and was fully paid up to this date.

The Department processed a further medical certificate on the 11th October 2019 which certified him for the period of the 4th October 2019 to the 31st October 2019. A payment was issued on the 11th October 2019 to the bank account of the person concerned which paid him fully up to date.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (310)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

310. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42806/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, on 13 September 2019, an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who 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.

Child Benefit Payments

Questions (311)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

311. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a child benefit payment will be transferred to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42826/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department has no record of an application for child benefit from the person concerned.

The person concerned should submit a child benefit application (CB1) at his earliest convenience.  Upon receipt of same, a decision will issue to him as soon as possible.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Budget 2020

Questions (312)

Robert Troy

Question:

312. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the allocation in 2020 to a scheme if operationalised following the announcement in budget 2020 of the introduction of a short-time work support scheme to support vulnerable jobs from the impact of Brexit. [42835/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

As outlined by my colleague Minister Pascal O’Donoghue, TD, Budget 2020 has been framed in the shadow of Brexit.  In the event of a no-Deal Brexit and its economic consequences, €365 million will be provided for extra Social Protection expenditure on the Live Register and related schemes with a further €45 million being made available to assist people to transition to new employment opportunities.

The 2020 revised estimates for my Department provide for expenditure next year on the jobseeker’s benefit scheme of €354.4 million in addition to €13.7 million for the new jobseeker's benefit for the self-employed that I expect will be introduced in the coming weeks. The short-time work support scheme will be a demand led scheme and will be funded from within the allocation provided for jobseekers.  

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Budget 2020

Questions (313)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

313. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the role in the pre-budget period of the social inclusion unit; if the unit is consulted as part of the budget process; if an assessment is carried out by the unit in advance of the impact of budget proposals on poverty levels; and the reason budget 2020 was not poverty proofed. [42859/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department undertakes ex-ante and ex-post social impact assessments of the main welfare and direct tax budgetary policies.  These assessments are carried out by the Social Inclusion Division in advance of and after the Budget.   

The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is an evidence-based methodology which estimates the likely distributive effects of policies on household incomes, families and poverty.  The analysis is generated through the ESRI’s tax/benefit micro-simulation model, SWITCH.  The model simulates the impact of budgetary changes on a representative sample of households from the CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions.  It should be noted that certain items  which will have an impact on poverty cannot be assessed by the model at present, such as the school meals programme.

The main analysis of potential policy measures is undertaken in the context of the Tax Strategy Group papers.  The Social Protection Package papers include social impact assessments of a range of illustrative social welfare budgetary measures, including PRSI measures.  These papers are published on the Department of Finance’s website at http://finance.gov.ie/what-we-do/tax-policy/tax-strategy-group.  Social impact assessments using SWITCH are also used in relation to potential policy options and to assess the cumulative impact of budgetary policies.

My Department publishes the social impact assessment of welfare and direct tax budgetary measures shortly after the Budget is agreed. This is to inform public understanding on the cumulative effect of budgetary welfare and tax policies on income distribution and social equality. Previously published assessments of Budgets 2013 to 2019 are available on the Department’s website at: www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Examples-.aspx.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (314, 315)

Barry Cowen

Question:

314. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of capital projects that cost €100 million or more in the past five years; the cost of outside consultants for each of the projects costing €100 million or more; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42867/19]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

315. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of capital projects anticipated to commence in the next five years that cost €100 million or more; the expected cost of external consultants for each project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42883/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 and 315 together.

The capital allocation for my Department is primarily used to deliver IT modernisation and to carry out refurbishments on the Department’s buildings.  There have been no capital projects with a spend of €100 million or above in the last five years.

The Department has no plans to commence any capital projects costing €100 million or more in the next five years. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Questions (316)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

316. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which her Department can assist towards emergency rent support in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42895/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department awarded a rent supplement payment for the person concerned on 9/10/19 and her payment has been backdated to 1/5/19.  Her first payment including arrears will issue on 24/10/19.  The person concerned has been advised accordingly.

The Deputy will be aware that as the rental property in question is in an area designated as a Rental Pressure Zone (RPZ) under the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, rents are only permitted to rise according to a prescribed formula by a maximum of 4% annually.

The person concerned notified my Department of the change in her circumstances and was asked to submit documentation confirming the increase in her rent.  Her claim will be re-assessed in line with current legislation and guidelines when this is received.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Back to Education Allowance Eligibility

Questions (317)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

317. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) can qualify for higher education grants or the back to education allowance in view of the fact that the person has already undertaken private courses and is unable to progress further due to costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42896/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The objective of the back to education allowance (BTEA) is to assist those who are distant from the labour market to acquire the necessary education to improve their chances of becoming independent of the social welfare system. 

The allowance enables social welfare customers in receipt of certain payments to pursue full-time education courses and to continue to receive income support in the form of the BTEA, subject to the customer remaining eligible for their underlying welfare payment.   

The BTEA is not intended to be an alternative form of funding for people entering or re-entering the third level education system.  The Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant payable by the Department of Education and Skills represents the primary support for persons pursuing education.  In general, most BTEA customers will also have certain registration and related college fees paid by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

The individual concerned is not currently in receipt of a payment from my Department. I would advise that he contacts his local Intreo Centre to discuss the options available to him.

I trust this clarifies the situation for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Eligibility

Questions (318)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

318. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if approval for carer's benefit continues in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42897/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to a person 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.

The person concerned applied for CARB for her mother on the 27 May 2019. Carers Leave was granted by her employer from 22 August 2019 to 7 June 2020. CARB has been awarded for a period of 3 months from the 22 August up to 27 November 2019, as it was decided that she required full-time care for that period.

The carer submitted further evidence on 18 September 2019 in support of her claim for continued payment after the 3 months. This evidence 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 the 8 October 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Payments

Questions (319)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

319. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when payment of disability allowance will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42898/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 27 March 2019. The first payment will be made by his chosen payment method on 13 November 2019.

Arrears of payment due will issue as soon as possible once any necessary adjustment is calculated and applied in respect of any overlapping payments or in respect of outstanding overpayments (if applicable).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Eligibility

Questions (320)

James Browne

Question:

320. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when legislation will be changed to allow tenants purchase their homes under the tenant purchase scheme when their only income is social welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42628/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015, provide the basis for the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme for existing local authority houses.  The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme.  To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The minimum reckonable income for eligibility under the scheme is determined by the relevant local authority in accordance with the detailed provisions of the Ministerial Direction issued under Sections 24(3) and (4) of the 2014 Act. In the determination of the minimum reckonable income, local authorities can include income from a number of different sources and classes, such as from employment, private pensions, maintenance payments and certain social welfare payments, including pensions, where the social welfare payment is secondary to employment income.

The minimum income criterion was introduced in order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme.  Applicants must demonstrate that they have an income that is long-term and sustainable in nature. This ensures that the tenant purchasing the house is in a financial position, as the owner, to maintain and insure the property for the duration of the charged period, in compliance with the conditions of the order transferring the ownership of, and responsibility for, the house from the local authority to the tenant.

The financing of any house sold under the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme is a separate matter from the eligibility criteria for the scheme.  If the tenant is deemed eligible under the scheme, he or she may fund the purchase of a house from one, or a combination, of his/her own resources or a mortgage provided by a financial institution or a local authority house purchase loan.

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been completed and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations. 

I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the Review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be progressed as part of that process. Following consideration of a number of implementation issues arising, in that context, I expect to be in a position to publish the Review.

Local Authority Funding

Questions (321)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

321. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding outstanding to Dublin City Council for projects; and the details and periods for which this funding is outstanding. [42629/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has a wide and diverse business agenda, covering a broad range of functions including local authority housing, voluntary housing, homeless services, estate regeneration, energy efficiency retrofitting, housing grants, rural water schemes, urban renewal/regeneration, and fire services. To achieve its business objectives, my Department allocates significant resources to local authorities and other organisations.

In order to deliver on this broad business agenda, my Department recoups expenditure incurred by local authorities, including Dublin City Council, under the terms and conditions of the relevant schemes. Claims from local authorities in respect of such schemes, submitted with the requisite supporting information, are normally assessed, verified and paid on a recoupment basis and processed in a prompt manner. My Department does not collate the data referred to in the Question as the generally positive payment timeframes which apply negate a need to do so.