Local Improvement Scheme Data

Questions (228)

Dara Calleary

Question:

228. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of projects approved under the local improvement scheme in 2018 and to date in 2019, by county in tabular form; the number of projects that were not approved by county in each year; the reason for refusal; and if there is an appeal mechanism in place to appeal refusal decisions. [50653/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) is funded by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities. The number and location of road projects to benefit from improvement works is a matter for the relevant Local Authority.

The following table outlines the number of LIS road projects approved by the Local Authorities, by county, in 2018 and 2019.

My Department does not hold records of projects that have not been approved at Local Authority level, and any queries or appeals in respect of such projects are a matter for the relevant Local Authority.

Table 1: LIS 2018 and 2019 - Number of Roads Approved

Local Authority

Number of Roads Approved in 2018

Number of Roads Approved in 2019

Carlow

28

14

Cavan

11

4

Clare

30

12

Cork

61

20

Donegal

106

34

Galway

66

37

Kerry

58

26

Kildare

12

8

Kilkenny

15

12

Laois

19

6

Leitrim

21

10

Limerick

21

13

Longford

25

15

Louth

5

7

Mayo

139

73

Meath

21

12

Monaghan

31

10

Offaly

31

11

Roscommon

92

21

Sligo

22

7

Tipperary

25

21

Waterford

19

4

Westmeath

22

12

Wexford

17

11

Wicklow

15

11

TOTAL

912

411

Public Consultation Process

Questions (229)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

229. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the public consultations held by her Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50447/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The consultation process for the Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System comprised of written submissions, consultation seminars, an online survey and focus groups. Four regional consultation seminars were held in Dublin (2), Cork and Galway.

As part of the consultation phase of the development of Pathways to Work 2020 - 2024 , five regional consultation workshops took place, hosted in partnership with the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU). These workshops were held in Dublin, Sligo, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Louth.

Public consultations regarding the development of the new Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020 – 2025 took place as part of my Department’s annual Social Inclusion Forum, held in Dublin in 2018 and 2019.

Following on from the publication of the Make Work Pay for People with Disabilities Report, my Department undertook a national consultation process in relation to Recommendations 9 and 10 of the Report (early engagement and Disability Allowance reconfiguration). Regional venues for the consultations were used in Dublin, Sligo, Limerick and Cork.

Consultations by my Department, were written submissions were invited from the public, were also undertaken during 2018 in relation to the Official Languages Act 2003 - Irish Language Scheme 2018 - 2021, the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 (a statutory review provided for in Section 7 of the Act) and the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) Consultation.

Social Welfare Benefits

Questions (230)

Declan Breathnach

Question:

230. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the alternative supports in place for students in view of the decision to cease payments to parents in receipt of child benefit for students aged 18 to 22 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50484/19]

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-October 2019 to over 635,500 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement beyond 18 years of age would not be a targeted approach. The adoption of such a proposal would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Alternative supports which families, on low incomes, may be able to avail of 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 supporting low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Questions (231)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

231. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the circumstances surrounding the QAA payment for a person (details supplied) will be considered to reinstate the payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50491/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Increase for qualified adult is a means tested payment, based on the means of the qualified adult. Following a recent means review, the qualified adult increase was stopped.

Based on updated information, the means of the qualified adult were reviewed and the person concerned now qualifies for a reduced payment. Notification of this decision issued to the person concerned on 2 December 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Questions (232, 233)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

232. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons aged 18 to 24 years of age who are living independently and receiving housing supports in the form of emergency accommodation will be eligible for the higher rate of jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50506/19]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

233. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons aged 18 to 24 years of age who are eligible for housing supports but who are unable to access a tenancy will be eligible for the higher rate of jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50507/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 232 and 233 together.

The reduced age related rates of payment for younger jobseeker’s allowance and supplementary welfare allowance recipients were introduced on a phased basis to protect them from welfare dependency by providing them with a strong financial incentive to participate in education or training to improve their chances of obtaining sustainable full time employment.

Age related reduced rates do not apply to jobseekers with a dependent child, or those who have transferred to jobseeker’s allowance from disability allowance or who were in State care during the 12 months before age 18.

As part of Budget 2020 I announced that jobseekers aged 18-24 living independently and receiving state support towards their housing costs will receive the full rate of jobseekers allowance or supplementary welfare allowance.

My Department’s report on the impact of age related reduced rates of jobseekers allowance on young jobseekers aged 18 to 25 years of age found that there was a small cohort of young people who face significant financial barriers who are living independently and in receipt of State support towards their housing costs. The residual income of those on age related reduced rates after paying the minimum contribution payments on rent supplement, housing assistance payment (HAP) and other local authority housing supports is significantly lower than those on the maximum rate of jobseeker’s allowance or supplementary welfare allowance which can lead to financial hardship.

This measure, which comes into effect in January 2020, will provide that young people in these circumstances can receive the maximum rate of payment and will help young people to continue living independently and reduce the threat of financial hardship. For those aged 18-24 this will provide a weekly increase of up to €90.30 with their weekly payment increasing from €112.70 to €203 for jobseekers and to €201 for those in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance. The estimated expenditure in a full year is €1 million and the estimated number of young people who will benefit from this measure is 300.

Young people who qualify for this measure will continue to be encouraged to engage with the employment support services and avail of pro-employment supports and schemes. A range of activation measures for the under 25’s have been developed and improved over recent years, most notably the EU-wide Youth Guarantee Programme and the Youth Employment Support Scheme which I introduced as part of Budget 2018.

My Department works with Tusla and non-Government organisations to support all vulnerable people including young people who are leaving care, at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, or in insecure situations.

Protocols are in place in all Intreo Centres to ensure that payments and activation supports for young people in insecure situations such as homelessness are not interrupted and they are advised to register with the Local Authority to engage with Housing Assistance Payment and local homeless services.

Supports under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme are also available to young people to help with essential expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. Young people who are in vulnerable situations, including homelessness are assessed to see what supports are most suitable for their individual circumstances. As the needs of this group are complex they require assessment on an individual basis and I believe this is the most appropriate way of helping them to overcome the significant challenges they face.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Employment Rights

Questions (234, 235)

Catherine Martin

Question:

234. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the practice of certain retailers conducting searches of employees when they are leaving their workplace at the end of their shifts; her plans to address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50523/19]

View answer

Catherine Martin

Question:

235. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if employers are obliged to inform staff members in writing if there is to be a change of security procedures in their workplace from randomised to mandatory searches in cases in which they are leaving their workplace; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50524/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 and 235 together.

The Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994 provides that an employer must provide his/her employee with a written statement of the particulars of the employee’s terms of employment. It also provides that an employer must notify the employee of any changes in the particulars as given in the statement. The Act provides a right of complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employer fails to provide a written statement in accordance with the terms of the Act or fails to notify the employee of changes to the particulars contained in the statement. The right to search is not a matter which comes within the information required under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (236)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

236. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of each social welfare payment or support in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50537/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information (where available) requested by the Deputy is detailed in the attached tabular statement.

The number of recipients of each social welfare payment or support at the end of October 2019.

Type of Payment

Recipients

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

94,799

State Pension (Contributory)

428,576

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

122,328

Jobseeker's Allowance

135,240

One Parent Family Payment

39,416

Supplementary Welfare Allowance (2)

15,472

Direct Provision Allowance

4,061

Farm Assist

6,000

Jobseeker's Benefit

31,166

Maternity Benefit

21,023

Adoptive Benefit

15

Health and Safety Benefit

38

Paternity Benefit

626

Community Employment Programme

21,189

Rural Social Scheme

3,183

TUS - Community Work Placement

5,494

Job Initiative

640

Back To Work Enterprise Allowance

4,290

Back To Education Allowance

6,734

Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme

184

Partial Capacity Benefit

2,847

Disability Allowance

145,544

Carer's Allowance

83,085

Illness Benefit

46,291

Injury Benefit

1,208

Invalidity Pension

58,073

Disablement Benefit

15,095

Carer's Benefit

2,995

Domiciliary Care Allowance (Families)

41,661

Domiciliary Care Allowance (Children)

45,989

Child Benefit (Families)

635,790

Child Benefit (Children)

1,214,680

Back to work Family Dividend

5,607

Working Family Payment

52,036

Household Benefits

447,749

Rent/Local Authority Mortgage Supplement

16,957

Rent Allowance

56

Living Alone Allowance

208,337

Over 80 Allowance

166,859

Island Allowance

566

Free Travel

961,225

JobsPlus Employers in payment

1,948

JobsPlus Employees in payment

2,333

Grand Total

5,097,405

Legislative Process

Questions (237)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

237. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the details of Bills on Committee Stage under the remit of her Department in tabular form; the date they were sent to committee stage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50538/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 is the only Bill in my Department which is awaiting Committee Stage. Second Stage in the Dáil was on 14th July 2017.

Legislative Process

Questions (238)

Niall Collins

Question:

238. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of Bills in her Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50547/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 is the only Bill in my Department which is awaiting Committee Stage.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (239)

Niall Collins

Question:

239. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the photography costs for her Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy in her Department regarding the booking of photographers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50571/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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.

Photography services are used, in conjunction with press releases, conferences and launch events, to communicate my Department’s key initiatives, launches, schemes and services to customers and are regularly issued to regional and national media. This photography is used across a wide range of publications and guides, and regularly placed on the Department's website to highlight the services and initiatives of the Department.

Since March 2011, photography services have been used for the occasions as set out in the tables below. All costs listed are inclusive of VAT.

In accordance with Government procurement policy, the Department undertook procurement for the provision of “Professional Photography Services” in 2018. Following this, SON Photographic Ltd. was appointed under an Office of Government Procurement framework tender. The majority of the Department's photography requirements have therefore been arranged through this company since June 2018. The procurement of all other photography services was carried out under informal tendering arrangements in accordance with national and EU procurement procedures.

I do not use my ministerial allowance for the purposes of obtaining photography services.

2011

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Launch of JobBridge

Maxwells

1035.16

Departmental North/South Summer School, Maynooth

Kevin Morris Photography

950.00

Mortgage Arrears Seminar

Ark Photography

254.10

Social Inclusion Forum

Ark Photography and Dragana Jurisic

547.50

2 Social Inclusion Projects

Ark Photography

326.70

Total 2011:

€3,113.46

2012

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Launch of ‘Partial Capacity’ and ‘Employability’

Maxwells

338.25

Launch of Pathways to Work

Maxwells

536.28

Opening of Community Campus in Phibblestown

Lensmen

280.44

Launch of Mortgage Information Helpline

Ark Photography

258.30

Launch of Good Practice Guide for Breakfast Clubs

Ark Photography

184.50

Presentation of Report of the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund

Ark Photography

184.50

Launch of Intreo Centre, Sligo

Joe Travers

300.00

Intreo roadshow in Limerick

Picsure Ltd (Kieran Clancy)

233.70

Employer roadshow in Galway

Joe Travers

125.00

Employer roadshow in Cork

Tony O’Connell Photography

227.00

Employer roadshow in Dublin

Ark Photography

258.30

Total 2012:

€2,926.27

2013

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Launch of Intreo Centre in Tallaght

Lensmen

323.48

Launch of JobBridge Arts in Killarney

MacMonagle Photography

338.25

Briefing for Employers in Blanchardstown and Launch of Intreo in Blanchardstown

Lensmen

851.25

Publication of Indecon Report on JobBridge

Lensmen

589.79

EU Presidency Conference, Leuven

Peter Cavanagh

707.25

Launch of Kilkenny Intreo Centre

Vicky Comerford

123.00

Launch of Pathways to Work

Maxwells

482.16

Inaugural Meeting of the Labour Market Advisory Council

Maxwells

424.35

Launch of Intreo Centre in Loughrea

Joe Travers

225.00

Total 2013:

€4,064.53

2014

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Launch of Benefit of Work ready reckoner and official opening of Intreo in Ballyfermot office

Ark Photography

322.88

Official opening of Intreo Centre in Limerick

Kieran Clancy

221.40

Official opening of Intreo Centre in Castlebar

Joe Travers

300.00

Medical Assessor Admin Conference

Bobby Studios Photography

270.60

Launch of Interim Report of Labour Market Council

Ark Photography

258.30

Total 2014:

€1,373.18

2015

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Tánaiste meeting with French Prime Minister in Leinster House

Mac Innes Photography

246.32

Launch of Jobs Week

Maxwels

413.28

Launch of Intreo Centre in Galway

Joe Travers Photography

175.00

Total 2015:

€834.60

2016

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Official Opening of Clondalkin Intreo Centre

Robbie Reynolds Photography

553.50

Launch of Pathways to Work 2016 to 2020

Maxwell Photography Ltd

645.75

Total 2016:

€1,199.25

2017

Details

Photographer

Cost (€)

Official Opening of Elizabeth O'Farrell House with Mrs Sabrina Higgins

Photocall Ireland

92.25

Launch of Healthy You Early Intervention Forum

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Portrait photography of Management Board

Son Photographic Ltd

501.76

Portrait photography of Management Board

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Portrait photography of a member of the Management Board

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Launch of ‘MyGovID’ online services

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Launch of ‘Make Work Pay’ Report

Son Photographic Ltd

442.80

Launch of Jobs Fair

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Launch of ‘Treatment Benefit' Awareness Campaign

Son Photographic Ltd

464.33

Purchasing Photography Stock for Jobs Week 2016

Charlie Collins t/a Collins Photo Agency

163.03

Purchasing Photography Stock

Charlie Collins t/a Collins Photo Agency

163.03

Launch of awareness campaign

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Senior Management Day Event and Portrait Photography

Son Photographic Ltd

1,045.50

Launch of Fuel Allowance Information Campaign

Son Photographic Ltd

467.40

Purchase of Stock Photography from 2016

Photocall Ireland

92.25

Photography of Intreo Centre for stock photography

Son Photographic Ltd

356.70

Launch of new ‘Ability’ Programme to help people into employment

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Jobs Week - Navan Event

Son Photographic Ltd

390.53

Jobs Week - Dublin Castle Event

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Photo for BTSCFA Launch

Son Photographic Ltd

485.85

Photo for Paternity Benefit Campaign Launch

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Photo for Treatment Benefits Announcement

Son Photographic Ltd

485.85

Announcement of Gender Recognition Act

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

DEASP 70 Year Anniversary Open Policy Conference

Son Photographic Ltd

605.78

NCI DEASP Graduation Event

Son Photographic Ltd

€442.80

Total 2017:

€9,766.86

2018

Details

Photographer

Costs (€)

Jobsweek 2018

Son Photographic Ltd

307.50

Launch of Pension Roadmap

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Mother & Baby Fair

Fennell Photography

405.90

Launch of Feeding Ireland’s Future

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Update on Pensions Roadmap

Son Photographic Ltd

541.20

Launch of Ability Programme

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance

Son Photographic Ltd

485.85

Telephone Support Allowance

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance - cancellation

Son Photographic Ltd

123.00

Pre-Budget Forum

Son Photographic Ltd

615.00

Intreo Jobs Fair – Dublin Castle

Son Photographic Ltd

485.85

Launch of Make Work Pay – Richmond Barracks

Son Photographic Ltd

430.50

Auto-Enrolment – Government Press Centre

Son Photographic Ltd

319.80

Customer Experience Conference

Son Photographic Ltd

553.80

Management Board

Son Photographic Ltd

258.30

Total 2018:

€6,248.70

2019 (to end of October)

Details

Photographer

Costs (€)

Hot School Meals – Launch of Pilot

Son Photographic Ltd

319.80

Launch of MyWelfare.ie

Son Photographic Ltd

319.80

Minister Doherty's visit to CE Schemes in Westmeath

SR Photography

160.00

Management Board – photography

Son Photographic Ltd

259.30

Jobs Week 2019 – Dublin Castle

Son Photographic Ltd

516.60

Jobs Week 2019 – Bray

Son Photographic Ltd

455.10

SMT photography – Carrick-on-Shannon

Son Photographic Ltd

504.30

Management Board (J McCrum) & Comms Unit

Son Photographic Ltd

258.30

Pre-Budget Forum

Son Photographic Ltd

713.40

Employer Roadshow - Cork

Provision Ltd

283.75

Employer Roadshow - Blanchardstown

Son Photographic Ltd

418.20

Total (to end of October) 2019:

€4,208.55

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (240, 241, 242)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

240. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of extending the extra December payment, that is, the Christmas bonus to persons in receipt of jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50583/19]

View answer

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

241. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of extending the extra December payment, that is, the Christmas bonus to those in receipt of jobseeker's benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50584/19]

View answer

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

242. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the extension of the extra December payment, that is, the Christmas bonus to jobseekers that are not long-term unemployed and other categories of those in receipt of a social protection payment. [50585/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 to 242, inclusive, together.

The Christmas Bonus is being paid this week to some 1.2 million long-term social welfare recipients, such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, lone parents and the long-term unemployed in recognition of their long-term financial dependence on social welfare payments for all of most of their income.

Recipients of short term payments such as Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit, Maternity Benefit are not eligible to receive the Christmas Bonus.

Jobseeker’s Allowance, Supplementary Welfare Allowance and Daily Expenses Allowance recipients must have been in receipt of an eligible payment for at least 15 months in order to qualify for a Bonus payment.

It is estimated that extending the bonus payment to recipients of Jobseekers Benefit would cost €6.4m this year, while extending the payment to short-term Jobseekers Allowance recipients would cost €10.4m

Any change to the current eligibility criteria for the Christmas Bonus payment would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (243)

Barry Cowen

Question:

243. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of freedom of information requests made to her Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50596/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised that the Department does not maintain statistics on the number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests denied by reason.

The remaining information requested by the Deputy is set out in the attached tabular statements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular Statements

FOI Requests Received: 2016 to End November 2019

Year

Total Received

Requests Granted

Requests Part Granted

Refused

Search & Retrieval Fee

Internal Review Fee

2016

2,089

1,005

821

104

€280

€120

2017

2,443

1,136

932

166

€500

€390

2018

2,510

684

1,275

369

€512

€330

2019 *

2,209

624

1,250

163

€0

€180

* All figures provided for 2019 are preliminary

FOI Decisions Reviewed by Office of the Information Commissioner:

2016 – End November 2019

Year

Total Reviewed

Accepted

Affirmed

Ruled Against

2016

18

13

9

0

2017

39

26

13

1

2018

23

18

5

3

2019 *

22

17

6

0

* All figures provided for 2019 are preliminary

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (244)

Tom Neville

Question:

244. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied) was refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50609/19]

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 10 October 2019.

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

This is defined as requiring from another person, continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions or continual supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself and likely to require that level of care for at least twelve months.

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

The person concerned was notified on 2 December 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (245)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

245. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of applicants for the State pension (contributory) who fall short of the required number of contributions in order to qualify has been examined; if pro rata payments will be considered in such cases in view of the fact that such contributors receive no benefit for their contributions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50625/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

A person is required to have 520 contributions paid to qualify for the State Pension (contributory). It is reasonable to require people who seek a contributory pension to have made at least 10 years paid contributions into the Social Insurance Fund which finances it, over 50 years of working age life.

While it was lower in the past when PRSI coverage was less widespread, legislation was introduced in 1997 to increase this threshold to 520 weeks, or 10 years of contributions. A fifteen year period was allowed pass between that legislation being enacted and the threshold being raised to this level, which would have been sufficient for most people to achieve the required contributions.

The social welfare system is primarily a contingency-based system, with entitlement based on a number of defined contingencies such as sickness, unemployment, old age or widowhood.

There are two basic principles which underpin the Irish social insurance system.

Firstly there is the contributory principle. Under this principle there is a direct link between the PRSI contributions that a person has paid and entitlement to a varying range of benefits and pensions. Where a person has sufficient PRSI contributions, then benefits and pensions may be paid as of right, where a particular contingency arises and without a means test.

Secondly there is the solidarity principle. Under this principle the benefits and pensions that are paid are not directly related to the amount of PRSI contributions paid by insured persons. PRSI contribution income is instead redistributed to support contributors who are more vulnerable. In this regard, it should be noted that some PRSI contributors do not experience all of the contingencies during their life. For example, one contributor may never require access to Invalidity Pension whereas it may be a crucial support for another.

A person aged 66 or over with insufficient PRSI contributions to qualify for a full rate State Pension (Contributory) may claim a State Pension (Non-Contributory) if they have an income need. The current maximum weekly personal rate is €237, which is over 95% of the maximum State Pension (Contributory) rate. While it is means-tested, there are very significant disregards which are to the benefit of claimants, and a significant majority of such pensioners are paid at the full rate.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Questions (246)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

246. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of social welfare appeals being determined on a weekly basis; the number of appeals arising each week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50626/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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.

In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and just 1% are appealed. Nevertheless, the Appeals Office continues to work to ensure that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.

In 2019, up to the end of November, 21,130 appeals were registered and 20,017 were finalised. Of those finalised, 14,601 were decided by Appeals Officers, 4,280 were revised decisions made by the Department in favour of the appellant and 1,136 appeals were withdrawn.

The following table sets out the numbers of appeals registered and finalised on a weekly basis in 2019 to the end of November.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Weekly Appeals Statistics 2019

Registererd

Finalised

AO decisions

Revised decisions

Withdrawn

04-Jan-19

182

170

142

20

8

11-Jan-19

369

335

307

23

5

18-Jan-19

552

308

196

97

15

25-Jan-19

496

304

234

61

9

01-Feb-19

565

286

207

63

16

08-Feb-19

409

536

429

77

30

15-Feb-19

395

721

613

81

27

22-Feb-19

489

549

449

89

11

01-Mar-19

461

414

283

120

11

08-Mar-19

556

355

278

66

11

15-Mar-19

477

402

274

115

13

22-Mar-19

244

356

261

76

19

29-Mar-19

316

501

304

139

58

05-Apr-19

338

240

190

45

5

12-Apr-19

645

407

257

124

26

19-Apr-19

290

278

214

56

8

26-Apr-19

303

232

153

69

10

03-May-19

445

223

139

75

9

10-May-19

232

268

154

107

7

17-May-19

195

628

566

51

11

24-May-19

500

406

293

103

10

31-May-19

516

404

329

65

10

07-Jun-19

289

308

225

77

6

14-Jun-19

532

679

445

197

37

21-Jun-19

666

459

347

95

17

28-Jun-19

429

393

204

169

20

05-Jul-19

381

421

329

78

14

12-Jul-19

592

456

367

80

9

19-Jul-19

506

467

286

167

14

26-Jul-19

543

423

279

106

38

02-Aug-19

415

366

276

71

19

09-Aug-19

239

375

242

121

12

16-Aug-19

503

423

299

90

34

23-Aug-19

382

374

283

76

15

30-Aug-19

417

459

358

84

17

06-Sep-19

325

360

272

74

14

13-Sep-19

423

542

477

52

13

20-Sep-19

474

408

265

108

35

27-Sep-19

550

636

304

85

247

04-Oct-19

537

640

484

95

61

11-Oct-19

516

454

331

97

26

18-Oct-19

502

388

253

105

30

25-Oct-19

452

500

360

117

23

01-Nov-19

499

347

275

64

8

08-Nov-19

431

528

361

100

67

15-Nov-19

406

572

445

113

14

22-Nov-19

454

370

309

48

13

29-Nov-19

692

346

253

89

4

Total

21,130

20,017

14,601

4,280

1,136

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (247)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of various disability payments; the extent to which the number has fluctuated in the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50627/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The information (where available) requested by the Deputy is detailed in the attached tabular statement.

The number of recipients of disability payments at the end of October in each of the years 2016 to 2019 .

Type of Payment

2016

2017

2018

2019

Disability Allowance

125,046

132,727

139,722

145,544

Carer's Allowance

69,050

74,887

78,681

83,085

Illness Benefit

55,570

54,418

58,207

46,291

Injury Benefit

1,017

1,050

869

1,208

Invalidity Pension

55,317

57,333

57,543

58,073

Disablement Benefit

14,342

14,733

14,861

15,095

Carer's Benefit

2,605

2,704

2,616

2,995

Total

308,990

323,520

352,499

352,291

Social Welfare Schemes Data

Questions (248)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

248. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applicants in receipt of household packages and free schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50628/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Household Benefits Package is paid to over 452,000 households at an estimated cost of €248 million in 2019. Of this cost, €188 million relates to the electricity or gas allowance element of the Household Benefits Package. The remaining €60 million relates to the Free Television Licence.

As part of Budget 2020, I introduced a change, with effect from 6th January 2020, to the eligibility conditions for receipt of the Household Benefits package. This change will mean that those under age 70 will no longer be disqualified for the Household Benefit package due to the fact that another adult, usually an adult child, is residing in their household. The estimated annual cost of this budget measure, set to benefit around 9,500 people, is €4 million.

In addition, Fuel Allowance is paid to over 368,000 households countrywide to assist with their heating costs over the winter months. The payment is made for 28 weeks, between October and April, at an estimated cost of €240 million in 2019.

As part of Budget 2020, I am pleased to have increased the Fuel Allowance payment rate from €22.50 to €24.50 per week, with effect from January 2020. This represents a 9% increase in the rate of this payment and will raise the annual Fuel Allowance payment from €630 to €686. The annual cost of this increase in Fuel Allowance is €21m.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (249)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

249. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which previous arrangements in respect of applicants for the State pension (contributory) continue to qualify and benefit from joint contributions in the UK and here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50629/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My key area of concern is the impact of Brexit on the reciprocal arrangements for social insurance (which includes pensions) and social assistance (means tested schemes linked to residency rights) and child benefit between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Post-Brexit, including in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Irish and British citizens will continue to enjoy the right to travel, live and work between the UK and Ireland in the same manner as before. This is because of a long-standing arrangement known as the Common Travel Area (CTA). The CTA pre-dates Irish and UK membership of the EU and is not dependent on it. Both the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom are committed to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances and we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to that effect on the 8 May 2019.

As part of that commitment, the Government also entered into a Convention on Social Security with the Government of the United Kingdom signed on the 1st February 2019. Under the terms of the agreement, Irish and British citizens living in either country will maintain the right to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in either country and to access social insurance payments, such as state pension (contributory), in either country. This arrangement will be in place as required, that is, either at the end of the transition period if the UK leaves the EU on the basis of an agreement or immediately in a no deal scenario.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (250)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

250. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding the entitlement to a State pension (contributory) in case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50630/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of maximum rate widows Pension for a person under 66 years payable at €208.50 per week. From 20 December 2019, the person concerned will qualify for the maximum rate widows pension for a person 66 years and over, payable at a rate of €248.30 per week. This payment rate is equivalent to the maximum rate of state pension (contributory).

In order to establish a person’s entitlement to state pension (contributory), a completed pension application form must be lodged with the Department and the social insurance record of the person concerned examined by a Deciding Officer. According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has not lodged a pension application form to date with the Department.

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Data

Questions (251)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

251. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applicants for the State pension (contributory) who have been refused on the basis of insufficient contributions in each of the past three years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50631/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Based on the most recent figures available to my Department, the table below provides the number of applicants of pension age who have not qualified for State pension (contributory) in the past three years as they did not satisfy the statutory contribution conditions.

Year reached pension age

Total pensioners who did not satisfy the statutory contribution conditions

2017

2,077

2018

2,303

2019 (as at end Oct)

2,426

Total

6,806

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Questions (252)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

252. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which backlogs have been addressed in respect of various headings and payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50632/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers, ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.

To help my Department to make timely and fair decisions on applications, applicants should ensure that they complete the application forms fully, attaching all the supporting documentation required as per the checklist provided on the application forms. Applicants for illness-related schemes should provide, at the outset, all information they have in relation to medical conditions and the effect of those conditions on their capacity to work or their care needs.

I wish to reassure the Deputy that claim processing is kept under active review, with all possible steps taken to improve processing times and customer service. This includes the assignment of additional resources, where available, and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications. As indicated in a reply to a previous question a recent report from the Comptroller an Auditor General notes that the Department meets or exceeds performance standards on most of its schemes. Illness related schemes given their complexity create particular difficulties, however I am pleased to report that substantial improvements have been made in the processing of the disability /caring schemes in recent months and my department will continue to work to maintain and embed these improvements.

Processing times vary across schemes, depending on the different qualification criteria. Schemes that require a high level of documentary evidence from the customer, particularly in the case of illness-related schemes, can take longer to process. Similarly, means-tested payments can also require more detailed investigation and interaction with the applicant, thereby lengthening the decision-making process. Delays can occur if a claim is submitted and all the necessary supporting documentation is not included. If information is required from social security organisations in other jurisdictions, this can also affect processing times.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.