Data Sharing Arrangements

Questions (587)

Jack Chambers

Question:

587. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the data sharing agreements his Department has in place with organisations that are not other Departments or State agencies; the purpose of these data sharing agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51433/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department is fully committed to applying the principles contained in the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR), and its associated Irish legislation and regulations, for the exchange of personal data.

My Department does not have data sharing agreements in place to exchange information with commercial bodies. Any arrangements in place only apply to other Government Departments or public bodies.

I welcome the passage earlier this year of the Data Sharing and Governance Act, and look forward to its full implementation. This will establish a framework for the sharing of data between Government bodies according to the principles of data governance established by the Oireachtas, and will help improve the administration of the exchange of data between public bodies for the ultimate benefit of the Citizen.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (588)

Jack Chambers

Question:

588. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of freedom of information requests in which his Department made a decision to deny; and the number in which the Information Commissioner overturned the decision of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [51467/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

My Department was established on 19 July 2017 and since that date has received the following numbers of Freedom of Information requests:

- 2017: 14

- 2018: 58

- 2019: 76 (at 02/12/2019)

Refusal of access to records, either partially or in full, occurred as below:

- 2017: 5 (3 part-granted, 2 refused)

- 2018: 26 (12 part-granted, 14 refused)

- 2019: 14 (6 part-granted, 8 refused)

To date, there have been no instances where the Information Commissioner has overturned a decision of my Department.

Departmental Agencies Data

Questions (589)

James Browne

Question:

589. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51501/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

There are five agencies /organisations under the remit of my Department: Pobal, Water Safety Ireland, the Charities Regulatory Authority, the Charities Appeal Tribunal and the Western Development Commission.

Prior to appointment to the role of Chairperson of the agencies/organisations there is a requirement for the Chairperson designate to appear before the relevant Oireachtas Committee. I have provided the information regarding their board's composition in the following table.

Agency

Does organisation have a board?

Number of Positions on Board

Number of positions vacant

Pobal

Y

16

1

Water Safety Ireland

Y

12

1

Charities Regulatory Authority

Y

12

0

Charities Appeal Tribunal

Y

5

0

Western Development Commission

Y

12

1

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (590)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

590. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51572/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Department of Rural and Community Development was established on the 19th July 2017 to promote rural and community development and to build vibrant sustainable communities across the country.

The Department’s gross annual allocation since 2017, as detailed in each Revised Estimates, is set out below along with the corresponding staffing numbers.

Since establishment the Department has undertaken required recruitment to build the corporate and policy making capacity which will enable it to deliver on its mission. Appropriate resourcing has taken place as expected and the numbers below are inclusive of staff within the Charities Regulatory Authority.

Year

DRCD Allocation (Gross) (per Revised Estimates

Staff

2017

€162.73m

155

2018

€238.23m

189

2019

€291.20m

191

Charities Regulation

Questions (591)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

591. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the budget allocation for the Charities Regulatory Authority in each of the years 2017 to 2019. [51694/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Charities Regulatory Authority was established in October 2014 pursuant to the Charities Act 2009. The authority is responsible for registering and regulation of the charity sector. Responsibility for the regulator, which is fully independent in the performance of its statutory functions, has been assigned to the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The following table below shows the funding allocations by year to the Authority for the years in question.

Year

Allocation €'000s

2017

4.379

2018

4.446

2019

4.490

Farm Assist Scheme Applications

Questions (592)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

592. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a farm assist application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51278/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Please note that this claim for Farm Assist was forwarded to a Social Welfare Inspector to assess means. The Inspector undertook a visit to the land. Further documentation was requested on 6th November and when this was not submitted the claim was closed.

On receipt of a separate representation, the relevant Intreo Centre office accepted that this claim would be reopened and a disallowance issued. This letter was issued on Friday 6th December 2019 and provides the applicant with 21 days in which to appeal the decision.

If the applicant proceeds with an appeal, it should be noted that clarification in relation to the questions raised or documentary evidence of same would be required.

I trust this clarifies the situation for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Applications

Questions (593)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

593. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a child benefit application by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51173/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Child benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children. It is currently paid, to approximately 637,000 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of €2.1 billion this year.

A child benefit claim was received from the person concerned on 25th November 2019. Correspondence requesting additional information has been issued and the Department awaits a response. On receipt of this information a decision will be made and issued to the person concerned as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Questions (594)

Mary Butler

Question:

594. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason community employment supervisors are classified as employees of an active labour market programme in view of the fact the majority of the supervisors are recruited from the open job vacancies market and are employed on indefinite contracts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51174/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Community Employment Scheme (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and others with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

The programme is delivered through independent Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies. The contract agreement between the Department and the Community Employment Sponsoring Body establishes their role as an independent contractor.

The purpose of the Community Employment (CE) programme is to enhance the employability of participants by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. The programme helps break the cycle of unemployment for participants and can improve a person’s chances of returning to the labour market.

The supervisors and assistant supervisors are employees of the Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies. Their role is to supervise CE participants on the CE schemes on behalf of their employers, the CE Sponsoring Bodies. They are recruited from the open labour market by the Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies which operate in the wider community and voluntary sector.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (595)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

595. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application by a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51176/19]

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 31 October 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (596)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

596. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51189/19]

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.

The application in question was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 31 October 2019 to confirm that all the conditions for receipt of CA are satisfied.

CA was awarded to the person concerned on 5 December 2019 with effect from 13 June 2019. The first payment will issue to his nominated post office on 12 December 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 13 June 2019 to 11 December 2019 will issue to his nominated Post Office also.

The person concerned was notified on 5 December 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (597, 605)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

597. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51196/19]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

605. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51253/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 597 and 605 together.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3 October 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is still awaiting a response from the carer's allowance section of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and has contacted that section again in the matter.

When these papers have been received from the Department the case in question will be 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 appeal 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.

Carer's Allowance Waiting Times

Questions (598)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

598. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the processing times for carer’s allowance applications for each month to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51227/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

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

Average time to award Carer Allowance claims in each of the months January to October 2019.

Month

Average time to award (weeks)

January

16

February

15

March

13

April

12

May

13

June

13

July

14

August

16

September

15

October

10

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (599)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

599. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay in processing a carer’s allowance application by a person (details supplied); when a decision will be expected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51228/19]

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.

The person concerned is in receipt of CA for one care recipient since 24 October 2016.

My department received an application for CA for a 2nd care recipient on 5 July 2019. Additional information in relation to the means of the person and their spouse was requested by a deciding officer on 5 December 2019.

Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (600)

Peter Burke

Question:

600. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an overdue claim for carer's allowance by a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51233/19]

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.

The person concerned is in receipt of CA for one care recipient since 2 March 2017.

My department received an application for CA for a 2nd care recipient on the 22 July 2019.

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 6 December 2019 with effect from 25 July 2019 and the first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 12 December 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 25 July 2019 to 11 December 2019 will also issue on 12 December 2019.

The person concerned was notified on 6 December 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.

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (601)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

601. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount of State pension (contributory) which should be paid to a person (details supplied); the reason they are only receiving €207 per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51235/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has a total of 1,366 full-rate paid and credited contributions for the period from 1958 to 2007 inclusive. This equates to a yearly average of 27 contributions which, as the person concerned reached pension age before 1 September 2012, is sufficient to qualify for 98% of the maximum rate of State pension (contributory), currently payable at €243.40.

The person concerned was assessed with an overpayment arising from a previous pension claim and is currently repaying this debt at a rate of €36.51 per week. This amount is being deducted from their weekly pension payment. The person concerned is in receipt of the balance which amounts to €206.89.

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (602)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

602. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application by a person (details supplied) for a review of a refusal of a disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51238/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Based on the evidence supplied in support of this person’s application, his application for disability allowance (DA) was disallowed on the grounds that the medical qualifying condition was not satisfied. The person in question was notified in writing of this decision on 30 September 2019.

They requested a review of the decision by a deciding officer (DO) and submitted additional medical evidence for consideration on 22 November 2019. Once a decision is made on this additional evidence the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (603)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

603. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51249/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Following a review of the entitlement of the person concerned, disability allowance (DA) was disallowed with effect from 10 July 2019 as he was deemed to have means in excess of the statutory limit for his circumstances. They were notified in writing of this decision on 4 July 2019 and was also notified of their right to request a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).

On 12 July 2019 this gentleman notified us of a change in his circumstances and requested that a review of the decision on his DA be carried out. On 31 July 2019 the file was referred to a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) for a report on the person's means and circumstances. Once the SWI has submitted his/her report to DA section, a decision will be made on the application and this gentleman will be notified directly of the outcome.

An appeal of the decision on his DA was also requested by the person concerned on 11 July 2019 and this is currently suspended pending the outcome of his review.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Question No. 605 answered with Question No. 597.

Questions (604)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

604. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application for a review of a refusal of invalidity pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51251/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The lady referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 20 June 2019. Payment will issue to her nominated post office on 12 December 2019. Any arrears due from 20 June 2019 to 11 December 2019 will issue as soon as possible. The lady in question was notified of this decision on 06 December 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 605 answered with Question No. 597.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Questions (606)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

606. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if self-employed persons qualify for the working family payment; if not, the alternative payments available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51258/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an income-tested, in-work, family payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children relative to their family size. WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid employees with child dependents and to offer a financial incentive to pursue employment.

In order to qualify for WFP, an applicant or the applicant and their spouse, partner or cohabitant must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee, for not less than 38 hours per fortnight (or 19 hours per week). The employment must be expected to last for at least 3 months. This primary employment condition must be satisfied on an ongoing basis.

WFP is not payable to a person who is only self employed as self employment does not satisfy the above primary employment condition for receipt of WFP. To be eligible for WFP, an applicant must be an employee. Hours worked in self-employment alone cannot be included to satisfy the employment condition. However, a self-employed person who is also an employee may satisfy the WFP employment condition (based on their status as an employee). As WFP is an income tested scheme, all household income including income from self-employment is assessable and must be disclosed by an applicant (family).

There are a number of supports available to self-employed people including the new Jobseekers Benefit for the Self-Employed which was recently introduced from 1 November 2019. Self-employed persons who are operating businesses at low levels of income can continue to access the means tested Jobseekers Allowance scheme, once they satisfy the conditionality of the scheme.

Parent’s benefit scheme was introduced from 1 November 2019 which provides both parents, including those in self-employment, with 2 weeks paid leave during the first year of their child’s life. This is an additional support to that already available to the self-employed under the maternity and paternity benefit schemes. The addition of these new schemes builds on other significant improvements for self-employed people in recent years such as access to invalidity pension and treatment benefits in 2017.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.