Departmental Staff Data

Questions (627)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

627. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the budget and number of staff working in her Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51565/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

My Department, like all Government departments and agencies is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget, which for this Department has involved reductions in staff numbers.

Table 1 below details the number of permanent staff and Temporary Clerical Officers working in my Department at year end in respect of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and at the end of November 2019. The figure for full time equivalents (FTE) takes account of staff that avail of work-share options. Temporary Clerical Officers are employed to cover long term absences eg. maternity leave, carers leave, long term illness, shorter working year scheme and also to support projects such as the roll out of the Public Service Card, SWY and Total Pension Contribution project.

Table 2 details the allocated salary budget for each year. This budget is set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. While the staffing numbers in my Department have been decreasing, the salary budget has risen as a result of increases in salaries arising from such agreements as the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020.

Table 1: Staffing Numbers

Year

FTE

Staff Count

Dec- 2014

6555.20

6962

Dec- 2015

6497.79

6898

Dec- 2016

6436.37

6823

Dec- 2017

6364.12

6730

Dec- 2018

6363.29

6728

Nov- 2019

6125.69

6465

Table 2: Salary Budget

Year

Budget

2014

€ 290,611,000.00

2015

€ 308,617,000.00 *

2016

€ 296,372,000.00

2017

€ 295,510,000.00

2018

€ 300,873,000.00

2019

€ 303,890,000.00

* In 2015 there was an extra pay run for fortnightly paid staff. Extra money was allocated for this.

Pensions Data

Questions (628)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

628. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons who will be affected by the increase in the pension age to 67 years of age from January 2021; the number of persons aged 65 and 66 years of age who are entitled to but unable to claim a State pension until they are 67 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51577/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Increasing pension age, to moderate the increase in pension duration, is a means by which pensions can be made sustainable in the context of increasing longevity. In order to provide for sustainable pensions and to facilitate a longer working life, legislation passed in 2011 provides for an increase in the State pension age in three separate stages. In 2014, the State pension age was standardised at 66. This will be increased to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028. The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 has stated that future changes in State pension age after 2035 will be based on research into life expectancy. This is in keeping with similar measures introduced by most EU and OECD countries.

This sustainability is vital, if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age. It is the only feasible solution which does not involve reducing pension rates to pensioners (which would result in an increase in the rate of poverty among older people), or reducing other significant areas of Government expenditure (such as other payments made by my Department).

The number of recipients of Contributory and Non-Contributory State Pension is estimated to increase by an average of 21,300 per year up to 2024. It is estimated that the gross cost to the State Pension (Contributory) of postponing the increase in State Pension Age would be approximately €430m per annum, but the net cost is closer to €217.5 million per annum. The estimates factor in secondary costs such as foregone PRSI receipts and additional Household Benefit payments.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Reform

Questions (629, 639)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

629. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she has taken to inform the public of the increase in the pension age to 67 years of age in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51578/19]

View answer

Niall Collins

Question:

639. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps taken to inform persons of the increase in pension age due to come into effect in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51741/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 629 and 639 together.

The National Pensions Framework was launched by my Department at a press event in March 2010. The Framework stated that the State Pension age would be standardised at 66 with the abolition of the State Pension (transition) in 2014 and would be increased to 67 and 68 in 2021 and 2028 respectively. The Framework received significant media attention at the time as it proposed a number of reforms to the pensions landscape.

The changes to state pension age were legislated for in the 2011 Social Welfare and Pensions Act and, as I'm sure you are aware, have been the subject of significant discussion in the media since. In recent times we have conducted a variety of consultations and press events relating to reform of the Irish pension system including, within the last 18 months alone, the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023, the introduction of an Auto-enrolment supplementary pension and the introduction of a "Total Contributions Approach" to the State Pension. Information on the changes to the State Pension age is provided as part of all standard briefings on State Pension.

Ahead of the increase in State Pension age to 67 on January 1st 2021, we will ensure that all those effected by the change in age, and any other reforms that may be implemented prior to that date, will be fully aware of how the changes impact upon them well in advance of the change taking effect.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.

Pensions Reform

Question No. 631 answered with Question No. 616.

Questions (630)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

630. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an impact assessment of increasing the contributions required to qualify for a State pension from 30 to 40 contributions under the total contribution approach that is due to come into effect in quarter 3 of 2020 has been conducted; the number of persons that may not be entitled to a full rate of State pension under the changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51579/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The consultation process on the proposed reforms dates back to October 2007 when the Government published the Green Paper on Pensions to stimulate debate on the challenges and options for the future development of pensions. This consultation informed the development of the 2010 National Pensions Framework which included the policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) for the State pension (contributory). This policy was endorsed by a subsequent review of the Irish Pensions System published by the OECD in 2013.

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 is focused on implementing polices that have already been well debated and have broad support. In particular that the State pension will be reformed in line with the TCA recommended in the National Pensions Framework.

Consultation is a very important part of the development and design of the new pension. With this in mind, I launched a public consultation on the design of the TCA on the 28thof May 2018 to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited. A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback.

Shortly afterwards, Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing by my officials in Leinster House. The consultation was open for over three months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations. Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on the issues of most interest to them.

Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process a number of issues were raised in the public consultation, not simply restricted to the TCA reform itself and I am looking to build a model that answers the concerns raised, that is fair, and which is also sustainable into the future.

Officials in my Department are reviewing options for the precise model but a final decision on the model has not yet been made by Government.

It is anticipated that the new TCA model will come into effect in Q3 2020.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 631 answered with Question No. 616.

JobPath Programme

Questions (632)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

632. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if JobPath participants can have safe pass paid on their behalf to increase their chances of securing employment; if so, the process and criteria in place in implementing such requests; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51594/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Jobseekers engaged with the JobPath service receive intensive individual support to help overcome barriers to employment and to find jobs. Each person is assigned a Personal Advisor who assesses their skills, experience, challenges and work goals and agrees a Personal Progression Plan (PPP) that includes a schedule of activities, including relevant training and educational programmes to assist them in finding full-time sustainable employment. There are no barriers to any participants pursuing training, provided they are relevant to the agreed Personal Progression Plan.

The JobPath providers arrange for the delivery of a broad range of education and training courses with a particular and strong focus on upskilling the long term unemployed. Both JobPath providers have their own discretionary funds available to pay for these training courses. If a JobPath participant expresses an employment preference that involves working in the construction sector the Personal Advisor checks whether they hold a current Safe Pass. If there is no Safe Pass held or it requires renewal, the Personal Advisor may refer the participant to an external training specialist provider and pay the cost involved.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (633)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

633. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an appeal by a person (details supplied) lodged in July 2019 will be expedited; the status of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51637/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned has been 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. I am advised that the Appeals Officer has been requested to consider this case as a priority.

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 Eligibility

Questions (634)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

634. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is eligible for carer's benefit in view of the refusal of carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51676/19]

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. It is payable for a maximum of 104 weeks for each person being cared for.

To qualify the carer must satisfy PRSI conditions, employment conditions, show that they are providing full-time care and attention and must show that the care recipient requires full-time care and attention.

I am advised that there is no application by the person concerned for Carer's Benefit registered in this Department. If the person concerned wishes to apply for Carer's Benefit she should submit a completed application form to the social welfare services office, Longford, as soon as possible, to have her eligibility assessed.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (635)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

635. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51713/19]

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 21 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 this 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 20 November 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.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Questions (636)

Martin Heydon

Question:

636. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of rent allowance in County Kildare in each of the years 2007 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51716/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Rent supplement continues its vital role in supporting families and individuals in private rented accommodation, with the scheme supporting approximately 17,200 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

The strategic goal of returning rent supplement to its original purpose, that of a short-term income support, has been primarily facilitated by the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

Since the introduction of HAP on the 2nd November 2015 for the County, rent supplement recipients in Kildare have fallen from 3,400 to approximately 820, as at end of November 2019. The identification of recipients for the County with long term social housing needs for transfer to HAP remains a key goal for the Department.

In recognition of the on-going rental market difficulties, the Department continues to implement a targeted case-by-case flexible payment policy approach that allows for flexibility where landlords seek rents in excess of the rent limits. To date, in excess of 14,260 cases have been provided additional flexible payment arrangements, having received support in excess of the prevailing rent limits.

Rent supplement recipient statistics in County Kildare for the period 2007 to 2018 and to end November 2019 are provided in the attached tabular statement.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Table: Rent Supplement Recipients for County Kildare 2007 to End November 2019.

Year

No. of Recipients

2007

2,675

2008

3,275

2009

4,161

2010

4,409

2011

4,447

2012

4,338

2013

4,135

2014

3,698

2015

3,396

2016

2,579

2017

1,874

2018

1,143

2019 (End of November)

823

Disablement Benefit

Questions (637)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

637. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure the cuts to the disablement pension made during the recession are reversed at the next possible opportunity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51718/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Disablement Benefit is one of the benefits payable under the Occupational Injuries scheme to an insured person who suffers a loss of physical or mental faculty as a result of an occupational accident or prescribed occupational disease. It is medically assessed to determine the loss of faculty which can range from 1 to 100 percent. Injuries or diseases sustained since 1 January 2012 results in a payment where the level of disablement is at least 15%. Before then, payment could be made where the level of disablement went from 1% to 100%. Disablement Benefit may be paid as a once off gratuity or in the form of a disablement pension.

The maximum rate of disablement pension (for 100% loss of faculty) increased over the years from its inception in 1967 to a height of €235.40 per week in 2009. The rate was reduced to €219.00 per week for the years 2011 to 2016 inclusive. However. it has been increased again in successive Social Welfare Acts in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and it is now €234 per week.

The Department regularly reviews its supports and payments schemes to ensure that they continue to meet their objectives. Any change to the current arrangements for disablement pension would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.

Pensions Reform

Question No. 639 answered with Question No. 629.

Questions (638)

Niall Collins

Question:

638. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has received correspondence from a union (details supplied) regarding increases in the State pension age; the projected cost of implementing the proposals including reversing the decision to increase the State pension age in 2021 and 2028; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51740/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The organisation in question made a submission to my Department's consultation on the introduction of the Total Contributions Approach last year which included their position on the increases to State Pension Age as legislated for in the 2011 Social Welfare and Pension Act.

The organisation concerned is also represented on the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) which was established in 2016 to bring together representatives of employers and trade unions with Government Ministers to exchange views on economic and employment issues as they affect the Labour Market and which are of mutual concern. The LEEF Pensions Sub Group meets regularly to cover matters concerning pensions.

In order to provide for sustainable pensions and to facilitate a longer working life, successive Governments have considered the sustainability challenges faced by the Pensions system as a result of changing demographics in Ireland. In 2007, Minister Cullen launched the Green Paper on Pensions, which proposed raising the Pension Age. This was followed by a major public consultation exercise. Three years later, in 2010, Minister Hanafin launched the National Pensions Framework which, following a Government decision, set out the agenda of changes in the State Pension Age in 2014, 2021 and 2028. This strategy was enacted via legislation introduced by then Minister Burton and passed in 2011 which provides for an increase in the State pension age in three separate stages. In 2014, the State pension age was standardised at 66. This will be increased to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 has stated that future changes in State pension age after 2035 will be based on research into life expectancy. This is in keeping with similar measures introduced by most EU and OECD countries.

This sustainability is vital, if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age. It is the only feasible solution which does not involve reducing pension rates to pensioners (which would result in an increase in the rate of poverty among older people), or reducing other significant areas of Government expenditure (such as other payments made by my Department).

It is estimated that the gross cost to the State Pension (Contributory) of postponing the increase in State Pension Age would be approximately €430m per annum, but the net cost is closer to €217.5 million per annum. The estimates factor in secondary costs such as foregone PRSI receipts and additional Household Benefit payments. If the projected changes in 2021 and 2028 were both reversed the estimated net cost therefore, from 2028, would be €435m per annum. These figures would obviously increase every year given the changing demographics.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 639 answered with Question No. 629.

Pensions Data

Questions (640)

Niall Collins

Question:

640. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of making the qualifying condition for the State pension 30 years of PRSI contributions as opposed to the proposed number under the total contributions approach due to come into effect in quarter 3 of 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51742/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The consultation process on the proposed reforms dates back to October 2007 when the Government published the Green Paper on Pensions to stimulate debate on the challenges and options for the future development of pensions. This consultation informed the development of the 2010 National Pensions Framework which included the policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) for the State pension (contributory). This policy was endorsed by a subsequent review of the Irish Pensions System published by the OECD in 2013.

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 is focused on implementing polices that have already been well debated and have broad support. In particular that the State pension will be reformed in line with the TCA recommended in the National Pensions Framework.

Consultation is a very important part of the development and design of the new pension. With this in mind, I launched a public consultation on the design of the TCA on the 28thof May 2018 to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited. A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback.

Shortly afterwards, Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing by my officials in Leinster House. The consultation was open for over three months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations. Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on the issues of most interest to them.

Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process a number of issues were raised in the public consultation, not simply restricted to the TCA reform itself and I am looking to build a model that answers the concerns raised, that is fair, and which is also sustainable into the future.

Officials in my Department are reviewing options for the precise model but a final decision on the model has not yet been made by Government.

It is anticipated that the new TCA model will come into effect in Q3 2020.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

Questions (641)

Michael McGrath

Question:

641. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address a matter raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) in County Cork concerning pension entitlement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51777/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020.

As the Deputy will be aware, pension ratebands were changed from 1 September 2012 in response to the economic crisis of the time. This resulted in quite a number of people who qualified for the State Pension Contributory after that date receiving lesser payments compared to those who qualified before it.

In January 2018, I announced the Government Decision to introduce a new interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to the calculation of State Pension that will allow pensioners who reached pension age from September 2012 (i.e., those born on or after 1 September 1946), to have their pension entitlement calculated by an interim “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of new Home Caring Periods. This approach benefited many people, particularly women, whose work history included an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role.

People whose pensions were decided under the 2000-2012 ratebands (in other words those born before 1 September 1946) were subject to a significantly more generous regime than those who qualified before or afterwards, as a Yearly Average of only 20 contributions per year (out of a maximum of 52) could attract a 98% pension. The effect of those changes, as it impacted upon those new pensioners since September 2012, will be familiar to anyone who followed the debate on this matter over the last 6 years. If pre-2012 pensioners were also allowed avail of Home Caring Credits, their arrangements, as a group, would continue to be significantly more generous than those of post-2012 pensioners. There would also be a very significant cost which would be expected to be of the order of several hundred millions of euros each year. This in turn could significantly impact funds for future pension increases with consequential implications for pensioner poverty.

For those with insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for a State pension (contributory), they may qualify for a means tested State pension (non-contributory), the maximum personal rate for which is €237 (over 95% of the maximum rate of the contributory pension). This rate of payment does not include rent allowance, household benefits or fuel allowance. Alternatively, if their spouse is a State pensioner and they have significant household means, their most beneficial payment may be an Increase for a Qualified Adult, based on their personal means, and amounting up to 90% of a full contributory pension.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Parental Leave

Questions (642)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

642. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure that fathers can take the newly introduced parental leave immediately after their two weeks paternity leave if they have taken that leave immediately after the birth of their child; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the need to have a PPS number for the child and the length of time it takes to obtain the number may preclude fathers from taking the leave at the time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51783/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Parent’s benefit is available for parents of new babies born or children adopted from 1st November 2019, who are on parent's leave from work. This leave and benefit is family-friendly and flexible, allowing parents to take leave for one week or two at a time and is in addition to existing maternity, adoptive and paternity benefits.

New Parents can apply for paternity and maternity benefits before the birth of their child based on the expected due date. Parent's benefit differs from these schemes and is available to provide care for the child, and can be taken in individual periods of a week over a period of 12 months. Providing the child's PPSN enables the department to ensure that a parent receives their full entitlement during this period.

Parents are required to register their child's birth within 3 months and will automatically receive a PPSN. Data shows that during 2018 almost 40% of babies were registered within the first 2 weeks and this increased to almost 70% within 4 weeks following birth.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Defined Benefit Pension Schemes

Questions (643)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

643. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of discussions for pensions for persons (details supplied); the changes she will make to the Pensions Act 1990 and Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 to assist the pensioners in accessing pension payments. [51791/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot comment on issues relating to a particular pension scheme.

Scheme trustees have duties and responsibilities under trust law, under the Pensions 1990, as amended, and under other relevant legislation. The duties of pension scheme trustees include administering the scheme in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and scheme rules as well as ensuring compliance with the requirements that apply to these schemes. Trustees must act in the best financial interest of all scheme members, whether active, deferred or retired, and must serve all beneficiaries of the scheme impartially.

Measures were introduced in 2015 to facilitate engagement between the trustees of a pension scheme and groups representing the interests of pensioner and deferred scheme members. Changes to guidance issued by the Pensions Authority require the trustees of a pension scheme to notify groups representing the interest of scheme members of proposals to issue a direction under section 50 of the Pensions Act to restructure scheme benefits. This affords the representative group an opportunity to make a submission to the trustees of a pension scheme in relation to proposals to restructure scheme benefits. These changes facilitate engagement between groups representing the interests of pensioner and deferred scheme members, the Pension Authority and the trustees of a pension scheme.

Groups representing the interests of pensioners and deferred scheme members have a right to appeal a section 50 direction by the Pensions Authority to the High Court on a point of law.

While current legislation does not specifically provide that member trustees must include at least one or more members from each scheme membership cohort, namely active, deferred and pensioners, it does provide an opportunity for membership from each cohort and such members may avail of the opportunity to become scheme trustees or nominate others to act on their behalf.

As you are aware, the General Scheme of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2017 (now the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017), was published in May 2017 and contained a number of key measures relating to DB pension schemes. It is intended that these proposed measures will act to support existing provisions in the Pensions Act and will provide for further protection for scheme members’ benefits and enhance employer responsibilities for their schemes.

In developing these measures, it is essential to recognise the current pension landscape in Ireland so that a balanced, proportionate approach is developed and that unintended negative consequences do not arise.

Under existing pensions law, there is no legislative obligation on the employer to make contributions to a scheme. However, the provisions of this Bill will introduce a new regime into the Pensions Act 1990 which, amongst other things, will ensure that an employer cannot “walk away” at short notice from the pension scheme it is supporting by providing a 12 month notification, and will enable the Pensions Authority to make a funding obligation direction specifying payments to be made by a sponsoring employer to the pension scheme where no agreement is reached, within a specified time period, to resolve a funding deficit.

The defined benefit pension provisions are very technical and involve complex policy issues. In order to achieve a resilient solution it has been necessary to consult with and obtain numerous legal advices from the Office of the Attorney General on various aspects of this policy. When these matters have been resolved and amendments approved by Government, an early date for Committee Stage will be requested.

The Pensions Authority is the regulatory body charged with the supervision of pension schemes and has the necessary powers under statute to investigate the conduct of a pension scheme should it become aware that a scheme is not in compliance with the provisions of the Pensions Act. Where a pension scheme member is of the view that the scheme is not in compliance with legislative requirements he or she may make a formal complaint to the Pensions Authority.

Any questions relating to access to the State's industrial relations machinery is a matter for the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (644)

John McGuinness

Question:

644. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); if their attention was drawn to the decision; and if payment will be expedited. [51797/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that two appeals were registered in the name of the person concerned as they had applied for carer's allowance in respect of two carees. I am also advised that the decisions of the Appeals Officer in these two cases will issue in the very near future.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Payments

Questions (645, 646, 647, 648, 649)

John Brady

Question:

645. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the date she received a copy of the report into the impact of reduced rates of jobseeker's payments on the young unemployed aged under 26 years of age as committed to in Pathways to Work 2016-2020. [51806/19]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

646. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she received a draft copy of the report into the impact of reduced rates of jobseeker's payments on the young unemployed under 26 years of age as committed to in Pathways to Work 2016-2020. [51807/19]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

647. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she had correspondence with her Department regarding the report into the impact of reduced rates of jobseeker's payments on the young unemployed under 26 years of age as committed to in Pathways to Work 2016-2020; and if she sought a copy of the report from her Department. [51808/19]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

648. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she contacted her Department to query the delay to the report into the impact of reduced rates of jobseeker's payments on the young unemployed under 26 years of age as committed to in Pathways to Work 2016-2020. [51809/19]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

649. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the date she plans to publish the report into the impact of reduced rates of jobseeker's payments on the young unemployed under 26 years of age as committed to in Pathways to Work 2016-2020. [51810/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 645 to 649, inclusive, together.

Officials in my Department have finalised the report on the impact of the reduced rates of jobseekers payments for young people which was submitted to my office on 25th November. I am examining the report and I intend to publish it and make it available to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection as early as possible.

I trust this information is useful for the Deputy.