Skip to main content
Normal View

Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 452-468

Cybersecurity Policy

Question No. 453 answered with Question No. 451.

Questions (452)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

452. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she is satisfied that all ICT systems and databases and payment software are fully secure from a breach perspective. [61704/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

My Department implements a security-by-design and defence-in-depth approach to cyber security. My Department also has 24/7 cyber defensive systems in place which react to any threat to its systems in the event of a cyber incident or security breach. All systems are monitored on a 24/7 basis. My Department also works closely with the National Cyber Security Centre and the Office of the Government CIO to ensure that best practice principles are followed regarding cyber security.

I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Question No. 453 answered with Question No. 451.

Social Welfare Schemes

Questions (454)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

454. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection if the short-term illness benefit will be extended to the self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61845/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

There is a wide range of benefits available to people who make Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. Entitlement to such benefits is dependent on the individual's social insurance contribution record, the class of social insurance paid as well as satisfying other qualification criteria relevant to the scheme being applied for.

In general, self-employed people make PRSI contributions at class S. Where all qualification criteria for the particular scheme are satisfied, this class of PRSI gives access to the following benefits -

- Adoptive Benefit,

- Guardian's Payment (Contributory),

- Invalidity Pension,

- Jobseeker's Benefit (Self-Employed),

- Maternity Benefit,

- Parent's Benefit,

- Partial Capacity Benefit (where in receipt of Invalidity Pension),

- Paternity Benefit,

- State Pension (Contributory),

- Treatment Benefit, and

- Widows, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension.

The benefits to which class S PRSI does not provide access are -

- Carer's Benefit,

- Health and Safety Benefit,

- Illness Benefit, and

- Occupational Injuries Benefits.

Although self-employed people are not usually eligible for Illness Benefit, an exception was made in relation to Covid-19, primarily as a public health measure. The purpose of the enhanced Illness Benefit payment in respect of Covid-19 is to encourage people to not go to work due to financial constraint when they should be in isolation. It has been available to the self-employed since its introduction in March 2020. Expenditure on the enhanced Illness Benefit is expected to be in the region of €100 million for 2021.

There has been an extensive expansion of access to the range of social insurance benefits for self-employed social insurance contributors in recent years without any increase in the 4% rate of contribution made by them. In effect, self-employed contributors, in return for a contribution of 11 percentage points lower than the combined employer and employee contribution of 15.05% made in respect of employed contributors, have access to benefits which comprise over 90% of the value of all benefits available to employed contributors.

The Programme for Government commits to giving consideration to increasing all classes of PRSI over time to replenish the Social Insurance Fund to help pay for measures and changes to be agreed including to the State pension system, improvements in short-term sick pay benefits, parental leave benefits, pay-related jobseeker's benefit and treatment benefits.

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is the safety net within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. Supports provided under the SWA scheme can consist of a basic weekly payment, a weekly or monthly supplement in respect of certain expenses, as well as single exceptional needs payments (ENPs) and urgent needs payments (UNPs). The basic supplementary welfare allowance provides immediate assistance for those in need who are awaiting the outcome of a claim or an appeal for a primary social welfare payment or do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Questions (455)

Michael Creed

Question:

455. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection when it is expected that a decision will issue on a review in relation to a working family payment for a person (details supplied). [61851/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Working Family Payment (WFP) formerly Family Income Supplement is a weekly in-work support, which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children. To qualify for Working Family Payment the customer must have at least 1 qualified child who normally resides with them.

WFP is payable at 60% of the difference between the set income limit for a given family size and the weekly family income. There are set income limits for each family size. It is reassessed on an annual basis. WFP for the person concerned expired on 6 October 2021.

They had reapplied on 27 July 2021and the application was disallowed on the grounds that the weekly family income was higher than the prescribed income level for the family size. A decision letter issued on 03 September 2021 giving the right of review and appeal.

A review of this decision was requested on 06 December 2021. There was no change to the original decision as the household income for the person concerned still exceeded the limit. A letter confirming this issued to the person concerned on 8th December.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance

Questions (456)

Alan Kelly

Question:

456. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a detailed reply to a PRSI query (details supplied). [61961/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Remittance of social insurance contributions by self-employed people fall into either of two broad categories. The first category are those who exercise a trade or profession and who are obliged to file annual returns of income under the Revenue self-assessment process through which any social insurance liabilities arising are collected in a single, annual sum. The second category are company directors who utilise the PAYE system to remit the social insurance contributions due from their emoluments. It has been confirmed with the Deputy’s office that clarification relating to this latter category is what is required.

As company directors are paid through the PAYE system they are required to discharge the appropriate social insurance liability, along with the relevant tax and USC liabilities as prescribed by Revenue. The employee social insurance contribution rate of 4% must be deducted and Class S returned.

Recognising that company directors may not draw emoluments in every week of the contribution year, my Department reviews the number of Class S contributions and the charges remitted on PAYE, if less than 52 weekly contributions have been returned on payroll. This is done to ensure that in all circumstances where emoluments reach the €5,000 social insurance contribution liability threshold, even when returned over a portion of the year, and the liability is discharged in full, the company director will be assigned 52 Class S contributions. This ensures consistency with the contributions assigned to those who file annual returns under the self-assessment process.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

Questions (457)

Paul Donnelly

Question:

457. Deputy Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in relation to a supplementary pension. [61968/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The information requested by the Deputy relates to the payment of a public sector pension to a retired nurse and, therefore, it is not a matter for which my Department has responsibility.

The payment of pension related benefits to former public sector employees is a matter for the relevant line Department, in this case, the Department of Health, with matters relating to pensions policy in respect of public sector employees falling within the remit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (458)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

458. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 429 of 23 November 2021, if her attention has been drawn to delays in processing Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit applications in recent weeks; the processes her Department is putting in place to ensure those who contract Covid-19 or are close contacts and cannot go to work can avail of the scheme immediately; the average waiting time from application to approval for Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit for November and December 2021 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61988/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Covid Illness Benefit (Enhanced Illness Benefit) is a scheme that was introduced in March 2020, to support people who are incapable of work or who are required to self-isolate, as a result of a Covid diagnosis or being a probable source of infection. To date a total of 217,313 Covid Illness Benefit related claims have been processed.

The majority of the standard Illness Benefit claims are automatically processed once medical evidence has been received from the customer; where an application is received and an e-Cert is submitted by a GP.

Over the past four weeks an average of some 8,000 Covid Illness Benefit applications have been received weekly with approximately 15,100 received since the beginning of December. The medical evidence provided for the majority of these claims is a text from the HSE advising the person to self-isolate or that they have a Covid diagnosis. All of these claims require manual officer intervention to verify that the medical evidence provided by the customer is valid for payment.

Claims made between 29 November and 05 December, where medical evidence has been provided, are currently being processed. My Department has take a number of measures to reduce processing times including the temporary redeployment of staff from across the Department and system changes to increase automation within the process. It is expected that these measures will improve these timelines over the coming weeks.

It is not possible to differentiate between Illness Benefit and Enhanced Illness Benefit in claim processing statistics. Processing statistics for Illness Benefit for November and December 2021 are set out in the table below; these figures are inclusive of Enhanced Illness Benefit in payment for the month. The figures for December are up to and including the 10th of the month.

A substantial number of claims received do not have appropriate medical evidence which significantly adds to decision delays.

Month

Claims Registered

% awarded within 7 days

November

62,355

73.58%

December

22,758

63.04%

Data Protection

Questions (459)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

459. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on the progress that has been made to date with the Data Protection Commission in the context of narrowing the scope of documents filed in a case (details supplied). [62011/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the Data Protection Commission has, under the terms of a settlement agreed with the Department on Friday 10th December 2021, cancelled its enforcement notice. The terms of the agreement have been published in an agreed notice that is available on both the Department’s and the DPC’s website.

Public Services Card

Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 460.

Questions (460, 461)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

460. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a schedule of all annual expenditure directly and indirectly associated with the creation, roll out and use of the public services card since its creation. [62012/21]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

461. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide the methodology used to arrive at the findings contained in the report, The SAFE-PSC-MyGovID Framework for Public Service Identity Management: A Cost-Benefit Analysis (details supplied). [62013/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 460 and 461 together.

On 5th November 2021, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a cost-benefit analysis report on the Public Service Identity (PSI) management framework as one of the Autumn Spending Review Papers.

The PSI management framework consists of the SAFE registration service, the Public Services Card (PSC) and the MyGovID service.

The report was prepared as a Spending Review by the Department's Investment Analysis Unit which is part of the Irish Government Statistical Service and it was compiled in compliance with the principles of the Irish Statistical System Code of Practice and the Cost-Benefit Analysis principles laid down in the Public Spending Code.

The methodology used to determine the findings in the Report can be found under Chapter 4 of the Report - “Sources and Methods”. In line with international best practice, the Report adapted the principles of the Net Present Value (NPV) method to compare the actual costs and wider quantifiable benefits of the initiative to the costs that would have necessarily been incurred in the counterfactual scenario where the initiative was not undertaken, in order to assess which option has a lower quantifiable net present cost (NPC). This broader analytic approach is sometimes also referred to as a ‘Cost-Effectiveness Analysis’ (CEA), and the costs and benefits may be split between ‘financial’ and ‘economic’ categories.

The report has been peer-reviewed by the Spending Review Steering Group, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The report found that:

- as a mature project with annual costs of about €10 million and annual benefits of about €30 million, the framework yields savings of over €20 million every year;

- the investment in this framework paid for itself in less than five years;

- from 2010 to 2019, the total cost of the investment was €98 million but this generated benefits of €218 million over the same period;

- the total savings from the entire project from its inception out to 2030, adjusted for the time value of money is highly positive at over €206 million.

The Report set out expenditure on the PSI management framework from its inception in 2010 to 2019. The attached tabular statement contains updated figures which set out expenditure on the framework from 2010 to November 2021.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. Tabular Statement

Public Service Identity (PSI) management Framework: Summary Expenditure 2010 - November 2021

Year

SAFE ID verification

PSC development, production & issuance

MyGovID development & production

Total costs

€m

€m

€m

€m

2010

0.11

1.62

-

1.73

2011

1.03

0.18

-

1.21

2012

2.92

2.35

-

5.27

2013

5.60

3.36

-

8.96

2014

6.28

6.03

0.36

12.67

2015

7.26

5.02

1.48

13.76

2016

6.80

5.31

1.52

13.64

2017

6.93

4.93

2.25

14.11

2018

7.03

4.42

2.69

14.14

2019

5.75

3.60

2.76

12.11

2020

5.28

2.35

3.11

10.74

2021

4.64

1.96

2.53

9.13

Total

59.64

41.13

16.70

117.47

Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 460.

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (462)

Imelda Munster

Question:

462. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans for the provision of antigen tests for the early childhood care and education sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61177/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department is currently working with the HSE to finalise an antigen testing programme for early learning and childcare services.

The antigen testing programme for early learning and childcare services will be similar to the antigen testing programme that has recently been rolled out in primary schools.

Antigen tests will be provided free to children and childcare workers who are in the same group, or pod, of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an early learning and childcare service.

Information on the antigen test programme is being finalised and will issue to service providers and parents this week.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (463)

Matt Carthy

Question:

463. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans to update advice to childcare facilities regarding the wearing of face coverings by staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61349/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Updated Interim Guidance on the use of Face Coverings in Childcare and Educational Settings was published by the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) on 30 November 2021. In line with this guidance, a notice was issued by my Department on 1 December to the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) sector, including childminders. The notice confirms that at this point in time there is no change in the public health guidance on adults wearing masks in ELC/SAC settings: staff members, parents and visitors should all wear face masks/coverings when not caring for children and where social distancing is not possible.

As per guidance from the HPSC, the wearing of face coverings in ELC and SAC services is recommended for adults when it is not possible to keep a 2m distance from other adults. Staff are also advised to wear a face covering when in close proximity to children if doing so does not pose a barrier to early learning and care. HPSC guidance specifically notes that it is expected that use of face coverings will generally be practical when attending to school-age children. This aligns with the approach in schools.

It is acknowledged that some staff may feel safer wearing a mask at all times, especially at a time of high levels of infection in the community.

My Department is keeping public health guidance, including on wearing of face coverings, under review with the HSE and will provide updates as required.

Rights of People with Disabilities

Questions (464)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

464. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he plans to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61432/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in March 2018 but has yet to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Optional Protocol is an international treaty that establishes two procedures aimed at strengthening the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. The first is an individual communications procedure allowing individuals to bring petitions to the Committee claiming breaches of their rights; the second is an inquiry procedure giving the Committee authority to undertake inquiries of grave or systematic violations of the Convention.

The Programme for Government reiterates the commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol after the first reporting cycle under the UNCRPD. Having regard to possible delays at UN Committee level, both I and my colleague, Minister Rabbitte, are open to an earlier ratification of the Optional Protocol.

Our intention is to prepare for ratification of the Optional Protocol once the state is in a position to meet its obligations thereunder. This is in line with Ireland's position of acting in good faith on the international stage.

Commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, and full operationalisation of the Decision Support Service will be a key requirement in this regard. This is scheduled to take place in June and July of next year respectively, following the passage of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill, which is currently being drafted.

In addition, a detailed review process is needed to ensure that Ireland's legislative provisions and redress mechanisms are sufficient to meet the obligations that will arise once Ireland ratifies the Optional Protocol. My Department is working on this process now and will engage with other Departments and organisations in this regard, with a view to identifying and addressing any further requirements for ratification.

Government is committed to ratification at the earliest possible date.

Legislative Process

Questions (465)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

465. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the status of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016; the articles that have been commenced and not commenced, respectively; when he expects the entirety of the Bill to be commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61615/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 lapsed with the dissolution of the last Dáil.

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill is being used to advance a number of legislative provisions required by the UNCRPD that were previously included in the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016. These include measures to double the percentage of people with disabilities to be employed by public bodies from 3% to 6% by 2024, and also legislating for the position of IHREC as the national monitoring body under the Convention.

Work is actively taking place on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill, which is currently being drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. It is intended that the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 would be amended and fully commenced by June 2022.

Direct Provision System

Questions (466)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

466. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of adults and children remaining in direct provision centres after their leave to remain has been granted for the most recent date available. [61671/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I can inform the Deputy that the number of adults and children remaining in direct provision centres after their leave to remain has been granted is 1,640 persons as of the end of November.

Domestic Violence

Questions (467)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

467. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of adults and children who accessed Tusla-funded domestic violence refuge accommodation to date in 2021; the average length of time families spent in such accommodation; and the number of beds available on a given night in 2021. [61672/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Deputy is referring to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (468)

Paul Murphy

Question:

468. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the way the mother and baby home scheme works for those who are uncertain in relation to the date on which they were adopted. [61755/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme will include financial payments and a form of enhanced medical card. Payments will be provided to eligible applicants based on residency in one of the institutions for a defined period of time.

While the residency details in respect of application to the Scheme will have to be looked at individually, it is anticipated that relevant dates to establish eligibility for the Scheme will be the date the child was born in or admitted to the Mother and Baby or County Home Institution and the date they physically left this institution. It is envisaged that the Executive Office will endeavour to assist applicants in accessing records for the purpose of making applications to the Scheme.

Top
Share