Higher Education Institutions

Ceisteanna (326)

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

326. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will, in view of the very welcome recent investment into research and development at higher education institutions, the supports available from his Department and relevant agencies to support the commercialisation of research projects; if he will provide an indication of the number of supported projects and research programmes that have resulted in successful commercialisation in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21551/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

There has been significant investment in research and development in the higher education sector in recent years. This investment is critical to support Ireland’s Innovation ecosystem, to ensure we are an attractive location for investment and to develop high value human capital for our economy. In addition to these benefits the commercialisation of research represents one of the most direct ways a return from this investment can be seen and this return is most recognisably evidenced by the number of commercially valuable technologies transferred from the higher education sector to industry and the number of spinout companies created that are based on academic research. Enterprise Ireland is the State agency with responsibility for the commercialisation of all research funded in the State. Enterprise Ireland employs two main approaches in commercialising Irish research; it funds the commercialisation & technology transfer infrastructure in the State and it operates a commercialisation funding programme.

The aim of the technology transfer infrastructural support is to increase the level and quality of Intellectual Property (IP) from research, and to help create effective systems to transfer this valuable knowledge into companies in Ireland. This transfer of technology to companies results in the creation of new products, processes and services which can be scaled-up for export. Enterprise Ireland supports technology transfer through its Technology Transfer Strengthening Programme (TTSI), which supports the Technology Transfer Offices in the third levels sector in bringing fresh ideas from the research environment to the attention of existing industry in a useable format. A review of the initial TTSI programme is due to be completed early this year. Results to date show that this programme has performed well. In 2005, before Enterprise Ireland technology transfer support existed, 12 technologies were licensed to industry. This figure has increased significantly since then, with 119 licences to industry in 2013. The second phase of the Technology Transfer Strengthening Programme (TTSI 2) was launched in 2012. TSSI 2 is a €22 million initiative (€5.5 million per annum from 2013-2016), which will significantly boost interaction between industry and higher education institutions. This work represents a key part of the process of unlocking the creative potential of researchers to support innovation in industry, leading to jobs and economic growth. Building on the investment to date, the overall objectives of phase 2 of the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative are to develop the Irish technology transfer system such that it will respond quickly and flexibly to industry, deliver direct economic benefits, and radically enhancing the culture of commercialisation among researchers in the Irish HEI sector. The table below outlines the outputs of the TTSI Programme since its establishment.

-

-

Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative Programme in place

Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative Programme in place

Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative Programme in place

Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative Programme in place

Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative Programme in place

-

-

Metrics

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Licence/ Option Assignment

28

56

67

100

93

118

87

119

Spin Outs

3

13

7

35

31

31

15

34

Invention Disclosures

193

271

407

457

431

402

373

435

Patents Applications

107

124

202

148

101

141

113

119

A further initiative to support commercialisation and technology transfer is the establishment of Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) - the new name for the central Technology Transfer Office. The KTI is headed by Dr Alison Campbell, who was appointed as Director in September 2013. The formal launch of the KTI and web portal is planned for later this month. The KTI will make it easier for companies to access and use ideas developed through publicly-funded research and to develop new products and services and ultimately create jobs and exports. The KTI will also ensure that the IP Protocol launched in 2012 is delivering to the needs of business and stakeholders. The remit of the KTI will include promoting, enabling and monitoring HEI/business engagement across a wide range of intellectual assets. Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund Programme aims to improve the competitiveness of the Irish economy through the creation of technology based start-up companies and the transfer of innovations developed in Higher Education Institutes and Research Performing Organisations to industry in Ireland. The programme funds the development of innovations at all stages of the commercial pipeline to the point where they can be commercialised.

The following number of projects received support from the Commercialisation Fund in each of the last three years:

- 2011: 65 projects

- 2012: 105 projects

- 2013: 64 projects

The number of academic-industry research collaborations is also a relevant indicator of commercialisation performance in the system. In 2013, Ireland was ranked 13th out of 132 countries in the 2012/13 Global Competitiveness Report. This improvement is driven by Government policy and by ongoing Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation programmes aimed at driving collaboration. In 2013, EI supported 839 collaborative innovations between industry and third level. This figure is comprised of the redeemed Innovation Voucher figure, the Technology Gateway projects, Innovation Partnerships and supported FP7 collaborative projects. When this is added to the circa 300 companies in Technology Centres, this gives a figure of over 1,100 companies were engaged in collaborative research projects in 2013 via Enterprise Ireland schemes. In 2013, SFI researchers were involved in over 1,000 linkages with industry working directly with over 700 companies. This represents a significant increase over the 2010 figure of 534 and the 2009 figure of 389.

Ireland is scoring top of the class in Europe in terms of knowledge transfer. In the European Commission Knowledge Transfer Study 2010-2012 (published June 2013) Ireland is ranked first (out of 23 countries) in terms of knowledge transfer performance of public research organisations in individual countries. Ireland has also been ranked third in the EU according to the new "Indicator of Innovation Output" which measures the extent to which ideas from innovative sectors are able to reach the market, providing better jobs and making Europe more competitive. This provides strong evidence that our research investment is delivering on economic growth and the jobs agenda.

State Bodies

Ceisteanna (327)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

327. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of State agencies and public bodies that have been merged or abolished in each year since 2011, under the remit of his Department; the annual savings associated with each body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21797/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

There is a substantial programme of reform underway within my Department in relation to Agencies and public bodies. The bodies under the remit of my Department that are scheduled to be merged, reformed or abolished are set out under the Government’s Agency Rationalisation Programme. These reforms include:

- Merge the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority into one single entity.

- Dissolve the 35 County Enterprise Boards and transfer their functions to Enterprise Ireland to be delivered by Local Authorities in Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). This will facilitate the delivery of an enhanced service and range of supports to the micro and small business sectors.

- Dissolve Forfás and provide for the transfer of the agency’s assets, liabilities and staff to my Department and other bodies, as appropriate.

- Transfer relevant enterprise functions from Shannon Development to IDA, EI and Bord Fáilte and merge Shannon Development with Shannon Airport Authority.

- Reform of the State's Workplace Relations Services to deliver a simplified two-tiered structure comprising a single body of first instance, the Workplace Relations Commission, and a single body of appeal, in effect an enhanced Labour Court.

Details of the up to date position on the above measures, and the savings associated with each, are set out in the table below.

Measure

Position to date

Associated annual savings

Merge the National Consumer Agency (NCA) and the Competition Authority into one single entity

The Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2014 which was published on the 31st March 2014, when enacted, will give effect to the merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency.

While there will be up front costs associated with the establishment of the new body, savings of approximately €170,000 per annum will be achieved as there will be no fees for a Board or Chairperson to be paid (or associated costs such as travel and subsistence for Board members) while some minor savings might be realised in relation to public relations and audit activities.

Dissolve the 35 County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and transfer their functions to Enterprise Ireland (EI).

The 35 City and County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) were legally dissolved on 15th April 2014 and their functions transferred to Enterprise Ireland to be delivered on their behalf by the Local Authorities.

It is anticipated that over time there will be some savings from the removal of costs associated with the individual company status of each CEB. In addition, the use of shared services and the reduced rental costs associated with the relocation of offices will result in savings. However initial direct savings will be modest.

Dissolve Forfás and provide for the transfer of the agency’s assets, liabilities and staff to my Department and other bodies, as appropriate.

Primary legislation is necessary to give effect to the decision to integrate Forfás into my Department by the transfer of the functions and staff of Forfás to my Department and a number of state agencies. The Industrial Development (Forfás Dissolution) Bill 2013 was passed by Dáil Éireann on 9th April 2014 and has now been referred to the Seanad with an expected commencement date of 20th May. It is expected that the Bill will be enacted in June 2014. The various sections of the Bill will commence on dates to be specified by the Minister after the enactment of the Bill.

An Implementation Group, comprising senior management from my Department, Forfás, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is overseeing the integration project and meets on a regular basis. An Executive style Board has also been put in place in Forfás to oversee the transfer of the agency’s functions and responsibilities.

A number of decisions that did not require legislation have already been implemented including:

- the reduction of the Board of Forfás from 13 members to 6 to oversee the orderly hand-over of Forfás’ functions;

- the transfer of the facilities, property management and reception/switchboard services from Forfás to IDA Ireland in July 2013.

If Forfás had a full complement (13) of Board members as provided for under the legislation, the anticipated Board Fees in a full year would be €98,000 (approx). As a consequence of the reduction in Board numbers in 2012, the expenditure on Board fees in 2013 was €21,000, indicating a saving of €77,000 in 2013. As Forfás is likely to be dissolved mid year 2014, the Forfás Board will no longer exist and the anticipated saving in 2014 would be approximately €88,000.

Transfer relevant enterprise functions from Shannon Development to IDA, EI and Bord Fáilte and merge Shannon Development with Shannon Airport

Shannon Development’s functions and the associated staff in relation to indigenous enterprises and foreign direct investment have been transferred to Enterprise Ireland and IDA respectively. Shannon Development’s functions in relation to tourism including the Regional Tourism Offices have been transferred to Fáilte Ireland. These changes have been accompanied by the redeployment of staff to other public bodies and the implementation of a voluntary redundancy scheme. The restructuring of Shannon Development has been completed. The Government recently approved legislation "State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014" to establish the Shannon Group as part of a drive to establish an International Aviation Services Centre in the mid-west with the aim of delivering new routes and new jobs for the region.

This is a restructuring and merger of Shannon Development and Shannon Airport. As Shannon Development is self-financing there will be no cost saving in 2014. There will, however, be an elimination of duplication of roles between Shannon Development, Enterprise Agencies and Fáilte Ireland in the region.

Reform of the State’s Workplace Relations Services to deliver a simplified two-tier structure comprising a single body of first instance, the Workplace Relations Commission, and a single body of appeal, in effect an enhanced Labour Court

The process of establishing a new two-tier workplace relations structure is continuing. A considerable amount of work has been completed on the preparation of the Workplace Relations Bill, which will give statutory effect to the reform proposals.

Significant progress has been achieved to date in relation to the technological, structural, administrative and staffing changes required to underpin the Workplace Relations Reform Programme. Pending the enactment of legislation, my Department has put in place a Single Contact Portal, e-complaint facility, Staffing and Structures Plan, Workplace Relations website and early resolution service, together with enhanced technologies and processes in advance of the enabling legislation.

Legislation to give effect to the Workplace Relations Bill is currently on the A list of the Government’s legislative programme. Drafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage.

I propose to publish the Bill before the end of the Spring/Summer Dáil session 2014, with a view to having the proposed new Workplace Relations structures in place during 2014.

The annual cost of the Workplace Relations Services amounted to just over €20 million in 2010. It is expected that significant savings, in terms of both reductions in staff numbers and increased efficiency and productivity, will be generated by this Reform Programme.

Annual savings of €2 million per annum will be generated. As part of the ongoing service delivery improvements within the Reform Programme the Equality Tribunal is now an intrinsic part of the Workplace Relations grouping within my Department having transferred from the Department of Justice and Equality with effect from 1st January 2013.

Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) Programme

In March 2012, responsibility for the DSE Programme transferred from Forfás to Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). The programme is now named SFI Discover

The transfer of DSE to SFI resulted from synergies between the DSE programme and SFI’s outreach programmes, and this transfer of responsibility was not by itself expected to generate cost savings. The integration of these programmes has achieved economies of scale, minimised duplication of effort, and contributed to operational efficiencies.

Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the Government

The Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser was included in the bodies due for critical review under the Public Sector Reform initiative. Following a Government decision in October 2012 to abolish the separate Office of the CSA, the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) took responsibility for the role of Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government in addition to his existing role and co-terminous with his tenure as Director General of SFI.

There is an annual savings of €120,000 arising from this efficiency.

In addition, I would draw the Deputy’s attention to the fact that, following enactment of the Microenterprise Loan Fund Act 2012, Microfinance Ireland was established as a private limited company in August 2012, as a subsidiary of the Social Finance Foundation and has charitable status. Microfinance Ireland has been funded by the Government to provide loans to newly established and growing microenterprises across all industry sectors that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by banks.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (328)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

328. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of public servants employed in his Department on a lower pay scale to their colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21826/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

Revised payscales for new entrants, which provide for reduced salaries relative to those of serving staff, were introduced with effect from 1 November 2011. As there has been no subsequent appointments in my Department at any of the grades affected, there are no staff members on lower payscales relative to their colleagues.

Departmental Legal Cases Data

Ceisteanna (329)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

329. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of legal cases that have been served against his Department arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions of public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21838/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

No legal cases have been served against my Department arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions of public servants.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (330)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

330. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the current average age of full-time staff in his Department; the way this compares with the average age of public servants in each year from 2010 to 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21850/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

The average age of staff in my Department is set out below in tabular format for each of the years requested by the Deputy.

Year

Average Age

2014

47

2013

47

2012

46

2011

45

2010

44

Ministerial Travel

Ceisteanna (331)

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

331. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details of all official foreign trips he and Ministers of State in his Department intend to take between now and the end of 2014; if he will detail whom they will be meeting with on these trips; the purpose of the trip; the duration of the trip; if there are plans to use all of these trips to promote Ireland as a good place for doing business and as a destination for foreign direct investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21861/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

Each year my Department coordinates the organisation of a considerable number of Ministerial-led overseas Trade and Investment Missions, which also incorporate high-level meetings with Ministers and officials in the other country. These Missions involve an extensive range of meetings for participant Irish companies with the aim of developing contacts and/or finalising contracts/joint ventures with partner companies in those countries, developing an awareness of Ireland as a supplier of world-class goods and services, and promoting Ireland as an attractive location for Foreign Direct Investment opportunities in the highly competitive marketplace for global mobile investment. Schedules for the second half of this year have not yet been fully finalised, however details of known trips are set out below in tabular format, together with other official foreign trips which are to be conducted in connection with the work of the Competitiveness Council and the EU SME Envoy Group and involve exchanges of information by senior officials and Ministers on a range of topics relating to the work of my Department.

Minister

Date

Location

June

Trade Mission – China

June

Trade Mission – South Korea

September

Trade Mission – Australia

October

Trade Mission – USA East Coast

Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation

November

Trade Mission - USA

May

Competitiveness Council – Brussels

June

Trade Mission – Switzerland

Seán Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research & Innovation

October

Science and Technology Ministers' Roundtable Meeting - Kyoto, Japan

May

Competitiveness Council and Research Council – Brussels, Belgium

June

EU SME Envoy Group – Madrid, Spain

October

Trade Mission – Turkey

October

EU SME Envoy Group – Naples, Italy

John Perry, TD, Minister for Small Business

Towards year end

EU SME Envoy Group - Brussels, Belgium

Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (332)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

332. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department has made an assessment of the potential State liabilities which may emerge from pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21218/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

As you are aware, the Minister for Finance highlighted in Budget 2014 that the 0.6% levy which has been in place on all schemes since 2010 will terminate at the end of 2014. The Minister for Finance also announced that a separate levy of 0.15% will apply to all pension fund assets to continue to help fund the Jobs Initiative, including the continuation of the reduced 9% VAT rate in the hospitality sector and to make provision for potential State liabilities which may emerge from pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties.

Any requirement relating to a State liability arising in relation to pension provision will only apply to defined benefit pension schemes in a situations where both the employer and the pension scheme is insolvent (double insolvency). It will not apply to schemes where the employer is solvent. The provisions in the Social Welfare and Pensions (No.2) Act 2013 in relation to a double insolvency provide for a draw of monies from the Exchequer where the resources of the scheme are not sufficient to meet 50% of expected scheme benefits.

I must stress that I am not aware of any double insolvencies 'in the pipeline' at the moment. I see the provisions in the recent legislation as providing a form of insurance and it is not expected that there will be a significant draw on contingency funds available. Rather, the regulatory measures in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act (No.2) 2013 are intended to move underfunded schemes towards an appropriate funding position and further minimise risk requirements to utilise funds raised through the pension levy. In relation to any costs arising before the enactment of the recent legislation, this matter will be considered and determined by the High Court.

Civil Service Code of Conduct

Question No. 334 withdrawn.

Ceisteanna (333)

Jack Wall

Ceist:

333. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 72 of 1 May 2014, the reason a person who was on full payment is not entitled to the holiday accumulated during their suspension and also the week worked in lieu of leave in September-October 2011 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20839/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Further to Parliamentary Question No. 72 of 1 May 2014, the person concerned was suspended on full pay while being investigated under the Civil Service Disciplinary Code. Based on advice from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, an officer while suspended with pay does not accrue an entitlement to Annual leave. All pay and entitlements due to the person concerned were paid at the time of their dismissal. The person concerned received their normal salary in respect of each week worked during September and October 2011.

Question No. 334 withdrawn.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (335)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

335. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20842/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3 September 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 5 March 2014 and the case was referred to an Appeals Officer on 17 April 2014 who has decided to convene an an oral hearing in order to determine the appeal. Every effort will be made to convene the oral hearing at the earliest possible date and the person concerned will be notified of the arrangements for the hearing as soon as these have been finalised. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 336 withdrawn.

Defined Benefit Pension Schemes

Ceisteanna (337)

John Lyons

Ceist:

337. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department is aware of reports that former Dublin Airport Authority workers who are deferred members of the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme residing in the UK will be given protection of their full pension entitlements; if her Department will examine this issue and clarify the reason a similar arrangement could not be introduced for the majority of deferred members in this State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20876/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

You will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on matters relating to a particular pension scheme. However, I can advise that the provision in the trust deed/scheme rules will determine the pension rights of scheme members. Where a pension scheme operates across EU Member States, the employees who are employed in a different Member State (i.e., the host Member State) may be subject to certain provisions (i.e., the social and labour law relevant to the field of occupational pensions) in that Member State which may provide for a different level of protection of pension rights. You will be aware that I have introduced a range of measures in recent years to assist employers and trustees of pension schemes to ensure that pension provision is sustainable and that the rights of scheme members are secure into the future. These concerns have underpinned the recent amendments provided for in the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act 2013. In developing this legislation, serious consideration was given to imposing an obligation on employers to secure a minimum level of scheme funding. It was decided not to proceed with such a measure given the current economic circumstances, uncertainties as to the overall impact of such a measure and the potential for unintended consequences. I should advise that the recent changes to the Pension Act are underpinned by additional measures which are being put in place by the Pensions Authority to assist pension schemes achieve a sustainable funding position.

The Funding Standard requirements as set out in the Pensions Act require the trustees of a pension scheme to have sufficient resources in the scheme to meet its liabilities in the event of it being wound up. In addition, from 2016 all defined benefit schemes will be required to maintain additional resources in the form of a risk reserve in order to protect the rights of scheme members against future volatility in financial markets.

State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (338)

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

338. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the cost of reinstating the Christmas bonus for persons in receipt of the contributory and non-contributory State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20878/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Payment of a Christmas Bonus, equivalent to 100% of a person’s weekly social welfare rate, to recipients of the State Pension Contributory and Non-Contributory, would cost in the region of €106 million. There is no provision in the 2014 estimates for the Department of Social Protection for the payment of a Christmas bonus. Any re-introduction of a bonus at Christmas would have to be considered in a future budgetary context.

Semi-State Bodies

Ceisteanna (339)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

339. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of commercial semi-State companies under the aegis of her Department; the current value of the pension fund assets held by each commercial semi-State company; the latest funding position of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20911/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

There are no commercial semi-State companies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Ceisteanna (340)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

340. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider allowing a reduced weekly deduction regarding social welfare overpayment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth, noting that the imposed weekly deduction of €28.20 is causing financial hardship on a person of limited means; also taking into consideration the fact that Money Advice and Budgeting Service have advocated on behalf of this person yet an offer of a reduced deduction was refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20916/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

A person who has incurred an overpayment from the Department of Social Protection has a liability under law to refund the amounts involved - Section 338 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended) refers. They have received monies to which they were not entitled and the Department has a responsibility to ensure that all overpayments are repaid in full. Interest or penalties on the amounts owing is not applied. Effective debt recovery is seen as an integral part of the control function of the department. A debt will remain on the record of an individual until fully recovered and will result in a reduction of all future entitlements up to, and including, state pension. Following the death of a customer who owes a debt, the Department will have a claim on any estate remaining. Section 13 of the Social Welfare Act 2012 introduced a provision allowing for a deduction of an amount up to 15% of the weekly personal rate payable to a person for the purposes of the recovery of an overpayment without the person’s consent. The deduction applies to the person’s personal rate only, and does not affect payment of any adult or child dependent allowances, or any other allowances that are in payment. A deduction of 15% from a person’s personal rate of payment allows them to retain 85% of that payment. The person concerned is offered the opportunity to give his/her views on the proposed deduction. Any views offered by the person will be considered before deductions are made from a social welfare payment.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Ceisteanna (341)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

341. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider a reduction in the imposed €28.20 being deducted with regard to recovery of social welfare overpayment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth, noting that the deduction imposed is causing undue financial hardship, and hampering this persons ability to meet their ongoing financial commitments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20917/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

A person who has incurred an overpayment from the Department of Social Protection has a liability under law to refund the amounts involved - Section 338 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended) refers. They have received monies to which they were not entitled and the Department has a responsibility to ensure that all overpayments are repaid in full. Interest or penalties on the amounts owing is not applied. Effective debt recovery is seen as an integral part of the control function of the department. A debt will remain on the record of an individual until fully recovered and will result in a reduction of all future entitlements up to, and including, state pension. Following the death of a customer who owes a debt, the Department will have a claim on any estate remaining. Section 13 of the Social Welfare Act 2012 introduced a provision allowing for a deduction of an amount up to 15% of the weekly personal rate payable to a person for the purposes of the recovery of an overpayment without the person's consent. The deduction applies to the person's personal rate only, and does not affect payment of any adult or child dependent allowances, or any other allowances that are in payment. A deduction of 15% from a person's personal rate of payment allows them to retain 85% of that payment. The person concerned is offered the opportunity to give his/her views on the proposed deduction. Any views offered by the person will be considered before deductions are made from a social welfare payment.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Ceisteanna (342)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

342. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider a reduction in the imposed €28.20 being deducted with regard to recovery of social welfare overpayment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth, noting that the deduction imposed is causing undue financial hardship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20918/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

A person who has incurred an overpayment from the Department of Social Protection has a liability under law to refund the amounts involved - Section 338 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended) refers. They have received monies to which they were not entitled and the Department has a responsibility to ensure that all overpayments are repaid in full. Interest or penalties on the amounts owing is not applied. Effective debt recovery is seen as an integral part of the control function. A debt will remain on the record of an individual until fully recovered and will result in a reduction of all future entitlements up to, and including, state pension. Following the death of a customer who owes a debt, the Department will have a claim on any estate remaining. Section 13 of the Social Welfare Act 2012 introduced a provision allowing for a deduction of an amount up to 15% of the weekly personal rate payable to a person for the purposes of the recovery of an overpayment without the person's consent. The deduction applies to the person’s personal rate only, and does not affect payment of any adult or child dependent allowances, or any other allowances that are in payment. A deduction of 15% from a person’s personal rate of payment allows them to retain 85% of that payment. The person concerned is offered the opportunity to give his/her views on the proposed deduction. Any views offered by the person will be considered before deductions are made from a social welfare payment.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (343)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

343. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when a permanent office will be provided in Birr, County Offaly, to facilitate social welfare staff (details supplied) who vacated a premises last October; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20921/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Property Management Section of the Office of Public Works is responsible for the acquisition of all accommodation requirements for my Department. However, I can confirm that my officials are working closely with the OPW to identify and progress a long term solution in Birr. OPW has identified and is currently assessing a viable option in Birr, with a view to commencing negotiation with the landlord in the near future. As an interim measure, a room hire arrangement has been put in place pending the delivery of a long-term solution.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Question No. 345 withdrawn.

Ceisteanna (344, 347)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

344. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of rent supplement in the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow with particular reference to categorisation by single persons, couples and families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20926/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

347. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of recipients in each of the Dublin councils in receipt of rent allowance; the monthly costs per council area; and the rent threshold per area. [20958/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 344 and 347 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently approximately 77,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014. Details of the number of rent supplement recipients in each county requested by the Deputy are provided in the attached tabular statement. Information on these recipients by family composition is not maintained. Statistics are not maintained of rent supplement recipients in Dublin by local authority. The rent limits for the Dublin area are provided in the tabular statement.

Tabular Statements

Rent Supplement Recipients by County, End April 2014

County

Recipients

Dublin

28,849

Kildare

3,850

Meath

1,886

Wicklow

2,245

Total

36,830

Maximum Rent Limits from June 2013

County:

Single Shared

Couple Shared

Single

Couple

Couple/One Parent Family - 1 Child

Couple/One Parent Family - 2 Children

Couple/One Parent Family - 3 Children

Dublin - Fingal

300

350

520

700

850

900

950

Dublin - Not Fingal

350

400

520

750

950

975

1,000

Question No. 345 withdrawn.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (346)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

346. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will pay a basic emergency payment to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 pending their application for a disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20951/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The person concerned made a claim for supplementary welfare allowance on 7 February 2014. Following a meeting between himself and a Social Welfare Inspector on 1 May 2014, the person concerned undertook to provide some outstanding information in connection with his application, which to date has not been received. Upon receipt of this information a decision on his claim can be made immediately.

Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 344.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (348, 368, 381, 407)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

348. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason correspondence was sent to parents of young disabled persons who attended the Cope Foundation all their lives, threatening them with the removal of disability allowance; and if she will give an assurance that these payments will not cease as they are a vital support for these young persons to be able to maintain a certain level of independence. [20987/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

368. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that parents are receiving letters from her Department informing them that their children’s disability allowance is being withdrawn, as many of these young persons may be 21 years of age, but have the mental capacity of a ten year old person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21178/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

381. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of special needs clients in receipt of disability allowance who are attending special needs schools and facilities throughout the country (details supplied) who currently have their payment under review; the number who have had their payment cut off in the past six months following the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21279/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

407. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21603/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 348, 368, 381 and 407 together.

I am not aware of any letters sent by the Department to recipients of disability allowance who are residing in the institutions named advising them that their disability allowance has been withdrawn. If the Deputies have concerns about particular cases they should supply the names, addresses and PPS numbers and I will arrange for the disability claims to be reviewed. As with all recipients of a social welfare payment, persons in receipt of disability allowance can have their claims reviewed at any time to ensure that they continue to be eligible.