Data Protection

Ceisteanna (279)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

279. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the preparedness of her Department in the context of the incoming general data protection regulation, GDPR, EU 2016/679; if staff in her Department have undertaken or been offered specific training and-or briefing on the GDPR; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7640/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) very significantly increases the obligations and responsibilities for organisations and businesses in how they collect, use and protect personal data. At the centre of the new law is the requirement for organisations and businesses to be fully transparent about how they are using and safeguarding personal data, and to be able to demonstrate accountability for their data processing activities.

My Department is very aware of the challenges that GDPR compliance will present and is actively preparing for it.  A dedicated resource was put in place in late 2017 to help drive GDPR readiness across the Department and additional resources will be put in place over the coming weeks in this regard. 

GDPR readiness and associated challenges is recognised as a Corporate Risk on the Department's Risk Register and was discussed at Management Board and at senior management level across the Department in recent weeks. A communications strategy for staff is under development and will be rolled out shortly. My Department has also commenced a comprehensive review of the processing activities we undertake and the way we engage with citizens, and the additional responsibilities in respect of personal data that we will have under the new regulation.

In terms of overall public service approaches to GDPR, my Department attends at an Inter-Departmental Group on Data Issues and also works closely with colleagues in other Government Departments to discuss issues of common concern and share learning and experiences.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (280)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

280. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if his Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public on dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if his Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7575/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department was established on 19 July 2017, to deliver on the Government’s commitment to bring a greater degree of coordination and cohesion to all of the work of Government in so far as it impacts on rural Ireland and on communities

My Department is strongly committed to equality of opportunity in all its employment and customer service practices. All internal and external stakeholders can be confident that their rights under the Employment Equality Acts are guaranteed and that no one will receive less favourable treatment by my Department because of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community.

The Civil Service People Strategy for 2017-2020 contains an action for delivery in 2018 to review and revise the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Policy to ensure the composition of the Civil Service is reflective of Irish society; the value of a diverse workforce is recognised internally and externally and helps to address our public sector duty to promote equality, eliminate discrimination and protect the human rights of civil servants. My Department will actively participate in the development and implementation of this policy.

My Department will also develop its own HR Strategy in 2018. This will include a learning and development plan for all staff, including training in equality and diversity initiatives for staff.

My Department has not made a submission to the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. This review is ongoing and my Department will participate in any initiatives under this review as appropriate.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (281)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

281. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the preparedness of his Department in the context of the incoming general data protection regulation, GDPR, EU 2016/679; if staff in his Department have undertaken or been offered specific training and-or briefing on the GDPR; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7652/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

An Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) on Data Related Issues was established by the Department of an Taoiseach in 2015. This is the key vehicle for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) preparations, and in ensuring a consistent approach across the public sector. My Department is a member of this IDC.

In addition, officials in my Department are currently sourcing appropriate training to ensure my Department is fully prepared to implement the provisions of the GDPR. This will include general awareness and information sessions for all staff as well as more specialised training for key personnel.

In addition, the Office of Government Procurement will be putting in place a Framework Agreement for the training of all Data Protection Officers (DPO) across the civil service. This training for the DPO will take place prior to the enactment of the GDPR.

Rural Development Programme Funding

Ceisteanna (282)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

282. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the financial allocations on an annual basis under the 2014 to 2020 rural development programme per measure 19, support for Leader local development; the annual amount expended on the programme in each year of the RDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7701/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

LEADER, which is referred to at EU level as Measure 19 of the Rural Development Programme, forms part of Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and has a total budget of €250 million over the period in question.  €220 million of this funding has been allocated to the Local Action Groups (LAGs) throughout the country who deliver the LEADER programme.  The remaining €30 million is available for schemes which will be delivered at a national level.

The €220 million funding which has been allocated to the LAGs is provided for the duration of the Programme, rather than on an annual basis.  This provides greater flexibility to the LAGs in managing their resources.  

Table 1 details the funding allocations provided to LAGs by county under the 2014-2020 LEADER programme.  The LEADER areas are, in the main, aligned with the county boundaries.  However, Co. Cork includes three LEADER sub-regional areas.

Table 2 details the overall expenditure incurred each year to date under the 2014-2020 LEADER Programme.

Expenditure under the programme commenced in 2015 and, for that year, relates to support payments for the preparation of Local Development Strategies.  Funding Agreements for the current LEADER programme were, for the most part, signed with the LAGs in the second half of 2016 and the programme effectively became operational from that date from the point of view of project commencement.

Expenditure for 2017 and to date in 2018 includes preparatory support, administration and animation costs, and project expenditure.  Project approvals under LEADER have increased significantly since July and I understand that a total of 725 projects have now been approved by the LAGs, with a combined value of €20.5 million.  The level of project expenditure under the programme is therefore expected to increase significantly as payment claims are submitted to my Department through the LAGs in respect of these projects.

Table 1

County

Programme Allocation (€)

Carlow

6,416,803.43

Cavan

8,522,285.84

Clare

8,920,224.65

Cork

13,938,823.22

Donegal

12,913,877.86

Dublin

6,370,438.43

Galway

12,195,883.61

Kerry

10,219,868.29

Kildare

5,261,600.01

Kilkenny

7,791,572.91

Laois

7,124,586.86

Leitrim

5,998,474.74

Limerick

9,276,593.96

Longford

7,597,623.07

Louth

6,101,862.01

Mayo

11,121,431.88

Meath

6,903,123.57

Monaghan

7,592,719.51

Offaly

8,036,763.90

Roscommon

8,852,659.22

Sligo

7,655,647.81

Tipperary

10,103,443.28

Waterford

7,522,796.18

Westmeath

7,384,206.22

Wexford

9,840,140.56

Wicklow

6,336,549.00

TOTAL

€220,000,000

Table 2: LEADER 2014-2020 Expenditure broken down per year

Year

Total

2015

€1,251,185.25

2016

€1,260,920.54

2017

€12,123,851.06

2018 (to date)

€1,239,720.64

Social Welfare Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (283)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

283. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of full rate qualified child increases and half rate qualified child increases, respectively, in payment at the end of 2017 to persons on jobseeker's benefit, jobseeker's allowance, excluding jobseeker's transition payment, jobseeker's transition payment, one-parent family payment and farm assist, by scheme, by children aged 12 to 22 years of age, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7547/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

Number of qualified child increases in payment at end 2017 by scheme aged 12 to 22 years of age

Scheme

Qualified Child Increase

Full Rate

Qualified Child Increase

Half Rate

Jobseeker’s Benefit

1,448

945

Jobseeker’s Allowance (excluding Jobseeker’s Transition Payment)

31,186

8,141

Jobseeker’s Transition Payment

12,470

0

One-Parent Family Payment

13,433

0

Farm Assist

2,379

713

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (284)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

284. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an anomaly exists (details supplied); if so, her plans to rectify it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7553/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that, for social assistance schemes, all income and capital, including property other than the family home, is assessable for means-testing purposes.

For recipients of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), Disability Allowance and the Blind Pension, where the claimant sells their principal residence in order to purchase alternative accommodation which will be occupied as his or her main residence, then social welfare legislation provides for €190,500 of the gross proceeds to be disregarded in the means assessment. This disregard also applies in cases where the claimant sells their principal residence in order to reside with a carer who is in receipt of Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance in respect of the care and attention provided to the claimant.

Accordingly, in the case outlined by the Deputy, if the claimant is in receipt of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), and sells his or her house to use the proceeds to purchase alternative accommodation (in this case, an extension to the son or daughter’s house) which will be the claimant’s main residence, then the disregard should apply. In this regard, the legislation refers to "alternative accommodation" which is not restricted to the purchase of a house or apartment and can include purchasing an extension.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Payments Administration

Ceisteanna (285)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

285. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which her Department manages and refunds social welfare underpayments due to persons who have omitted to claim their benefits or have been incorrectly deemed eligible for the benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7560/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department is not clear as to the nature of the Deputy’s query in this instance. This Department does not have underpayments as such. We have claims that may need to be backdated and arrears paid in certain circumstances. Once a decision is made and a claim has been awarded payment issues promptly. This payment will also include any arrears due to the customer at that point from the date they made the claim or the date from when they are entitled to the payment e.g. pension age.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind if they send the Department the details we will have the matter examined.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (286)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

286. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public on dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if her Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7568/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

As the Deputy will be aware, I launched a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 last November. The group established to review the Act is chaired by Ms Moninne Griffith and is comprised of members of support and advocacy organisations, other independent experts in the field, as well as representatives of Government bodies with an interest in this area. My Department is represented on the Review Group and provides the secretariat to the group. The closing date for written submissions to the Group was 5th February 2018 and given its representation on the Group my Department did not make a written submission.

The areas within the Department which have had the most contact with transgender customers are Client Identity Services for the issue of Gender Recognition Certificates and the General Registers Office in relation to issuing a new birth certificate from the register of gender recognition. Contact by transgender customers is with a small team of experienced and sensitive staff members who deal with these applications in a confidential and supportive manner. The staff have been praised by the transgender community for the sensitive and efficient way in which applications are processed and handled.

Guidance to be put in place for staff in my department regarding transgender matters and their engagement with customers will reflect the sensitive nature of the individual's situation and best practice in terms of customer service delivery.

Central guidance is a matter for the Chief Human Resources Officer for the Civil Service.