Misuse of Drugs

Ceisteanna (205, 207)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

205. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which her Department continues to monitor substance abuse among children of various ages with a view to the determination of the extent of the problem and the way in which to address it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9240/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

207. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which her attention has been drawn to evidence of dependency of prescription or other drugs among children and youth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9242/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 207 together.

Although I have no function with regard to monitoring substance abuse in children, my Department provides funding to youth projects that are located in disadvantaged areas where a significant addiction problem exists or has the potential to develop. The objective is to attract "at risk" young people into activities and divert them away from the dangers of substance abuse. Youth Officers employed by the Education and Training Boards have close working relationships with youth services and they keep abreast of emerging trends, including alcohol and drug misuse and dependency.  They have regular contact with Children and Young Persons Services Committees and I am advised that they use this platform to share information on emerging trends with their statutory counterparts, particularly Tusla.

I can further inform the Deputy that my attention has not been drawn to evidence of dependency of the type he describes.

If the Deputy has any question regarding dependency on prescription or other drugs, he should address any queries he may have to the Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris T.D.

Homeless Persons Supports

Question No. 207 answered with Question No. 205.

Ceisteanna (206)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

206. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she can liaise with and offer assistance to homeless children whose parents may also be homeless; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9241/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

While the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has ultimate responsibility for managing homelessness, I am committed to helping children and families who are experiencing homelessness by making services and supports available that will bring some normality and structure to their lives. This is part of the whole-of-Government response to the problem of homelessness.

Where children are homeless as part of a family experiencing homelessness, my Department is working closely with Tusla to provide supports to mitigate the challenges faced by these parents and children.

Tusla works together with other statutory and voluntary agencies to provide services and supports to children, young people and families experiencing homelessness.

These include the introduction of free childcare for the children of families experiencing homelessness. As part of the scheme a daily meal is provided for each child, the cost of which is included in the subvention rate. The scheme is also designed to help those transitioning from homelessness to permanent accommodation.

Actions taken by Tusla include the provision of funding for child support workers and the appointment of a Homelessness Liaison Officer.

Family Resource Centres, part funded by Tusla, are working with people who are experiencing homelessness and many have developed local responses to the needs of families in emergency accommodation. These include, by way of example, family fun days, homework support, after school programmes, play therapy and transport services.

In recognition of the difficulties associated with homelessness and school attendance, Tusla’s Educational Welfare Service offers a number of supports to children (and families) experiencing homelessness.

Tusla’s joint protocol with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) covers child welfare and protection matters for children in emergency accommodation. It is fully operational in the DRHE areas and it is intended to replicate this protocol across the State. A Joint Working Protocol has been signed between Tusla and Galway City Council. 

Finally, the DRHE is coordinating the development of a comprehensive National Quality Standards Framework for homeless services on behalf of all housing authorities.  Consultation with service users and key stakeholders, including Tusla, has been undertaken and the draft standards have been piloted in selected services.  These standards, including a child safety element which will provide homeless services with a framework for continuous quality improvement, will be implemented nationally.

It is important to note that Tusla only intervenes in family life in exceptional circumstances. Children who are with their families in emergency accommodation remain in the care of their parents or guardians. Where Tusla has concerns regarding the welfare and development of any child they will provide family supports to assist that family and child.

Ultimately, my concern is that we minimise and then eliminate the problem of homelessness. In the meantime, I will continue to support measures to help those affected, to the greatest degree possible within my area of responsibility.

Question No. 207 answered with Question No. 205.

Cyber Security Policy

Ceisteanna (208)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

208. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which adequate early warning systems exist to alert her Department to the threat to children and young persons of cyber grooming; the extent to which the issue can be combatted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9243/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department does not have a lead responsibility in this area and, accordingly, does not have specific measures of the type described by the Deputy.

Combatting online child grooming is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr.Charlie Flanagan T.D., and is addressed as part of a wide-ranging package of measures aimed at the reform of Ireland's criminal law on sexual offences, set out in Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2017.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (209)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

209. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which adequate staff remain available to the various sections of her Department with a view to ensuring the smooth and effective operation of all the services for which she is responsible; if particular issues have arisen or are likely to arise in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9244/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I am satisfied that Department is adequately resourced to carry out its functions and services. Since my appointment as Minister, the staffing complement has grown from 181 to 248 people, with a further cohort currently being recruited which will bring the total staffing numbers to some 276 people before end 2018. The increase in staffing numbers reflects the continuing growth in the responsibilities of my Department, whose allocation has grown to €1.38 billion in 2018 following increases in the two Budgets since I took office.

As additional streams of work emerge in my Department, it is inevitable that, from time to time, temporary staffing shortfalls may occur. These are remedied at the earliest opportunity. I am satisfied that the workload required from my Department is adequately resourced and will continue to be. My Department's objectives continue to be delivered as planned and as scheduled and I anticipate that it will continue to do so.

Child Care Services

Ceisteanna (210)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

210. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which support services are being made available to children that may be at risk as result of being undocumented non-nationals; the extent to which further measures are planned to protect such children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9245/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In Ireland, the administration of the protection process, including Direct Provision and supports to asylum seekers, comes under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality. However, the Child Care Act, 1991, applies to all children resident in the State irrespective of their immigration status. Under the Child Care Act, 1991 and the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care or protection. Tusla provides support for these children for as long as their welfare requires it.

Children First National Guidance (2011) gives advice for notifying Tusla of situations where abuse is suspected. A range of professionals including teachers, nurses, early years educators, Gardaí and other health professionals, who see children regularly, are in a

good position to identify children at risk. Where someone has reasonable grounds for suspecting a child is being, or has been, abused, they are expected to immediately contact Tusla.

The Children First Act, 2015 places a statutory obligation on key professionals (mandated persons) to report concerns of harm above a defined threshold to Tusla without delay. These provisions were commenced on December 11th, last year.

When a child who is undocumented, and is living with his or her parent or guardian, is taken into care, their needs are given priority. A social worker is assigned to the child and prepares a care plan, in consultation with the child. The plan should be dynamic and

formally reviewed regularly. Intrinsic to this process is ensuring that the voice and best interest of the child are central. When outlined in the care plan, Tusla will assist the child with the process of establishing residency.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children who seek the assistance of the State are placed in the statutory care of Tusla. Their needs are assessed by an allocated a social worker from a specialist team who work exclusively with unaccompanied minors. They receive appropriate educational, social, medical counselling support. In the course of 2017 140 unaccompanied children were received into Tusla care. Additionally, in the course of 2017 and January 2018, 36 children were received under the Calais Special Project.

Before travelling to Ireland, the Calais children were screened by the Gardaí and Department of Justice and Equality officials, and their residency status was approved.

Children who, with their parents, live in Direct Provision, are provided with welfare supports as required. Tusla have seconded an experienced social work team leader to the Department of Justice and Equality to liaise directly between Direct Provision and Tusla services.

Counselling Services Provision

Ceisteanna (211)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

211. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she envisages improved counselling services for children at risk and their families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9246/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Under the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is required to support and promote the development, welfare and protection of children. Tusla provides funding to voluntary organisations offering a range of counselling and support services to children and families including:

- Marriage and relationship counselling,

- Child counselling,

- Rainbows Peer Support Programme for children,

- Bereavement counselling and support on the death of a family member.

In 2017, Tusla provided funding of approximately €5.9 million to support organisations providing counselling services, the majority of which are voluntary.  The organisations that are funded vary enormously in size and approach; some are dedicated counselling bodies, others provide counselling as part of a wider range of social and family services.  These services provide support to families, children and young people. The funding provided by Tusla focuses on the development of support services in the community for families to enhance stability in family life and to assist children and families and their members in dealing with difficult periods in their lives. 

Tusla's priority is to ensure that counselling services provide support and promote the development, welfare and protection of children and the effective functioning of families. Counselling services funded by Tusla are specifically targeted at children who have been affected by parental separation or who have suffered family bereavement. Tusla’s marriage and relationship counselling funding is instrumental in assisting parents to deal with difficulties they experience in their personal relationships.

Mental health policy is under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Health, and Tusla works closely with other care providers including the Health Service Executive (HSE), in respect of access to child and adolescent mental health services.

Tusla will continue to work closely with service providers to support children and young people at risk and the effective functioning of families.

Action Plan for Rural Development

Ceisteanna (212)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

212. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the spend on rural regeneration in each year since 2011; and the amount allocated for 2018, in tabular form. [9171/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department was established in July 2017 and therefore I do not have details of the amount spent on rural regeneration since 2011. Rural regeneration involves a coordinated effort across many Government Departments and agencies and each relevant Department has its own budgetary allocation to support rural renewal.

My own Department has a total allocation of €231.5 million for 2018 to support both rural and community development. This represents an increase of almost €70 million on 2017.

The Action Plan for Rural Development and the Government's new National Development Plan underpin a whole-of-Government approach to rural development. The Action Plan contains over 270 actions for delivery across a range of Government Departments, State Agencies and other organisations to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland.

The National Development contains details of capital investments which will support rural areas across a range of thematic objectives. The National Development Plan includes a commitment to establishing a new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which will provide an additional €1 billion for rural renewal over a ten year period.

The objective of the new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will be to drive collaborative, co-ordinated and complementary packages of investment between Departments, agencies, local authorities and other public bodies in pooling their assets and working with local communities, and the private sector where appropriate, to transform our rural towns and villages and outlying rural areas.

The Action Plan for Rural Development, coupled with the investment under the National Development Plan, will bring an even greater focus to the regeneration of rural Ireland and make a real and lasting impact for the people who live in rural areas.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (213)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

213. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of officials and advisers that travelled from his Department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9152/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I can confirm that I attended the official launch of Project Ireland 2040, in Sligo, on 16 February 2018. Minister of State Sean Kyne was also in attendance. Two officials and one advisor from my Department travelled to the launch. Any officials or advisors attending are entitled to claim the appropriate travel and subsistence allowance in compliance with Department of Finance travel and subsistence circulars, including Circular 11/82 Travelling and Subsistence Regulations and Circular 07/2009 Travel and Subsistence rates.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (214)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

214. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when payment of jobseeker's allowance will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9026/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

According to departmental records the person concerned made a claim for jobseekers allowance on 22/12/2017. An officer of the department requested supporting documentation from the person concerned on 10/1/2018. To date no further contact or information has been received from the person concerned. The claim was closed due to outstanding documentation on 1/2/2018. It is open to the person concerned to make contact with their local Intreo Centre if they wish to pursue their claim.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (215)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

215. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on concerns that have been expressed regarding the privacy implications of section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 in relation to the use of the public services card by certain bodies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9035/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Only bodies specified in legislation and currently included in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended) or their agents can ask for and use the Public Services Card (PSC).

The current proposal in Section 5 of the Social Welfare Bill does not change this. That protection will remain if the legislative proposal is adopted.

As the law currently stands, even if a card holder volunteers their PSC, a private sector organisation would be committing an offence by accepting it as they are not a “specified body”. Customer feedback is that they should be allowed to volunteer the card to non-specified bodies if it suits them to do so, for the purposes of ID verification such as when signing up to a utility company contract or opening an account with a financial institution. Customers often report that private companies insist on a State-issued photographic ID such as a Passport or Driver’s License which they might not have and which are costly. In contrast, the PSC is free of charge.

Therefore, the legislative proposal is that non-specified bodies that accept a PSC that is offered to them voluntarily by the holder should not be prosecuted or be at risk of prosecution. At the same time, such non-specified organisations should not be able to request or force a person to use their PSC - that would remain an offence. In other words, the volunteering of the card is the critical issue.

Furthermore, and for the sake of absolute clarity, this proposal in no way allows a private sector body to access the customer data on the card chip or on any government database - it would simply allow them to view/accept the card as a form of identity and to stop it being an offence for them to accept it.

This measure will be beneficial to holders of the PSC, most especially those who do not hold a driving licence or a passport. It is their identity and, as such, the holder should be allowed to volunteer it if they so choose, even in a commercial situation.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (216)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

216. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9069/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The Department received a claim for IP for the lady referred to on 17 November 2017. She was refused IP on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on the 18 January 2018 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal. As per your representation, the lady in question has changed address since her application. The decision has reissued to her current address, affording her the right of review and appeal within 21 days of date of the reissued letter.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (217)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

217. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 285 of 7 January 2018, if a person (details supplied) was sent correspondance advising them to apply for the State (contributory) pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9082/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

According to the records of my Department the person concerned was invited to make an application for state pension (contributory) in November 2013, in advance of their 66th birthday in March 2014. An application for state pension (contributory) was received from the person concerned on 25 April 2016. The person concerned was awarded a reduced rate pension, based on an assessed yearly average of 28 contributions covering the period from February 1967 to end-December 2013. The award of pension, which was backdated by six months to 25 October 2015, was notified in writing to the person concerned on 19 May 2016.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government recently announced proposals that pensioners who qualified for state pension (contributory) since September 2012, and whose rate of entitlement was impacted by the 2012 rate band changes, may apply for a review to have their entitlement considered under a new Total Contribution Approach (TCA). It will take some time to draft and pass the necessary legislation, and then develop the systems and procedures necessary to administer the new pension entitlement option. Accordingly, it is not necessary for any person to contact the Department about their situation. Instead, from late 2018, the Department expects to start inviting these pensioners to apply for a review under the new pension eligibility arrangements and to notify any periods spent caring for which HomeCaring credits may be due. Review applicants will be notified of the outcome of their review and any applicable higher rate of entitlement will be paid to them.

Payment of increases, where awarded, are expected to commence from early 2019 and will be backdated to the 30th March 2018.

I hope that this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Eligibility

Ceisteanna (218)

James Browne

Ceist:

218. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding a person’s (details supplied) application for illness benefit; when payment will commence; if there was a delay in the processing of same; the reason a medical certificate signed by a doctor in the hospital was not acceptable; the reason the person was required to get and pay for a general practitioner to provide a medical certificate on their release from hospital;; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9124/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Injury Benefit is a weekly payment in respect of incapacity for work due to an accident arising out of and in the course of employment. For the purpose of the scheme, an accident while on an unbroken journey between one’s normal place of residence and one’s place of employment, is regarded as an accident at work. Benefit can be paid for up to 26 weeks from the date of the accident/injury/disease.

The person concerned made a claim to Occupational Injury Benefit which was registered on 31 January 2018. There is no payment for the first 6 days of Injury Benefit and no payment for Sundays. Claims are dealt with in chronological order and under normal circumstances it takes approximately two weeks from the date of registration to receive payment on a claim. The person concerned received a payment to their bank account on 12 February 2018.

In the first instance a letter from a hospital is required following a customer’s treatment there. However a social welfare certificate is necessary in order to process a claim. The certificate can only be obtained from a G.P who is reimbursed from my Department. There is no charge to the patient for the cert. It is at discretion of the G.Ps whether to charge for a consultation.

Fuel Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (219)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

219. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to increase the fuel allowance to entirely offset the higher cost of smokeless fuels after implementation of the smoky coal ban; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9126/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 27 weeks from October to April, to over 338,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €227 million in 2018. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household. On the 6th December 2017 my colleague the Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment announced that the ban on the sale of smoky coal in the existing zones, which has been in place in larger towns for some time, will be extended countrywide from autumn of 2018.

When the initial ban on smoky coal was introduced in larger towns my Department introduced a smog/smokeless allowance for the anticipated higher cost of smokeless fuel. However this was discontinued in 2011 as the price differential between smoky and smokeless coal has dropped considerably over the years. Smokeless fuel is also more energy efficient than conventional coal, more than offsetting any increase in cost. Research indicates that the efficiency gain can be up to 50%.

Taking this into account I have no plans at this time to increase fuel allowance to offset the higher cost of smokeless fuel. Any decision to do so would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, exceptional needs payments may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which customers are unable to meet out of their own resources and this may include exceptional heating costs.

The best way to tackle fuel poverty in the long term is to improve the energy efficiency of the dwelling. My Department works closely with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to help identify people in energy poverty who are living with chronic respiratory conditions so they can avail of the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme which aims to make homes warmer and healthier to live in.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (220)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

220. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of officials and advisers that travelled from her Department to the launch of the NDP, NPF in County Sligo; the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9149/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

One advisor, Ms Denise Duffy, travelled to Sligo with the Minister for Employment Affairs on Friday the 16th February 2018; as the advisor travelled with the Minister there are no associated additional costs.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Ceisteanna (221)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

221. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for family income supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9254/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) formerly Family Income Supplement is a weekly tax free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children To qualify for WFP, a person must be engaged in full time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and must be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. It is also possible to combine hours of employment with a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to meet the qualifying criteria. An applicant must also have at least 1 qualified child who normally resides with them or is maintained by them. A qualified child is a child under 18 years old or over 18 and under 22 years old who is attending full time day education. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a prescribed amount which varies according to the number of qualified children.

The person concerned has not applied for WFP to date.

An application form (FIS 1) was issued for completion on 20th February 2018.

The person concerned should complete and forward the application to the Department for processing.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (222)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

222. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a disability allowance will be restored in the case of a person (details suplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9260/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 30 January 2018. The person concerned indicated at the oral hearing that he wished to submit further evidence in support of his appeal. On receipt of same the Appeals Officer will consider the appeal in the light of all of the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision when the appeal has been determined. 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 hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (223)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

223. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a carer’s allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9261/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeals of the person concerned took place on 7th December 2017. At the oral hearing it was agreed that the person concerned would send in further documentation in support of the appeals and this has been reiterated in subsequent communications between the Appeals Officer and the person concerned. To date, the Appeals Officer has held off on making his decision on the appeals in order to provide the person concerned with the best opportunity to submit additional documentation in support of her case. However, in light of the time that has passed since the appeal hearing, he will be obliged to make his decision in the very near future with or without the promised additional documentation. 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 hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Local Authority Housing Mortgages

Ceisteanna (224)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

224. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a site owned by a person planning to build their home on the site can avail of the Rebuilding Ireland home loan in part or in full towards the 10% deposit requirement in the context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9048/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I can confirm that the deposit requirements underpinning the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are the same for all applicants. Specifically, where a loan applicant owns a site with full planning permission, the maximum loan amount that can be advanced is 90% of the build cost. This is also subject to the post construction market value of the completed house not exceeding the maximum allowable market values set at €320,000 in Dublin, Meath, Wicklow, Kildare, Louth, Cork and Galway and €250,000 in the rest of the country.

The applicant must provide bank or similar statements (post-office, credit union etc.) for a 12-month period immediately prior to making a loan application showing a credible and consistent track record of savings. The cash savings must be no less than 3% of the build cost. Gifts are permissible up to 7% of the build cost where their source is verified.

More information is available from www.rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie or by phoning 051 349 720.

Programme for Government

Ceisteanna (225)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

225. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the programme for Government commitment to explore the possibility of enacting a constitutional right to housing; and the way in which the programme for Government commitment to allow the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government to examine the issue affected by the decision to request the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach to examine the broader issues of socio-economic rights decided upon by the Citizens' Assembly. [9051/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A motion to refer the Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution, which dealt with economic, social and cultural rights including the right to housing, to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach was passed by the Dáil on 28 September 2017 and by the Seanad on 11 October 2017.

As the Deputy will be aware, at the time that the Programme for a Partnership Government was being drawn up, it was considered that the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government would be the most appropriate Committee to consider this issue.  

Given that the rights concerned include rights to social security, essential health care, rights of people with disabilities and linguistic rights, as well as a number of other rights in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, this was subsequently reconsidered and it was decided that the most appropriate Oireachtas Committee to consider this matter was the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach.