Domiciliary Care Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323)

John Brady

Ceist:

317. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of plans for the proposed increase from 16 to 18 years of age for a domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13097/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

318. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if services for children over 16 years of age will be extended to take into account private therapies paid for by the disability allowance payment if the age for domiciliary care allowance is increased to 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13098/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

319. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the additional social welfare payments paid to disability allowance recipients will be extended to domiciliary care allowance recipients, such as the fuel allowance and free travel, when a child reaches 16 years of age, if the age for domiciliary care allowance is increased to 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13099/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

320. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance or domiciliary care allowance will be included as a qualifying payment for the fuel allowance if the age for domiciliary care allowance is increased to 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13100/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

321. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the age for domiciliary care allowance is increased to 18 years of age, the health services that will be affected by the extension; if access will remain to currently provided psychology services and occupational therapy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13101/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

322. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there will be an impact on the disability access route to the education scheme if the age for domiciliary care allowance is increased to 18 years of age in view of the fact that an application could be made before the student turns 18 years of age without a disability allowance decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13102/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

323. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if domiciliary care allowance, DCA, will carry the same weight as disability allowance if the age for DCA is increased to 18 years of age in view of the fact that DCA is based on the level of care and not the actual disability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13103/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Question Nos. 317 to 323, inclusive, together.

The Make Work Pay (MWP) report, published in 2017, made a number of recommendations on how people with disabilities who want to work and can work could fulfil their employment ambitions. A number of its key recommendations related to the need to support young adults through education, training and social inclusion according to their capacity and to reconfigure the qualifying age for disability allowance (DA) and domiciliary care allowance (DCA).

When the MWP report was launched, the then Minister for Social Protection, now Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., said that there is a legitimate expectation among parents and families that a child who currently receives DCA will qualify for DA at age 16 and has ruled out making any change in this area unless it is supported by the disability sector. He instructed the Department to consult with parents and disability advocates on the recommendation particularly given the sensitive nature of the proposal. Therefore, earlier this month, I, together with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, launched a national consultation process with people with disabilities, their families and advocates to seek their views on these recommendations. At the launch I reassured people with disabilities that the Government wants to get their views before considering any changes to the two schemes. Therefore, no decision has been made as to how the recommendations might be implemented.

In coming to a decision in this regard, the Government will also consider the impact of the recommendation in terms of the services and supports for people with disabilities, as raised by the Deputy in his questions.

The consultation process will continue until mid-April. It provides stakeholders with an important opportunity to make their views known on this significant issue. I look forward to the outcome of the consultation process in due course.

Disability Services Provision

Ceisteanna (324)

John Brady

Ceist:

324. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason Intreo is being tasked with disability services in view of the fact that other entities are better placed to meet the actual need of those living with a disability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13104/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Intreo service is not being given the task of delivering disability services such as those delivered by the health service and the education sector. In line with the Comprehensive Employment Strategy and building on developments in recent years, it is expected that the Department has a greater role in the delivery of employment services and supports to persons with a disability.

In recent years, the social protection system in Ireland has undergone significant reforms, moving away from passive income supports to an ‘active inclusion’ approach that seeks to maximise the potential of working age adults, with the appropriate supports and services. The Intreo service, which is the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s integrated income support, employment and support service, is central to this process.

In line with commitments under the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities and Pathways to Work 2016-2020, the Department has progressively expanded the mainstream Intreo service to cater for people with disabilities. Across the Intreo service network of 62 offices, people with disabilities may, on a voluntary basis, seek an appointment with an employment supports case officer to discuss their employment ambitions and develop an appropriate personal progression plan. The Intreo service has also undertaken a programme of upskilling staff to better support persons with disabilities who want to pursue further education, training or work opportunities. While the Intreo service, as the mainstream employment service, acts as the primary gateway or access point to employment supports, it may also refer those with more complex support needs to other relevant bodies, such as the Employability service for training or employment supports.

It is my intention to continue to build the capacity of the Intreo service so that it has the ability to address the public employment support needs of people with disabilities.

Last year, the Make Work Pay for people with disabilities report made a number of recommendations on how people with disabilities who want to work and can work could fulfil their employment ambitions. One of the key recommendations relates to the principle of early engagement. Early engagement means that the State will support people with disabilities at the earliest stage possible to help them achieve their employment goals. To this end, people with disabilities would get advice from the Intreo service when they apply for a disability income support payment. The service would be provided on the following basis:

- Engagement would be voluntary.

- Engagement would encourage new recipients of disability income support payments to use the Intreo Service and supports.

- Engagement would focus on an individual’s needs.

- Engagement would be effectively resourced.

- Engagement would be joined up with other service providers to make sure that the process is as seamless as possible.

- Engagement would address barriers to work faced by people with disabilities

No decision has yet been made as to when this approach would start. Earlier this month, a national consultation process commenced to seek the views of people with disabilities, their families and advocates on the implementation of this recommendation. The Government wants to get the views of stakeholders before considering whether any changes, if any, might be introduced. The national consultation process will continue until mid-April and will be followed by further consideration with a number of stakeholder bodies. It provides stakeholders with an important opportunity to make their views known on this significant issue. I look forward to the outcome of the consultation process in due course.

Ministerial Staff Data

Ceisteanna (325)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

325. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the details of each non-Civil Service appointment she has made to a role in her Department; the persons appointed; the role, qualifications and salary of each; and the guidelines that apply in respect of party political fundraising. [13158/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

All staff in my Department are Civil Servants and are appointed in compliance with the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004.

While the great majority of these civil servants appointments are on foot of a competitive process in accordance with the “Code of Practice for Appointment to Positions in the Civil Service and Public Service”, a small number of Ministerial civil service appointments are also made, in compliance with the Guidelines on Staffing of Ministerial Offices issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (326)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

326. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a series of matters relating to the enhanced leasing scheme (details supplied). [12008/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A range of housing options are necessary to ensure a supply of accommodation to meet different types of social housing need. Harnessing the off-balance sheet potential of private investment in social housing is an important contributor to meeting this objective and the social housing targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland over the period to 2021 reflect the ambition in that regard. Of the 50,000 social housing homes to be delivered under Rebuilding Ireland, 10,000 will be leased by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) under leasing arrangements from a range of different sources and funded under the Department’s Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP). High quality secure properties which represent value for money and are available on a long-term basis are being targeted by local authorities around the country to accommodate people on local authority waiting lists.  

The Government has increased significantly the delivery expected from local authorities through their social housing build programme, but it remains the case that more homes can be provided through leasing than could reasonably be expected to be delivered under construction and acquisition programmes alone. In addition, the cost of delivering social housing units under the traditional construction and acquisition model is not adequately captured by the up-front capital expenditure as each unit will carry a stream of ongoing costs over the long-term including management, maintenance and remediation. Furthermore, during the term of the lease, the responsibility for structural matters remains with the property owner and not the local authority.  At the end of the lease term, the dwelling can require major renovation or upgrading resulting in a substantial capital cost, which under leasing is borne by the owner rather than the local authority.

On foot of a wide variety of interest from developers, investors, financiers and others in being involved in the provision of social housing, a structured, formal process was put in place to facilitate engagement with such parties. The Clearing House Group (CHG) was established to examine and consider proposals and to meet with the companies, groups and institutions involved. This was set out in the Clearing House Protocol published in March 2015.The CHG comprised representatives from:

- Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government;

- Department of Finance;

- Department of Public Expenditure and Reform;

- Dublin City Council;

- The Housing Agency;

- The National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

The Chairperson was assigned by the National Asset Management Agency on a temporary basis at the request of my Department. The CHG was a sub-group of the Finance Work Stream, one of the governance structures of the Social Housing Strategy 2020.

The examination of proposals was a complex task and despite a high level of engagement with potential providers, none of the proposals met the criteria that would enable them to be considered off-balance sheet.  The following summary table details each of the 25 proposers who made submissions to the CHG. Included also are the dates on which the proposers met with the Clearing House Group:

Proposer

Date   of Meeting with CHG

Barclays

29/06/2015

Trinity IM

27/03/2015

Menolly Homes

N/A

Home Grown Home

28/08/2015

Richard Mc Cafferty/ Rampart Capital

N/A

Investec

21/04/2015

McGarrell Reilly Group

N/A

Centrus

30/04/2015

Lex Risk Solutions/ RK Harrison

04/06/2015

AIB

04/06/2015

BOI

04/06/2015

Dublin Artisan Dwelling Fund

17/04/2015

Tuath Housing Association

27/03/2015

Tuath Housing Association – “Rent and Save”   proposal

23/09/2015

Apex Housing Association

29/06/2015

IRES REIT

29/06/2015

Bartra Capital Limited

13/07/2015

28/08/2015

Clyde Capital Partners/Tom Barry

04/06/2015

New Ground

28/08/2015

Cluid – Local Authority Void Units

13/07/2015

Cluid – Cost Rental Pilot

13/07/2015

NABCO

13/07/2015

Asset Backed Investment

28/08/2015

O’Cualann Co Housing Alliance

28/08/2015

Irish League of Credit Unions

Proposal received 24/11/2015

Taking account of the work and analysis of the CHG, it was considered more constructive to use the existing social housing funding mechanisms, with appropriate adjustments in the form of a new enhanced long-term lease arrangement, to provide a framework to harness private investment in an off balance sheet manner. 

In the period since the CHG concluded its work, my Department, together with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), the Housing Agency and local authorities, have been working to develop a new set of long-term leasing arrangements. This work culminated in the launch last month of  the new Enhanced Long-term Social Housing Leasing scheme.

The scheme will be governed by my Department and operated by local authorities. It will be funded through my Department's SHCEP. The Housing Agency will manage and administer the scheme on behalf of my Department and will act as a national co-ordinator. It is intended to target property developers and investors who are in a position to deliver housing on a reasonable scale as well as fulfilling management and maintenance responsibilities and this is reflected in the changes to the existing lease terms. It will complement the existing long-term leasing arrangements, which will continue to be available for leasing existing properties; new properties delivered at a smaller scale; or properties made available for leasing where a housing provider is not in a position to provide management services as required under this new arrangement.

The provider will be paid up to 95% market rate as opposed to 80% (85% for apartments) currently, which reflects the reduced responsibility of the local authority in relation to maintenance of the property under this type of contract as compared to standard long term leasing. The market rent must be evidenced by a valuation prepared by a qualified valuer and each valuation must refer to 3 comparable properties in the locality as evidence of the market rent for the property.

Local authorities will determine the suitability of the proposed properties, having regard to the standard of the properties, the requirement for social housing in the area and the criteria set out in each authority’s Development Plans, including in particular sustainable communities considerations.

The new scheme may be used by local authorities in arrangements for Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. However, the enhanced lease is specifically targeted at providing housing units in addition to any targets set for Part V arrangements; i.e. any units that are leased under this scheme must be additional to normal Part V obligations on any specific site. If the new lease is used for a Part V arrangement, the appropriate net monetary value discount will apply and the provider would, therefore, not receive the maximum 95% of market rent.

A call for proposals is currently open and the Housing Agency is accepting submissions from interested parties until 12 April 2018.  All proposals are subject to a range of criteria as set out in the “Calls for Proposals for Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme” and the proposals will be assessed and marked in accordance with the terms set out therein. The Call for Proposals is available on the Housing Agency website at the following link: https://www.housingagency.ie/News/Current-News/Enhanced-Long-Term-Social-Housing-Leasing-Scheme.aspx.