Social Welfare Payments Administration

Ceisteanna (230)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

230. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if original bank statements are required in order for her Department to carry out a means test; if information on statements is allowed to be redacted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18138/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Qualification for a number of assistance payment from my Department require a means test to be undertaken to assess the customers’ eligibility. One of the factors that are taken into account in the calculation of means is any investments and savings that the customer may have. To carry out a means test in respect of savings, original bank statements should be provided. If it is not possible to provide an original bank statement an officer may decide to accept a copy of the statement.

A bank statement with information redacted may not provide a complete record of the financial information that is required to carry out a means test and as such may be considered as an incomplete document.

Social Welfare Offices

Ceisteanna (231)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

231. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the circumstances under which social welfare branch managers will be paid under the new remuneration model; if the financial package will only be put in place following acceptance by all branch managers of a new agreement; if this is in line with the recommendations of the independent chair facilitated discussions with an association (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18152/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department currently has 58 Branch Offices at various locations throughout the country. Each Branch Office is operated and managed, under a contract for services, by a Branch Manager who is required to act as an agent for the Department in the area served by the office. Branch Office managers operate on a contract for service and are independent contractors.

Services are provided through the Branch Offices network in areas which are not directly served by a Department operated Intreo centre. The Department wishes to ensure that the services provided by the Department’s Intreo Centres and Branch Offices are aligned so that all customers nationwide are provided with broadly similar services.

On foot of this, officials from my Department engaged in discussions with the Branch Managers Association (BMA), a representative group of Branch Managers who presented the views of its members, under the chairmanship of an agreed facilitator regarding the Department’s proposals for a new service delivery model.

Talks between the Department and the BMA concluded on 29th March. Non-binding recommendations were issued by the facilitator to both parties on 4th April and I am happy to report that both sides have agreed to accept these recommendations.

These recommendations, together with previous recommendations from the facilitator in December 2017 on the revised remuneration model, provide a framework within which Branch Office services will be delivered on behalf of the Department by Branch Managers.

Letters to each individual Branch Manager are currently being drafted by my officials outlining the proposed remuneration and service delivery proposals and will be issued shortly. Once an individual Branch Manager accepts these proposals in writing, the new remuneration proposal will be put in place for that individual Branch Manager.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (232)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

232. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount the Department has spent on social media training and consultancy in each of the years 2011 to 2016. [18164/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

There was no spending on social media training or consultancy by my Department between 2011 and 2016.

Departmental Staff Training

Ceisteanna (233)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

233. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if training has been delivered in her Department on the use of social media; the frequency and cost of this training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18200/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social media provides a useful channel for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to engage with our customers and stakeholders, and to provide important Department news, scheme information, and updates. It also provides an important channel for our customers and the wider public to access general information about the Department’s schemes and services. Details of social media training undertaken by the Department and expenditure incurred are set out in the following table. There has been no expenditure on social media training in the year 2018 to date.

Social Media Training 2017

Date

Training Cost (Inc VAT)

Total

08/02/2017

750.30

€750.30

19/05/2017

€553.50

€750.50

12/11/2017

€553.50

€553.50

€1,857.30

Community Employment Schemes Places

Ceisteanna (234)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

234. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a concession will be made for a person (details supplied) to continue their community employment scheme onto the service support scheme until retirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18282/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned commenced a placement on the community employment scheme (CE) on 14/5/12 and will complete the overall lifetime limit of 6 years on 4/5/18. This is the maximum participation period allowable per current CE scheme guidelines for a person of his circumstances. As the person concerned will not reach 62 years of age until 19/9/18, he does not meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the service support stream option at this time. In order to requalify for further participation in the CE scheme, the person concerned must be on the live register for one year following completion of his current CE placement. It is then open to the person concerned to submit a further application for CE participation under the service support stream.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Nuclear Plants

Ceisteanna (235)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

235. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason Ireland was excluded from the transboundary impact assessment relating to the Hinkley Point nuclear plant in view of the fact that Ireland is the nearest state to this power plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18286/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The United Kingdom has informed relevant Government Departments - i.e. my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment - of developments in relation to plans to build new nuclear power plants at sites judged as potentially suitable, including Hinkley Point C.  However, prior to planning permission being sought for the proposed Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant, the United Kingdom authorities did not formally notify Ireland or any other country of the project in accordance with article 3 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context (the Espoo Convention), because their transboundary screening assessment concluded that the project was not likely to have a significant effect on the environment of another European State. 

Notwithstanding the foregoing and following a process of engagement with the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee, the UK authorities invited Ireland and certain other European countries in 2017 to comment on the current environmental information in relation to potential transboundary impacts of the Hinkley Point C project, which is currently under construction. 

A national public consultation on the project was initiated on 20 February 2018, inviting members of the public and bodies prescribed for the purposes of consultation in relation to planning applications to make submissions or observations on the project to the planning authority concerned by 17 April.  The public consultation period has now expired and planning authorities are currently in the process of sending to my Department copies of submissions and observations received through the consultation process, prior to forwarding them to the relevant UK authorities for their consideration.

Building Regulations

Ceisteanna (236)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

236. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 18 April 2018, the residential units which are specifically wheelchair liveable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18135/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department does not have details of residential units that are specifically wheelchair liveable.  My reply to Question No. 239 of 18 April 2018 sets out the requirements of Part M of the Building Regulations and indicates that these may be regarded as the statutory minimum level of provision. While Part M provides, inter alia, that new dwellings are visitable, the accompanying technical guidance encourages building owners and designers to have regard to the principles of universal design and to consider making additional provisions where practicable and appropriate. I am satisfied that Part M, in fostering an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment, strikes a reasonable balance and provides flexibility that can be tailored to meet specific needs at local level through each Local Authority's Housing Disability Steering Group.  

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (237, 238)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

237. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount his Department has spent on social media training and consultancy in each of the years 2011 to 2016. [18168/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

238. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if training has been delivered in his Department on the use of social media; the frequency and cost of this training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18204/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 237 and 238 together.

My Department has not spent any money on social media training or consultancy on the use of social media from 2011 to date.

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (239)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

239. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of new housing first tenancies created in 2017; the number of housing first tenancies created in the first quarter of 2018; and the number of housing first tenancies in operation by local authority area and by region. [18249/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Housing First enables people who may have been homeless and who have high levels of complex needs to obtain permanent secure accommodation with the provision of intensive supports to help them maintain their tenancies. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, committed to increasing the target for housing first tenancies in Dublin to 300. A new National Director of Housing First was appointed earlier this year and is now working with local authorities to support and accelerate the delivery of housing first tenancies.

In 2017, 91 tenancies were created with a further 17 tenancies created since the beginning of 2018. To date 224 tenancies have been created for 192 unique individuals under the Housing First programme in Dublin.  Of those tenancies, 169 individuals successfully retained housing, which represents a retention rate of 88%.  The following table sets out the current tenancies in operation by each Dublin local authority, where a total of 153 tenancies are currently in place.  

 -

Dublin City Council

Fingal County Council

South Dublin County Council

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

Total

Tenancies

117

10

14

12

153

Rebuilding Ireland also commits to strengthening housing-led approaches in other urban areas. A target of 100 tenancies has been set in Cork, Galway and Limerick where pilot programmes have been established in a collaboration between my Department, the National Director of Housing First, the local authorities and the HSE. It is expected that tenancies will be established in these areas during 2018.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (240)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

240. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount her Department has spent on social media training and consultancy in each of the years 2011 to 2016. [18161/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I refer the Deputy to Dáil Question No. 459 which I replied to on 29th March 2018.

I am advised that since the establishment of the Department in June 2011, my Department has spent €5,883 on social media training for staff. A breakdown is supplied in the following table. No expenditure occurred in the years 2011 and 2015.

Year

Training Course

Cost

2012

Social Media in the Public Sector

€1,337

2013

Social Media for Consultation

€433

2013

Social Media Marketing

€349

2014

Social Media Training

€3,264

2016

Social Media for Business

€500

I am further advised that, while my Department does not engage social media consultants, it has engaged third party service providers to assist with the provision of social media content and a range of other services for the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme and the Creative Ireland Programme.

Inland Waterways By-laws

Ceisteanna (241)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

241. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she and her Department either directly or through Waterways Ireland have reached agreement with traditional canal dwellers and canal recreational users with regard to draft proposals to increase the costs to traditional users; the extent to which provisions to cater for these issues can be provided for in the Heritage Bill 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18191/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Waterways Ireland continues to work closely with boat owners using the canals, and adjacent land owners and committees. Meetings are held with the key stakeholder interest groups, the Royal Canal Amenity Group, Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) and the Heritage Boat Association (HBA).

In addition, Waterways Ireland works alongside the Friends of the Grand Canal and Royal Canal Clean-Up Group in Dublin and the newly established Grand Canal Dock Group, who like many of the communities throughout the waterways support the maintenance and operation of the canals.

Operational staff, lockkeepers and waterway patrollers meet canal users on a daily basis and provide a wide range of services. Inspectorate staff manage boat use on the canals in accordance with the 1988 Canal Bye-laws. In this regard, Waterways Ireland continues to concentrate on boats which consistently remain in breach of the Bye-laws. Where a boat owner fails to respond to requests to comply, after notification by letters, telephone calls and formal notice, a programme of boat removal continues.

In Grand Canal Dock where boat owners have refused to move, and are seeking to permanently reside on their vessels in breach of the Bye-laws, Regulation of use of these prime location berths is being taken forward under the 1988 Canal Bye-laws to protect these public amenities.

Waterways Ireland in 2018 will deliver a programme to extend boat effluent pump out facilities and fresh water locations for boat owners using the canal network. Waterways Ireland will also extend its programme of promoting and ensuring compliance with the use of holding tanks for effluent in boats on the Canal network.

The Heritage Bill does not make provision to increase the charges for boat users on the canals. The amendments to the Canals Act, 1986 in the Heritage Bill are primarily enabling provisions to allow for the making of bye laws to regulate boating on the canals and to manage the use of the canals. Waterways Ireland will bring forward changes in new Bye Laws proposals once the Heritage Bill is enacted.

Departmental Staff Training

Ceisteanna (242)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

242. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if training has been delivered in her Department on the use of social media; the frequency and cost of this training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18197/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am advised that, during the period 2012 to 2017, my Department spent €6,383 on social media training for staff. A breakdown of the year provided, training course, number of staff who attended and cost is provided in the following table.

Year

Training Course

Number of Staff

Cost

2012

Social Media in the Public Sector

3

€1,337

2013

Social Media for Consultation

1

€433

2013

Social Media Marketing

1

€349

2014

Social Media Training

20

€3,264

2016

Social Media for Business

1

€500

2017

Social Media for Business

1

€500