Labour Activation Programmes

Ceisteanna (531)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

531. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the change in rules that allows persons on JobPath to take up places on community employment and Tús schemes extends also to the RSS and CSP schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20883/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

JobPath is one of a range of activation supports, including employment schemes such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús, catering for unemployed jobseekers.

As the Deputy is aware, the rural social scheme (RSS) provides an income support payment to low income farmers and fishermen while they undertake certain services of benefit to rural communities.

The Community Services Programme (CSP) funding is primarily intended to contribute towards the costs of employing full-time equivalent workers, and in some cases, a contribution towards the cost of employing a manager to deliver services by community based not-for-profit enterprises across the State.

From June 2018. jobseekers referred to JobPath will be able to apply for CE and Tús placements while continuing their engagement with JobPath. As the current selection process for JobPath excludes those jobseekers categorised as self-employed including those actively farming or fishing, those eligible for RSS should not be impacted by this change once my Department is aware of their farming and fishing activities. While attending the JobPath service provider, it is open to a jobseeker to apply for any part-time or full-time employment including employment supported by CSP.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ceisteanna (532)

John Brassil

Ceist:

532. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if clarification on the annual statement of a person (details supplied) will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20890/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned received conflicting statements of amounts of benefits received from my Department and this is very much regretted. It was an unfortunate combination of genuine clerical error and an interaction between two different claims and payment systems currently in operation in my Department that resulted in this happening.

The Department will issue a fresh statement to the person concerned from the Intreo Centre in Tralee in the next couple of days and this will be the definitive position on the matter. Any inconvenience caused to the person concerned is sincerely regretted.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Rates

Ceisteanna (533)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

533. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of a €1 increase in schemes (details supplied) in tabular form [20893/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information that the Deputy is looking for is detailed in the following series of tables:

Table 1: Indicative Cost of Each €1 Increase in Personal and IQA Rates

Payment

Personal €m

Qualified Adult €m

Total €m

Social Insurance Schemes

State Pension (Contributory)

€ 19.19

€ 2.95

€ 22.15

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Con) Pension – Under 66 years

€ 1.60

€ 1.60

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Con) Pension – Over 66 years

€ 4.44

€ 4.44

Deserted Wife's Benefit – Under 66 years

€ 0.22

€ 0.22

Deserted Wife's Benefit – Over 66 years

€ 0.11

€ 0.11

Invalidity Pension – Under 66 years

€ 3.09

€ 0.31

€ 3.40

Invalidity Pension – Over 66 years

N/A

€ 0.03

€ 0.03

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

€ 0.06

€ 0.06

Death Benefit Pension

€ 0.04

€ 0.04

Disablement Pension

€ 0.26

€ 0.26

Illness Benefit

€ 2.70

€ 0.21

€ 2.91

Injury Benefit

€ 0.08

€ 0.01

€ 0.08

Incapacity Supplement

€ 0.05

€ 0.01

€ 0.06

Jobseeker's Benefit

€ 1.57

€ 0.14

€ 1.71

Carer's Benefit

€ 0.14

€ -

€ 0.14

Health and Safety Benefit

€ 0.00

€ 0.00

€ 0.00

Maternity & Adoptive Benefit

€ 1.07

€ -

€ 1.07

Paternity Benefit

€ 0.06

€ -

€ 0.06

Social Assistance Schemes

State Pension (Non Con)

€ 4.93

€ 0.11

€ 5.03

Blind Person's Pension

€ 0.06

€ 0.00

€ 0.07

Widow/ers or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Con) Pension

€ 0.07

€ 0.07

Deserted Wife's Allowance

€ 0.01

€ 0.01

One-Parent Family Payment

€ 2.03

€ 2.03

Carer's Allowance – Under 66 Years

€ 2.27

€ -

€ 2.27

Carer's Allowance – Over 66 Years

€ 0.13

€ -

€ 0.13

Half Rate Carer's Allowance – Under 66 years

€ 0.62

€ 0.62

Half Rate Carer's Allowance – Over 66 years

€ 0.31

€ 0.31

Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)

€ 0.03

€ 0.03

Jobseeker's Allowance - Long Term

€ 4.48

€ 0.83

€ 5.31

Jobseeker's Allowance - Short Term

€ 2.04

€ 0.36

€ 2.40

JA under 25 on €100 rate

€ 0.82

€ 0.01

€ 0.83

JA under 26 on €144 rate

€ 0.14

€ 0.00

€ 0.14

Pre-Retirement Allowance

€ 0.00

€ 0.00

€ 0.00

Disability Allowance

€ 7.51

€ 0.45

€ 7.96

Farm Assist

€ 0.36

€ 0.12

€ 0.47

Employment Support Schemes (BTWA & BTEA)

€ 0.79

€ 0.11

€ 0.91

Employment/Internship Schemes (CE, Tús, RSS etc.)

€ 1.62

€ 0.22

€ 1.84

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

€ 0.79

€ 0.13

€ 0.92

OVERALL TOTAL

€63.70

€6.01

€69.71

Table 2: Cost of €1 increase as per Programme Area

Programme Area

Cost

€m

Pensioners – Aged 66 and over

State Pension (Contributory), Invalidity Pension (Aged 65), Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, Deserted Wife's Benefit, State Pension (Non-Con), Carer's Allowance, Half Rate Carer's Allowance

32.21

Working Age - Aged under 66 years

People with Disabilities

Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Incapacity Supplement, Disablement Pension

11.74

Carers

Carer's Allowance, Half Rate Carer's Allowance, Carer's Benefit

3.03

Employment Supports

Back To Work Allowance, Back To Education Allowance, Community Employment Programme, TÚS, Rural Social Scheme, Jobs Initiative

2.74

All Other Rates

Widow/er's Pension or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory), Deserted Wife's Benefit, Death Benefit Pension, Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit, Health & Safety Benefit, Injury Benefit, Guardian's Payment (Contributory), Jobseeker's Allowance, Pre-Retirement Allowance, Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension (Non-Con), Deserted Wife's Allowance, Farm Assist, One Parent Family Payment, SWA, Guardian's Payment (Non-Con), Part Time Job Incentive, Maternity/Adoptive/Paternity Benefit

19.98

Overall Total – including Pensioners

69.71

Table 3: Increases to other Schemes/Payments

Scheme

Cost

€m

€1 increase in the monthly rate of Child Benefit

14.76

€1 increase in the rate of Fuel Allowance

9.91

Increase the duration of the Fuel Allowance by one week

8.58

€1 increase in the rate of the Increase for a Qualified Child

17.58

€1 change in the rate of Living Alone Allowance (for everyone)

- Pensioners only

- Other schemes (Invalidity Pension, Disability Allowance, Blind Pension and Widow's/Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension

11.00

8.80

2.20

The costs shown above are on a full year basis and are based on the estimated number of recipients in 2019 except for the Fuel Allowance costing which is based on the on the estimated number of recipients in 2018. It should be noted that these costings are subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients for 2019.

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Ceisteanna (534)

John Curran

Ceist:

534. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the local and regional drugs task forces that have a representative from her Department on the task force in each of the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018, in tabular form; the number of meetings that took place; the number that were attended by the representative from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20903/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department continues to engage with the Local and Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces with focused services to support the re-integration of people recovering from substance misuse into the labour market.

The record of meetings held and attended by a representative from my Department, can be found in the table. DEASP local management appoint a representative to attend based on appropriateness and necessity, taking account of meeting agenda.

Local Task Force Name

2016 number of meetings held

2016 number of meetings attended by DEASP

2017 number of meetings held

2017 number of meetings attended by DEASP

2018 number of meetings held up to May 18

2018 number of meetings attended by DEASP

North Inner City

10

9

11

9

4

4

Regional Task Force Name

South West

7

5

8

2

1

0

Southern

5

5

5

2

3

0

North Eastern

4

2

4

1

4

2

TOTAL

26

21

28

14

12

6

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (535)

James Lawless

Ceist:

535. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20904/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 8 February 2018. 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These papers have been received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 15 March 2018 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (536)

James Lawless

Ceist:

536. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20920/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 11 April 2018. 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 26 April 2018 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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 Eligibility

Ceisteanna (537)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

537. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20924/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

It is a condition for receipt of CA that the applicant’s means are less than the statutory limit which in this case is €265.10 weekly.

CA was in payment to the person concerned from 2 May 2013 to 9 May 2018. Once claims are in payment, the Department periodically reviews them to ensure that there is continued entitlement. Depending on the circumstances in each case and to make best use of resources, a review may only concentrate on a specific condition of entitlement.

Means are any income belonging to the carer and their spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant, property, (except their own home) or an asset that could bring in money or provide them with an income, for example occupational pensions, or pensions or benefits from another country.

Following a review, CA was disallowed and her payment stopped as her means of €325.17 exceeded the statutory limit.

The person concerned was notified on 14 April 2018 of this decision the reason for it and her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned has not requested a review of this decision.

The person concerned continues to receive a domiciliary care allowance (DCA). DCA is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention, substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age. It is not means tested.

While receiving DCA, the person concerned will continue to receive the annual carer’s support grant, which is payable on the first Thursday in June each year.

It would also be open to the spouse of the person concerned to apply for carer’s leave from his employment. The Carer's Leave Act 2001 allows employees to leave their employment temporarily to provide full-time care for someone in need of full-time care and attention. They may be entitled to take carer’s leave of at least 13 weeks up to a maximum of 104 weeks.

While on this leave, they may be entitled to carer’s benefit (CARB) which is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a person(s) in need of full-time care and attention. It is not means-tested but based on the PRSI paid by the employee.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (538)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

538. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if assistance by way of an exceptional needs payment can be facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20926/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned contacted the community welfare officer on 12/3/18 seeking assistance with utility bills. A SWA1 form was sent by post to the person concerned on the same day. This form together with supporting documentation has not been returned to date. The application will be considered when the necessary documentation is received.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (539)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

539. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the percentage rate of pension that would be payable for new applicants post-2020 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20990/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 confirmed the Government’s position that the State pension will be reformed and will remain as the fundamental basis of the pension system in Ireland. To do this, the Government will introduce from 2020 a ‘Total Contributions Approach’ (TCA) for the State Pension (Contributory). The TCA is advanced as a more logical and transparent system, where the individual’s lifetime contribution will more closely match the benefit received. The TCA will ensure that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions - as opposed to the timing of them - determines their final pension outcome.

The model of TCA which will be in place for all new pensioners from 2020 will be decided upon following a period of public consultation that will be launched shortly. As the outcome of this process and the Government decision and legislation which will follow it cannot be pre-empted, I cannot say how particular sets of circumstances may be affected. However, I can say that the percentage rate paid to pensioners will vary depending on their PRSI records.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Farm Assist Scheme Appeals

Ceisteanna (540)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

540. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a farm assist appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21001/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing, has decided to disallow the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision

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 trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Payments

Ceisteanna (541)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

541. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a renewal of the working family payment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21003/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP), formerly known as Family Income Supplement, is a weekly tax-free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children WFP is paid for fifty-two weeks at a time and a person must re-apply at the end of each fifty-two week period to have their payment renewed.

The Working Family Payment of the person concerned is due for renewal on 6th June 2018 when his weekly payment will increase to €112.00 per week.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (542)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

542. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork requires a long form birth certificate to get a public services card. [21048/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has produced documents sufficient to complete SAFE registration and, therefore, will receive a Public Services Card. An appointment will be arranged for the person concerned to return to the office to complete the process.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (543)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

543. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21052/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to a person who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require this level of care.

The Department periodically reviews claims in payment to ensure that there is continued entitlement.

Following a review in this case, which involved an investigation by a social welfare inspector, it was decided that the person concerned was no longer providing full-time care and attention as required.

The person concerned was notified on 24 January 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of the decision and submitted additional evidence in support of a review. Following this review, the decision remained unchanged and the person concerned was notified on 26th March 2018 of the outcome.

I understand from the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal was requested on 21 March 2018. On 9 April 2018, the person concerned notified my Department he wished to withdraw his appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

Ceisteanna (544)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

544. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons awarded a full contributory pension based on having no more than the minimum ten qualifying years and 520 paid social insurance contributions in each of the years 2012 to 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21076/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The number of people who qualified for maximum rate state pension (contributory) in each of the years 2012 to 2017 with exactly 520 social insurance contributions paid is set out in the following table:

Year

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

No. of claimants

1

1

0

0

0

2

The numbers in those years who have qualified for maximum rate state pension (contributory) with 10 years but less than 11 years paid contributions (i.e. with between 520 and 571 paid contributions) are currently being compiled and will be sent to the Deputy directly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (545)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

545. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to increase staffing in the carer's allowance section in view of the time it is taking to have applications processed as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21081/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that my department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person concerned on 26 January 2018.

My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.

Before a decision can be made on entitlement to carer’s allowance, evidence must be provided in respect of the care recipient’s care requirement, the level of care the carer provides and the carer’s means. In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. This is compounded if the documentary evidence provided at initial application stage is incomplete or insufficient; this is often the case with carer’s allowance applications.

Additional information was requested from the person concerned on 11 May 2018. Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

Staff have been re-assigned within the carer’s allowance area to work on claims processing and it is expected that this will improve the processing times for this scheme over the coming weeks. As a result at the end of April the average waiting time improved to 18 weeks.

A redesigned application form will be published shortly; this new form will allow carers to provide more information on the type and level of care they provide, with an aim to providing Deciding Officers with the information they need to expedite decisions on entitlement.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (546)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

546. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); if the matter will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21164/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a person(s) in need of full-time care and attention.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 29 March 2018.

To qualify the carer must satisfy PRSI conditions, employment conditions, show that they are or will be providing full-time care and attention and must show that the care recipient requires full-time care and attention.

The PRSI condition requires that the carer must have 156 paid contributions since their entry into insurable employment and one of the following:

- 39 paid contributions in the 2nd last complete tax year before the year in which CARB is claimed

Or

- 39 paid contributions in the 12 months before carers benefit starts

Or

- 26 paid contributions in the 2nd last complete tax year before the year in which CARB is claimed and 26 paid contributions in the tax year before that.

Credited or voluntary contributions cannot be used to satisfy this condition.

The paid PRSI contributions must belong to the following PRSI classes: A, B, C, D, H and E.

This CARB application was disallowed on the grounds that this condition was not satisfied.

The person concerned was notified on 11 May 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance in 2016 as her means exceeded the statutory limit. It is open to her to re-apply if her means have changed.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Code Review

Ceisteanna (547)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

547. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to review further the allowance for board and lodgings that can be offset against the moneys paid to au pairs; if consideration will be given to defining a category of cultural au pair to capture the short-term stays of young persons who come to stay with families to improve their English, take part-time courses and perform certain duties in the home that distinguishes them from domestic workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21274/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

There is no separate legal definition of the term “au pair” in Irish legislation, and individuals described as “au pairs”, “nannies” or “child-minders” are not exempted or treated as separate categories of workers under Irish employment law. Ireland’s body of employment rights legislation protects all employees who are legally employed on an employer-employee basis, regardless of what title is given to them. Therefore, once it is clear that a person is working under a contract of employment (written or verbal), on a full-time or part-time basis, that person has the same protection under employment law as other employees, including entitlement to the national minimum wage. The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 defines a contract of employment as a contract of service or apprenticeship, or any other contract whereby an individual agrees with another person to do or perform personally any work or service for that person.

All employers, including those in private homes, carry the same obligations in relation to compliance with employment law.

Under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, certain reckonable components may be taken into account in determining an employee’s average hourly rate. In this context, if an employer provides an employee with full board and lodgings, or lodgings only or full board only, a fixed monetary allowance can be included as reckonable pay (this amount is prescribed by Statutory Instrument).

In 2017 the Low Pay Commission published a report on the allowances provided for board and lodgings under the National Minimum Wage Act. The Commission drew a number of conclusions from its examination of the history, background and operation of the board and lodgings offset, and from the submissions and oral evidence presented to it by workers, employers and WRC enforcement officers.

The Commission’s findings included that

- the allowances do not reflect market value and it was not intended that they would do so;

- the allowances are intended as a form of protection for minimum wage workers against exploitation, and as recognition to employers that there is a cost to the provision of board and lodgings to employees.

The report (available in full at www.lowpaycommission.ie/Publications) also noted that the allowances are not in widespread use and the number of people affected by the allowances is relatively small.

While the Low Pay Commission did not recommend an immediate or specific change in the allowances, it did recommend the retention of the allowances, and that “in future the rate may be reviewed annually in conjunction with the review of the National Minimum Wage”. The recommendations of the Commission were considered and accepted by Government. The changes recommended by the Low Pay Commission were brought into force by an Order signed by me on 11 October 2017 (and the changes came into effect from 1 January 2018). I also provided for an increase in the allowances of 3.2%, an increase that was in line with the increase in the national minimum wage which also came into effect on 1 January.

The rates currently provided (under S.I. No. 440 of 2017 (National Minimum Wage Order 2017)) are:

(i) for board only, €0.85 per hour worked

(ii) for lodgings only, €22.56 per week, or €3.24 per day.

These rates do not only relate to Au Pairs but to any employee engaged on a contract of employment as defined in the National Minimum Wage Act. I currently have no plans to legislate to define a specific category of worker to which these rates apply.

Disability Activation Projects

Ceisteanna (548)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

548. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when applicants to the Ability programme will be informed of the result of the application process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21250/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Ability programme is a new pre-activation programme for young people with disabilities (aged 15 - 29) designed to assist participants in their transition from school to further education and employment. This will be undertaken using person-centred, case management approaches that support participants to identify and follow progression pathways based on both their needs and their potential. The programme will be delivered by national, regional or local organisations from around the country that have experience of working with people with a disability.

The programme will be funded under the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) operational programme, 2014-2020 (PEIL, 2014 – 20) and the Irish Exchequer.

The programme is being managed by Pobal on behalf of the Department. Pobal’s call for applications for funding closed at the end of January. There has been a significant level of interest in the Ability programme, with 59 applications received.

Pobal have recently completed their appraisals of all 59 applications received against the selection criteria for the programme, as published on Pobal’s website - www.pobal.ie.

Their recommendations are currently being considered by my Department and it is envisaged that the successful applicants will be notified by the end of May.

I hope that clarifies the matter for the Deputy.