Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (351)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

351. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application by a person (details supplied) for illness benefit will be processed; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44445/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department recently moved to a new IT system and this has impacted on payments to some Illness Benefit (IB) customers. The Department acknowledges that this move has caused difficulties for some customers, leading to a large volume of calls to its helpline and delays in responding to customer queries. In order to address this, the Department is deploying additional staff to manage customer calls. 

There is currently no record of the receipt of a claim by the person concerned for IB.  An application form has been issued to the person and, on its return, the claim will be processed without delay.

An official from my Department will also contact the person to assist with the application.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (352)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

352. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she will take to ensure an application for a carer’s allowance by a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44478/18]

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 child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

I confirm that my department received an application for carer’s CA from the person concerned on 23 February 2018.

It is a condition for receipt of CA that every claimant shall furnish such certificates, documents, information and evidence as may be required for the purposes of deciding the claim and attends at such office or place as an officer may direct.

As the person concerned failed to provide documents regarding her employment, the deciding officer decided that the person concerned was not entitled to CA. The person concerned was notified on 26 July 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal. The person concerned requested a review of that decision on 3 August 2018. The outcome of the review is that CA was awarded to the person concerned on 23 October 2018 and the first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 8 November 2018. Arrears of allowance due from 1 March 2018 to 9 November 2018 will issue shortly. The person concerned was notified on 23 October 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (353)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

353. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the breakdown of the €14 million capital allocation, that is, Vote 37 of the budget 2019 expenditure report within her Department for 2019, by specific project; the projects that will be commenced in 2019; the projects that will be completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44552/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department’s 2019 capital allocation of €14m will be split across three subheads as follows:

Subhead

Estimate

A.2.v Office Equipment and External IT Services

€8.8m

A.2.vi Office  Premises Expenses

€5m

A.2 ix eGovernment  Related Projects

€0.2m

This allocation will primarily assist my Department in delivering additional IT modernisation and allow for the refurbishment of some of the Department’s buildings.  The capital projects are agreed with the Office of Public Works (OPW) annually on the basis of my Departments requirements and the OPW available capacity and resources.

Specific details of my Departments 2019 projects have not been finalised.

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (354)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

354. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an exceptional needs payment can be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in view of the exceptional circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44571/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

According to the records of the Department, the person concerned has not submitted an application for an exceptional needs payment.   An officer of the Department will contact the person concerned on Wednesday 24/10/18 to discuss her circumstances.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (355)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

355. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 721 of 18 September 2018, if she will address a matter in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44572/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The purpose of rent supplement is to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible persons living in private rented accommodation where they are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources and do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

In order to establish continued eligibility under legislation and means, a review was issued on the person's rent supplement claim on 1/6/18.  No response was received from the person concerned within the prescribed time and her claim for rent supplement was closed on 17/7/18.

The person concerned subsequently lodged a new application for rent supplement which was received on 31/7/18.  The claim was awarded and payment issued effective from July 2018.  The person concerned has not made any request to the South Kildare/West Wicklow Rents Unit for payment of rent for June 2018 and has not indicated any reasonable grounds for initially failing to respond to the review of 1/6/18.

It is open to the person concerned to contact the Rents Unit as outlined below, should she wish to pursue this matter.

Phone: 01 6732155 Monday to Friday 9:30am to 12:30pm

Email: RentsKildareSouth@welfare.ie 

Post:   South Kildare West Wicklow Rents Unit. PO Box 1107, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (356)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

356. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an exceptional needs payment can be arranged in the case of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44573/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Designated Officer has not received an application for an Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) from the person concerned to date.

An application form has been forwarded to then on the 23/10/2018. On receipt of the application the officer will process it urgently.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Ceisteanna (357)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

357. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which a basic social welfare payment or disability payment will be made available in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44576/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department is unable to ascertain the entitlements of the person concerned as they cannot be identified from the information provided in the question.

This gentleman should visit his local INTREO Office for information on the various services and schemes administered by my department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Local Authority Rates

Ceisteanna (358)

John Curran

Ceist:

358. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount windfarms contributed in rates for the period 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018, by county and nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44253/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists, prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Acts 2001 - 2015. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority and all rates income accrues to the local government sector.

Local authority total gross rates income is reported in the Income and Expenditure Account of their Annual Financial Statements. However, as this data is not categorised by the different types of property used for business purposes, the information requested in relation to the amount of rates contributed by windfarms is not available in my Department.

Health and Safety Regulations

Ceisteanna (359, 365)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

359. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has had discussions with the Health and Safety Authority regarding progress on the review under way of the aspects of legislation relating to the regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs and specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment. [44439/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

365. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the specific actions taken and progress made since he indicated that his Department is reviewing its role in the aspects of legislation relating to the regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs and specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment [44438/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 359 and 365 together.

Section 239 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 places a statutory duty on organisers of funfairs and owners of fairground equipment to take such care as is reasonable for ensuring that persons at a funfair do not suffer injury or damage by reason of dangers arising from the funfair or associated activities. This legislation also requires that the owner of fairground equipment shall not make it available to the public unless such equipment has a valid certificate of safety. The organiser of a funfair is required to give notice of the event to the relevant local authority and such notice is to be accompanied by a valid certificate of safety.

My Department commenced an internal review process on the issue of safety at funfairs/ fairground equipment last year. One of the issues raised in the review was that the relevant provisions of the Planning and Development Act do not assign responsibility to a specific body to investigate accidents at funfairs. However, it was noted at that time that provisions in criminal justice and in safety, health and welfare at work legislation provide a range of responsibilities and roles for investigation of accidents.

The review of the aspects of legislation relating to regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs in section 239 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, particularly in respect of the specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment, is ongoing and includes an examination of international practice in the area of regulating public safety. My Department has met with the Health and Safety Authority as part of this process.

The drafting of the review report has commenced and further engagement with relevant stakeholders is envisaged as part of the process of clarifying issues and preparing the report's conclusions and recommendations.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (360)

John Curran

Ceist:

360. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of staff engaged in the housing delivery office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44247/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The staffing complement of my Department’s Housing Delivery Office (HDO) has been increased recently from 3 to 4, comprising 2 civil servants and 2 officers with experience of housing delivery and the local government sector. In addition, the HDO draws on supports from other relevant Business Units in my Department and other relevant public bodies.

As with all critical areas of activity in my Department, the resources available to the HDO are kept under regular review in the context of the ongoing evolution of the Office’s role. I expect a fifth assignment to be made shortly and a number of further assignments are expected in the coming months.

Fire Safety Regulations

Ceisteanna (361)

John Curran

Ceist:

361. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress made to date on a wider fire safety review of buildings at risk here as part of the response to the Grenfell Tower disaster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44248/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

On 27 June 2017, following the fire in London’s Grenfell Tower, and in recognition of concerns arising for fire safety in Ireland, I tasked my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management with convening and coordinating a high-level Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of fire safety in Ireland.

In addition to this, and in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, I instructed local authorities to undertake a review of fire safety in medium-to-high rise buildings fitted with cladding systems. I asked the Task Force to oversee and report on this initial action, as well as, among other things, reviewing existing arrangements and systems for fire safety and related issues which impact on fire safety in Ireland.

The work of the Task Force has now been completed and it provided me with a full report in May 2018, titled “Fire Safety in Ireland: Report of the Fire Safety Task Force”, which describes its work, its conclusions on the state of fire safety in Ireland and its recommendations for moving forward. I have accepted the Task Force’s recommendations, and I brought its report to Government on 6 June 2018.

Fire authorities were asked to identify medium to high-rise buildings in their functional areas of more than six storeys, or more than 18 metres in height. My Department issued guidance in December 2017 dealing with fire safety assessment of medium-to-high rise buildings with cladding systems, including guidance on fire safety measures to be applied in buildings, pending completion of remedial works to cladding systems, where these are considered necessary. In cases where the buildings identified are fitted with external cladding systems, fire authorities were asked to consider if the use of powers under section 18(6) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 – to require the person having control over the building to carry out a fire safety assessment of the premises and provide the assessment to the fire authority – was warranted.

This assessment and follow-up work is on-going and most recent figures provided by fire authorities indicate:

- 838 buildings have been identified, countrywide, at this height,

- 287 of these buildings are fitted with cladding systems,

- fire authorities required fire safety assessments in 219 cases – 102 in residential buildings and 117 in non-residential buildings,

- 138 fire safety assessments have been received by fire authorities; work to complete and report the fire safety assessments in the remaining 81 buildings is underway; from their knowledge, fire services have not determined that any of the remaining buildings merit ceasing of use/ occupation of the buildings in question.

- fire authorities are proposing further action in respect of fire safety in 35 buildings where fire safety concerns – not in all cases related to external cladding – have been identified.

This fire safety and follow-up assessment work is on-going, and is being overseen by fire authorities, who are reporting on progress to the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in my Department.

By identifying a small number of buildings, so far, where remedial works were required, the review process undertaken is seen to have had a positive effect and to have made contributions to both enhancing fire safety in medium-to-high rise buildings, and also raising fire safety awareness among owners/ landlords with statutory fire safety responsibilities.

However, the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower highlights the critical importance of fire safety in buildings, and the need for sustained vigilance in this regard. In addition to the review described above, the Task Force report makes a range of recommendations for improvements to fire safety in buildings, and to provision of fire services in Ireland and I have requested the Management Board of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management to carry through the recommendations of the report within my direct ambit and to oversee and report on the implementation of other recommendations.

Copies of both the Report and the Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations are available on my Department’s website at the following links:

Fire Safety Task Force Report:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/fire_safety_in_ireland_-_report_of_the_fire_safety_task_force.pdf.

Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/fire_safety_in_ireland_-_report_summary_of_conclusions_and_recommendations.pdf.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Ceisteanna (362)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

362. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the review of income eligibility limits for social housing will be published; when the limits will be increased; if his attention has been drawn to the particular difficulties in areas such as in counties Cavan and Monaghan in which income limits are low; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44272/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports is underway. The Housing Agency is carrying out the detailed statistical work which will underpin this review on behalf of my Department.

The review will obviously have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (363)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

363. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the breakdown of staff in his Department by grade. [44358/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

There were 706.03 full time equivalent (FTE) staff serving in my Department at the end of September 2018. A breakdown by grade is set out in the following table.

GRADE

FTE

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER

14.50

ADVISORY COUNSEL GRADE 3

2.00

ARCHITECTURAL ADVISOR

3.00

ARCHITECTURAL/ENG INSPECTOR

11.00

ASSISTANT AUDITOR ENVIRONMENT

8.30

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES

1.00

ASSISTANT FIRE ADVISOR

1.00

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

84.86

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

5.00

ASSISTANT STAFF ENGINEER

1.00

AUDITOR ENVIRONMENT

17.60

CIVILIAN DRIVER

6.00

CLEANER

2.00

CLEANER PART- TIME

0.58

CLERICAL OFFICER

63.79

CLERICAL OFFICER - TEMP

7.00

DIRECTOR METEORLOGICAL SERVICES

1.00

DIRECTOR OF AUDIT

1.00

ENG GR 2 MECH/HEATING/ELECL

1.00

ENGINEER GRADE 1 CIVIL

5.19

ENGINEER GRADE 2 CIVIL

2.00

ENGINEER GRADE 3

1.00

ENGINEER GRADE 4

0.50

EXECUTIVE OFFICER

119.79

HEAD SERVICES OFFICER

0.80

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER

103.54

HOUSING INSPECTOR

1.00

INSPECTOR PLANNING

3.00

INSPECTOR GRADE 1

1.00

METEOROLOGICAL OFFICER

49.60

METEOROLOGIST

39.00

PARLIAMENTARY COUNSEL

1.00

PRINCIPAL

33.70

PRINCIPAL ADVISER

4.00

PRINCIPAL AUDITOR

6.00

PRINCIPAL CLERK

1.00

PRINCIPAL METEOROLOGICAL OFFICER

9.00

PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT GRADE 1

1.00

QUANTITY SURVEYOR GRADE 1

3.00

RURAL GENERAL OPERATIVE BAND 3

2.00

SECRETARY GENERAL

1.00

SEED ANALYST

1.00

SENIOR ADVISER

9.00

SENIOR ASSISTANT FIRE ADVISOR

1.00

SENIOR METEOROLOGICAL OFFICER

45.45

SENIOR METEOROLOGIST

7.00

SENIOR STATISTICIAN

1.00

SERVICES ATTENDANT

1.23

SERVICES OFFICER

18.00

STATISTICIAN

1.00

SUPERVISING HOUSING INSPECTOR

1.00

VISUALLY IMPAIRED TELEPHONIST

0.60