Child Protection

Ceisteanna (237)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

237. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the action taken by the relevant authorities under the aegis of her Department concerning an incident involving the child of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51302/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Deputy will be aware that it is not appropriate for me to comment on individual cases.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (238)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

238. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number, date of publication and details of post-enactment reports published by her Department since March 2011, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51367/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The post-enactment reports published by my Department since March 2011 are set out in the table.

Title of Report

Date laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas

Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 post enactment report

18th July 2018

Children First Act 2015 post enactment report

25th April 2018

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (239)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

239. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of Acts passed since March 2011 that her Department is responsible for; the date each act was signed into law in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51383/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Since 2011, my Department has been responsible for developing ten pieces of legislation. The titles and dates of enactment for each of these are set out in the table.

Name of Act

Date of enactment

Childcare Support Act 2018

2 July 2018

Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017

19 July 2017

Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015

10 December 2015

Children First Act 2015

19 November 2015

Children (Amendment) Act 2015

27 July 2015

Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution Act

28 April 2015

Child Care (Amendment) Act 2013

13 March 2013

Adoption (Amendment) Act 2013

20 December 2013

Child and Family Agency Act 2013

15 December 2013

Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011

13 July 2011

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (240)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

240. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the grant and funding schemes operated by her Department; the value of each scheme; and the basis or criteria used for the allocation of funding in respect of each scheme. [51399/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The detailed information requested by the Deputy is not readily available as it spans a number of programme, scheme and administrative areas of my Department. The information is currently being collated and will then be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

Rape Crisis Network Funding

Ceisteanna (241, 242, 243)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

241. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to deficiencies in funding to a service (details supplied) in view of the fact that there is a ten month waiting list for face-to-face counselling. [51420/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

242. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if funding will be provided for a service (details supplied). [51421/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

243. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is no dedicated rape counselling service in County Meath; and if funding will be provided to an organisation (details supplied) to provide this service. [51422/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 to 243, inclusive, together.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual or gender-based violence, whether in the context of the family or otherwise.

Tusla has provided funding for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services since its establishment in 2014. This includes sixteen rape crisis centres and community-based counselling services for victims of sexual violence throughout the country.

Currently, services for victims of sexual violence in County Meath are provided by:

1. Rape Crisis Centre North East,

2. Athlone Midlands Rape Crisis Centre,

3. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Funding to these services has increased year on year since 2016. Additional funding has also been provided to services that serve County Meath, in order to support efforts to reduce waiting lists by providing extra counselling hours.

As previously highlighted to the Deputy, I have secured additional funding of €1.5m for Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services in 2019, which will bring total available funding next year to €25.3m.

As part of its commissioning process, the Tusla Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Service programme is currently engaged in a number of needs analysis projects nationally to inform service development and provision for sexual violence services. A needs analysis project is currently underway in the Midlands region and includes consideration of service provision in County Meath. All future developments, both in County Meath and elsewhere will be informed by the commissioning approach.

With regard to the request for a dedicated educational worker to be employed by the service referred to the Deputy, Tusla has advised me that it has not received an application for funding for this purpose. It may be more appropriate that such an application should be made to the Department of Education.

It is important that the needs of victims of sexual violence are met in the best way possible, with due attention to the quality, accessibility, and outcome of services. I strongly support the work of Tusla, and I am committed to supporting the Agency in meeting the needs of individuals who experience sexual violence.

Rape Crisis Network Funding

Ceisteanna (244)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

244. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if funding will be provided to increase rape counselling provision in Castleblayney, County Monaghan and County Cavan. [51423/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency provides co-ordination, support and funding to 16 services for victims of sexual violence throughout the country. Currently, services for victims of sexual violence in Counties Cavan and Monaghan are provided by:

(1) Rape Crisis North East,

(2) Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre Sligo, Leitrim, and West Cavan.

As part of its commissioning approach to the development of services, Tusla is currently engaged in a needs analysis project in the border region, which includes Counties Cavan and Monaghan, to identify gaps in service provision and to prioritise the development of sexual violence services. All future service developments will be informed by the commissioning approach.

Funding for the aforementioned sexual violence services which serve the counties of Cavan and Monaghan has increased by more than €50,000 since 2016.

In recent months, additional funding was provided to the Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre Sligo, Leitrim, and West Cavan to engage the services of two part time counsellors. Additional funding was also provided to Rape Crisis North East to support its efforts to reduce waiting lists by providing additional counselling hours.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have secured additional funding of €1.5m for Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services in 2019, which will bring total available funding next year to €25.3m.

It is important that the needs of victims and survivors of sexual violence are met in the best way possible. I strongly support the work of Tusla, and I am committed to supporting the Agency in meeting the needs of individuals who experience sexual violence.

Childcare Services Funding

Ceisteanna (245)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

245. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 949 of 6 November 2018, when details of the 2019 capital allocation for childcare providers will be confirmed; when applications will be open for capital funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51435/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In Budget 2019 I secured a capital budget of €8.86m for Early Years.

Officials in my Department are currently in the process of developing the capital offering for 2019. It is not possible at this stage to provide a detailed breakdown of 2019's capital offering before a final decision has been made.

However, it is intended that this funding will be used to support necessary improvements to childcare infrastructure and to support childcare providers in preparation for the launch of the Affordable Childcare Scheme.

An announcement on the details of 2019's capital offering will issue in the coming weeks, once the internal development process has concluded.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (246, 247)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

246. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if grants are available for the provision of outdoor arenas, outdoor rings or sand arenas for equestrian centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51266/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

247. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if grants are available through his Department, the LEADER programme or other schemes for the provision of outdoor arenas, outdoor rings or sand arenas for equestrian centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51265/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 246 and 247 together.

Certain programmes available through my Department may provide the opportunity to access funding for the types of projects outlined by the Deputy.

The National Development Plan provides for an allocation of €1 billion for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund over 10 years to enable towns, villages and outlying rural areas to grow sustainably and support delivery of the strategic objectives of the National Planning Framework (NPF). There are potentially existing Government funding streams relating to sports and recreation infrastructure however there is the potential for large sport-related projects to be supported by the Fund if they meet the strategic objectives of the NPF and the criteria underpinning the Fund itself.

In that regard, the first call for applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed at the end of September. I announced the first set of successful projects for funding on 23 November 2018 with further announcements of successful projects to take place early in 2019. A further call for the Fund taking place in mid-2019. Full details on the Fund and the application criteria are available from my Department.

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure or the necessary maintenance, enhancement or promotion of existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in Ireland. The scheme seeks to support those sporting and recreational pursuits based on use of the resources of the countryside that contribute to healthy active lifestyles and the economic and tourism potential of the area for both local communities and tourist visitors alike.

Under the 2018 scheme, applications were accepted under three measures:

- small maintenance/promotion of existing infrastructure (up to €20,000)

- medium scale repair/upgrade and development of new small/medium infrastructure (up to €200,000)

- repair/upgrade and development of larger, more strategic projects (up to €500,000).

Projects have now been approved under 2018 Measures 1 & 3, and successful applications are published on my Department’s website.

Funding through the LEADER Programme may also be available for the provision of ancillary services supporting the industry that the Deputy has referred to but not to fund the industry itself. Interested applicants should, in the first instance, contact the relevant local Action Group (LAG) through its Implementing Partners to discuss the funding that may be available.

Contact details for all Local Action Groups are available on my Department's website www.drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-development/leader. The decision to approve a project, or otherwise, is a matter for the Local Action Group (LAG) which administer the programme in each LEADER area.

I should also point out that my Department’s Community Enhancement Programme provides capital funding to community groups to address disadvantage as identified in each area’s Local Economic and Community Plan. It is administered by the Local Community Development Committees (LCDC) on behalf of the Department. Applicants should contact their LCDC for further information.

Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation

Ceisteanna (248)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

248. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress made on the implementation of the Action Plan for Rural Development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51290/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Progress on the implementation of measures in the Action Plan for Rural Development is overseen by a Monitoring Committee which includes senior representatives of relevant Government Departments and key rural stakeholder interests.

Progress Reports on the implementation of the Action Plan are published twice a year on my Department's website, www.drcd.gov.ie. The most recent report - the Third Progress Report - was published on 26 November and outlines the progress which has taken place in relation to all actions due for delivery between January and June 2018, or which are being implemented on an ongoing basis over the course of the three year Action Plan.

Of the 275 actions reported on in the latest report, 266 have been completed or are substantially advanced. A number of case studies also feature in the report, which illustrate the positive impact the actions are having on rural communities.

The coordinated approach of the Action Plan across Government is achieving benefits in terms of increased employment in the regions and increased investment in projects and communities across the country. Since 2015, there has been an increase of 146,400 in numbers employed in regions outside of Dublin, surpassing the Government’s target of 135,000 by 2020. Significant investment has been made in enterprise hubs, tourism projects, greenways, town and village renewal, and in services such as Local Link transport, to name just a few initiatives.

The progress made under the Action Plan is being further built on through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which will provide investment of €1 billion to revitalise rural areas over the next ten years. I announced the first successful applicants under the Fund at the end of November, with further announcements to follow in early 2019.

CLÁR Programme

Ceisteanna (249)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

249. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the allocation of CLÁR funding in 2018, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51291/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructural projects in disadvantaged rural areas that have experienced significant levels of depopulation.

The 2018 CLÁR programme was launched on 15th March last, with applications invited under the following measures:

Measure 1: Support for Schools/Community Safety Measures

Measure 2: Play Areas/Multi-Use Games Areas

Measure 3: First Response Support Measure

Measure 4: Mobility and Cancer Care Transport

In total, more than 500 applications were received across the four measures.

I approved 389 successful projects for total funding of €11.8 million under these measures in 2018. The successful projects are listed on my Department's website at: https://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/clar/.

More than 1,200 projects have now been approved for total funding of €25 million since I relaunched the CLÁR programme in 2016.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (250)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

250. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number, date of publication and details of post enactment reports published by his Department since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51379/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department, which was established in July 2017, has not published any post enactment reports.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (251)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

251. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of Acts passed since March 2011 that his Department is responsible for; the date each act was signed into law in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51395/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department was established on 19 July 2017 on foot of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 2017.

The Department also has responsibility for the Dormant Accounts Amendment Act, 2012, which was passed by the then Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, and signed into law on 11 July 2012.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (252)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

252. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the grant and funding schemes operated by his Department; the value of each scheme; and the basis or criteria used for the allocation of funding in respect of each scheme. [51411/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The grant and funding schemes operated by my Department; the value of each scheme; and the basis or criteria used for the allocation of funding in respect of each scheme are listed in the table. Further details relating to eligibility criteria and making applications for funding are available on my Department's website.

Name of Grant/Funding scheme operated

Value (in 2018 unless stated):

Allocation criteria:

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

€1 billion over the period 2019 to 2027, with initial funding of €315 million allocated to the Fund on a phased basis over the period 2019 to 2022.

In general, decisions in relation to the Fund are based on the extent to which proposals deliver on the objectives for rural Ireland in the National Planning Framework.

This is demonstrated through:

the relevance of the proposals to one or more of the National Strategic Outcomes of Project Ireland 2040;

the extent to which proposals are collaborative in nature, gaining the buy-in of relevant stakeholders;

the strategic vision set out in proposals and their consistency with County Development Plans, Local Economic and Community Plans, Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies, etc.;

the additionality and value for money delivered by proposals; and the demonstration of a sustainable impact on the social or economic development of rural communities.

DRCD partial funding to 10 local authorities to support the employment of Atlantic Economic Corridor Officers

The full year payment from this Department for each Atlantic Economic Corridor Officer would be €30,000.

These payments are allocated on the basis of these Local Authorities being part of the Atlantic Economic Corridor. The amount paid in 2018 however, will be on a pro-rata basis starting from the date that the Local Authority designated an official to be an Atlantic Economic Corridor Officer. The local authorities in the AEC are – Donegal County Council, Leitrim County Council, Sligo County Council, Roscommon County Council, Mayo County Council, Galway County Council, Galway City Council, Clare County Council, Limerick City and County Council, Kerry County Council.

Demonstration Project Payments

€106,500

Successful Demonstration Projects would aim to improve mobile phone and broadband connectivity and services in rural Ireland and support economic and social development in all regions.

Digital Innovation Programme 1.0

€453,800

The DIP is designed to encourage local authority led projects that support digital development. Projects will promote, support, or otherwise advance at least one of the seven pillars of digital maturity. Projects will provide innovative digital solutions to local issues, or identify solutions to digital deficits and should be scalable and replicable by other local authorities. An Evaluation Panel was held to assess each project and to select successful projects, in line with the scheme criteria.

Capital Funding for Social Enterprises Under Dormant Accounts Fund

€2 million

Grants available for capital projects through open competitive application process to existing social enterprises that have been operating minimum 18 months. All applicants are appraised using a number of selection criteria and must:

Demonstrate how the project will meet the objectives and principles of Dormant Accounts Fund;

Identify and evidence the need for the project;

Demonstrate the value for money in terms of cost and the social and economic benefits of the project;

Demonstrate organisational capacity managing public funding and managing the delivery of projects, and be able to evidence the financial governance and controls are in place

LEADER

€250 million over the period 2014-2020

All projects funded by LEADER must be in line with the Local Development Strategy (LDS) for each of the 29 sub-regional areas and are selected by Local Action Groups established in each area.

LCDC Additional Staff Resources (payments by DRCD to Local Authorities)

€1,989,473.35

This relates to a funding contribution from this Department towards the cost of additional staff to support the community function in local authorities. It is expected that these posts will continue to support the new Local Community Development Committee arrangements and the implementation of Local Economic and Community Plans in particular.

SICAP

€190 million over period 2018-2022, 38.027m in 2018

Funding is allocated to Local Community Development Committees who in turn fund contracted Programme Implementers. A methodology using the Pobal-Hasse deprivation index is used to allocate funding.

Community Enhancement Programme

€12.5 million

The Programme provides capital funding to communities across Ireland to enhance facilities in disadvantaged areas. It addresses disadvantage as identified in each area's Local Economic and Community Plan. A methodology using the Pobal-Hasse deprivation index and census data is used to allocate the funding to each Local Authority area, and it is then administered locally by the Local Community Development Committees.

Grants to animal welfare groups for rehoming or welfare of dogs

€80,000

Funding is provided to animal welfare groups to support them in work such as their ongoing neutering and re-homing programmes. This is consistent with Section 33 of the Control of Dogs Act, 1986.

Libraries ICT Funding

€5,750,000

Allocation based on applications received from Local Authorities.

Libraries Lease Payments

€782,098

Circular LSS 05/09 stated that the libraries in receipt of a 50% library lease subsidy as of 31 December 2008 would continue at the current rate or lower.

Libraries Capital Programme

c.€1 million

The Libraries Capital Building Programme committed almost €29m to 19 capital projects and the roll-out of My Open Library. Allocations were based on available funding, population of the catchment area, size and capacity of existing library and readiness to proceed.

Community Services Programme (CSP)

€44 million

The CSP supports around 400 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model with funding provided as a contribution to the cost of a manager and an agreed number of full-time equivalent positions.

Scheme to Support National Organisations

€16,660,913 over the period 2016-2019

The Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector (SSNO) is a key element of the State’s support for the role of the sector in contributing to the development of strong and vibrant civil society and in improving outcomes for those most disadvantaged. This scheme provides multi-annual funding towards core costs of national organisations in the sector, with a focus on organisations that provide supports to those who are disadvantaged.

Seniors Alert Scheme

€5,456,500

Since September 2015, personal monitored alarms for vulnerable older people are funded through Pobal and made available through community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations registered with Pobal under the Seniors Alert Scheme. Funding is made available by this Department.

CLÁR

€11.8m

CLÁR (Ceantair Laga Árd-Riachtanais) a targeted investment programme for rural areas. The programme provides funding for small scaleinfrastructural projects in disadvantaged rural areas that have experienced significant levels of de-population. Applications from Local Authorities and voluntary groups under the 2018 CLÁR programme were assessed to determine whether they were eligible under the scheme criteria.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

€21.3m

Applications from Local Authorities for the 2018 Town and Village Renewal Scheme wereassessed by my officials to determine whether they were eligible under the scheme criteria, and whether all necessary supporting documentation, as required in the guidelines, was provided with funding allocated taking into consideration the funding available in the Department.

Local Improvement Scheme

€20.8 million

County allocations under the 2018 LIS programme were calculated taking intoconsideration the funding available and the size of the county. In addition, a minimum allocation of €250,000 and a maximum cap of €1 million were applied in the distribution model. The selection of the roads to benefit under the scheme is entirely a matter for the relevant County Councils to decide, in line with the scheme criteria.

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) 2018 & 2017

€9.9m (2018 Measures 1 and 3); €2.2m (2017 M2)

Applications from Local Authorities, Local Development Companies and State Agencies under the 2018 ORIS programme were assessed by my officials to determine whether they were eligible under the scheme criteria, and whether all necessary supporting documentation, as required in the guidelines, was provided with funding allocated taking into consideration the funding available in the Department and the quality of the applications received

Walks Scheme

€1.8 million

Funding is allocated to landholders on approved walks based on the number of hours work required on the section of walks as agreed with the Rural Recreation Officer, subject to a maximum of 200 hours work. The value of these hours is calculated with reference to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s own Labour Rate.

Tidy Towns

€1.4 million

The TidyTowns Grant is administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department, to be eligible for the TidyTowns Grant, TidyTowns Committees would have had to enter the SuperValu TidyTowns Competition in the last 3 years, 2018, 2017 & 2016, and entitlement to the grant will be paid based on what population category they are in.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (253)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

253. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which the fuel allowance is calculated; if consideration is given to financial hardship in cases in which means might be in excess of the allowable limit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51227/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 28 weeks (a total of €630 each year) from October to April, to over 372,000 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.

The criteria for fuel allowance are framed in order to direct the limited resources available to my Department in as targeted a manner as possible. Therefore to receive the fuel allowance a person must be in receipt of a qualifying payment from my Department and also have satisfied a means test.

Fuel allowance can only be paid if the qualifying criteria are met and cannot be paid on a discretionary basis. However, 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. Decisions on such payments are made on a case-by-case basis.

The best way to tackle fuel poverty in the long term is to improve the energy efficiency of the dwelling. My Department works with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on these issues and in moving forward the actions agreed in the Energy Affordability Strategy. In that regard, the Better Energy Homes scheme provides support towards the installation of attic and wall insulation, and heating system upgrades.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Code

Ceisteanna (254)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

254. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she is taking to make changes to the habitual residence condition for returning emigrants in view of a recent report (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51235/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department makes every effort to ensure consistency in the application of the habitual residence guidelines. The guidelines, although drafted for Departmental decision-makers, are published online. They offer comprehensive guidance on the most appropriate course of action when applying the criteria with respect to habitual residence.

They include specific guidance relating to returning migrants or those resuming previous residence in the State. This includes the arrangements made by the Department with the registered charity Safe Home to assist with any difficulties Irish emigrants may have in satisfying the provisions with respect to habitual residence.

In addition, training in the assessment of the provisions with respect of habitual residence is available to all decision-makers within my Department. The training places a strong emphasis on case studies and the previous experiences of the participants.

The Department has an information leaflet (SW108), which outlines the key issues with respect to the habitual residence provisions and their application, as well as a Q&A and further contact information.

The Citizens Information Board, under the auspices of my Department, provides a comprehensive and readily accessible guide to the provisions with respect to habitual residence.

Each assistance claim receives a determination in relation to the Habitual Residence Condition in its own right and a decision is based on application of the legislation and guidelines to the particular individual circumstances of each case. The determination of a person’s habitual residence is made in accordance with five factors which are set out in legislation, as follows:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person’s employment;

(d) the person’s main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances.

These five factors have been derived from European Court of Justice case law, and are generally sufficient to enable the deciding officer to determine whether a person’s present circumstances in Ireland indicate a temporary visit or habitual residence.

In addition to a review of any decision by my Department, claimants can also appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). This Office functions independently of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

My Department will continue to monitor the application of the guidelines to ensure consistency in their implementation.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (255)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

255. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an outstanding adult dependant allowance relating to a claim for illness benefit by a person (details supplied) will issue in view of the fact that the person has completed and submitted the application relating to the spouse on two occasions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51238/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Qualified Adult allowance increase for the person concerned has been processed and arrears owing to him for this allowance have been issued.

The Illness Benefit claim is medically certified up to the 2nd December 2018 and now fully paid up to the 1st December 2018.

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department as soon as possible in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (256)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

256. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined; the reason her Department does not inform persons in the years prior to their retirement age that they may fail to qualify for the pension without additional contributions paid or voluntary; if such advanced warning will be provided in the future; the reason credited contributions and discounted years in the homemakers scheme do not count towards or are credited when calculating the minimum 520 contributions; and her plans to allow applicants use credited contributions or receive some credits for homemaker years in future changes to the contributory scheme. [51253/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The social insurance record of the person concerned is currently under review and my Department’s Central Records Section will contact the person directly with the outcome of that review when complete.

State pension entitlements, contributory and no-contributory, are assessed on the basis of the eligibility conditions applicable on the date an applicant reaches pension age. For that reason is it not possible to predict future state pension entitlements, or comment on individual pension planning enquiries, as the qualifying conditions at the time a person reaches pension age may be different. That said, it is likely that state pension (contributory) entitlement will continue to directly relate to the nature and extent of a person’s social insurance record.

The Department’s website www.welfare.ie provides a comprehensive suite of information in relation to current state pension entitlements, including a range of frequently asked questions. Information is also available from my Department's offices and from Citizens Information Services.

It is advisable that all contributors maintain their social insurance record as fully as possible over their working life. It is open to contributors to request a copy of their social insurance record from the Department at any time. In addition to seeking the record through normal postal means, a person can also access their social insurance record in real time online where they have a verified MyGovID account. Information on getting a verified MyGovID account is available on www.mygovid.ie.

In April 2012, the number of paid contributions required to qualify for a state pension (contributory) increased from 260 to 520. While this change only took effect in 2012, it was signalled well in advance. In 1993, "Developing the National Pension System - Final Report of the National Pensions Board” was published, and recommended that the number of paid contributions required to qualify for a contributory pension should be increased to 520 contributions, in recognition of the expansion of PRSI coverage over the decades. The necessary legislation to effect this recommendation was contained in Section 12 of the Social Welfare Act 1997, which provided for the implementation of the change in two stages, with the paid contribution requirement being standardised at 260 from 2002 (5 years after its introduction in law), and rising to 520 from April 2012 (15 years after its introduction in law). There are no plans to remove this minimum requirement of 520 paid contributions for pension qualification purposes. It is reasonable to require people who claim a contributory pension to have made at least 10 years paid contributions into the Social Insurance Fund which finances that pension, over 50 years of working age life. Having 520 paid contributions alone does not qualify a person for maximum rate pension. The current homemakers (disregard) scheme and (various) credited contributions can assist applicants achieve a higher rate of payment, but cannot be used to meet the qualifying conditions for state pension (contributory).

Those who do not satisfy the qualifying conditions for contributory pension, because they have paid few or no contributions into the Social Insurance Fund, may instead qualify for State Pension (non-contributory). This is a means-tested payment (based on their share of household means), with the maximum payment set at 95% of the state pension (contributory) rate.

The Government plans to put in place a new Total Contributions Approach for all new pensioners from 2020. Under a “Total Contributions Approach”, a set total of social insurance contributions paid and credited will be required to qualify for a maximum rate state pension (contributory) and people with less than this set total will receive a pro-rata entitlement. This approach was subject to a recent public consultation. The analysis of that consultation is almost finalised and when complete, will help inform a proposal to go to Government on the future total contributions approach for new pensioners from 2020.

An interim total contributions approach for post-September 2012 pensioners on reduced contributory pensions is provided for in the Social Welfare, Pension and Civil Registrations Bill 2018. This provides an opportunity for some of these pensioners to improve their current rate of payment under a new calculation method and allows for up to 20 years of HomeCaring Periods. On enactment, over 79,000 existing pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, will be reviewed under the new arrangements. This work is expected to commence in January 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (257)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

257. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance will be awarded to a person (details supplied). [51301/18]

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 14 September 2018.

The application was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 16 November 2018 to assess all means and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance are satisfied.

Once the SWI has reported, a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (258)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

258. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an illness benefit claim by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51310/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned for the period 7th September 2018 to 11th October 2018 has been processed and all arrears owing to her have been issued. A final certificate was then received and as such the claim is now closed

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (259)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

259. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an illness benefit claim by a person (details supplied) will go back into payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51311/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned has been put back into payment and all arrears owing to her have been issued.

The claim is medically certified up to the 13th May 2019 and has been paid up to the 12th December 2018. Illness Benefit payments will continue to automatically issue up to the certified date.

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work after the 13th May 2019, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department prior to 13th May 2019 in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (260)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

260. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a working family payment in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51312/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly tax-free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 08 October 2018. The applicant has been awarded WFP with effect from 11 October 2018 to 09 October 2019.

The first weekly payment and all arrears owing will issue to their nominated bank account on 06 December 2018. The person concerned was notified on 04 December 2018 of this decision and of their right of review and appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (261)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

261. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when jobseeker's allowance will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51335/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has no current Jobseekers Allowance claim. Their previous claim ceased on the 17 April 2018.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.