Guardian's Payment

Ceisteanna (267)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

267. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the financial support which can be provided to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3510/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I must inform the Deputy that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on an individual case. However, I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and asked them to make direct contact with the individual concerned. Tusla have confirmed that the matter has been brought to the attention of the local area.

Where a child is being cared for by a family member, but is not in State care, the family member may apply  to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for a Guardian’s Payment in respect of the child. The purpose of the Guardian’s Payment Scheme is to provide income support in respect of those children. This is a private law matter and these children are not in the care of the State.

The payment is administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Payment is made directly to the ‘guardian’ on behalf of the child. A guardian may be appointed by the courts; if there is no legally appointed guardian, the person with whom the child lives and who is responsible for their care may get the payment as long as the person uses the payment for the benefit of the child.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (268)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

268. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of meetings she has attended since the beginning of September 2018 with her officials to discuss and prepare for Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3591/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My officials have kept me fully briefed on all aspects of Brexit as they relate to this Department. Officials of my Department have participated fully in all relevant inter-departmental groups relating to Brexit, including groups that meet regularly at Secretary General level and Assistant Secretary level.

Library Projects

Ceisteanna (269)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

269. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of a project (details supplied); and the estimated date for completion. [3571/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department funds a Libraries Capital Programme that will invest €29m in 19 projects, as well as the My Open Library service, between 2016 and 2022.  The programme was developed on the basis of priority proposals submitted by local authorities in 2015.  Blackrock Mahon Library was not submitted as a priority by Cork City Council at that time and could not be considered for funding under the programme.

The Libraries Capital Programme is currently fully committed.  However, funding for new library projects can be considered as additional funds become available.  Local authorities may also submit library development proposals as elements of broader regeneration proposals under the Urban and Rural Regeneration and Development Funds.  The first call for proposals closed at the end of September 2018, but further calls are expected to issue in 2019.  

That said, the provision of library services, including the provision of library buildings, is primarily a matter for local authorities in their capacity as library authorities under the Local Government Act 2001.  Accordingly, the status of Blackrock Mahon Library is first and foremost a matter for Cork City Council. 

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (270)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

270. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of meetings he has attended since the beginning of September 2018 with his officials to discuss and prepare for Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3603/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I have met with my officials on numerous occasions in the period outlined by the Deputy, and the issue of Brexit has been discussed frequently as it pertains to the ongoing work of my Department.

Additionally, as we draw closer to the Brexit date of 29 March, Brexit preparatory planning has become a standing agenda item at my monthly meetings with the Management Board of my Department.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Ceisteanna (271)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

271. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to release funding to an organisation (details supplied) in 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3649/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector (SSNO) is a key element of my Department'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.

The 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.  The current three-year scheme concludes on 30 June 2019 and the next iteration of the scheme will commence on 1 July 2019.  A total of €16.7m has been allocated under the current scheme to 71 different organisations.

As with the current scheme, national organisations such as the one in question can apply to be considered for funding, which will be allocated through a competitive process.  This competition was advertised on 12 December 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications is 31 January. An appraisal of the applications will be conducted by Pobal on behalf of my Department and final recommendations will be sent to my Department for approval.  Applicants will be informed in due course of their success or otherwise in qualifying for funding.     

The organisation in question was allocated €269,700 over the 36 month period of the current SSNO scheme.

Dog Breeding Industry

Ceisteanna (272)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

272. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the revised guidelines for dog breeding establishments introduced under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010; the organisations on the working group established to develop the draft set of revised guidelines; and the consultation held with all stakeholders including animal welfare organisations with respect to these new guidelines. [3692/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department published new Guidelines for dog breeding establishments in July 2018. The Guidelines came into effect on 1 January 2019.

The revised guidelines were developed in collaboration with the County and City Management Association (CCMA) Dogs Working Group.  The working group included representatives from the ISPCA, the DSPCA, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Agriculture Northern Ireland, Local Authority Veterinary Inspectors, and the then Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. 

The Guidelines were further progressed taking into account responses received through public consultation and by consulting with industry experts. The Guidelines are available on my Department's website at the following link https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Guidelines-for-DBEs-.pdf. A Cover Note, outlining the next steps, was published alongside the revised Guidelines and is available at the following link  https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Cover-Note-for-Dog-Breeding-Establishment-Guidelines.pdf.

I want to see high standards achieved by Dog Breeding Establishments in Ireland.  Having published the new Guidelines, my Department is now identifying any necessary legislative amendments that may be required to further improve standards.

Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (273)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

273. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay in approving an application by a person (details supplied) to commence employment under the partial capacity benefit; when this approval will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3468/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) allows a person who has been in receipt of Illness Benefit for six months and who may not have full capacity for work, to return to employment and continue to receive a partial or full payment from the Department.  

The personal rate of payment is based on the assessment of your restriction on capacity for work i.e. Moderate, Severe or Profound, where you retain 50%, 75%, or 100% of your payment respectively.

The Partial Capacity Benefit claim from the person concerned has been processed. A letter issued on the 24th October 2018 informing the claimant that she has been assessed as having a severe restriction on her capacity to work and asked that she inform the department before starting work in order that her claim be put into payment.

Once the department has received a return to work date from the person concerned she can be put on to a PCB payment.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (274)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

274. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the level of co-operation she and her officials are having with the Data Protection Commissioner regarding its investigation of the public services card; if she has considered suspending the issuing of cards until the Commissioner publishes the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3484/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In October 2017, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) initiated an investigation to assess the legal basis for the processing of data in connection with the Public Services Card (PSC) and other related matters. 

The DPC provided a draft report on the PSC to my Department in late August 2018.   The draft report requested further information and clarifications on a broad range of areas.  The DPC gave strict instructions that the Department should not disclose the draft report to any other party and this request was respected.

My Department cooperated fully and provided a comprehensive response to the DPC’s draft report on 30th November 2018 and we now await the Commissioner's response.  

My Department will continue to issue PSCs in accordance with the SAFE 2 registration process as set out in legislation.   

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy

Blind Welfare Allowance

Ceisteanna (275)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

275. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is satisfied with the service offered to social welfare recipients at the point of contact as specified in Part 3 section 23 of the Disability Act 2005; the way in which and her views on whether a person (details supplied) should receive reasonable accommodation at point of contact in view of their long established disability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3485/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department is committed to providing a professional, efficient and courteous service to all its customers and regularly provides information in formats such as Braille and Audio or to customers using assistive technology. We also provide Sign Language interpretations and translation services to meet customer needs.  The Department can also discuss other options including visiting a customer in person where these accommodations do not meet their needs.

This lady is currently in receipt of Blind Pension (BP). As BP is a means tested payment, entitlement is reviewed from time to time and in this case the applicant was selected for review in 2018.  Correspondence from the Department associated with this review has issued in braille and other formats as requested by the applicant. Towards the end of 2018 a Social Welfare Inspector attempted to meet with the applicant in an effort to progress the review and I am aware that an official from the Blind Pension Section is liaising directly with the applicant at present in relation to that review.

Initially when this lady made contact with disability allowance (DA), she was offered the option to have the form completed with a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI).  SWIs regularly confirm applications for Social Welfare and clearly advise the client of the purpose of documents they are asked to sign such as declarations on claim forms etc.

On 10 January 2018, my department received an electronic document via email applying for DA. This has been accepted as an application by this lady for this scheme. She is unwilling to complete the medical portion of the application and has requested that my department should use medical information supplied in support of her BP application in 1983.  This medical evidence has been requested from Blind Pension Section and will be referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for their opinion as to her eligibility for DA.

A SWI has been requested to contact this lady to clarify some aspects of her DA claim and may then progress both the ongoing BP review and the DA entitlement. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of her claim a decision will be made and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

It should be noted there are a number of differences between DA and BP. The schemes are independent of each other and the qualifying criteria are different for each scheme.

BP is a means-tested payment for blind and visually impaired people between the ages of 18 and 66 who are habitually resident in Ireland.  To qualify for the BP a person must supply an eye test from an ophthalmic surgeon to verify his / her visual impairment.

Disability Allowance (DA) is a means tested payment for people with a specified disability who are aged 16 or over and under the age of 66. The applicant must be suffering from an injury, disease, congenital deformity or physical or mental illness or defect, which has lasted for one year or is expected to last for one year and as a result of which they are substantially restricted in undertaking work which would otherwise be suitable having regard to the person’s age, experience and qualifications.

There are also a number of significant differences between the means test for BP and DA such as in the assessment of capital, spousal earnings and the income disregards that apply. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (276)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

276. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason pensioners who have received decision letters on their pensions since the beginning of 2019 are still being assessed for contributory pensions under the old system rather than the new total contributions approach (details supplied). [3505/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since the end of September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of pensioners born on or after 1 September 1946 who were awarded state pension (contributory) on reduced post Budget 2012 rate bands.   This work includes all new claimants who were awarded reduced rate state pension (contributory) since the Government decision.  The required primary legislative provisions are contained in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018,  enacted on 24 December 2018.  Accompanying regulations will be introduced shortly which will allow certain decisions under the new arrangements to be made. 

Over 100 temporary resources have been recruited to separately process the pension reviews.  In some cases, additional information about gap periods in social insurance records is required from claimants who have been, or  are about to be, awarded a reduced rate state pension (contributory).   In the short term, these requests for information will result in decision delays for pensioners.  To avoid this, a twin track approach is being implemented for a short period. 

It is expected that the additional process to assess HomeCaring Period entitlement (including requesting additional information in some cases) and the calculation under the new 'aggregated contribution method' will be integrated into the existing claim decision process in Quarter 2 2019.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.