Bus Services

Ceisteanna (224)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

224. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the changes in scheduling that have taken place in bus routes now operated by a company (details supplied) in comparison to when the routes were operated by Dublin Bus; the reason for the frequent disruption to services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (225)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

225. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to open a national driver licence centre in Dundalk, County Louth, to service those living in the northern half of County Louth who may have difficulty getting to the office in Drogheda, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Ports Policy

Ceisteanna (226)

James Browne

Ceist:

226. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether the continued control and operation of Rosslare Europort by Iarnród Éireann is an appropriate model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4856/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I wish to refer the Deputy to my reply to PQ 2425/19 on the 22 January 2019 where I answered a question on the same issue.

Dublin Bus Fleet

Ceisteanna (227)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

227. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed with Dublin Bus reviewing its advertising standards to include the banning of high in salt and fat content food advertisements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4860/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is an operational matter for Dublin Bus and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (228)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

228. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if upgrade works on the County Westmeath portion of the R392, Mullingar to Ballymahon Road, will receive funding. [4879/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant County or City Council, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

Prior to the financial crisis, applications for funding for road improvement projects would have been considered as part of the Specific Improvement, and Strategic Regional and Local Road Grant Schemes. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the crisis meant these grant schemes had to be curtailed after 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.

The NDP does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take some years yet to reach the level required for the adequate maintenance and renewal of the network. For this reason there is limited scope at present for funding projects under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes.

Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis. All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework and it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind.

Under the capital project appraisal process a Preliminary Appraisal has to be submitted in relation to each proposed project. Once an appraisal is received it is assessed taking into account other competing projects and the overall roads budget. No Preliminary Appraisal has been received from Westmeath County Council in respect of the R392.

Youth Services

Ceisteanna (229)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

229. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a copy of a report (details supplied) to examine the youth service grant in its totality will be provided; her views on the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4758/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The report concerned was an Internal Audit report and as audits are conducted by sampling it would not have examined the Youth Services Grant Scheme in its totality but would have been sufficient to indicate the level of assurance on the sufficiency and operation of internal controls to mitigate and/or manage one or more of those key inherent risks to which the activity under review is exposed.

The audit results disclosed five (5) high, one (1) medium and two (2) low priority observations which are indicative of increased levels of control risk.  The audit results indicated that a Limited Assurance level could be placed “on the sufficiency and operation of internal controls to mitigate and/or manage one or more of those key inherent risks to which the activity under review is exposed. The disclosure of high and medium priority observations is indicative of increased levels of control risk. Management action is required to address these observations together with increased managerial supervision and on-going oversight to ensure control risk is reduced.” Management have committed to taking the required action to address these observations.

A review audit to verify that management are taking the actions they committed to will be completed in early 2019.

I am providing the Deputy with a copy of the report as requested.

Early Years Sector

Ceisteanna (230)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

230. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will request Tusla to address a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4762/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I refer the deputy to PQ 51054/18 which was answered on 5th December 2018.

With reference to our previous response, the Early Years Inspectorate continues to engage with the Registered Provider of this service with a view to processing their application for a change in service type to full day care. However, a number of supporting documents which are required to complete this application have still not been submitted by the Registered Provider to the Inspectorate. In order to progress this matter the Inspectorate is actively engaging with the service to obtain these documents so that this matter can be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

Child and Family Agency

Ceisteanna (231)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

231. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if experience and-or qualifications in general corporate governance were considered during the recent selection process for a new chair of Tusla; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4836/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Yes. I appointed Mr Pat Rabbitte as Chairperson of the Board of Tusla following an advertisement and selection process run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) in accordance with Government Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards.

The role of Chairperson of the Board of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, was advertised on the PAS website on 30 October, 2018. The information booklet in relation to the role placed a strong emphasis on high standards in corporate governance. The advertisement outlined that the Chairperson would be responsible for leadership of the Board of Tusla and ensuring its effectiveness on all aspects of its role. It was stipulated that the individual appointed would lead on the strategic direction and corporate governance of Tusla. 

The advertisement also sought candidates with a career history at a sufficiently senior level in a complex organisation of scale, or equivalent experience, which would demonstrate strong leadership skills, including the ability to ensure that the Board of Tusla guides, challenges and supports the CEO and executive team to deliver major reform, whilst holding them to account in doing so.

As Minister, I meet the Chairperson and other representatives of the Board on a regular basis. It is the role of the Chairperson to utilise the range of skills of Board members appropriately. Since becoming Minister, I have appointed a number of members to the Board of Tusla and, in so doing, I have paid particular attention to ensuring that the Board composition has an appropriate mix of necessary experience and skills to enable it to discharge its important functions. A number of members of the Board of Tusla have qualifications and experience in the field of corporate governance, both in the public and private sectors.

Child and Family Agency

Ceisteanna (232)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

232. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if there has been a change in terms of departmental or Tusla policy regarding meetings between the chief executive or the chief operating officer at Tusla and key stakeholders such as elected representatives and members of advocacy groups. [4837/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department does not have a policy regarding meetings between the Chief Executive Officer or the Chief Operations Officer of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and key stakeholders. Tusla's policy in relation to engagement of its officers with stakeholders is an operational matter for Tusla.

Jobseeker's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (233)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

233. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has been refused jobseeker's benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4707/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned's Jobseekers Benefit payment exhausted on 20/07/16 and he signed for Jobseekers Credits from 24/02/17. He has not made any paid contributions since 2014.

The criteria for extended JB claims for customers aged 65 - 66 years are as follows:

(a) If the period of unemployment is continuous and if the claim is within 2 years of the previous JB claim (Section 62 (6) of SW Consolidation Act 2005 as amended) the same GCY (Governing Contribution Year) applies Section 64 (4).

(b) If the claim is not within 2 years of the previous JB claim (Section 62 (6) of SW Consolidation Act 2005 as amended) and the period of unemployment is continuous, a new GCY applies.

(c) If the period of unemployment is broken then it is a new claim and the relevant GCY applies.

The person concerned does not meet the relevant criteria and therefore does not qualify for the extended Jobseekers Benefit payment. He should contact his local Intreo Centre to discuss whether he can avail of any other supports.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (234)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

234. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4728/19]

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 CA from the person concerned on the 24 October 2018.

Additional information was requested from the person concerned on 25 January 2019. Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ceisteanna (235, 236)

John Brassil

Ceist:

235. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons who are forced to retire at 65 years of age and subsequently qualify for jobseeker's benefit can work part-time if the option arises without their benefit being reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4729/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brassil

Ceist:

236. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the system for persons who retire at 65 years of age and then have to claim jobseeker's benefit for a year before reaching pension age will be reviewed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4730/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235 and 236 together.

There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers. While such a contract may have been entered into with a retirement date of 65, in the context of the previous State pension arrangements, there is no legal impediment to the employer and employee agreeing to increase the duration of employment for one or more years, if both parties wish to do so.

Arrangements are in place to provide that jobseekers whose benefit expires in their 65th year can generally continue to be paid benefit until pension age (66) provided they satisfy the contribution conditions. Recipients may continue to get a payment if they find part-time or casual work. This generally means that for each day that a person is employed, 1/5th of the normal rate of jobseeker's benefit is deducted. In order to continue to receive a jobseekers payment they must be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7. In the interest of fairness these rules apply to all jobseeker's benefit customers.

Ordinarily, all those in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment must engage with the Department’s activation process and can face penalty rates if they refuse to engage with Department offers of training or education. However these criteria were eased for people aged 62 and over. They can stillavail voluntarily of an array of supports, which are available from the Department if they wish to return to work, training or education.

In terms of the application process, detailed information is required by the Department to determine the identity of the individual, other members of the household, previous employment, payment details, etc. If any person is experiencing difficulty in completing this process they should contact their local Intreo office for assistance.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (237)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

237. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the requirements which will be in place for the self-employed to avail of jobseeker's allowance and benefit in 2019, if the payments will be means tested; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4732/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance schemes provide income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative full-time employment. The 2019 Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure this year on the jobseeker’s schemes of €1.95 billion.

The jobseekers allowance scheme is a means tested payment which is already available to all jobseekers including those in self-employment. There are currently over 6,900 self-employed recipients in receipt of jobseekers allowance. People who were previously self-employed and are now in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance have access to activation measures available to other jobseeker recipients. If a self-employed person is engaged in farming they may qualify for the means-tested farm assist payment which is currently paid to approximately 6,600 farmers.

The new scheme for the self-employed, which I announced as part of the 2019 Budget measures, will extend a PSRI insurance based benefit to the self-employed who lose employment. This measure will be introduced in late 2019 and builds on other significant improvements for the self-employed in recent years such as access to invalidity pension and treatment benefits in Budget 2017. This measure is part of the Government’s stated aim of creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, including providing an income safety net to employees and the self-employed alike.

Applicants will have to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the new jobseekers benefit support including a PRSI contribution requirement and have sustained a substantial loss of employment. The specific details of this scheme are currently being examined as part of the legislative process.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Ceisteanna (238)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

238. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a case (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4738/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The individual concerned is currently employed on a Community Employment scheme and the Deputy’s question is in relation to an extension of the individual’s participation on the scheme.

In this case, the standard period of participation for the individual in question is for a period of 52 weeks. However, as the Deputy will be aware, there is provision to extend an individual’s participation if they are engaged in a recognised training or education award which supports progression into full-time sustainable employment.

Following a review of the current and future training plans for the individual concerned, it has been decided that their participation can be extended for a further period of 52 weeks beyond their current finish date.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (239)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

239. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a family income supplement application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4755/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work weekly payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 13 December 2018.

The applicant has been awarded WFP with effect from 13 September 2018 to 11 September 2019.

The first weekly payment and all arrears owing will issue to their nominated bank account on 1 February 2019.

The person concerned was notified on 29 January 2019 of this decision and of the right of review and appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (240)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

240. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision on a carer's application by a person (details supplied) will be made; the reason for the delay with same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4769/19]

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 CA from the person concerned on the 19 July 2019.

It is a condition for receipt of CA, that the applicant must be providing full-time care and attention.

A person can be considered to be providing full-time care and attention where they are engaged in employment, self-employment or on training courses outside the home for a maximum of 15 hours per week, provided that they can show to the satisfaction of a deciding officer that adequate care has been provided for the care recipient in their absence.

As the applicant is self-employed as a farmer, the matter was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 10 December 2018 to assess the level of care being provided, assess 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.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (241)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

241. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for carer's benefit by a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4793/19]

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 child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention.

I confirm that my department received an application for CARB from the person concerned on the 31 December 2018.

Additional information was requested from the person concerned on 28 January 2019 in relation to discharge dates from hospital and the period of leave granted by their employer. Once this information is received the application will be processed without delay and they will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (242)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

242. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when payment arrears will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4822/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Illness Benefit and all arrears due to her have been issued.

She was previously in receipt of Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance and was paid up to the 16th January 2019.

Her Illness Benefit claim has been fully paid up to the 22nd January 2019, which is the date on her most recent medical certificate. 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ceisteanna (243)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

243. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the supports available to a person who is on a community employment scheme and who plans to commence their own business in a self-employed capacity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4832/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) is designed to provide a monetary incentive for people who are on social welfare payments to develop a business while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment over two years; 100% in year 1 and 75% in year 2.

Periods spent on a Community Employment Scheme count towards the qualifying period for the BTWEA scheme. Following a period on a Community Employment scheme an applicant will have to establish an entitlement to a qualifying payment (e.g. Jobseekers) prior to applying for BTWEA.

A person who is currently participating on a Community Employment scheme and who is considering starting their own business should make contact with their local Intreo Centre and arrange an appointment with a Case Officer with whom they can discuss their eligibility for the scheme and the suitability of their business proposal.

Community Employment Schemes Review

Ceisteanna (244)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

244. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the details of the planned interdepartmental review of community employment schemes; the persons or bodies and from which Departments the group tasked with undertaking the said review will be comprised; the terms of reference of the group; if the views and opinions of community employment scheme participants, supervisors and other relevant stakeholders will be sought as part of the review; if the roles of existing post holders such as those employed as community employment scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors will be safeguarded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4845/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Community Employment (CE) placements are categorised into two strands, Social Inclusion and Activation. The Social Inclusion placements are generally engaged in significant levels of local service support and delivery and are more suited to adults who need additional supports e.g. older unemployed workers, persons with a disability, travellers, homeless people, refugees, those requiring drug rehabilitation and ex-offenders.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore the most appropriate organisational arrangements, including which Department should host the CE Social Inclusion schemes.

My Department’s main focus, as a Public Employment Service, has to remain on activation and to progress as many participants as possible from CE into full-time and sustainable employment. As the level of unemployment continues to fall, my Department must address the need to adapt schemes to the changing circumstances, opportunities and needs of jobseekers and others. It is also my strong view that local services which are supported by these Social Inclusion placements must be safeguarded into the future.

The IDG will comprise of officials from my own Department and officials at Principal Officer level or equivalent from the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform; Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Rural and Community Development; Children and Youth Affairs; Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Health; Justice and Equality and Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The terms of reference for the IDG are being finalised. Following the deliberations of the Group it is intended that consultation will take place with key stakeholders and community groups.

My Department provides funding to sponsoring organisations to cover the cost of the supervision on these schemes. The level of funding provided will continue to be in line with the level of supervision required.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (245)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

245. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an oral hearing will be heard for a domiciliary care allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4848/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a domiciliary care allowance appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on the 28th January 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The request for an oral hearing of this case will be brought to the attention of the Appeals Officer who is assigned this appeal.

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.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (246)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

246. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4885/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that the above named person was in receipt of disability allowance (DA) from my department.

In August 2018, the person concerned was requested to supply details relating to their medical condition, to establish whether their continuing entitlement to DA. In September 2018 a second request issued. As my Department received no response to these requests, their DA payment was suspended.

A completed medical review form was received from the person concerned on 14 January 2019 and their DA payment has been re-instated, pending completion of the medical review process.

Arrears of payment due (if applicable) will issue as soon as possible once any necessary adjustment is calculated and applied in respect of any overlapping payments.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (247)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

247. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4887/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 7 September 2018. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was disallowed on the grounds that it was not found that this lady was substantially restricted in taking up employment. The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 8 November 2018.

Following the submission of further medical evidence by the person concerned, their case has been reviewed and they have been awarded DA with effect from 12 September 2018. The first payment will be made on 6 February 2019.

Arrears of payment due will issue as soon as possible.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy

Child Poverty

Ceisteanna (248)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

248. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the new metrics and methodology her Department is developing to measure and reduce child poverty in advance of the promised new plan to reduce same in view of the failure to meet targets for the reduction in child poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4892/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures), published by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in 2014, includes a target to reduce by two-thirds the number of children in consistent poverty in 2011 by 2020. Meeting this target means lifting more than 70,000 children out of poverty by that date.

Under the BOBF Framework, a whole-of-government approach to tackling child poverty has been adopted, building on the lifecycle approach in the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion and informed by the European Commission Recommendation on ‘Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’.

The latest data from the 2017 Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) show a significant reduction in the consistent poverty rate for children, which decreased from 10.9% to 8.8%, a reduction of 2.1 percentage points, the second highest reduction in the rate since the collection of SILC data began in 2004.

The full benefit of the growing economy and the increases introduced in more recent Budgets has yet to be seen. Budgets 2018 and 2019 have included measures specifically aimed at supporting families on low incomes through increases in qualified child rates, increases in earnings disregards for One Parent Family and Jobseeker Transition payments, and an increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

These increased supports along with increasing employment rates suggest that we can expect further decreases in the poverty rates once the 2018 figures become available.

However, the challenge Ireland faces in trying to achieve the child poverty target needs some perspective: at the height of the economic boom in 2008, when the consistent poverty rate for children was its lowest, there were 68,000 children in consistent poverty. So, in order to meet the target, Ireland will have to be more than twice as effective as our best ever performance to date.

While social transfers play a crucial role in alleviating poverty and Ireland is among the best performing EU States for reducing poverty through social transfers, tackling child poverty is not just about income supports and welfare. Rather it is also about supporting parents to make the transition into employment and assisting families through the provision of quality affordable services in areas such as education, health, housing and childcare.

My Department is in the final stages of drafting the new Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy which will assemble in one place the range of policy measures across government departments that are designed to address the different aspects of poverty and social exclusion. The new strategy will include a programme of work to identify the actions and services that have the most significant impact on reducing poverty and deprivation for different groups, including children.