CLÁR Programme

Ceisteanna (590)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

590. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the eligibility criteria for rural geographical areas for participation in the CLÁR programme; when the eligible areas will be reviewed and revised; the steps he will take to ensure that Ballynacargy village and its hinterland are included in the context of the socio-economic assessment of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5704/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The CLÁR programme is an important part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for small infrastructural projects in rural areas which have suffered high levels of population decline.

The programme was first launched in October 2001. The areas originally selected for inclusion in the programme were those which suffered the greatest population decline from 1926 to 1996. The Cooley Peninsula was also included on the basis of the serious difficulties caused in that area by Foot and Mouth disease. The average population loss in the original CLÁR regions over the period 1926 to 1996 was 50%.

In 2006, an analysis of the 2002 Census data was carried out by the NIRSA Institute at Maynooth University and the programme was extended to include areas with an average population loss of 35% between 1926 and 2002.

The CLÁR programme was closed for new applications in 2010. However, I re-launched the programme in the second half of 2016, using as a base-line the areas identified in the work carried out by NIRSA. Over 1,200 projects have been approved for funding of €25 million under CLÁR since I re-launched the programme in 2016.

I have initiated a review of the CLÁR programme which will examine CLÁR areas by reference to the 2016 Census of Population data. It will also consider whether there are any other factors that should be taken into account in designating areas for eligibility under CLÁR in the future.

The review process began in November last with a targeted consultation meeting with a number of experts who are recognised for their background in rural development issues. A more detailed focus group consultation will be held in the coming weeks which will help to inform the next steps in the review process.

I envisage that a wider stakeholder consultation will also take place before the review is completed. Once completed, the review will help to inform the design of future CLÁR programmes.

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (591)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

591. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if the work to be carried out with funds allocated to local authorities in 2018 under the local improvement scheme has been completed and claims made for same; if not, the amount for which certificates of completion of the work have not been submitted by each county council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5741/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in predominantly rural areas. The scheme is funded by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities.

In February of 2018, I allocated €10.8 million to Local Authorities under the scheme. Drawdown of the funding was on the basis of certification of works completed, and the amounts drawn down in respect of that round indicates that those works are complete or near completion in almost all areas.

As part of the 2018 scheme, I also asked the Local Authorities to prepare secondary lists of roads which they could complete if further funding became available for the scheme during the year.

Following on from this, on 26th October 2018, I announced a further round of almost €10 million in LIS funding to the Local Authorities. 60% of the funding allocated under this second round of funding was released to eligible Local Authorities on the basis that all works would be fully completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Certificates of completion in respect of this round of funding have not been received from any Local Authority to date. I anticipate that Local Authorities will certificates of completion and draw down the balance of this round of funding over the coming months.

The table below outlines the status of LIS 2018 to date.

LIS 2018 Allocations and Paid to Date

County

2018 Allocation, Round 1

2018 Paid, Round 1

2018 Allocation, Round 2

2018 Paid, Round 2 (60%

Carlow

€243,630.00

€243,630.00

€278,279.00

€166,967.40

Cavan

€295,000.06

€295,000.00

€341,680.00

€205,008.00

Clare

€482,000.00

€473,708.00

€556,844.00

€334,106.40

Cork

€1,000,000.00

€754,636.00

€700,000.00

€420,000.00

Donegal

€881,458.55

€815,122.55

€908,516.00

€545,109.60

Galway

€942,001.00

€942,000.00

€1,000,000.00

€600,000.00

Kerry

€726,976.00

€721,945.41

€482,990.00

€289,794.00

Kildare

€249,999.00

€249,999.00

€79,591.00

€47,754.60

Kilkenny

€315,000.00

€315,000.00

€364,683.00

€218,809.80

Laois

€264,146.43

€257,799.05

€304,255.00

€182,553.00

Leitrim

€250,001.00

€250,000.00

€300,120.00

€180,072.00

Limerick

€411,388.20

€411,000.00

€273,349.00

€164,009.40

Longford

€249,019.97

€249,019.66

€222,217.00

€133,330.20

Louth

€249,983.73

€249,984.00

€0.00

€0.00

Mayo

€855,000.00

€855,000.00

€988,235.00

€592,941.00

Meath

€359,000.00

€359,000.00

€414,404.00

€248,642.40

Monaghan

€250,000.00

€250,000.00

€290,841.00

€174,504.60

Offaly

€290,765.00

€290,597.00

€353,889.00

€212,333.40

Roscommon

€370,290.00

€369,255.00

€450,678.00

€270,406.80

Sligo

€282,000.40

€282,000.40

€324,870.00

€194,922.00

Tipperary

€624,865.50

€612,077.68

€168,818.00

€101,290.80

Waterford

€282,000.00

€282,000.00

€325,047.00

€195,028.20

Westmeath

€282,000.00

€282,000.00

€325,224.00

€195,134.40

Wexford

€354,519.00

€326,365.00

€151,410.00

€90,846.00

Wicklow

€310,000.00

€310,000.00

€358,135.00

€214,881.00

TOTAL

€10,821,043.84

€10,447,138.75

€9,964,075.00

€5,978,445.00

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (592)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

592. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when it is planned to make a further allocation of funds to county councils under the local improvement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. As the Deputy may be aware, there was no dedicated funding for this scheme for a number of years due to constraints on public expenditure. However, I was very conscious of the underlying demand for the scheme in rural areas throughout the country and I reintroduced the LIS in September 2017 and allocated a total of €17.4 million to Local Authorities for LIS roads that year.

In 2018, I allocated almost €21 million for LIS roads in two phases.

It is clear that there is a continuing demand for LIS funding in rural communities across Ireland, and I have therefore secured an allocation of €10 million for the scheme in my Department's Vote for 2019. Details regarding the 2019 Local Improvement Scheme will be available shortly.

Community Services Programme

Ceisteanna (593)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

593. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when a decision on an application by a centre (details supplied) for a new community services programme will be decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5743/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports around 420 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. More than €46 million is available to support community organisations under the programme in 2019.

While my Department continues to accept Expression of Interests (EOI) under the programme, funding for new organisations is considered in light of available budgets during the course of the year. The EOI appraisal process seeks to differentiate between organisations that may be eligible under the CSP and those that are not, without putting them through a full business planning and application process at the outset.

The organisation in question submitted an EOI in December 2018. This EOI was appraised in January and the organisation has been approved to progress to the next stage of the application process. Pobal will work with the organisation over the coming months to prepare it for the Business Planning stage. Subject to successful completion of this stage, the organisation will be invited to submit a business plan and a formal application for funding later in the year.

Walks Scheme

Ceisteanna (594)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

594. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to include a walk (details supplied) under the walks scheme; when a decision will be made on the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Walks Scheme currently covers 39 trails, with payments made to approximately 1,900 private land-holders to maintain those trails. The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase the number of walks covered by the scheme. In line with this commitment, funding for the scheme was doubled in Budget 2019 - from €2 million to €4 million - to allow this expansion to proceed.

I am initiating a review of the operation of Walks Scheme which will inform decisions regarding the expansion of the scheme. In order to be in a position to bring new trails on to the scheme as soon as possible, however, I will also be inviting Local Development Companies and Local Authorities to submit expressions of interest in respect of trails that meet specific qualifying criteria, for consideration for inclusion in the scheme.

I intend to publish details of this process in the coming weeks, to enable my officials to identify the initial trails for inclusion in the expanded scheme, with additional walks to join the Scheme on an incremental basis thereafter.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (595)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

595. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on a matter regarding community employment supervisors (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4968/19]

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. The Activation placements are more directly related to sustainable employment opportunities.

I am sure the Deputy will agree that these Social Inclusion placements require a separate focus to ensure that those who are very distant from the labour market and who are interested in working and delivering services in their local community have the opportunity to do so. It is also my strong view that the local services which are supported by these Social Inclusion placements must be safeguarded into the future. On this basis, I sought Government agreement to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore the most appropriate organisational arrangements, including which Department should host the CE Social Inclusion schemes.

The interdepartmental group will assess the best course of action required so as to protect the governance and successes that we have seen in CE activation whilst also establishing the appropriate home and structure for the social inclusion placements.

My Department currently 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 for these schemes.

Care of the Elderly Provision

Ceisteanna (596)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

596. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will request the HSE to consider developing a scheme to assist elderly pensioners who suffer from illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with the costs of purchasing the oxygen tanks they need in order to remain in their homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The provision of medical equipment such as oxygen tanks is a matter for the HSE. According to the details supplied by the Deputy, the issue at question is the cost of the electricity required to operate oxygen equipment required by persons with illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Department currently provides an electricity allowance, payable at the rate of €35 per month, as part of the household benefits package. The package is generally available to people living in the State, aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of a social welfare type payment or who satisfy a means test. The package is also available to carers and people with disabilities under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments. Widows and widowers aged from 60 to 65 whose late spouses had been in receipt of the household benefits package retain that entitlement.

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is considered the "safety net" within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. Under the SWA scheme, my Department may award a supplement to assist with ongoing or recurring costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. In addition, the Department can make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. Payments are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case.

Any person who consider they may have an entitlement under the SWA scheme should contact the Department's Community Welfare Service at their local INTREO centre.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (597)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

597. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for a disability allowance on cessation of domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The qualifying conditions for disability allowance (DA) are very different to domiciliary care allowance. To qualify for a DA payment a person must be substantially restricted in undertaking suitable employment, be aged between 16 and 65, satisfy a means test and habitually resident in the State.

It is not the case that any person is automatically entitled to DA because a domiciliary care allowance payment was being made in respect of them when they were under 16 years of age.

A completed application form for disability allowance must be submitted to the Department in order to have eligibility checked and a formal decision made on entitlement. To date no application for disability allowance has been received from the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (598)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

598. 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. [4943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this gentleman on 28 November 2018.

On 29 January 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on his eligibility. On receipt of this information a decision will be made on his DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (599)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

599. 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. [4944/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 15 August 2018. The first payment will be made by her chosen payment method on 6 February 2019.

Arrears of payment due 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 (600)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

600. 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. [4947/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 24 October 2018. The first payment was made by her chosen payment method on 30 January 2019.

Arrears of payment due have issued to the client.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (601)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

601. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's benefit application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4971/19]

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. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 16 January 2019 and the first payment issued to her nominated bank account on 24 January 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 27 September 2018 to 23 January 2019 have also issued.

The person concerned was notified on 16 January 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (602)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

602. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4977/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this gentleman on 12 November 2018.

On 30 January 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on his eligibility. On receipt of this information a decision will be made on his DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (603)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

603. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and when a decision on the case will issue. [4980/19]

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 8 January 2019.

The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Free Travel Scheme Review

Ceisteanna (604)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

604. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the travel pass scheme in particular to children who are wheelchair bound. [4984/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by almost 80 private transport operators. There are currently approximately 934,000 customers with direct eligibility to free travel with an annual allocation of €95 million. The scheme is available to all people aged over 66 living permanently in the State. To qualify for the scheme, applicants who are under age 66 must be in receipt of a qualifying payment. These are invalidity pension, blind pension, disability allowance, carer’s allowance or an equivalent social security payment from a country covered by EC Regulations or one with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement.

Any decision to extend the free travel scheme to any other cohort of people would require additional funding for the free travel scheme and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

Domiciliary care allowance is a monthly payment of €309.50 to the carer of a child with a disability. The allowance may be used for the additional costs involved in caring for the child and this may include additional transport costs. On most transport services children under sixteen years of age are charged fares at special concessionary child rates.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may award a travel supplement in any case where the circumstances of the case so warrant. The supplement is intended to assist with ongoing or recurring travel costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. Every decision is based on consideration of the circumstances of the case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need and of the resources of the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (605)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

605. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an application by a person (details supplied) for a jobseeker's benefit was refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4985/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned made an application for Jobseekers Benefit on 8th January 2019 which was subsequently disallowed as he did not satisfy the '4 in 7' rule. This rule means that a person cannot be engaged in employment for more than 4 days in any consecutive period of 7. As the person concerned is currently engaged in self employment each day, he does not satisfy this condition.

A formal disallowance was issued to him on 24th January 2019, which outlined the reasons for the disallowance and the relevant legislation.

The person concerned has the right to appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and this was also outlined in the decision letter that issued.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (606)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

606. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is eligible as part of the review process for those affected by the 2012 contributory pension changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4993/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In January 2018, the Government announced a new calculation method for state pension (contributory) and the introduction of new HomeCaring Periods for people born on or after 1 September 1946, who were awarded state pension (contributory) based on reduced post Budget 2012 rate bands.

As the date of birth of the person concerned is before 1 September 1946, the person is not included in the pension review.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (607)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

607. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5004/19]

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 8 June 2018.

It is a condition for receipt of CA that the person concerned must be providing full-time care and attention and it is a further condition that the person being cared for must require full-time care and attention.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that this evidence did not indicate that either of these conditions was satisfied.

The person concerned was notified on 3 October 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

My department were notified on 30 October 2018 that the person concerned had appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). A submission in support of the decision was sent to the SWAO on 30 January 2019.

When the outcome of the appeal is determined, the SWAO will notify the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.