State Pensions Payments

Ceisteanna (620)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

620. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when all pensioners who are due an increase in pension due to the use of the contributions approach with homecare credits in calculating their pension benefits will receive the increase and back payments due to them. [8018/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement on post Budget 2012 rate-bands.  These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.  My Department has already written to these pensioners to explain the process.

I have last week signed the necessary regulations, which together provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made on foot of the reviews.  My Department has already started issuing the outcome of reviews and the first increased payments will start to issue this week.  These increased payments will include arrears to the 30th March 2018, or the pensioner’s 66th birthday if later than that.  Where pension rates do not increase as a result of this review, they will continue to be paid at their existing rate of entitlement. No one will be worse off as a result of this review. 

 Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in the reviews.  In some, but not all, cases additional information is required from pensioners about unexplained gaps in their social insurance record to complete their review.  In January, almost 24,000 requests for additional information were issued.  These requests included details on how to provide the required information using the Department’s online services.  Provision has been made for those who do not have access to a personal computer, or the internet by providing a dedicated telephone number to request paper forms.

Given the numbers involved, it will take my Department a number of months to complete the reviews and approximately 120 additional temporary staff have been recruited to help with this work.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (621)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

621. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a payment for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8021/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim for the person concerned overlapped with payment under another social welfare scheme. As a result, the monetary difference between this payment and his Illness Benefit payment had to be calculated.

The Illness Benefit claim has now been processed and any arrears due have been issued. The person concerned has been paid up to the 12th February 2019 which is the date on the most recent medical certificate received.

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

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Schemes

Ceisteanna (622)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

622. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on a universal basic income for all citizens; if such a proposal has been evaluated and costed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8056/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The concept of a universal basic income is of long-standing and argues for an unconditional transfer paid to everyone by the state, in place of large parts of the existing social protection system. Advocates of the approach argue that it would remove the need for complex means-testing for benefit receipts; allow for a greater flexibility in managing work, family and other responsibilities; provide a degree of income security in fast-moving labour markets; and address inequality.

However modelling research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warns that a universal basic income scheme would require large tax increases, provide less effective supports for the poor and result in a large number of people gaining and losing from its introduction.

There are different models of basic income so the cost of introducing a universal basic income for all citizens would vary significantly depending on the specific design.

The tax and social welfare system in Ireland is continually reviewed, in the budgetary process and otherwise, in terms of its impact in redistributing income while ensuring the maintenance of incentives for people to contribute to society through employment. In addition, the National Minimum Wage, which sets the legally-binding lowest average hourly rate that can be paid by an employer to an employee, applies to all employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary and casual employees (with some exceptions).

The Low Pay Commission takes an evidence based approach when considering its recommendation to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection each year and the Government has consistently implemented these recommendations. Since the establishment of the Low Pay Commission in 2015 it has increased on an annual basis, rising from €8.65 per hour to the current rate of €9.80 per hour from 1 January 2019.

When considering the National Minimum Wage rate, the primary aim of the Low Pay Commission is to have a minimum wage that provides an incentive to work, is set at a rate that is both fair and sustainable, and helps as many people as possible, without a significant adverse effect on competitiveness or a significant negative effect on employment.

The Department is aware that limited experiments with what might be referred to as “partial” basic income approaches are underway or planned in other countries and we will follow the outcome of these experiments to see if they provide any lessons that might be applied to aspects of the Irish system.

State Pensions Payments

Ceisteanna (623)

John Brady

Ceist:

623. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the first payments under the State pension review will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8074/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 80,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement on post Budget 2012 rate-bands.  These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.  My Department has already written to these pensioners to explain the process.

I have last week signed the necessary regulations, which together provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made on foot of the reviews.  My  Department has already started issuing the outcome of reviews and the first increased payments will start to issue this week.  These increased payments will include arrears to the 30th March 2018, or the pensioner’s 66th birthday if later than that.  Where pension rates do not increase as a result of this review, they will continue to be paid at their existing rate of entitlement. No one will be worse off as a result of this review. 

 Where possible, my Department will use information already held to assist in the reviews.  In some, but not all, cases additional information is required from pensioners about unexplained gaps in their social insurance record to complete their review.  In January, almost 24,000 requests for additional information were issued.  These requests included details on how to provide the required information using the Department’s online services.   Provision has been made for those who do not have access to a personal computer, or the internet by providing a dedicated telephone number to request paper forms which will issue over the next two weeks.  

Given the numbers involved, it will take my Department a number of months to complete the reviews and approximately 120 additional temporary staff have been recruited to help with this work.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (624)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

624. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reinstate the State transition pension to prevent persons forced to retire at 65 years of age from having to apply for jobseeker's allowance for one year until they reach the State pensionable age of 66 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8080/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is well known that people are living for much longer. As a result of this demographic change, the number of State pension recipients is increasing year on year.  This has significant implications for the future costs of State pension provision which are currently increasing by approximately €1 billion every 5 years.  In the coming decades, the ratio of workers to pensioners is set to halve, which clearly has significant implications for any state pension system, based as it is on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The purpose of changes to the State pension age is to make the pension system more sustainable in the context of increasing life expectancy.  This sustainability is vital, if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age.  Therefore, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided that State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years.  This began in January 2014 with the abolition of the State pension (transition) which was available to people aged 65 who satisfied the qualifying conditions.  This measure standardised the State pension age for all at 66 years.  This will increase to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.  Reversing the 2014 change could be expected to cost a sum in the region of €100 million per annum, depending upon the impact it would have upon retirement patterns. 

In most cases, it is hoped that workers will continue to work up to State pension age, and where this happens, they will have higher incomes, and possibly higher pensions, than if they retired on their 65th birthday.  Where this is not possible and a person exits the workforce before reaching State pension age they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes.  Jobseeker’s payments are currently paid to eligible jobseekers aged 18 to 66 years.

Jobseekers Benefit is payable subject to the person satisfying the general scheme conditions.  This entitlement is normally paid for 9 months (234 days) for people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid and for 6 months (156 days) for people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid.  Arrangements are in place to provide that jobseekers whose benefit expires in their 65th year can generally continue to be paid benefit up until pensionable age (66 years) provided they satisfy the necessary contribution conditions.  The jobseekers schemes are kept under review and any further changes, including entitlement beyond the 66th year, will be considered in that context.

It is important to remember that there is no legally mandated 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.  In this regard, the Workplace Relations Commission has produced a Code of Practice on Longer Working and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has published guidance material for employers on the use of fixed-term contracts beyond normal retirement age.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (625)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

625. 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. [8118/19]

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.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 23 October 2018.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although the person concerned is providing a certain level of care the time involved is not considered to be full time.

The person concerned was notified on 28 January 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

A review of this decision was sought on 4 February 2019.  The outcome of the review is that the original decision remains unchanged.

To date no further request for a review or appeal has been received from the person concerned. I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (626)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

626. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a review of a disability allowance for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned applied for disability allowance (DA) on 30 August 2018.  This application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was disallowed on medical grounds as 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 22 November 2018.

They requested a review of the decision by a deciding officer (DO) and submitted additional medical evidence for consideration on 7 February 2019. Once the review is completed, they will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (627)

John Brassil

Ceist:

627. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a social welfare payment will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8142/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children. In order to qualify for WFP, the applicant or the applicant and their spouse, partner or cohabitant must be engaged in full-time remunerative employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight. This condition must be satisfied on an on-going basis.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 24 August 2018.

Their application was disallowed on 12 December 2018 as they did not satisfy the condition of hours worked. 

However, they have requested a review of the decision of 12 December 2018. Following their request for a review, their application was referred to a local Social Welfare Officer (SWI) for further clarification. The relevant SWI has been contacted and has confirmed that this case will be expedited.

On receipt of the completed report from the SWI, the decision of 12 December 2018 will be reviewed without delay and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (628)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

628. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an illness benefit claim will be reinstated in the case of a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay in processing same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8212/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit payment to the person concerned was interrupted on the 4th February 2019 pending clarification of her employment status.

Payment was resumed from 14th February and the arrears of payment due to her will issue shortly.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (629)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

629. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the supports available for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8221/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that the above named person applied for disability allowance (DA) on 22 August 2018.  In October 2018 the claim was sent to a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) for investigation. As the SWI was unable to contact the customer or determine his place of residence, the claim was disallowed.

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.

The person in question can apply to the Community Welfare Officer for the means tested Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) if he is in need of financial assistance.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Retirements

Ceisteanna (630)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

630. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) based in her Department in County Louth will be replaced after the official retires in two weeks' time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8227/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department, like all Government departments and agencies is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget, which for this Department has involved reductions in staff.

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the ongoing need to respond to new increasing demands in a wide range of services. The objective is to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department. 

The vacancy in Louth is being examined and a decision will be made in due course.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (631)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

631. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of referrals to JobPath, community employment schemes and Tús in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8230/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection provides a range of activation supports catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. These supports include the JobPath service, Tús and Community Employment (CE). 

The Tús initiative is a community work placement scheme providing short-term working opportunities for unemployed people. These work opportunities benefit the community and are provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas. There are currently 6,500 budgeted places on Tús involved in the delivery of local services.  

The aim of Community Employment is to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities.  Virtually all participants are engaged in some element of service support and delivery - e.g. amenities management, sports, tidy towns, childcare, etc.. There are currently 921 Community Employment schemes catering for 21,371 participants.

JobPath is a service that supports the long-term unemployed to obtain and sustain paid employment. Between its launch in July 2015 and February 2019, some 209,000 jobseekers have engaged with the service.  The JobPath service is provided for jobseekers only and it's aim is to assist participants in finding sustainable full-time paid employment.   

Since the first of June 2018 long term jobseekers engaged with the JobPath service can also apply for either Community Employment or Tús. This enables those people with the JobPath service to avail of a CE or Tús placement which provides valuable occupational activity and work experience. However, continued engagement with the JobPath service is a condition of opting to avail of both schemes.  

Tús and Community Employment do not, nor are they intended to, provide full-time sustainable employment.

 Table 1; People engaged with JobPath, Annually, by County, since its introduction in 2015  

County

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 YTD

Carlow

219

1487

1620

1450

89

Cavan

300

1419

1425

1509

90

Clare

183

1630

1689

1424

93

Cork

943

5965

6568

4641

253

Donegal

268

3312

3787

3432

197

Dublin

318

12100

16008

12928

760

Galway

596

2856

3061

2733

173

Kerry

113

2462

2665

1737

113

Kildare

373

2933

3122

1923

111

Kilkenny

198

1243

1511

1122

80

Laois

8

1419

1890

1363

89

Leitrim

4

635

698

623

26

Limerick

397

3344

3451

2771

187

Longford

497

1193

1350

1127

51

Louth

327

2930

3013

2716

147

Mayo

203

1837

2199

2052

118

Meath

136

1262

1631

1439

60

Monaghan

1

905

1086

730

33

Offaly

105

2106

1842

1528

73

Roscommon

5

496

730

698

41

Sligo

2

1023

1137

1067

64

Tipperary

171

2750

3423

2523

134

Waterford

435

2442

2553

1743

116

Westmeath

137

2286

2405

2030

132

Wexford

239

3676

3756

2125

127

Wicklow

410

1714

2060

1850

70

Total

6588

65425

74680

59284

3427

  Table 2; Tús Participants, Annually, by County, since 2015 

County

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 YTD

Carlow

210

184

144

132

15

Cavan

139

125

100

120

18

Clare

170

130

111

152

14

Cork

924

747

616

612

49

Donegal

493

432

414

361

56

Dublin

1764

1716

1435

1392

119

Galway

503

446

430

432

45

Kerry

249

243

209

243

15

Kildare

277

329

228

206

20

Kilkenny

111

131

105

98

5

Laois

129

111

96

123

6

Leitrim

90

84

86

91

3

Limerick

346

315

279

273

14

Longford

108

81

102

108

6

Louth

249

200

197

201

25

Mayo

334

290

339

293

33

Meath

283

273

253

259

16

Monaghan

115

120

97

100

15

Offaly

181

174

132

160

10

Roscommon

139

148

106

87

13

Sligo

179

135

144

157

16

Tipperary

417

412

380

368

24

Waterford

364

320

315

303

36

Westmeath

139

131

106

127

1

Wexford

363

300

285

347

36

Wicklow

289

279

288

275

33

Total

8565

7856

6997

7020

643

Table 3; Community Employment Participants, Annually, by County, since 2015 

County

2015

2016

2017

2018

To date 2019

Carlow

136

186

191

161

10

CAVAN               

192

174

144

157

14

CLARE          

283

197

197

184

13

CORK                  

1,052

1,016

849

788

90

DONEGAL             

651

567

532

385

27

DUBLIN

2,847

2,690

2,481

2,303

185

GALWAY               

672

621

509

435

39

KERRY               

523

389

394

343

35

KILDARE            

376

358

333

357

23

KILKENNY            

255

205

235

250

28

LAOIS              

183

163

127

120

7

Leitrim

66

70

76

61

1

LIMERICK            

718

497

541

550

42

LONGFORD            

123

97

96

100

13

LOUTH               

558

492

442

346

34

MAYO                

373

280

280

229

27

MEATH               

225

199

180

196

17

MONAGHAN            

242

213

202

177

8

OFFALY         

243

226

181

180

13

ROSCOMMON           

159

118

105

104

7

SLIGO 

224

187

156

164

9

TIPPERARY

562

510

423

376

48

WATERFORD          

497

374

407

373

36

Westmeath

280

211

254

241

15

Wexford

489

395

406

409

48

WICKLOW            

267

277

243

224

22

 Total

12,196

10,712

9,984

9,213

811

Community Employment Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (632)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

632. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the cost of operating community employment schemes, JobPath, Tús and local employment services in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8231/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department provides a range of activation supports catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. These supports include the Community Employment (CE), Tús, JobPath and Local Employment Schemes (LES). 

The aim of CE is to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities.  It also helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine.  Schemes are typically sponsored by voluntary and community organisations wishing to benefit the local community and virtually all participants are engaged in some element of service support and delivery - e.g. amenities management, arts and culture, sports, tidy towns, childcare and health-related services.  

 The Tús initiative is a community work placement scheme providing short-term working opportunities for unemployed people. The work opportunities are to benefit the community and are provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas. The initiative is delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta in Gaeltacht areas, collectively known as the Implementing Bodies (IBs). The purpose of the scheme is the provision of quality work for those who are unemployed in order to break the cycle of unemployment and to improve a person’s opportunities in returning to the labour market.

JobPath came into operation in July 2015.  The roll-out of JobPath commenced in July 2015 on a “soft launch” basis and was completed in June 2016.   JobPath is a case-managed employment service where jobseekers receive intensive individual support to help them address barriers to employment and to find jobs.  The service supports people who are long-term unemployed to obtain and sustain paid employment.  Between July 2015 and February 2019 some 209,000 jobseekers have engaged with the service.

JobPath is a payment by results model and all set-up and day-to-day operational costs are borne by the companies.  The companies are paid on the basis of performance and with the exception of the initial registration fee, payments are made only when a client has achieved sustained employment.  The overall cost of JobPath will be determined by the number of people who participate in the programme and the number who get sustainable jobs.

The Department contracts for the provision of the local employment service (LES) with 22 local development/community companies.  The LES have been engaged to deliver services to two client groups: unemployed jobseekers referred for activation by the Department and ‘other’ client groups, who attend the service voluntarily.  The ‘other’ client  group include people who have a disability, lone parents, early school leavers, qualified adults, non-Live Register returners (previously women returners), ex-offenders, members of the travelling community, long term unemployed (LTU) refugees and low income small holders. 

Table 1 - Annual expenditure 2015 to date by DEASP programme  

Programme

2015

2016

2017

2018 (provisional)

2019 to date

Community Employment

€364.99m

€356.34m

€350.48m

€353.07m

€44.36m

JobPath

€1.24m

€25.19m 

€57.42m

€71.70m 

€7.00m

Tús

€124.57m

€118.60m

€109.54m

€110.54m

€22.61m

Local Employment Service

€19.51m

€18.43m

€18.56m

€18.49m

€2.10m

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (633, 634)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

633. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a cost-benefit analysis of the impact that the proposed IORP II regulation would have on the operation of pension schemes with fewer than 100 members, in particular its application to one-person pension schemes, has been carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8254/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

634. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the consultation she plans to undertake with relevant stakeholders in respect of the regulation required to give effect to the transposition of IORP II into law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 633 and 634 together.

The Government's Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018 -2023 launched in February 2018 detailed specific measures that will modernise our pension system.  It includes plans for reform and simplification of occupational and private pensions.  Transposition of the Directive is a key part of the Government’s Roadmap.        

Transposition of the IORP II Directive will support positive reform of the Irish funded occupational pension sector.  Transposition will raise governance standards, improve trustee qualification and suitability, and increase supervision through enhanced powers for the Pensions Authority.   

In 2014, the  Department undertook an open public consultation on the IORP II Directive.  Further to that, the Pensions Authority undertook a consultation process on the reform and simplification of supplementary funded private pensions in 2016.  In addition, officials of my Department have engaged on the provisions of the Directive with numerous representatives and stakeholders over a number of years.  

My Department, supported by the Pensions Authority, conducted detailed analysis  on the implementation of the Directive.  

While the Directive provides for the possibility of derogation from specific Articles for smaller schemes, I believe that members of smaller schemes should get the same protections and oversight as members of large schemes.  Money saved for pension purposes should be properly protected to ensure that people have adequate income for their retirement years.  It should be noted that Member States must apply certain provisions concerning investment rules and the system of governance to schemes which have more than 15 members. 

The Pension Authority advises that there are 100,000 single member schemes and that 98% of these schemes are already compliant with the investment rules of the IORP II Directive.  Those not compliant will not be obliged to change existing investments and borrowings.  

Article 19 of the Directive sets out the investment rules for occupational pension schemes.  The underlying principle for capital investment is for schemes to invest in accordance with the 'prudent person' rule and the other specific rules set out in the Article.  It is recognised that there should be an appropriate level of investment freedom for schemes within prudent limits and this is reflected in the rules.  Assets must be predominantly invested on regulated markets, i.e., at least 50%.  This allows adequate scope for investment in instruments with a long-term economic profile and non-listed undertakings such as property and infrastructure.

The value of investments held in many schemes fell substantially during the financial crisis.  This emphasised the need for stricter regulation and greater protections, especially for small schemes investing in riskier unregulated markets.  Concerns in relation to this sector are particularly around the protection of the consumer and the money they have invested, the riskiness of investments, the charges that apply, and the standard of governance.  Accordingly, the Government has decided that the provisions of the Directive should apply to all funded occupational pension schemes. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (635)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

635. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 707 of 12 February 2019, if a community employment scheme supervisor can remain on the same wages if he or she is transferred to a different scheme due to a merger and is demoted in title to assistant supervisor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8343/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Supervisors on CE schemes are employees of companies that receive public funding in the community and voluntary sector.  They are not employees of my Department or public servants.

CE companies contract with my Department to provide suitable work and training opportunities for participants.  A CE scheme may be considered no longer viable when the sponsor organisation is unable to fill the participant numbers as agreed in the contract with my Department.  In these circumstances mergers may be considered. 

As outlined in my earlier reply to the Deputy, if a merger occurs, a supervisor can transfer directly to the new scheme if there is a position of the same rank available. I have been assured that in the case referred to by the Deputy, the person in question will retain their position as a supervisor on transfer to the new scheme.  

A business taken over by another employer as a result of a legal merger or transfer the rights of the employees are protected by the following legislation, the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (636)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

636. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of rent supplement tenancies at the end of 2018; and the cost of the scheme in 2018, in tabular form. [8375/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its vital role in housing families and individuals for which the Government has provided  €132.4 million for 2019.

Rent supplement recipients at year end and expenditure for 2018 is provided in the following tabular statement. 

The strategic goal of returning rent supplement to its original purpose, that of a short-term income support, has been primarily facilitated by the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). The “Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness (July 2016), reiterated in the “Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021” (September 2018), is to provide 87,000 flexible housing supports through the HAP and Rental Accommodation Scheme between 2016 and 2021.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular Statement:

Rent Supplement:  Recipient Numbers & Expenditure 2018  

         Year     

         Recipients     

         Cost    €000     

        2018

         24,303

          175,024*

        

 * Provisional Year End Figure

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (637)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

637. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an illness benefit payment for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8380/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim from the person concerned was interrupted on the 6th February 2019 pending confirmation of his employment status.

An officer from the Department has since contacted the person concerned and payment was resumed from the 14th February.  The arrears of payment due to him will issue shortly.

Medical certificates of incapacity should continue to be submitted by the person concerned in a regular fashion to ensure continuity of payment. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (638)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

638. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the revision of a case (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8393/19]

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.

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 as long as the duration of these activities does not exceed 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. 

I confirm that my department received an application for CA from the person concerned on 8 October 2018.

The evidence before the deciding officer showed that the person concerned was engaged in employment outside the home and the duration of activity exceeded 15 hours per week. The person concerned was notified on 31 January 2019 that she was not entitled to CA, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of her application.  The outcome of the review was that the original decision was confirmed.

The person concerned then submitted documents stating that her hours had been reduced to under the statutory limit from 13 February 2019.

Accordingly the application was awarded to the person concerned on 15 February 2019 and first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 28 February 2019. 

Arrears of allowance due from 14 February 2019 to 27 February 2019 will also issue.

The person concerned was notified on 15 February 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.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (639)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

639. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to cost overruns on contracts within her Department with a value in excess of €10 million that came in more than 10% over budget in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; if so, the details of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8422/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department has a project governance committee which oversees all projects. This is a sub-committee of the management board and is chaired by the Secretary General. The Department has a strong governance structure and each project reports into a programme board which is normally chaired by a programme sponsor at Assistant Secretary level. The programme board in turn reports in the project governance committee, which meets on a regular basis. The committee also holds an annual project conference where each project, existing or new, needs to apply for funding for the following year.

Through the Department’s governance process, project proposals and initiatives are approved and prioritised; budgets and resources are assigned and implementation monitored. This structure ensures a robust monitoring of projects and provides a mechanism for early identifications of any issues that are emerging.

My Department stayed within its overall project governance committee funding allocation in each of the years in question, no project overruns have been reported to me and I am satisfied that effective project governance structures are in place.

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Ceisteanna (640)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

640. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of applications awaiting a decision in respect of the various social welfare entitlements; the number on appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8434/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy (where available) is in the following tabular statements. The first table details both the number of claims pending at the end of the month and the number of appeals on hand for those schemes. The second table details the number of appeals on hand for additional schemes where, as a result of IT system limitations, the number of pending claims cannot be determined. 

Tabular statement.

Scheme

Pending 31 January 2019

Appeals on Hand at 31 January 2019

State Pension (Contributory)

3,874

200

Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension 

689

25

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

924

217

Jobseekers Allowance

4,279

1,856

Jobseekers Benefit

2,064

332

One-Parent Family Payment

714

182

Supplementary Welfare Allowance BASI

594

395

Maternity Benefit

1,390

21

Paternity Benefit

2,015

7

Carer's Allowance

3,911

1,527

Carer's Benefit

789

74

Disability Allowance

5,374

1,789

Invalidity Pension

2,491

859

Illness Benefit

 959

273

Occupational Injury Benefit

 1,723

33

Child Benefit

1,598

300

Widowed Parent Grant

18

2

Working Family Payment

5,158

219

Domiciliary Care Allowance

1,138

695

Household Benefits

2,357

N/avail

Free Travel

6

N/avail

 

Scheme

Appeals on Hands at 31 January 2019

Blind Person’s Pension

5

Partial Capacity Benefit

68

Deserted Wives Benefit

6

Farm Assist

53

Bereavement Grant

1

Liable  Relatives

2

Disablement Pension

206

Medical Care

3

Incapacity Supplement

6

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

11

Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)

4

BTW Family Dividend

17

Carer’s Support Grant 

59

Widowed Parent Grant

2

Widow(er)'s Pension Non-con

14

Treatment Benefits

1

Social Welfare Appeals Data

Ceisteanna (641)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

641. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the extent to which original decisions are overturned on appeal in respect of the various categories of social welfare payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8435/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The following table provides details of the outcome of all appeals by scheme for 2018.

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. 

18,507 appeals were finalised in 2018. Appeals which had a favourable outcome for the appellant consist of appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer (a total of 7,464 or 40.3%) or which were resolved by way of a revised decision in favour of the appellant by a Deciding Officer/Designated Person (a total of 3,425 or 18.5%).  The 7,464 appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer constitute 52.8% of the 14,145 appeals finalised by Appeals Officers in 2018.   

There are a number of reasons why a decision which was refused at first instance might be successful on appeal and it is not necessarily the case that the first decision was incorrect. It is often the case that new evidence is provided with an appeal and that, as a result, the original decision may be revised by the Deciding Officer or Designated Person.

Where the decision was not revised by the Department in light of the appeal contentions, further evidence is often provided by the appellant as the appeal process proceeds and in addition, the Appeals Officer may gain insights when they meet the appellant in person at oral hearing which may influence the outcome of the appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Outcome of Appeals by Category 2018

 

Allowed By Appeals Officers

Partially Allowed By Appeals Officers

Revised DO/DP Decision

Disallowed By Appeals Officers

Withdrawn

Total

State Pension   (Non-Contributory)

85

23.4%

29

8.0%

70

19.3%

 144

39.7%

   35

9.6%

363

State Pension (Contributory)

35

9.5%

9

2.5%

64

17.4%

 244

66.5%

15

4.1%

367

Widow’s/Widower’s Pension   (Contributory)

18

45.0%

-

 

2

 5.0%

14

 35.0%

6

15.0%

40

Death Benefit

-     

 

-

 

-

 

1

100.0%

-

 

1

Bereavement Grant

 -

 

-     

 

 -

 

1

100.0%   

-

 1

Jobseeker’s Allowance -   Payments

280

18.0%

 99

6.4%

251

16.1%

  785

50.4%

141

  9.1%

1,556

Jobseeker’s Transitional

  9

19.1%

  5

10.6%

   9

19.1%

   18

38.3%

  6

12.8%

   47

Jobseeker’s Allowance -Means

150

10.4%

83

5.8%

194

13.5%

836

58.1%

176

 12.2%

1,439

One Parent Family Payment

 47

20.4%

13

5.7%

 46

20.0%

83

36.1%

 41

17.8%

230

Widow’s/Widower’s Pension   (Non-Contributory)

4

23.5%

2

 11.8%

-

10

58.8%

1

5.9%

17

Deserted Wife’s Allowance

1

100.0%

-

 

-

 -

-

 1

Supplementary Welfare   Allowance

258

24.6%

 29

2.8%

179

17.1%

  467

44.6%

114

10.9%

1,047

Farm Assist

14

11.7%

11

 9.2%

18

15.0%

 62

51.7%

15

12.5%

120

Pre-Retirement Allowance

1    50.0%

1

50.0%

-

 

-

 

-

2

Jobseeker’s Benefit

109

18.3%

33

5.5%

129

21.6%

270

45.3%

55

 9.2%

  596

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

3

50.0%

-

 

-

 

 3

50.0%

-

 

6

Maternity Benefit

  6

11.1%

-

 

13

24.1%

34

63.0%

1

1.9%

54

Paternity Benefit

1

 6.3%

1      6.3%

-

 

14

87.5%

-

 

16

Treatment Benefits

-     

-     

-

 

2

100.0%

2

Partial Capacity Benefit

16

50.0%

-

 

  2

 6.3%

13

40.6%

1

  3.1%

32

Disability Allowance

3,112

62.2%

 99

2.0%

462

 9.2%

1,256

25.1%

  77

1.5%

5,006

Blind Pension

2

14.3%

2

14.3%

3

21.4%

6

42.9%

1

 7.1%

14

Carer’s Allowance

1,047

38.6%

144

5.3%

         440

16.2%

  989

36.5%

90

3.3%

2,710

Domiciliary Care Allowance

686

43.6%

13

0.8%

590

37.5%

258

16.4%

25

1.6%

1,572

Carer’s Support Grant

28

20.0%

5

3.6%

35

25.0%

 68

48.6%

4

2.9%

140

Illness Benefit

111

22.4%

 11

2.2%

164

33.1%

182

36.8%

27

 5.5%

  495

Injury Benefit

10

21.3%

-     

 

6

12.8%

29

61.7%

2

 4.3%

47

Invalidity Pension

  458

41.9%

8

0.7%

  322

29.4%

  273

25.0%

33

3.0%

1,094

Disablement Benefit

116

35.3%

18

5.5%

32

 9.7%

158

48.0%

5

1.5%

329

Incapacity Supplement

 4

 80.0%

 -

 

-

 

1

 20.0%

-

 

 5

Medical Care

-     

-     

 

-

 

1

100.0%

-

 

1

Carer’s Benefit

32

23.4%

4

2.9%

52

38.0%

46

33.6%

3

2.2%

137

Child Benefit

 62

14.6%

18

4.2%

146

34.3%

179

42.0%

21

4.9%

426

Working Family Payment*

59

15.3%

18

4.7%

173

44.8%

116

30.1%

20

5.2%

386

Back To Work Family Dividend

 4

  8.5%

-    

 

  12

25.5%

 26

55.3%

 5

 10.6%

 47

Guardian’s Payment   (Non-Contributory)

1

11.1%

1

 11.1%

2

22.2%

 5

55.6%

-

     

  9

Guardian’s Payment   (Contributory)

 7

29.2%

1

4.2%

 2

  8.3%

14

58.3%

-

 

24

Widowed Parent Grant

-

 

-

 

1

     20.0%

 4

 80.0%

-

 

5

Insurability

25

26.3%

3

 3.2%

  3

3.2%

51

53.7%

13

 13.7%

 95

Liable Relatives

-

 

-

 

1

     20.0%

  2

40.0%

2

 40.0%

 5

Recoverable Benefits &   Assistance

1

 4.3%

2

     8.7%

2

 8.7%

 18

78.3%

-

 

23

TOTAL  APPEALS

6,802

36.8%

662

3.6%

3,425

18.5%

6,681

36.1%

  937

5.1%

18,507

 

* Previously known as Family Income Supplement