State Pension (Contributory) Applications

Ceisteanna (341)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

341. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a State pension, contributory, by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12571/19]

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 based 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 written to pensioners in Quarter 4 2018 to explain the review process to them. That letter also informed pensioners that where possible the Department would use information already held to complete the reviews and where additional information was required, it would be requested in writing. In January 2019, almost 24,000 requests for additional information were issued, including to the person concerned.

The person has provided the requested information through my Department's on-line facility and their pension has been reviewed. A review outcome has issued to the person concerned, outlining the increase in their rate of pension payment. Arrears of payment backdated 30 March 2018 will issue shortly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (342)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

342. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 616 of 26 February 2019, if the correspondence that was sent to those persons selected to take part in the survey to assess customer satisfaction regarding the public services card to invite them to take part in the survey was sent to those selected by her Department or by the survey company (details supplied); if the correspondence was sent by the company, the basis for the sharing of customer addresses between her Department and the company; if other personal data via the SAFE 2 verification process such as telephone numbers were shared with the company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The recent Public Services Card customer satisfaction survey, as with every research survey conducted on behalf of my Department by a contracted survey research company, was conducted in full compliance with national and EU Data Protection legislation. In line with these requirements, the survey process was as follows:

1. The Department's Chief Statistician, a senior member of the Irish Government Statistical Service, created a representative stratified random sample of potential survey participants (in this case, 5,000 people who had recently applied for a Public Services Card).

2. The Chief Statistician then sent a signed letter to each potential participant, in order to

- tell them about the purpose and confidential statistical nature of the survey;

- supply a link to the dedicated webpage about the survey for further information (https://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Public-Services-Card-Survey-FAQ.aspx); and

- let people know how to opt out of participating in this or future surveys.

3. Several weeks later (in order to allow time for people to opt out of participating), the Chief Statistician supplied a minimal set of personal contact information for the survey participants to the survey research company. No information whatsoever was sent to the company about people who chose to opt out of taking part in the survey.

4. The survey research company then contacted people from the supplied survey sample by phone until enough responses were received to ensure that results were statistically representative of the wider population of recent Public Services Card applicants.

The only personal data (verified at SAFE level 2) supplied to the survey company was the following:

- Customer Name

- Customer Contact Number

- Customer Sex (Male/Female)

- Customer Age Group (18-24, 25-39, 40-59, 60+)

The name and contact numbers were provided in order to be able to contact participants, while sex and age group were supplied to ensure that representative results for these dimensions were achieved.

Under the terms of the survey contract, the survey company must delete all this personal data at the end of the survey.

Working Family Payment Appeals

Ceisteanna (343)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

343. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision on a review of family income supplement will be made in the case of a person (details supplied). [12593/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional financial 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 employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight. This condition must be satisfied on an ongoing basis.

An application was received from the person concerned on 11 December 2018.

Their application was disallowed on 19 February 2019 as they did not satisfy the above employment condition at the time of application.

The person concerned requested a review of the decision of 19 February 2019. Following a review of their application based on updated information provided by the applicant, it has been established that they now satisfy the above condition from a current date.

WFP is not payable while an applicant is in receipt of Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) and the person concerned is currently in receipt of JB.

It has been established that WFP is more beneficial for the family. The Department wrote to the person concerned on 08 March 2019 advising them to close their JSB claim and, once this has been done, the revised decision will be implemented without delay and the person concerned will be notified in writing.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Ceisteanna (344)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

344. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to concerns being expressed regarding the regulation through which a person attempting to return into the workforce after raising their family is not eligible to commence a community employment scheme due to the fact the person is not in receipt of a payment from her Department; if she has given consideration to the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12611/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment and/or further education and training. It is designed to break the cycle of long term unemployment and maintain work readiness, thereby improving a person’s opportunities of returning to the open labour market.

In order to qualify for CE, a number of conditions including age and being in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a specific period must be met.

My Department also provides a range of services to unemployed persons who are not in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment. These include advice on job-search activities, the use of online job search tools in Intreo Centres nationally, upskilling opportunities through Educational Training Boards (ETBs), Springboard and Skillnet courses. Persons signing for credits for six months or more can also participate on ETB-run VTOS courses, subject to availability. In the case of VTOS courses, participants do not receive a training allowance but may receive travel and lunch allowances.

My Department and the Government is committed to supporting as many people as possible to participate more fully in employment and to become more self-sufficient by providing supports that address barriers they may encounter in finding and sustaining employment.

As the Deputy will be aware, the key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective prioritises scarce resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments.

Accordingly, the employment services and schemes provided by my Department are focused, in the first instance, on this cohort of unemployed people who are in receipt of a qualifying payment.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind perhaps he would contact my Department with the details.

Employment Rights

Ceisteanna (345)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

345. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will conduct a review of possible bogus self-employment practices by a company (details supplied) that works within the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Scope Section in my Department has responsibility for determining employment status and PRSI class under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. The company referred to by the Deputy is currently the subject of two separate Scope investigations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (346)

John Brady

Ceist:

346. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the process in place for new pension applicants; if they are calculated under the total contributions approach; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12666/19]

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.

Over 100 temporary resources have been recruited to separately process the pension reviews of existing claimants. In some cases, additional information about gap periods in their social insurance record is required from claimants in order to assess their eligibility for homecaring periods and then review their payment under the new calculation.

New claimants who have a reduced rate pension entitlement under existing legislation are being paid at this rate with a subsequent review under the new arrangements legislated to follow in Q1 2019, to assess if they qualify for a higher rate under TCP assessment. For some of those recently awarded, additional information about gap periods in their social insurance record is required, while others can be reviewed based on information already held by my Department.

It is expected that arrangements for an integrated process for new claimants (to assess homecaring period entitlement, including requests for additional information in some cases, and the calculation under the new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) ) will be implemented in Quarter 2 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Payments

Ceisteanna (347)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

347. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of a jobseeker's payment by payment type and county in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12670/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of jobseeker's payment is detailed in the table.

The number of jobseeker's payments by payment type at the end of February 2019.

County

Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker's Benefit

Carlow

2,812

464

Cavan

2,650

468

Clare

3,504

1,032

Cork

11,660

3,377

Donegal

8,717

1,425

Dublin

36,462

8,685

Galway

7,646

2,021

Kerry

5,567

2,276

Kildare

5,294

1,615

Kilkenny

2,432

496

Laois

3,025

642

Leitrim

1,367

320

Limerick

6,331

1,226

Longford

2,098

375

Louth

6,211

1,186

Mayo

5,269

1,022

Meath

3,388

843

Monaghan

1,936

407

Offaly

2,987

649

Roscommon

1,484

346

Sligo

2,276

465

Tipperary

6,239

1,211

Waterford

5,539

1,051

Westmeath

3,802

746

Wexford

7,177

1,464

Wicklow

4,061

982

Others

Total

149,934

34,794

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (348)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

348. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of rent supplement by county; the number who have had their payment increased over the prescribed limits in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12671/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its important role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting approximately 22,600 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

Rent supplement continues its withdrawal from the provision of long term housing within the private rented sector. The aim of 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 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme between 2016 and 2021.

The following tabular statement sets out the information requested.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

County

Recipients as at 28th February 2019

Payment awards in excess of prevailing rent limits made to date

CARLOW

209

91

CAVAN

187

83

CLARE

108

64

CORK

2,630

762

DONEGAL

87

0

DUBLIN

11,659

7,899

GALWAY

1,050

228

KERRY

742

299

KILDARE

992

712

KILKENNY

116

140

LAOIS

213

185

LEITRIM

83

108

LIMERICK

465

18

LONGFORD

120

368

LOUTH

185

208

MAYO

334

42

MEATH

271

503

MONAGHAN

106

1

OFFALY

80

74

ROSCOMMON

209

111

SLIGO

73

1

TIPPERARY

235

375

WATERFORD

118

74

WESTMEATH

594

486

WEXFORD

712

26

WICKLOW

1,012

541

Grand Total

22,590

13,399

Exceptional Needs Payment Data

Ceisteanna (349)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

349. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons who received an exceptional needs payment by county in 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12672/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may 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. An urgent needs payment (UNP) may be made to persons who may not normally qualify for SWA but who have an urgent need which they cannot meet from their own resources or where an alternative is not available at that time.

In total €38.8 million has been provided for ENPs and UNPs in 2019. The following table shows the number of ENPs and UNPs made per county in 2018 and to date in 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Number of ENPs and UNPs 2018-2019 by County

County

2018

2019 (End Feb)

CARLOW

1,015

153

CORK

14,703

1,705

CLARE

4,559

599

CAVAN

526

122

DONEGAL

2,193

369

DUBLIN

31,777

5,295

GALWAY

3,303

446

KERRY

3,206

644

KILDARE

3,707

618

KILKENNY

1,635

264

LAOIS

3,803

720

LEITRIM

819

125

LIMERICK

8,204

607

LONGFORD

1,348

233

LOUTH

1,751

290

MAYO

2,936

531

MEATH

4,556

717

MONAGHAN

1,085

227

OFFALY

1,261

161

ROSCOMMON

2,029

262

SLIGO

2,799

384

TIPPERARY

4,528

598

WATERFORD

3,530

582

WESTMEATH

3,430

672

WEXFORD

1,118

161

WICKLOW

2,693

503

Total

112,514

16,988

Carer's Allowance Data

Ceisteanna (350)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

350. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of a carer's payment by payment type and county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12673/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of carer's payment is detailed in the tabular statement.

The number of carer's allowance and carer's benefit payments by payment type at the end of February 2019: Carer's allowance and carer's benefit payments

County

Carer's Allowance

Carer's Benefit

Carlow

1,378

27

Cavan

1,318

47

Clare

2,046

63

Cork

9,080

352

Donegal

4,035

107

Dublin

16,767

570

Galway

4,406

177

Kerry

3,013

109

Kildare

2,942

104

Kilkenny

1,591

50

Laois

1,537

55

Leitrim

685

27

Limerick

4,376

123

Longford

1,096

34

Louth

2,482

76

Mayo

2,806

107

Meath

2,469

107

Monaghan

1,051

39

Offaly

1,906

55

Roscommon

1,345

57

Sligo

1,296

59

Tipperary

3,751

94

Waterford

2,203

75

Westmeath

1,867

65

Wexford

3,444

81

Wicklow

2,181

79

Others

50

Total

81,071

2,789