Working Family Payment

Ceisteanna (472)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

472. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a person (details supplied) will receive a decision on their application for a working family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22707/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 03 April 2019.

They have been awarded WFP with effect from 21 February 2019 to 19 February 2020.

The first weekly payment will issue to their nominated bank account on 27 May 2019 and any arrears owing will issue shortly.

The person concerned was notified on 23 May 2019 of this decision and of the right of review and appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Wage-setting Mechanisms

Ceisteanna (473, 474)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

473. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the sectoral employment order she plans to introduce will ban tips being used as part of payment of wages. [22714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Collins

Ceist:

474. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ban businesses from adding service charges that often go to the employer and not staff. [22744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 473 and 474 together.

I have met with relevant stakeholders and industry bodies (including the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Irish Hotels Federation and the Vintners Federation) who have expressed their support for the development of an agreement or code of practice in this area.

In the short term I would like to bring greater clarity and transparency around this complex issue via an amendment to the Payment of Wages Act 1991 in order to distinguish between tips, gratuities and service charges and to place tips outside the scope of a person’s contractual wages. I am currently awaiting legal advice on the proposed amendment.

Invalidity Pension

Ceisteanna (475)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

475. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application by a person (details supplied) will receive a decision; the reason for the delay in same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22750/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the lady concerned on 28 February 2019. This claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on the 23 May 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobPath Programme

Ceisteanna (476)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

476. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the JobPath scheme will continue; if not, if it is due to cease shortly; her plans in relation to the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22769/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The JobPath employment service commenced in 2015 and, under the terms of the contracts signed with the providers will run for at least six years. This includes a period of at least four years of client referrals to the end of 2019, and a run off period of at least two years. The contract includes an option to extend the term of referrals for a period of up to two years beyond the end of 2019.

The process of procuring contracted public employment services for 2020 and beyond is being progressed and my officials are working to design a procurement model that will balance the need for value for money for taxpayers with the importance of preserving high-quality employment advisory services. As part of this process the ongoing requirements of the public employment service including the period for client referrals under the JobPath programme are currently being considered.

To date no decisions have been taken in this regard. However, my Department is currently considering how best to continue to provide a high quality public employment service that meets the needs of all jobseekers, while looking to provide employment services to those most distant from the labour market and to people who have not previously availed of these services.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (477)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

477. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a working family payment application by a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22771/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 08 May 2019.

In order to process their application, further information is required from them. The Department wrote to the person concerned on 23 May 2019 to request additional details.

On receipt of the requested information from the person concerned, their WFP application will be processed without delay and they will be notified of the decision.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (478)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

478. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22793/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 10th April 2019 to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ceisteanna (479)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

479. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22805/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal was registered on 4th April 2019 and in accordance with the statutory requirements, the Appeals Office contacted the appellant and asked him to set out the complete grounds of his appeal. The grounds of the appeal were subsequently received on 8th May 2019 and the relevant departmental papers have been requested from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment

Ceisteanna (480)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

480. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a working family payment renewal in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

Working Family Payment for the person concerned is due to expire on the 05/06/2019.

A Working Family Payment renewal application was received from the person concerned on 18 April 2019. This renewal application has now been processed and the person concerned will be entitled to Working Family payment at a rate of €43 per week from the 06/06/2019. This payment will continue for 52 weeks from that date.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (481)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

481. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the contributions of a person (details supplied); and if they qualify for dental treatment. [22843/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Qualification for Dental Benefit is based on satisfying certain PRSI conditions, including having paid the required total number of contributions since first starting work, along with having the required number of contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year on which the claim is based.

A social insurance record in another EU country may be counted towards qualification for Benefit, provided the person concerned has at least one PRSI contribution paid, at Class A, E, H, P or S, following their return or arrival in Ireland. Unfortunately, the person concerned in this case does not have any contributions paid since returning to Ireland, and therefore does not qualify for Benefit.

If the person concerned has a Medical Card, he should contact his local HSE office which will advise on entitlements under the HSE scheme.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Ceisteanna (482)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

482. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the saving that was achieved in a full year due to the scrapping of the automatic entitlement to the household benefits package for those not resident with the carer; her plans to reintroduce this provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The household benefits package (HHB) comprises the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence. My Department will spend approximately €248 million this year on HHB for over 446,000 customers. 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 some people under the age of 66 who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments.

Since 1 April 2012, new applicants in receipt of Carers Allowance who are not living with the person for whom they provide care do not have an automatic entitlement to the household benefits package. At the time the measure was introduced the estimated yearly saving that would be achieved was €5.9 million.

Carers who live with the person they are caring for still have an entitlement of their own to the household benefits package and do not have to satisfy the household composition criteria.

The Government values the role of carers very much and it is for this reason that they receive significant income supports from the Department. In addition to carer’s allowance carers receive additional support in the form of free travel and household benefits (for those who live with the person for whom they care) and the annual carers support grant (€1,700) in respect of each person for whom they care. Where a person is in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments, and also providing full time care and attention to another person, they can keep their primary social welfare payment and also get the half-rate carer's allowance.

It should be noted that Carer's payments are made at a higher level than other working age income-maintenance payments made by my Department. The weekly rate for Carer's Allowance is €219 where one person is being cared for, and €328.50 where it is two or more, compared to €203 for most other income-maintenance payments to those below pension age. The means test for Carer's Allowance is also significantly more generous than those applying to other schemes.

Any decision to change the qualifying criteria for HHB would have budgetary consequences and would have to be considered in the context of budget negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (483)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

483. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a domiciliary care allowance application by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [22855/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance was received from the person concerned on the 11th January 2019. The application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance. A letter issued on the 13th March 2019 setting out the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

A review of the decision was requested on the 11th April 2019. Further medical evidence that was received in support of the review has been referred to the Department's Medical Assessor for their medical opinion. When this is received the claim will be re-examined by a deciding officer and a revised decision will be made if warranted. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of the review as soon as possible.

Reviews are currently taking approximately 10-12 weeks to process.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance

Ceisteanna (484)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

484. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if and when payment including a basic supplementary payment and a disability allowance will be made in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22867/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded disability allowance with effect from 26 September 2018. The first payment will be made by her chosen payment method on 5 June 2019.

Arrears of payment due will issue as soon as possible.

No application for supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) has been received from this lady. An application for SWA was posted to her on 23 May 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability

Ceisteanna (485)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

485. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the resources available to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22649/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The current National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability(NHSPWD) and associated National Implementation Framework, were jointly published by my Department and the Department of Health. They set out the Government’s broad framework for the delivery of housing for people with disabilities through mainstream housing policy and were developed as part of a coherent framework, in conjunction with the Government’s mental health policy, A Vision for Change, and the Congregated Settings Report.

Implementation of actions in the NHSPWD, which has been extended to 2020, is being driven primarily by the Housing Agency, through a dedicated sub-group comprising representatives from my Department, the HSE, Department of Health, local authorities, the Irish Council for Social Housing and various disability representative organisations.

One of the key initiatives involved has been the establishment of Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) in all housing authority areas, to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level. These are chaired by Directors of Housing in each authority and include HSE and disability representative organisations.

Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet identified and emerging need over the next five years. These Plans, the majority of which are now available on the relevant local authority websites, along with the annual Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA), will allow local authorities to plan more strategically for the housing needs of people with a disability and will support the delivery of accommodation using all appropriate housing supply mechanisms.

The specific persons mentioned will be able to get more detailed information from their local authority in respect of its own local Strategic Plan.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Ceisteanna (486)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

486. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the guidelines for wind farms will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive.

SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process. My Department appointed SEA experts in December 2017 to assist in this regard.

While the revised draft guidelines were to be published in Quarter 1 2019, some delays to the planned schedule arose, due to the recent publication of updated World Health Organisation (WHO) noise standards and the need to focus on certain Brexit-related planning issues. As part of the SEA process, there will be an 8 week public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report with the aim of issuing the finalised Guidelines, following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions and views received during the consultation phase, later in 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under Section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Septic Tank Grants

Ceisteanna (487)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

487. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if consideration will be given to making a grant available to private residents whose domestic septic tanks are not compliant with section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007 in circumstances in which the resident is not in a financial position to replace their septic tank and needs to under health and safety. [22325/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included an improved funding scheme for on-site wastewater treatment systems (more commonly known as septic tanks).

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services. The Working Group, which is chaired by my Department, includes nominees from the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Service Executive, Department of Rural and Community Development and local authorities, through the County and City Management Association (CCMA). The Working Group considered all elements of Rural Water Services, including enhancements to the scheme for Domestic Wastewater Treatment systems to better support the programme of measures in the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018-2021, published in 2018.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the funding scheme. I expect that the process will be completed in the coming weeks when the necessary Statutory Instruments containing regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable circular letters, terms and conditions, guidance and application forms to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (488)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

488. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when further funding will be provided to Kildare County Council to facilitate the drawdown of Rebuilding Ireland mortgage loans in view of the fact that the council is unable to approve loans due to a lack of funding; the amount of funding that will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22385/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan launched on 1 February 2018. Prior to its launch, an initial tranche of €200 million of long-term fixed-rate finance was borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency to provide funds for the scheme to local authorities.

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, the RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, as a result of which, the scheme would require a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the HFA in order to enable its continuation.

My Department is currently in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to the amount of a second tranche, which I anticipate, will be finalised soon. When these discussions are concluded I will be in a position to make an announcement on the matter. However, the scheme remains open and all local authorities have been advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans. An announcement on the amount of additional funding to be provided is not inhibiting the running of the scheme in any way.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (489)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

489. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if approval will be given to Kerry County Council to purchase a house (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22504/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Funding for the acquisition of the property in question has been approved by my Department and it is now a matter for Kerry County Council to pursue.