Defence Forces Personnel Data

Ceisteanna (45)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

45. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of applications for discharge from the Defence Forces that took in excess of four months to be completed in 2018; the number on hand in which the process has not been completed within four months of the application date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The reasons and process for discharge of enlisted personnel from the Permanent Defence Force are governed by Defence Force Regulations and this is reflected in the manner data is collated by the military authorities. The specific information requested by the Deputy is not maintained in a readily available format. The task of accessing this information is not possible in the timeframe given. The military authorities are working on the request.

I will revert to the Deputy with a response as soon as possible.

Insurance Coverage

Ceisteanna (46)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

46. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to the creation of a national community insurance bond, possibly funded by local authorities, to provide insurance cover for small community events in view of the fact that private insurance costs are prohibitive for such events and consequently stifling community events and initiatives. [23078/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. The Deputy will be aware that neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, have the power to direct insurers on the pricing or provision of insurance products. Indeed, the EU framework (the Solvency II Directive) for insurance expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurers to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. The provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter for insurers and is based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept and adequate provisioning to meet those risks. These are considered by insurers on a case-by-case basis, including with regard to community events, whether large or small, that may be organised.

In light of the above, I would be cautious about the introduction of a publicly funded insurance scheme that would provide insurance cover to such events in this jurisdiction. There is no reason to believe that the State would be any better at managing this risk than private insurance companies, and as a result there potentially could be a large financial exposure to the State if significant losses were incurred.

In addition, any such insurance scheme would be required to comply with the same prudential rules as private companies, thereby meaning that the cost of that insurance would still have to reflect the risk involved. Also, while it may appear that such a scheme might alleviate problems in the short term, the introduction of such a scheme could ultimately decrease competition in the Irish insurance market over the longer term, as some insurers may stop insuring particular risks completely if there is a view that the State/local authorities are insuring these risks instead, particularly those lines of business that are considered to be unprofitable. This could mean there would be even less of a choice for those seeking cover which could result in the cost of insurance becoming even more expensive than it is now. Such outcomes would be of detriment to consumers, community groups, voluntary organisations or businesses.

In view of these issues, I am not convinced therefore that a State/local authority-backed insurance scheme, whether it be to insure community events or other risks, would be a solution to the current problem regarding the cost or availability of insurance for such events and initiatives. Instead, I think that we need to continue to implement the recommendations of both reports of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG). Indeed, the reforms already introduced by the CIWG’s work are having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from April 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24.4% lower than the July 2016 peak) and I am determined to continue working to ensure that these positive pricing trends can be extended to other forms of insurance, including those relevant in this case.

Notwithstanding this progress, it is widely recognised and accepted that the single most essential challenge which must be overcome if there is to be a sustainable reduction in insurance costs particularly for small businesses, or event organisers, is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions. In that regard, the Personal Injuries Commission, which was established under a recommendation of the CIWG, has highlighted the significant differential between award levels in Ireland and other jurisdictions, and has made a number of recommendations to address this issue, in particular the establishment of a Judicial Council to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.

Both I and Minister of State D’Arcy believe that this awards gap needs to be significantly closed and we are working with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan TD, to ensure that this happens at the earliest opportunity. The Judicial Council Bill has recently completed Committee Stage in the Seanad and the Government has approved the drafting of amendments for Report Stage in the Seanad, which will provide for the establishment of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee whose sole purpose will be to develop such guidelines which will fall to be adopted by the Judicial Council. With the cooperation of all members of the Oireachtas, it is hoped that the Bill can be enacted as soon as possible.

In addition, arising from another recommendation of the CIWG, the Law Reform Commission (LRC) has commenced its work to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries, as part of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform. It is hoped that if there was a significant move in this area, it could have an impact on insurance pricing and could also help attract new entrants into the market. Such outcomes would be of benefit to all concerned.

Finally, I would like to assure the Deputy that the Cost of Insurance Working Group will continue to focus on implementing the recommendations of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in parallel with implementing those from the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance. I am hopeful that the cumulative effects of the completion of the two Reports’ recommendations will include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for the citizens of this State and a more competitive insurance market.

Mortgage Debt

Ceisteanna (47)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

47. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if guidance has been issued by the Central Bank or if there is an industry-wide approach being adopted by banks in cases in which a couple has separated and there is no agreement between the parties in relation to the mortgage; the position in cases in which one party, for example, wishes to be removed from the mortgage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23108/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In general, under the terms of mortgage credit contracts both of the parties to a joint mortgage will be jointly and severally liable for the debt. Accordingly, the removal of persons from a liability for some or all of the debt under a mortgage agreement is a contractual matter for the parties to the agreement or will, having regard to the particular circumstances of any individual case, be governed by contract or any other applicable law. Therefore, the Central Bank is limited in what it can prescribe in this area.

However, in respect of separated borrowers in or facing mortgage arrears on their primary residence, the Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) will apply. The CCMA provides that in the case of joint borrowers who notify the lender in writing that they have separated or divorced, the lender should treat each borrower as a single borrower under the Code (except to the extent that an action requires, as a matter of law, the agreement of both borrowers).

Corporation Tax Regime

Ceisteanna (48, 49, 50)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

48. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the anticipated full year impact on corporation tax receipts of implementing the OECD pillar 1 proposals as they are currently drafted; the details of the set of proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23137/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

49. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the anticipated full year impact on corporation tax receipts of implementing the OECD pillar 2 proposals as they are currently drafted; the details of the set of proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

50. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the work plan to be agreed on tax issues relating to digitalisation; the anticipated full year impact of this work plan on corporation tax receipts here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23139/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 to 50, inclusive, together.

On 28 May the OECD Inclusive Framework on BEPS agreed a programme of work aimed at developing a consensus solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. The programme of work will be undertaken under the auspices of the OECD over the coming months, on a without prejudice basis. I understand that this work programme is due to be published by the OECD at the end of May.

The programme is structured under two broad pillars, known as Pillar one and Pillar two. In very broad terms, Pillar one is examining where profits of multinationals are allocated and examining mechanisms for potentially amending existing approaches. Pillar two is to examining the concept of minimum effective taxation.

The work on both Pillars is at a very early stage and the OECD work programme provides a framework for technical work to begin in the OECD's technical working parties. The discussions on both Pillars are not yet formulated as draft proposals which can be fully analysed by countries at this stage.

The proposals on the table under Pillar one are, as yet, quite diverse and there is no clarity on what might ultimately be agreed. While clearly a change in how profits are taxed in different jurisdictions would result in a shift in profits being allocated from one location to another, upward and downward adjustments won’t become clear until technical work advances.

As regards Pillar two, the work programme will detail some of the potential mechanics of how a minimum taxation proposal may operate but there is not sufficient detail at this stage to estimate the impact of any eventual proposal on corporation tax receipts.

In the circumstances, it is not possible to calculate the impact on corporation tax receipts of implementing the proposals as they are currently drafted. Officials in my Department and Revenue will be actively engaged in the work at OECD, including the estimation of the impact of the options as they emerge in more detail.

The Deputy will be aware that on 23 May, I delivered a speech on this important topic at the Harvard Kennedy School and Irish Tax Institute Global Tax Policy Conference where I signalled that change is coming in the international tax rules as a result of the work now underway at the OECD to find a globally agreed solution to the challenges in relation to the taxation of an increasingly digitalised international economy.

In that speech, I outlined my belief that it might be possible to find a globally acceptable agreement within the broad Pillar 1 proposals that provides certainty. I also set out the principles that would need to be observed in order for the OECD process to result in an agreed outcome. Those principles include aligning taxing rights with value creation, respecting the long established international corporate tax framework as well as the primary taxing rights of exporting countries and not disproportionately benefiting large countries at the expense of smaller ones.

As I have outlined, a minimum effective tax proposal had not, until recently, been part of the discussions at the OECD on addressing the tax challenges of digitalisation and I remain to be convinced of the validity and appropriateness of this aspect of the work.

Nevertheless, Ireland is positively engaged in the discussions at OECD and I remain open to solutions which respect our right to compete fairly and which respect the legitimacy of Ireland’s longstanding 12.5% corporate tax rate. In all of these discussions my key priority will be to ensure that as this important work advances, Ireland’s interests are central to the process of forming that globally agreed consensus.

Within those parameters, if the outcome of this work can, in these changing times, provide tax certainty for governments and for business, it will be very worthwhile.

Tax Appeals Commission

Ceisteanna (51)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

51. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of outstanding appeals at the Tax Appeals Commission; the value of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23142/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

There were 3,652 appeals on hand before the Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) as at 20 May, 2019. I am advised by the TAC that it is difficult to provide an actual quantum figure because the original quantum of tax under appeal may be modified post filing of the notice of appeal (i.e. where an aspect of the appeal is settled or withdrawn), the parties may disagree in relation to the precise quantum of tax in dispute, or the monetary value of an appeal is not always calculable (e.g. in appeals where the rate of tax is in dispute or where the quantum in dispute represents a refusal of loss relief or of deductions or in appeals in relation to the refusal of Tax Clearance Certificates). Subject to these caveats, as at 20 May, 2019 the TAC recorded the quantum of tax under appeal amounting to approximately €3.7 billion. Of this amount, €2.5 billion is comprised in 10 appeals, five of which were received by the TAC in the last week of December 2018.

Some appeals before the TAC cannot be progressed when the Commission has to await the outcome of court proceedings. For example, a stay may have been placed on the progression of the appeals by the TAC by Order of the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. Of the 10 highest-value appeals before the TAC, two appeals with a combined value of €1.67 billion are currently stayed by Court Order and cannot be progressed by the TAC until the stays are lifted.

In view of the growing backlog of appeals, I commissioned an independent review of the workload and operations of the TAC in 2018. In line with the review's recommendations, I sanctioned the doubling of the TAC’s annual budget in 2019, to allow for additional staffing resources at all levels and additional funding for improved ICT systems. In June 2018 the TAC moved to a new, larger premises that allow for the scheduling of simultaneous hearings, to ensure greater and more efficient use of Commissioner’s time. This is resulting in a reduction in the time parties have to wait for their appeal to be heard.

In addition, a Public Appointments Service competition for the recruitment of Temporary Appeal Commissioners was completed recently and details of appointments from the resulting panel will be announced shortly. Legislation is also in progress to create the role of Chairperson of the TAC, as per a recommendation of the independent review.

With the substantial increase in resources at the TAC, I expect the overall number of appeals on hand, and consequently the quantum of tax under appeal before the TAC, to begin to decrease steadily over the coming year.

Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (52)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

52. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of Revenue Commissioners and customs officials that have been hired in order to deal with Brexit; the number operational; the number in training; and when they are expected to be operational. [23143/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that since the start of 2019, Revenue has appointed over 500 staff from open recruitment and interdepartmental competitions. The majority of these have been assigned to customs roles or to backfill positions from which existing Revenue staff have been assigned to customs duties. As serving staff take up their new Brexit-related roles, Revenue is back-filling the vacancies created, from panels established in its general recruitment activity. Additional staff recruited in preparation for Brexit are deployed across a number of functions with approximately half on import and export trade facilitation activities.

To date, Revenue has trained over 400 staff in preparation for Brexit. There are approximately 50 staff members currently training and it is expected that these will be deployed to active duties in Summer 2019. The impact of the decision to extend the deadline on Brexit to 31 October 2019 is being assessed by Revenue having regard to resources, infrastructure and trader engagement. This will include broadening the scope of training for new staff, to include customs and other compliance functions as appropriate, based on business need.

Legislative Programme

Ceisteanna (53)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

53. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he will introduce legislation on limited partnerships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23144/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The updating of the Investment Limited Partnership Act, 1994 is a priority on the Government's legislative programme and, one of the strategic priorities in the recently published Ireland for Finance strategy document.

The drafting of the amendments to the Act has been recently completed. It is my intention to bring forward the draft Bill to Government in the coming weeks to seek permission to publish the Bill and, if approved, introduce the Bill into the House thereafter.

Tax Credits

Ceisteanna (54, 55)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

54. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the research and development tax credit for the previous five years; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23145/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

55. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the knowledge development box in each year since its creation; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23146/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 55 together.

I am advised by Revenue that the annual cost of the Research and Development (R&D) tax credit and the number of companies that availed of it for years up to 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, is published on the Revenue website at the following link:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/r-and-d-tax-credits.aspx .

The available information in respect of multinational and SME companies is split between companies administered by Revenue’s Large Corporates Division (LCD) and non-LCD companies. Most of the companies administered by LCD are multinational companies. Also shown is the distribution of the R&D claims by the number of employees of the companies.

A review of the research and development tax credit is being undertaken by my Department in 2019. This review will examine the interaction of SMEs with the credit as part of its scope.

In relation to the Knowledge Development Box (KDB), the number of claimants and cost are published in Revenue’s recent paper on 2018 Corporation Tax payments and 2017 tax returns, which is available on the Revenue website at link https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/research/ct-analysis-2019.pdf (Table 13 shows the KDB claims). Due to the small numbers of taxpayers claiming KDB, Revenue cannot comment further on the size of the claimant companies.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (56)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

56. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the entrepreneurial relief for each year since its establishment; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23147/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

It is assumed the Deputy is referring to the revised Entrepreneur Relief (section 597AA TCA 1997) that is available in respect of Capital Gains Tax (CGT). The available information is published on the Revenue website at the following link - https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/entrepreneur-relief-statistics.aspx.

The estimated cost of the relief and the number of claims is provided in the following table for the Deputy's convenience.

Year

Estimated Exchequer Cost €m

Number of Claims

2017 (provisional)

81.2

873

2016

20.4

412

Information is not available in respect of multinational and SME companies as the relief applies to individuals only.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (57)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

57. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the special assignee relief programme for the previous five years; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23148/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

SARP was introduced in Budget 2012 as part of a strategy to promote Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland, and to allow us to compete internationally to attract highly skilled and mobile executives who act as key decision makers within organisations.

The measure provides income tax relief on a portion of income earned by employees, who are assigned by their employer to work in Ireland, and who previously worked abroad for that employer for a minimum of six months. There is no exemption or relief from USC and PRSI is payable where the individual is not liable to social insurance contributions in the home country.

The 2016 annual Revenue report on SARP shows that for the years 2012 to 2016 (the most recent year for which data are available) the annual cost of the measure was as follows:

Tax Cost 2012

Tax Cost 2013

Tax Cost 2014

Tax Cost 2015

Tax Cost 2016

€0.1 million

€1.9 million

€5.9 million

€9.5 million

€18.1 million

Regarding the Deputy's question as to the number of companies that have availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational companies and SME companies, Revenue have advised me that a breakdown of company types, whether SME or multinationals, is not available. However, the following table sets out the numbers of individual claimants for the period 2012-2016.

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

11

121

302

586

793

As the Deputy is aware, following on from concerns I had regarding the increasing cost of the incentive, I amended the SARP legislation in Finance Bill 2018 to reinstate an upper salary threshold at the level of €1 million. This change came into effect for new entrants to the programme from 1 January 2019 and for existing beneficiaries of the programme from 1 January 2020.

In accordance with the Department of Finance Tax Expenditure Guidelines, SARP will be fully reviewed in 2019 ahead of Finance Bill 2019. This review will afford an opportunity to look at all elements of the relief. It will also include consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (58)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

58. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the foreign earnings deduction for the previous five years; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23149/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Foreign Earnings Deduction (FED) is provided for in section 823A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA). It provides relief from tax on up to €35,000 of salary for employees who travel out of State to certain countries on behalf of their employer. In order to qualify for FED, an employee must spend a minimum of 30 days abroad in a year and each trip must consist of at least three (3) consecutive days in a qualifying country.

I am advised by Revenue that the most recent data available on the annual cost and the number of individuals who have availed of the scheme are as follows:

Year

No. of individuals

Exchequer Cost (€m)

2016

413

3.5

2015

472

3.2

2014

144

1.1

2013

135

1

2012

108

0.8

I am further advised by Revenue that FED is an allowance that is applied for by the employee through their own tax returns and is not returned at a company level. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the information on the number of companies associated with employees availing of the scheme broken down by multinational companies and SMEs, as requested by the Deputy.

Finally, I would like to advise the Deputy that FED will be reviewed this year, along with the Special Assignee Relief Programme, with the aim of ensuring that it operates as an efficient and effective tax relief. It is expected that the reports of these reviews will be completed and published as part of the Budget and Finance Bill process this year.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Ceisteanna (59)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

59. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the take-up of the key employee engagement programme in each month since its establishment; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23150/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

S128F of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) which came into effect on 1 January 2018. The aim of the incentive is to support SMEs in Ireland in competing with larger enterprises to recruit and retain key employees, by way of a targeted share option programme.

I am advised by Revenue that the ‘KEEP 1’ returns in relation to shares issued in 2018, which was the first year of the Programme, were due to be filed by 31 March 2019. Returns received to date indicate that 38 employees have received shares under KEEP.

Due to Revenue’s obligation to maintain taxpayer confidentiality, it does not disclose information in circumstances where the number of cases is so small that it might facilitate identification of the taxpayers involved. For this reason, Revenue cannot provide the level of detail requested by the Deputy at this time.

Finally, as the Deputy may be aware, my Department is carrying out a consultation process on tax incentives that are intended to support SMEs, which includes a focussed consultation on KEEP.

As part of the process, a Stakeholder Consultation Event is scheduled to be held next week (Thursday, 6 June 2019). Relevant details will be made available on my Department's website later this week. Specifically in relation to KEEP, the aim is to ensure that the incentive operates as intended in an efficient and effective manner.

Employment Investment Incentive Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (60)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

60. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the employment and investment incentive scheme for each year since it commenced; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years by multinational and SME companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23151/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Employment and Investment Incentive (“EII”) is an incentive whereby investors can claim relief for investments in qualifying companies.

The annual cost and number of companies that have availed of the scheme between 2012 and 2017, the latest year for which data are currently available, can be found in the following table.

Year

No. of qualifying companies

Estimated Tax Cost (First tranche) €M

Estimated Tax Cost (Second tranche) €M

2011/2012

255

15.7

3.2

2013

248

17.3

2.9

2014

297

23.3

2.0

2015

270

28

2016

203

31

2017

87

18.6

I am advised by Revenue that while applicant companies for EII must be micro, small or medium sized enterprises they are not required by Revenue to identify whether they have a multi-national character. Accordingly, the breakdown the Deputy has asked for in relation to multi-national companies is not available.

As the Deputy is aware, in 2018 I commissioned a review of the Employment and Investment Incentive. An initial response to the review was provided for in Finance Act 2018, which brought forward a priority package of measures to address certain issues with the incentive and to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. This included the extension of the scheme to 31 December 2021.

It was always the intention that other measures identified in the review would be examined in due course, with the potential for further amendments in future Finance Bills. To assist with consideration of these proposals, a consultation process is underway on tax incentives that are intended to support SMEs, which includes a focused consultation on the Employment and Investment incentive.

As part of the process, a Stakeholder Consultation Event is scheduled to be held next week (Thursday, 6 June 2019). Relevant details will be made available on my Department's website later this week. The intention is to ensure that the incentive operates in an efficient and effective manner, as a targeted SME support measure.

Tax Reliefs Data

Ceisteanna (61)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

61. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the start-up refunds for entrepreneurs for the previous five years; the number of companies that availed of the scheme in each of these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23152/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Start Up Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) provides a refund of tax paid in the previous six tax years to those previously in PAYE employment, or recently unemployed, where they invest funds into a new business set up by them.

The most recent year for which statistics are available on this incentive is 2016. The cost and number of individuals who have availed of SURE for each year from 2012 to 2016 inclusive are as follows:

Year

Cost €m

Claimants

2016

1.9

80

2015

1.8

86

2014

1.8

59

2013

1.3

60

2012

1.6

88

As the Deputy will be aware, in 2018 I commissioned a review of the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) and SURE. Following on from the recommendations made in this review, I have extended both incentives to 31 December 2021.

Insurance Coverage

Ceisteanna (62)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

62. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons in 2019 that availed of the declined insurance arrangement of a body (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23153/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset, as the Deputy is aware, I, in my role as Minister for Finance, have no responsibility for the operation of the Declined Cases Agreement (DCA) and therefore neither I, nor my Department, have direct access to the data that is being requested.

However, in order to be as helpful as I can, my officials contacted Insurance Ireland about your information request. In response they have provided me with statistics on the number of cases they have dealt between 2009 and 2018. Insurance Ireland informed my officials that data for 2019 is not yet available. However, I understand that the figures for the first four months of 2019 will be available in mid-June. The available figures are set out in the following table.

Insurance Ireland data

Year

Total

DCA

2018

1,147

2017

1,423

2016

1,941

2015

1,164

2014

669

2013

308

2012

178

2011

169

2010

130

2009

115

In relation to these cases, Insurance Ireland has informed my officials that all applications made to them were accepted for processing under the Declined Cases Agreement. They have also stated that a quotation was secured for the applicants in question through the Agreement and that they therefore consider all applications to have been successful.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Ceisteanna (63)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

63. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a person who was placed on an interim measure after reaching the age of retirement in 2018 can continue working in the Civil Service; if it is prohibited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23156/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

On 5 December 2017, the Government made the decision to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70, for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004. Primary legislation was necessary in order to bring that change into effect. It was made clear at the time that until such legislation was enacted, the compulsory retirement age of 65, which applied to the vast majority of this cohort, remained in effect and pre-2004 public servants reaching that age would be required to retire.

Interim arrangements were provided for the cohort of public servants who reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 after the Government Decision because, while they would be aware of the Government’s decision, they would be unable to avail of it. Those arrangements permitted these individuals to be rehired post-retirement for a period of 1 year until they reached the age of eligibility for the State Pension (Contributory). Without that specific arrangement, they would have been required to cease working on reaching the age of 65.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. Under the Act, any relevant public servant who had not already reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 before that date has a new compulsory retirement age of 70. Enactment of the legislation had no effect on those public servants who retired at 65 prior to the 26 December 2018 and who availed of a one year contract under the interim arrangements.

Section 3 of the 2018 Act also provides that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, within three months of the passing of the Act, would prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act, due to reaching the age of 65 years, and on potential remedies to assist this cohort of worker. This Report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019 and is publicly available on the www.gov.ie website and in the Oireachtas Library online catalogue.

Having considered all of the issues outlined in the Report, I am satisfied that the interim arrangements were an appropriate temporary policy response at the time of the Government Decision, pending enactment of the legislation. The terms of those arrangements were clear, unambiguous and made known to those who availed of them. Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the report, I do not propose to make any changes to those terms.

The contract terms for the interim cohort will, therefore, continue to apply and they will cease working when they reach the age of 66 as previously provided for.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (64)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

64. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if 2019 is the first year that junior certificate students can only take their written final examination in no more than ten subjects or eleven with CSPE in accordance with circular 0015/2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23058/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Junior Cycle Framework 2015 sets out Government policy in relation to Junior Cycle. Under that Framework students can take between 8 and a maximum of 10 subjects for final examination and for reporting through the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA). The maximum of 10 subjects was designed to provide a broad curriculum experience to students, while allowing for the adequate depth of study of the subject matter, as well as avoiding stress to students as a result of taking a higher number of subjects (Students taking the old CPSE exam, being examined for the last time in 2019, are permitted to take 11 subjects this year).

Changes to the curriculum and polices that affect students are not made lightly. The Framework was published following a complete review of the earlier junior cycle programme, involving consultation with a wide range of education stakeholders including students. The changes to the number of subjects a student should study were notified to schools in 2014 when schools were advised to begin limiting the overall number of subjects they offer to students for certification and that a limit of ten subjects for certification will be in place for students entering first year in September 2015. This advice has been repeated in advice issued to schools in the years since 2014, including Circular 0015/2017 (superseded by 0079/2018). It was also included in an information leaflet produced for parents of post-primary students. 2018 was the first year in which Junior Certificate students were required to sit no more than 10 subjects under Circular 0015/2017.

The majority of schools promptly followed the instruction issued by this Department and advised students of the maximum number of subjects permitted. Students would in a number of cases have reduced the number of subjects they were taking.

The student is at the heart of the policy set out in the Framework for Junior Cycle. The Framework embodies a number of features designed to provide a learning experience that addresses the needs of the 21st century. It presents a curriculum designed for all students, not just for some. Under the Framework students study subjects in greater depth. Students are more likely to retain the knowledge as they have opportunities to apply their learning in a number of different contexts, engage in research, investigation and experimentation and present their work in a variety of different modes. They are encouraged to think critically and reflect on and evaluate their own learning, either as individuals or in collaboration with their peers. The Framework supports the move away from rote learning and instead is designed to help the students to become better learners, and better citizens. This is done through embedding key skills for successful learning across the curriculum and for learning beyond school. More relevant learning like this leads to deeper learning and achievement.