Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (848)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

848. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the volume of funding by county allocated across funding programmes since the inception of his Department (details supplied). [23468/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

In order to provide the data requested, given the volume involved, I am arranging for the total funding allocated by county and details of individual allocations in each county, since the establishment of my Department in 2017 to date, to be forwarded to the Deputy separately. 

CLÁR Programme

Ceisteanna (849)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

849. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding allocated for the CLÁR programme in 2019; the expenditure to date under each scheme by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructural projects in disadvantaged rural areas that have experienced significant levels of de-population. Since I relaunched the programme in 2016, more than 1,200 projects have been approved funding of almost €27 million.

I launched the 2019 CLÁR programme on 28 February last, with an indicative allocation of €5 million.  Applications were invited under three separate measures: 

Measure 1:  Support for "School and Community Safety Measures",

Measure 2:  Support for "Play Areas and Multi-Use Games Areas", and

Measure 3:  Funding for "Community Wellbeing Support" .

Community Wellbeing Support covers the provision of equipment and vehicles for voluntary first-response organisations, as well as the provision of specialist vehicles to bring people to cancer-care centres and other community-care services.  The measure will also provide funding for sensory gardens. 

The closing date for the 2019 CLÁR programme was the 30th April, and almost 500 applications were received by my Department. 

My officials are currently assessing all of the applications received.

Community Services Programme

Ceisteanna (850)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

850. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if documentation, including a business case plan, submitted as part of an application by an organisation (details supplied) in County Donegal has been received; if his attention has been drawn to the need for these additional posts to be allocated in order to ensure that the organisation can deliver these initiatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23541/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports around 400 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model, with funding provided as a fixed annual contribution to the cost of a manager and an agreed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.  Some €46m is available under the programme in 2019. 

The organisation in question receives funding under the CSP as a contribution towards the cost of two FTEs.  It sought additional support for a manager post and additional FTEs as part of the normal CSP Re-contracting Process in 2018.  While the application did not demonstrate sufficient need for the additional support sought at the time, the organisation was given a one-year contract at existing levels with an opportunity to submit a revised business plan in 2019 to support its application for additional support. 

A revised business plan was received by Pobal toward the end of May.  It will be assessed against the normal CSP eligibility criteria, including the likely impact that the additional support sought will have for the community.  I expect Pobal to complete its assessment and submit a recommendation to my Department for decision before end-June 2019.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Ceisteanna (851)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

851. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to provide funding to an organisation (details supplied) to establish a full volunteer centre for County Kilkenny in line with its proposals outlined in the successful application; the funding process and timeframe for delivery by the organisation of the volunteer centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23808/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department's community and voluntary supports and programmes unit provides a cohesive framework of support for the community and voluntary sector. €3.5 million is being provided in 2019 under this programme to support 21 Volunteer Centres, eight Volunteering Information Services in areas not served by a full Volunteer Centres and a number of volunteer-supporting organisations.

The Dormant Accounts Fund Action Plan 2018 included the provision of €1.2 million to upgrade the eight Volunteering Information Services, including Kilkenny Volunteering Information Service, to full Volunteer Centres in order to provide a consistent level of volunteering service nationwide. My Department has been reviewing the options associated with the roll out of this initiative, including ongoing funding supports and the structure under which the new Volunteer Centres might be established.  My Department will engage with the eight Volunteering Information Services shortly following due consideration of all the issues. 

Local Development Companies Funding

Ceisteanna (852)

John Curran

Ceist:

852. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development further to Parliamentary Question No. 278 of 18 April 2019, the amount paid out to date of the amount allocated to each local authority and LDC to community groups in each such year based on the latest data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24133/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I refer to the reply to question No. 278 of 18 April 2019 which provided information on the amounts allocated to each local authority area for the schemes and years referenced. 

The 2017 and 2018 amounts have issued from this Department to the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) that administer the schemes. The 2019 amounts will issue during quarter 3 of this year.

A list of approved projects  for 2017 and 2018 was provided in the previous response, however, a list of the amounts paid out by the LCDCs to community groups is not yet available.  To allow community groups time to complete the work necessary to draw down the funding, an extension to end June 2019 has been provided for use of these funds.  In July, the Department will compile a list of the payments provided by LCDCs to community groups.  A copy will be provided to the Deputy at that stage

A copy of the response to the previous question (No. 278 of 18 April 2019) is provided for completeness.

Response to previous question (No. 278 of 18 April 2019)

The nationwide re-cast RAPID programme and the Communities Facilities Scheme were launched for the first time in 2017.  €65,000 was allocated to and paid to each local authority area under each scheme, a total of €130,000 for each area and €4m across the country.

In 2018, these two programmes were replaced by the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP), which received total funding of €13m in 2018, including €0.5m that was ring-fenced for Men’s Sheds. The 2019 CEP has recently been launched with funding of €4.5m. The amount allocated to each local authority area is shown in the following table for 2018 and 2019. The 2018 amounts have been paid out by this Department. The 2019 amounts have not yet been paid out.

All of these three programmes were administered by Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs), with support from the local authorities. Local Development Committees (LDCs) were not involved in that process.

Lists of approved projects under the 2017 Communities Facilities Scheme, the 2017 RAPID programme, and the 2018 CEP are provided in the below links. In some cases there is a delay in drawdown of this funding by community groups, for example, due to a delay in completing the approved work. This causes a delay in having final figures for some areas. The Department has written to the LCDC in each area asking for confirmation of final amounts provided to community groups and will provide this to the Deputy when it is available. It is not anticipated that there will be any significant difference between the amounts paid out by the Department to each LCDC/LA and the amounts paid out by that LCDC/LA to community groups.

Local Authority area

2018 CEP Allocation

2019 CEP Allocation

Carlow 

€259,285

€134,206

Cavan 

€274,141

€134,757

Clare 

€336,239

€139,257

Cork City

€472,567

€149,241

Cork

€650,400

€160,762

Donegal 

€632,449

€159,461

Dublin City

€1,364,607

€212,306

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

€369,788

€142,108

Fingal 

€493,131

€150,521

Galway City

€233,676

€132,455

Galway 

€397,778

€143,401

Kerry 

€382,630

€142,409

Kildare 

€468,672

€148,013

Kilkenny 

€289,901

€136,319

Laois 

€294,177

€136,524

Leitrim 

€189,068

€129,223

Limerick

€542,485

€152,942

Longford 

€234,155

€132,385

Louth

€418,627

€145,542

Mayo 

€425,542

€145,203

Meath 

€393,662

€142,893

Monaghan 

€238,172

€132,571

Offaly 

€322,142

€138,550

Roscommon 

€248,252

€133,301

Sligo 

€263,402

€134,084

South Dublin 

€750,743

€169,399

Tipperary

€486,017

€149,690

Waterford 

€402,777

€144,499

Westmeath 

€303,516

€136,571

Wexford 

€494,079

€150,065

Wicklow

€367,921

€141,343

Total

€13,000,000

€4,500,000

Details on approved projects for the 2017 Communities Facilities Fund are on the following link:

https://drcd.gov.ie/community/communities-facilities-scheme/

Details on approved projects for the 2017 RAPID programme are on the following link:

https://drcd.gov.ie/revitalising-areas-by-planning-investment-and-development-rapid/

Details on approved projects for the 2018 Community Enhancement Programme are on the following link:

https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/CEP-Jan-2019-Project-approvals.pdf

Details on approved projects for the 2018 Men’s Shed fund (under the Community Enhancement Programme) are on the following link:

https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Mens-Sheds-Funding-Jan-2019.pdf 

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (853, 854, 855)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

853. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding provided to agricultural and industrial shows (details supplied) in County Roscommon in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24154/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

854. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding provided to agricultural and industrial shows for 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019 by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24155/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

855. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding provided for an agricultural show (details supplied) in County Galway for 2015 to 2018 and to date 2019. [24156/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 853 to 855, inclusive, together.

In December 2017, I first announced an allocation of funding of €812,000 to the Irish Shows Association to support almost 120 agricultural shows around the country which were due to take place in 2018. This was intended to be a once-off payment, in recognition of the difficulties which many shows had experienced in previous years due to bad weather and increased insurance costs. Each show was eligible to receive up to €7,000 from the Government in an effort to support these important rural community events. The investment was carried out through the Irish Shows Association and the recipients were all members of that Association.

Having seen the positive impact of the investment in the shows and having regard to the funding available within my Department, in August 2018 I announced a further allocation of €600,000 to the Irish Shows Association to support shows due to take place in 2019. Each show was eligible to receive up to €5,000 from this allocation.

Funding for Agricultural shows is provided on an exceptional basis and depends on the availability of funding in my Department’s overall budget from year to year.

The following table outlines the funding allocated to Agricultural Shows via the Irish Shows Association for 2018 and 2019, by county.

County

Name of Show

Grant Amount for Shows in 2018

Grant Amount for Shows in 2019

Carlow

Tullow

€7,000

€5,000

Cavan

Arva

€7,000

€5,000

Cavan

Virginia

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Clarecastle

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Corofin

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Ennistymon

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Kildysart

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Kilrush

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Mullagh

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Newmarket-on-Fergus

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Scariff

€7,000

€5,000

Clare

Bridgetown

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Ballygarvan

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Ballyvourney/Coolea

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Bandon

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Bantry

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Barryroe

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Belgooly

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Carbery/Skibbereen

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Charleville

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Clonakilty

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Cork Summer Show

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Dunmanway

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Inniscarra

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Leap

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

Midleton

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

National Dairy Show

N/A

€3,000

Cork

Schull

€7,000

€5,000

Cork

West Cork Horse Breeders

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Adrara

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Ballyshannon

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Clonmany

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Finn Valley

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Glencolmcille

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Inishowen

€7,000

€5,000

Donegal

Meenacross

€7,000

€5,000

Dublin

Flavours of Fingal Show

€7,000

€5,000

Dublin

Irish Pony Breeders Show

N/A

€3,000

Dublin

Skerries (Irish Association Of Welsh Pony & Cob Society Show )

€3,500

N/A

Galway

Ardrahan

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Athenry

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Ballinasloe

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Ballyconneely Agri Show

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Ballyconneely Performance Show

N/A

€3,000

Galway

Cashel

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Clare Galway Show

N/A

€5,000

Galway

Clifden

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Connemara Performance Show

€3,500

€3,000

Galway

Corradulla

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Galway

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Glenamaddy

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Gort

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Loughrea

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Maam Cross Show

N/A

€3,000

Galway

Mountbellew

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Oughterard

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Roundstone

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Seo Chapallini Carraroe

€7,000

€5,000

Galway

Taispenatas Cois Fharraige (Spideal)

€7,000

€5,000

Kerry

Blennerville Pony Society

€7,000

€5,000

Kerry

Dingle

€7,000

€5,000

Kerry

Glencar

€7,000

€5,000

Kerry

Kerry Bog Pony Show

€7,000

€2,500

Kerry

Kilgarvan

€7,000

€5,000

Kerry

South Kerry Ploughing

€7,000

N/A

Kerry

Kingdom Co Fair Tralee

€7,000

€5,000

Kildare

Marina Fay Minature Show

€3,500

€5,000

Kildare

Newbridge College Show

€3,500

€3,000

Kilkenny

Ballyfoyle Show

N/A

€3,000

Kilkenny

Black & Amber Welsh Pony Show

N/A

€3,000

Kilkenny

Castlegannon

€7,000

€5,000

Kilkenny

Iverk (Piltown)

€7,000

€5,000

Kilkenny

Thomastown

€7,000

€5,000

Laois

Clonaslee

€7,000

€5,000

Leitrim

Ballinamore

€7,000

€5,000

Leitrim

Jamestown

€7,000

€5,000

Leitrim

Manorhamilton

€7,000

€5,000

Leitrim

Mohill

€7,000

€5,000

Limerick

Cappamore

€7,000

€5,000

Limerick

Newcastlewest

€7,000

€5,000

Limerick

Limerick

€7,000

€5,000

Longford

Ballinalee

€7,000

€5,000

Longford

Granard

€7,000

€5,000

Longford

Longford

€7,000

€5,000

Louth

Dundalk (Louth County Show)

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Ballinrobe

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Ballina

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Bonniconlon

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Claremorris

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Crossmolina

€7,000

N/A

Mayo

Erris

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Louisbergh

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Swinford

€7,000

€5,000

Mayo

Westport

€7,000

€5,000

Meath

North East Connemara Pony Breeders

€3,500

€5,000

Meath

Ballivor

€7,000

€5,000

Meath

Nobber Show and Fair

N/A

€3,000

Meath

Oldcastle

€7,000

€5,000

Meath

Tatersall Show

N/A

€3,000

Meath

Trim

€7,000

€5,000

Monaghan

Tydavnet

€7,000

€5,000

Monahan

Castleblanney

€7,000

€5,000

Offaly

Mount Brisco Rare Breed

€3,500

€2,500

Offaly

Tullamore

€7,000

€5,000

Roscommon

Castlerea

€7,000

€5,000

Roscommon

Elphin

€7,000

€5,000

Roscommon

Roscommon

€7,000

€5,000

Roscommon

Strokestown

€7,000

€5,000

Roscomon

Boyle Summer Show

€7,000

€5,000

Sligo

Beltra

€7,000

€5,000

Sligo

Enniscrone

€7,000

€5,000

Sligo

Grange

€7,000

€5,000

Sligo

Riverstown

€7,000

€5,000

Sligo

Strandhill

€7,000

€5,000

Tipperary

Bansha

€7,000

€5,000

Tipperary

Clonmel

€7,000

€5,000

Tipperary

Nenagh

€7,000

€5,000

Waterford

Dungarvan

€7,000

€5,000

Westmeath

Athlone

€7,000

€5,000

Westmeath

Midland CP Breeders

€7,000

€5,000

Westmeath

Moate

€7,000

€5,000

Westmeath

Mullingar

€7,000

€5,000

Wexford

Adamstown

€7,000

€5,000

Wexford

Bannow & Rathangan

€7,000

€5,000

Wexford

Gorey

€7,000

€5,000

Wicklow

Carnew

€7,000

€5,000

Wicklow

Kilmacanogue

€7,000

€5,000

Wicklow

Tinahely

€7,000

€5,000

Total Funding

€812,000

€600,000

Living Wage Introduction

Ceisteanna (856)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

856. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on implementing a living wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23398/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Legislation in relation to the setting of the National Minimum Wage has existed since 2000. The Low Pay Commission was established in 2015 and its primary function is, on an annual basis, to examine and make recommendations on the national minimum wage, with a view to providing for adjustments which do not impact negatively on jobs or competitiveness. The Commission thus takes an evidence-based approach to its recommendations, having regard to changes in earnings, productivity, overall competitiveness and the likely impact any adjustment will have on employment and unemployment levels.

Since its establishment the Commission has submitted recommendations on the appropriate rate of the National Minimum Wage for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The Commission’s recommendations, for increases of 50 cent in 2016, 10 cent in 2017, 30 cent in 2018 and 25 cent in 2019 have all been accepted by Government and represent an increase in the National Minimum Wage of 13.3% since 2015. With effect from 1 January 2019 the current rate of the National Minimum Wage is €9.80 per hour.

The most recent figures published by Eurostat (January 2019) show that Ireland has the second highest national minimum wage of any country in the EU at €1,656.2 per month, behind only Luxembourg whose minimum wage is €2,071 per month (for comparison purposes Eurostat converts countries’ hourly or weekly rates into monthly rates). Allowing for purchasing power standards, Ireland drops to sixth place, but still remains in the group with the highest minimum wage rates in the EU.

It is important that Ireland’s statutory National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage concept are not conflated. The Living Wage is a voluntary societal initiative centred on the social, business and economic case to ensure that, wherever it can be afforded, employers will pay a rate of pay that provides an income that is sufficient to meet an individual’s basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, transport and healthcare. As a voluntary initiative, the Living Wage has no legislative basis and confers no statutory entitlement. The National Minimum Wage, on the other hand, has a legislative basis and confers a statutory entitlement on employees, and a statutory obligation on employers.

The setting of wages is a matter between employers and employees, which takes place in the context of the market, and Government does not interfere unduly in the process. More broadly, this area also comes within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through her Department’s responsibilities for industrial relations issues generally and wage-setting mechanisms such as Registered Employment Agreements (REAs), Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) and Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs).

Civil Registration Legislation

Ceisteanna (857)

James Browne

Ceist:

857. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when persons will be able to retrospectively register as parents as per the Civil Registration Act 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The sections in the Civil Registration Act 2019 concerning registration, and re-registration, of births of donor-conceived children will come into operation as soon as the relevant sections in Part 9 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (CFRA 2015) are commenced. Commencement of these sections is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality, whom I have asked to make arrangements for commencement as soon as possible.

Bringing these provisions into operation also depends on commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of CFRA 2015, which includes provisions for determination of parentage of donor-conceived children. This is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Health, who is working to commence these Parts as soon as possible.

When all of this necessary legislation is commenced it will then be possible for couples, subject to certain criteria, to re-register the births of their children, on foot of a Court Order obtained under section 21 or section 22 in Part 2 of CFRA 2015.

The Civil Registration Service is operationally ready to carry out the re-registrations.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (858)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

858. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that community employment supervisors have not received a pay rise since 2007; if a pay rise will be considered for supervisors in the near future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Engagement between my Department and representatives of CE supervisors has commenced and I expect that it will take a number of weeks to reach a conclusion. All parties to the engagement process have agreed that the detail of the discussions should remain confidential while the engagement is ongoing and I would ask Deputies to respect these wishes and allow the talks to continue free from speculation which might prove unhelpful.

School Meals Programme

Ceisteanna (859)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

859. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on a matter regarding school meals (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24144/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

As part of Budget 2019, it was announced that DEASP would commence a pilot scheme from September 2019, providing Hot School Meals in 36 primary schools for an estimated 7,200 children at a cost of €1m for 2019 and €2.5m in 2020.

All 3,239 primary schools have been issued with an invitation to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot. An expression of interest has been received from Muire na Mainistreach Primary School. All expressions of interest received will be considered and 36 schools will be selected to participate in the pilot. All schools who submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot will be contacted in the coming weeks.

The selection of schools will be random, but will give regard to geographical spread, numbers enrolled, range of suppliers and the overall budget available for the pilot in 2019 and 2020 (€1m and €2.5 respectively).

Treatment Benefit Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (860)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

860. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an application for treatment benefit and optical benefit by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare was refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23182/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In order to qualify for treatment benefit (when aged over 66 years) a PRSI contributor must satisfy the conditions of having a total of 260 paid contributions at class A/E/H/P/S since starting work and 39 contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax years.

The person concerned does not meet this criteria. Although he has the 260 required paid contributions, he does not have the 39 paid at the relevant rate or credited contributions in any of the years 2000 to 2007, which are the relevant tax years on which the claim is based. As a result, he does not satisfy the conditions for treatment benefit under the Department's PRSI scheme.

However, if the person concerned is the holder of a medical card he may have an entitlement to treatment under the HSE scheme. If this is the case he should contact his local HSE health office for advice on making a claim.

I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (861)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

861. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23194/19]

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 24 May 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 Deputy's representations, including the request for an oral hearing, will be brought to the attention of the Appeals Officer who is assigned this case.

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.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (862)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

862. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to address the perceived unjust system under which carers do not receive qualifying stamps in order to qualify for contributory pensions in view of the significant saving they make for the State in terms of care cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23196/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Credited contributions (credits) are social insurance contributions designed to protect the social insurance entitlement record of insured workers who are not in a position to make PRSI contributions.

Credits are awarded in circumstances such as unemployment or illness, and their purpose is to help protect the social insurance entitlements of insured persons during periods when they may not be in a position to pay contributions.

In order to qualify for credits, a person must first have entered insurable employment - he or she must have paid at least one PRSI contribution at Class A, B, C, D, E, H or P.

In general credits can only be awarded where an individual has had a recent attachment to the workforce i.e. within the last 2 years. Self-employed class S contributions are not reckonable toward the award of credits.

Persons in receipt of carers allowance or benefit can qualify for credits where they have previously entered insurable employment and paid at least one PRSI contribution at Class A, B, C, D, E, H or P and where they have had a recent attachment to the workforce.

In combination with paid PRSI contributions, credits can assist employees in qualifying for short-term schemes such as jobseeker’s benefit and enhance the level of benefit for long-term schemes such as the level of payment of State pension contributory (SPC). Credits do not however, in isolation, entitle individuals to qualify for social insurance benefits. It should be noted that only contributions in Classes A, E, F, G, H, N and S are reckonable for State pension purposes.

Individuals who are caring and who do not qualify for carers allowance may qualify for the homemaker’s scheme if their pension is decided by the yearly average method. The homemaker’s scheme is designed to help homemakers and carers qualify for the SPC, and applies to homemaking periods since 6 April 1994. It applies equally to both men and women.

The scheme provides that years spent working in the home while caring on a full-time basis for a child up to 12 years of age or an incapacitated person age 12 or over will be disregarded in calculating a person's yearly average number of contributions for the purposes of determining the rate of their entitlement to SPC. In this way the homemaker’s scheme ensures that an individual’s entitlement to SPC is protected during periods spent caring. As the homemakers scheme allows for years to be disregarded from the calculation, it is not considered a credit.

In January 2018, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated by a new “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of a new Home Caring period. Unlike the current Homemakers scheme, this allowance will apply to periods both before and after 1994. This approach is expected to significantly benefit many people, particularly women, whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role. It will make it easier for such pensioners to qualify for a higher rate of the State Pension (contributory). The TCA will ensure that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions - as opposed to the timing of them - determines a final pension outcome, and it also acknowledges, for the first time, the contribution made by home-carers in the period before 1994.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Rates

Ceisteanna (863)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

863. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost if child benefit increased by €10 per month per child; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23248/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The estimated full year cost of increasing child benefit by €10 per month is €146.57 million.

The cost is based on the estimated number of beneficiaries in 2019. It should be noted that this costing is subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of beneficiaries for 2020.