Carer's Support Grant

Ceisteanna (607)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

607. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) can no longer receive the carer’s grant for their daughter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25064/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment made to full-time carers.

A person in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance automatically receives the Grant on the 1st Thursday in June. When entitlement to Domiciliary Care Allowance ceases, a person may qualify for the ‘stand-alone’ Carer’s Support Grant, if he/she meets certain conditions.

An application form and information on the qualifying conditions for receipt of the 2019 ‘stand-alone’ Grant was sent to the person concerned on 13th June 2019.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection provides a range of income supports to family carers who provide full-time care and attention to another person. These supports include the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Carer’s Support Grant schemes. Carers may also, subject to certain criteria, qualify for the Household Benefits Package and/or the Free Travel Scheme.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Ceisteanna (608)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

608. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the possibility of reintroducing an automatic household benefit package entitlement for carers who have been approved for the carer's allowance payment subsequent to 2012 and who do not reside with the person for whom they are caring will be investigated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25070/19]

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. 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.

The maximum rates of Carer's Allowance for those aged under 66, at €219 (€257 for carers aged 66 or over) for where one person is being cared for, and €328.50 (€385.50 for carers aged 66 or over) where there are two or more carees , is significantly higher than that for such Department Schemes as Jobseeker's Allowance, which is €203 for those aged 26 and over, and lower for younger claimants.

The means test for carers allowance has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse’s earnings. At present the means test for Carer’s Allowance allows for an income disregard of €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 for a couple. Therefore, a single carer may retain a full-rate payment of €219.00 while having an annual income of just under €19,000.00, or retain a payment of €109.00 per week (just under half rate) while having an annual income of €25,400.00, or retain the minimum payment of €4 per week while having an annual income of €31,100.00.

Carers can also engage in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for not more than 15 hours a week.

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.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (609)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

609. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance review for a person (details supplied); if the matter will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25076/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Following a successful appeal, this lady has been awarded disability allowance (DA) with effect from 19 December 2018. The first payment will be made by her chosen payment method on 3 July 2019.

Arrears of payment due, will issue as soon as possible once any necessary adjustment is calculated and applied in respect of any overlapping payments.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (610)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

610. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of an application for an illness benefit in the case of a person (details supplied); if the application will be backdated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25080/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim from the person concerned has been processed. She has been awarded Illness Benefit from the 27th May 2019, which was the date from which she was medically certified as unfit for work.

An award letter has issued to the person concerned and she has been paid the full amount due to her from the 27th May to date.

An official from the Department contacted the person concerned and advised her that further medical evidence is required if she wished her claim to be backdated for any period prior to 27th May.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Widow's Pension

Ceisteanna (611)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

611. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a pension reduction will be reversed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25106/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned was awarded a widower's or surviving civil partner's contributory pension at the maximum rate for a person aged under 66, of €191.30 per week with effect from 6 April 2007. The rate of pension increased in line with annual budgetary increases in 2008 and again in 2009.

Subsequent Government budget decisions introduced a range of welfare expenditure reduction measures, which included reductions in the weekly personal rates of payment for welfare recipients aged under 66 to help. Accordingly, the rate of pension for the person concerned decreased from €209.80 in 2009 to €201.50 in 2010 and to €193.50 in 2011. On reaching age 66 in February 2012, the person's weekly rate of pension increased to €230.30, the maximum rate payable to a person aged over 66.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of maximum weekly rate of pension of €248.30, together with an increase for living alone and telephone support allowance, bringing their total weekly rate up to €259.80. The person concerned also qualifies for the seasonal fuel allowance payment, payable in two lump sum instalments which is their preferred option.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Review

Ceisteanna (612)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

612. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the interdepartmental review of community employment schemes; when the review is expected to be completed and published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25109/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Community Employment (CE) is the largest employment programme administered by the Department. It aims to enhance employability and mobility by providing work experience and training opportunities for unemployed persons within their own communities.

A key function of CE is supporting social inclusion and counteracting the drift into structural unemployment. All CE placements are categorised as either a training / activation strand or a social inclusion strand. This is to acknowledge that not all CE places are the same. The Social Inclusion placements provide an opportunity for those who are very distant from the labour market to gain employment and deliver services in their local communities while the activation placements are more directly related to employment opportunities for participants who are long-term unemployed with a view to providing them with more labour market relevant work experience.

The Government agreed to establish an interdepartmental group (IDG), to explore the most appropriate organisational arrangements, including which Department should host CE Social Inclusion schemes, including Drug Rehabilitation and Childcare CE schemes, the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) and the Job Initiative (JI) scheme. Meetings of the group have taken place along with bilateral meetings with appropriate Departments. The IDG has engaged with key stakeholders and their submissions will be included in the deliberations.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Question No. 614 answered with Question No. 583.

Questions Nos. 615 to 617, inclusive, answered with Question No. 613.

Ceisteanna (613, 615, 616, 617, 621, 622, 623, 625, 628, 639)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

613. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the allowance for adults in direct provision from €38.80 per week to €40, €41, €42, €43, €44 and €45 respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

615. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing payments (details supplied) by €5 and €10; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

616. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the fuel allowance by 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25113/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

617. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the living alone allowance by €2, €3, €4, €5, and €6, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25114/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

621. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the telephone support allowance by €1, €2, €2.50, €3, €4 and €5, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

622. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the qualified child increase by €2, €3, €4 and €5, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

623. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing expenditure on the school meals programme by 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25120/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

625. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing child benefit by €10, €15, €20, €25 and €30, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25122/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

628. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of equalising jobseeker payments for those under 26 years of age to the standard rate, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25125/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

639. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the back to school clothing and footwear allowance by €10, €20, €25, €30, €35, €40, €45 and €50, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25136/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 613, 615 to 617, inclusive, 621 to 623, inclusive, 625, 628 and 639 together.

The Costings sought by the Deputy are presented in the tables below:

Daily Expenses Allowance

New Rate

Cost (€m)

€40

0.23

€41

0.42

€42

0.61

€43

0.8

€44

0.99

€45

1.18

Disability and Carers

Scheme

€5 Increase (€m)

€10 Increase (€m)

Carer’s Allowance

16.26

32.51

Carer’s Benefit

0.72

1.44

Disability Allowance

39.55

79.11

Illness Benefit

13.81

27.63

Blind Pension

0.33

0.67

Invalidity Pension

16.20

32.36

Fuel Allowance

Fuel Season Extension

Cost (€m)

1 Week

8.41

2 Weeks

16.82

3 Weeks

25.23

4 Weeks

33.64

Living Alone Allowance

Increase

Cost (€m)

€2

21.76

€3

32.63

€4

43.51

€5

54.39

€6

65.27

Telephone Support Allowance

Increase

Cost (€m)

€1

6.76

€2

13.52

€2.50

17.16

€3

20.28

€4

27.04

€5

33.8

Qualified Child Increase

Increase

Cost (€m)

€2

32.43

€3

48.65

€4

64.86

€5

81.08

School Meals Programme

Increase

Cost (€m)

5%

2.9

10%

5.8

15%

8.6

20%

11.5

Child Benefit

Increase

Cost (€m)

€10

146.57

€15

219.86

€20

293.14

€25

366.43

€30

439.72

Jobseekers Under 26

The estimated full year cost of equalising jobseeker payments for those under 26 years of age to the standard rate of €203 per week is €59.87 million.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Increase

Cost (€m)

€10

3.1

€20

6.2

€25

7.75

€30

9.3

€35

10.85

€40

12.4

€45

13.95

€50

15.5

The costs shown above are on a full year basis and are based on the estimated number of recipients in 2019. It should be noted that these costings are subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients for 2020.

It should also be noted that these costings include proportionate increases for qualified adults and for those on reduced rates of payment, where relevant.

Question No. 614 answered with Question No. 583.
Questions Nos. 615 to 617, inclusive, answered with Question No. 613.

Household Benefits Scheme

Ceisteanna (618)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

618. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the full year expenditure on the household benefits package by benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25115/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Household Benefits Package is a package of allowances to assist with the costs of running a household. The package is available to everyone aged over 70 years of age and to people under 70 years of age in certain circumstances.

The Household Benefits packages comprises a choice of either Electricity or Gas Allowance, and Free Television Licence, providing a contribution towards electricity or gas costs, as well as the full cost of the annual Television Licence. Only one household benefits package is paid per household, subject to household composition.

The estimated cost for the Household Benefits package in 2019 is €248m.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (619)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

619. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing rent supplement limits by on average 10%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25116/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its important role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting some 20,600 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

Based on customer volumes and the inter county recipients mix at the end of May, the forecast full year cost of increasing rent limits by 10% for those receiving rent supplement would be in the region of €15.9 million.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Free Travel Scheme Data

Questions Nos. 621 to 623, inclusive, answered with Question No. 613.

Ceisteanna (620)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

620. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the current expenditure on the free travel scheme; the estimated cost of increasing expenditure by 10%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25117/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Budget 2019 increased funding for the Free Travel Scheme by €5 million, from €90 million to €95 million. The Budget measures was provided to meet increased numbers eligible for the scheme and consequent increased claims from service providers, and to encourage new operators into the scheme to give better coverage in remote parts of rural Ireland.

The cost of increasing expenditure by 10% would be €9.5 million.

Questions Nos. 621 to 623, inclusive, answered with Question No. 613.

Low Pay Commission Funding

Question No. 625 answered with Question No. 613.

Ceisteanna (624)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

624. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the annual expenditure on the Low Pay Commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25121/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Low Pay Commission was launched on the 26th of February 2015 with a budget of €500,000 (per calendar year). This is broken down on a pay (€270,000) and a non-pay basis (€230,000). The budget for the Commission is provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The Commission’s annual expenditure has ranged between €250,000 and €300,000 over the three years.

In 2018, the Commission's expenditure was €307,100.

A breakdown of the Commissions expenditure since its establishment is set out below:

Expenditure Item

2015*

2016

2017

2018

Salaries

€94,000

€150,000

€112,000

€149,200

Fees

€61,400

€81,000

€60,000

€75,300

Research

€75,000

€55,000

€84,000

€55,000

Administration*

€20,300

€21,000

€15,000

€27,600

Total

€250,700

€307,000

€271,000

€307,100

of which:

Pay

€155,400

€231,000

€172,000

€224,500

Non-Pay

€95,300

€76,000

€99,000

€82,600

* This includes payments during the Commission’s interim period of operations from February 2015. The first full year of operation was 2016.

Question No. 625 answered with Question No. 613.

Maternity Benefit Data

Ceisteanna (626)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

626. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing maternity benefit from 26 to 30 and 34 weeks, respectively for those that have had multiple births; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25123/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department of Justice and Equality has policy responsibility for maternity leave which is provided for in the 1994 and 2004 Maternity Acts. Any decision to extend the duration of maternity leave, including that for families with multiple births, would be the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality. My Department has responsibility for the payment of maternity benefit which is provided for in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended).

Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks at a rate of €245 per week. There is a provision of €256m for maternity benefit for 2019. CSO data from 2016 indicates that there were 1,215 instances of multiple births in Ireland, representing 1.9% of all births. Based on an apportionment of 1.9% of maternity benefit recipients The table below estimates the additional cost of increasing the duration of maternity benefit by 4 weeks to 30 weeks, and by 8 weeks to 34 weeks where there are multiple births.

Estimated annual cost of increasing the duration of maternity benefit in respect of multiple births

No. of weeks

Estimated additional full year cost

30

€724,000

34

€1,447,000

It should also be noted that there are additional costs to the Exchequer as these estimates do not include the costs of salary top-ups for public/civil servants which would be a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Decisions around the extension of this benefit would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Data

Ceisteanna (627)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

627. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of paying a double child benefit payment to parents on the birth of a child; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25124/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Child benefit is paid to almost 632,000 qualifying adults in respect of over 1.2 Million children with an annual cost in 2018 of €2.1 Billion.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, introducing a double entitlement to parents on the birth of a child would not be a sufficiently targeted approach. Furthermore, the introduction of such a proposal would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

The estimated full year cost of issuing a double child benefit payment to parents on the birth of a child is approximately €8.72 Million.

This estimate is based on the number of child benefit claims (61,856) received in respect of first and additional children in 2018. It assumes the payment of €140, representing an additional month’s payment in respect of these children. Multiple births are paid a higher rate and this additional cost has been factored in to the estimate.