Question No. 628 answered with Question No. 613.

National Advocacy Service

Ceisteanna (629)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

629. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of advocates in the National Advocacy Services for People with Disabilities; the estimated full year cost of increasing the number of advocates by 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%, respectively in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25126/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) provides an independent, confidential and free, issues-based representative advocacy service that works exclusively for the person using the service and adheres to the highest professional standards. NAS has a particular remit for people with disabilities who are isolated from their community and services, have communication differences, are inappropriately accommodated, live in residential services, attend day services or have limited informal or natural supports.

NAS currently operates with a staffing of 52.5 Whole Time Equivalents, broken down as follows:

National Manager

Corporate Services Manager

HR Executive

Policy & Comms Officer

Regional Manager

Senior Advocate

Advocate

Administrator

1

1

1

1

4

8

31.5

5

NAS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board (CIB), which has a mandate under the Citizens Information Act 2007 to provide advocacy for people with disabilities. The NAS operational grant from the Citizens Information Board for 2019 amounts to € 3,250,952.

Based on 2019 costs, the following table shows the estimated cost if the number of advocates (including senior advocates) was increased by certain percentages, as requested by the Deputy.

Increase in number of advocates (including senior advocates)

5%

10%

15%

20%

Estimated Full Year NAS Cost

€3,383,570

€3,516,187

€3,648,805

€3,781, 423

The estimates detailed above include employer PRSI and pension contributions and estimated overheads. The figures do not include any additional administrative or managerial costs that may result were the number of advocate posts to be increased.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Bereavement Leave

Ceisteanna (630)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

630. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of introducing two weeks paid bereavement leave at a rate of €203 per week per parent who have been bereaved of a child under 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25127/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The death of a child is a tragic event for any parent.

According to the CSO data for deaths of those aged less than 19 years in 2016, there were 354 deaths in the year. The statistics also indicate that the majority of these child deaths, 194, occurred during the first year. My Department continues to pay Maternity Benefit for the 26 weeks for stillborn babies born after 24 weeks of pregnancy or on the death of an infant.

Under existing social welfare schemes, there are provisions in place for continued payment of welfare schemes or allowances for up to 6 weeks following the death of a child. Similarly, Domiciliary Care Allowance will continue to be paid for 3 months in cases where the child being cared for has died.

Under the Supplementary Allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet from their weekly income. An application can be made for assistance with funeral and burial expenses where there is an inability to pay these costs, in part or in full, by the family of the deceased person without causing hardship. In 2018 some 2,900 ENPs were paid at a cost of €5.5 million following a bereavement.

In terms of providing a specific benefit for two weeks bereavement leave for both parents in respect of a deceased child at the rate of €203 per week could cost would be in the region of €300,000.

Any such changes would have to be considered in the context of existing policies in this area and within the scope of the overall budgetary context.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Data

Ceisteanna (631)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

631. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of reducing the hours required to qualify for the working family payment from 19 to 15 hours for lone parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25128/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children. WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependants and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment. Estimated expenditure on WFP in 2018 is approximately €430 million and it is currently paid to 53,327 families in respect of some 120,142 children.

To qualify for WFP, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

The “hours worked” eligibility criterion has been reduced significantly since the introduction of the scheme in 1984, from 30 hours per week to 19 hours per week in 1996. Indeed, a recent review of in-work supports found that the current range of supports works very well for the vast majority of families and facilitates an element of choice which allows them to select the option which best suits their needs.

For low income workers with less than the minimum hours of employment for WFP and working on a casual basis (that is, up to and including 3 days per week) the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme provides in-work income support through daily disregards and tapered withdrawal of payments .

Apart from the jobseeker schemes if a person cannot meet the 19 hours WFP threshold or if their hours vary significantly from week to week, the Department offers a number of other schemes which can provide income support that can be combined with earnings from employment, subject to each individual’s circumstances. These include One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST), and the Part-Time Job Incentive (PTJI) scheme

Further reducing the hours worked requirement would have a number of effects. The number of families working between 15-18 hours and are earning below the relevant WFP thresholds is currently unknown which means it is not possible to estimate a full year cost of reducing the hours. Reducing the numbers of hours worked required to access WFP from 19 to 15 could have a number of behavioural effects, the increased cost of which is difficult to predict. These effects include:

- reducing the incentive to increase part-time hours, resulting in recipients on the minimum 19 hours threshold reducing their hours of work;

- attracting new recipients currently on higher wages above the WFP threshold, who might decide to reduce their hours in order to qualify.

- greater dependency on WFP to support very low earnings.

It is important that WFP does not inadvertently subsidise unsustainably low earnings or encourage employers to offer minimal hours of employment. The longer term goal of WFP, as an incentive to take up and remain in work, could be compromised if the nature of the work taken up is not ultimately sustainable.

Social Welfare Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (632)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

632. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of allowing lone parents in employment whose children are aged between seven and 14 years of age to receive both jobseeker's transition payment and the working family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25129/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department provides a number of options for income support to lone parents once their entitlement to the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) ceases. These include the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) payment where the youngest child is aged 7-13 years (inclusive), and the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) payment which may be paid to lone parents where the youngest child is aged 14 or over. The Working Family Payment (WFP), is also available to lone parents who are working 19 or more hours per week. Lone parents who move to WFP may also apply for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).

The concurrent payment of JST and WFP contradicts the policy goal of the changes to the OFP scheme, which were to tackle long-term social welfare dependency - and its associated poverty risks - through a tapering of income supports and a more active engagement process offering enhanced educational, training and employment supports. Concurrent payment of JST and WFP would also introduce a steep financial "cliff" for lone parents when their youngest child reaches 14 years of age and they potentially move to Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Lone parents currently on JST who increase their working hours to 19 or more per week can transfer from JST to WFP.

Bearing the above policy position in mind, the Department has calculated the cost of allowing JST recipients who meet the eligibility requirements for WFP (i.e. 19hrs average working hours per week), and the cost of allowing those in receipt of WFP with children aged between 7 and 13 (inclusive) who would meet the eligibility requirements for JST, to be in the region of €104m on an annual basis.

I am advised by my Department that on reviewing the costing of this proposal, an inadvertent error was discovered in the calculations made in the reply to Question No 520 of 2 April 2019, which is now corrected in the costing given above.

Jobseeker's Transitional Payment

Ceisteanna (633)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

633. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of extending the jobseeker's transitional payment for lone parents until their youngest child reaches 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25130/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department provides a number of options for income support to lone parents once their entitlement to the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) ceases. These include the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) payment where the youngest child is aged 7-13 years (inclusive) and the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) payment which may be paid to lone parents where the youngest child is aged 14 or over. The Working Family Payment (WFP), is also available to lone parents who are working 19 or more hours per week. Lone parents who move to WFP may also apply for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).

The cost of increasing the age limit for a qualified child for the jobseeker's transitional payment (JST) until the youngest child reaches 18 years of age is not easily estimated as there are significant barriers to undertaking such an exercise. For example, customers may no longer be within the welfare system, while others could seek to move from alternative payments such as Jobseekers Allowance (JA), the Working Family Payment (WFP) and the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) back to JST. It would be difficult for my Department to estimate the magnitude of this flow into and between schemes with any degree of accuracy.

Likewise, the number of young people 18 years of age (and over) who are still in secondary education, and the proportion of those who are the children of lone parents in receipt of benefits is not readily available or easily estimated. As these unknown factors are critical to providing a reliable costing my Department is not in a position to provide the costing requested.

Jobseeker's Transitional Payment

Ceisteanna (634)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

634. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the earnings disregard for the jobseeker's transitional payment by €10, €15, €20 and €25, respectively in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25131/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The estimated full year cost of increasing the earnings disregard for the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment €10, €15, €20 and €25, respectively is set out in tabular form:

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 160 disregard

€1.34M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 165 disregard

€2.01M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 170 disregard

€2.68M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 175 disregard

€3.35M

The above costings are based on the number of recipients who were working and earning in excess of €150 per week on the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment as of May 2019.

The costings do not take into account potential behavioural changes, or the inflow of new entrants, which may arise from the introduction of higher income disregards. There would be additional costs on foot of these two factors, which are not possible to calculate and have not been factored into the above costings.

One-Parent Family Payment Data

Ceisteanna (635)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

635. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the earnings disregard for the one parent family payment by €10, €15, €20 and €25, respectively in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The estimated full year cost of increasing the earnings disregard for the One Parent Family payment by €10, €15, €20 and €25, respectively is set out in tabular form:

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 160 disregard

€3.0M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 165 disregard

€4.5M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 170 disregard

€6.0M

Estimated additional Annual Cost @ 175 disregard

€7.5M

The above costings are based on the number of recipients who were working and earning in excess of €150 per week on the One-Parent Family Payment as of May 2019.

The costings do not take into account potential behavioural changes, or the inflow of new entrants, which may arise from the introduction of higher income disregards. There would be additional costs on foot of these two factors, which are not possible to calculate and have not been factored into the above costing.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Ceisteanna (636)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

636. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the week hours a carer can work or study while receiving carer's allowance, carer's benefit or the carer support grant from 15 to 18.5 hours; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25133/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The main income supports for carers provided by my Department include Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Carer's Support Grant. Spending on these payments in 2019 is expected to exceed €1.2 billion.

It is a condition for receipt of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Carers Support Grant that the carer must be providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires such full-time care and attention because of a specified illness or disability. This condition is moderated by legislation allowing the carer to work or engage in training outside the home for an aggregate total of 15 hours per week. In setting the relevant hours thresholds, it is appropriate to balance the needs of the carer and the person to whom care is being provided. As part of Budget 2006, the number of hours per week that carers could engage in employment, education or training outside the home was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week.

At the end of 2016, there were 70,459 people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, 14,322 (approximately 20 per cent) were in engaged in some form of employment over the course of the year.

The main cost elements of a proposal to increase the threshold would arise from new claimants who are not currently eligible and who do not apply for the allowance because of the 15 hours condition. There is no data available to estimate the number of people who could become eligible as a consequence of increasing the hours threshold and an estimate of the costs can therefore not be given.

Any changes to qualifying criteria would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Free Travel Scheme

Ceisteanna (637)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

637. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of extending the free travel scheme for children in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25134/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 944,000 customers with direct eligibility. In Budget 2019 the funding for the free travel scheme was increased by €5 million to a total of €95 million.

Providing an accurate projection of the cost of extending the free travel scheme to all children in receipt of domiciliary care allowance, taking into account increases announced in Budget 2019 is very difficult as the cost is determined by the usage of the extra passes provided and not by the number of newly qualified people. The fact that many operators have reduced fares for children and that in some cases children under five years of age can travel for free would also have to be taken into account. Taking all of this into consideration the yearly cost of the measure suggested by the Deputy could be as high as €5.25 million.

Any decision to extend the free travel scheme to all children that are in receipt of a domiciliary care allowance would require additional funding for the free travel scheme and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations, and funding priorities for the Free Travel Scheme generally.

Domiciliary care allowance is a monthly payment of €309.50 to the carer of a child with a disability. The allowance may be used for the additional costs involved in caring for the child and this may include additional transport costs.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may award a travel supplement in any case where the circumstances of the case so warrant. The supplement is intended to assist with ongoing or recurring travel costs that cannot be met from the person's own resources and are deemed to be necessary. Every decision is based on consideration of the circumstances of the case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need and of the resources of the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Data

Question No. 639 answered with Question No. 613.

Ceisteanna (638)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

638. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full year cost of increasing the income disregard for carer's allowance from €332.50 single and €665 for a couple to €450 and €900, respectively in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25135/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means tested payment, made to people who are providing full-time care and attention to elderly people or to people with disabilities and whose income falls below certain limits. The principal conditions for receipt of the allowance are that full time care and attention is required and being provided and that the means test which applies is satisfied.

The conditions attached to payment of CA are consistent with the overall conditions that apply to social assistance payments generally. This system of social assistance supports provides payments based on an income need with the means test playing the critical role in determining whether or not an income need arises as a consequence of a particular contingency - be that illness/disability, unemployment or caring.

The means test for Carer's Allowance is one of the most generous in the social protection system in that €332.50 of gross weekly income is disregarded in the calculation of means for a single person; the equivalent for someone who is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting is €665 of combined gross weekly income. A married couple with 2 children could have weekly earnings of €734 net of PRSI, superannuation and union subscription costs and still qualify for the full rate of Carer's Allowance. This is equivalent to over €38,000 per annum.

At the end of December 2018, there were 79,914 people in receipt of CA. The projected expenditure on CA in 2019 is almost €840 million.

It is not possible to make a robust estimate of the costs requested on the level of additional programme costs using available administrative data, particularly as such a change would be highly sensitive to the income distribution in households at the time of implementation. However, analysis based on the SWITCH model(Simulating Welfare and Income Tax Changes) predicted an estimated cost in the region of €73million, which, with income tax and Working Family Payment offsets, net expenditure is estimated at €55 million. Any changes to qualifying criteria would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Question No. 639 answered with Question No. 613.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Ceisteanna (640, 641)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

640. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing all social assistance payments by €5, €10, €15, €20, €25 and €30, respectively in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25137/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

641. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing all social insurance payments by €5, €10, €15, €25 and €30, respectively in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 640 and 641 together.

The costings sought by the Deputy are detailed in the following tables.

Table 1: Cost of varying amounts in all social insurance payments

Scheme

Full year cost of a €5 increase

Full year cost of a €10 increase

Full year cost of a €15 increase

Full year cost of a €20 increase

Full year cost of a €25 increase

Full year cost of a €30 increase

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Social Insurance Schemes

Pension Payments

State Pension (Contributory)

111.22

222.23

333.23

444.19

555.46

666.42

Widow/er's Contributory Pension (Aged 66 and over)

24.75

49.5

74.25

99

123.75

148.51

Deserted Wife's Benefit (Aged 66 and over)

1.68

3.37

5.05

6.73

8.41

10.09

Death Benefit Pension (Aged 66 and over)

0.14

0.28

0.42

0.56

0.7

0.84

Working Age Payments

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Con) Pension

7.73

15.48

23.22

30.95

38.68

46.44

Deserted Wife's Benefit

0.77

1.55

2.31

3.09

3.86

4.64

Invalidity Pension

16.2

32.36

48.56

64.76

80.95

97.12

Partial Capacity Benefit

0.43

0.87

1.3

1.73

2.17

2.6

Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

0.31

0.61

0.92

1.22

1.53

1.83

Disablement Pension

1.29

2.57

3.86

5.14

6.43

7.72

Illness Benefit

13.81

27.63

41.46

55.29

69.09

82.92

Injury Benefit

0.4

0.81

1.21

1.62

2.02

2.43

Incapacity Supplement

0.25

0.49

0.74

0.99

1.23

1.48

Jobseeker's Benefit

8.48

16.97

25.46

33.96

42.43

50.93

Carer's Benefit

0.72

1.44

2.15

2.87

3.59

4.31

Health and Safety Benefit

0.01

0.02

0.04

0.05

0.06

0.07

Maternity & Adoptive Benefit

5.16

10.32

15.48

20.63

25.97

30.95

Paternity Benefit

0.22

0.45

0.67

0.89

1.12

1.34

Total Social Insurance Schemes

193.57

386.95

580.33

773.66

967.44

1160.64

Table 2: Cost of varying amounts in all social assistance payments

Scheme

Full year cost of a €5 increase

Full year cost of a €10 increase

Full year cost of a €15 increase

Full year cost of a €20 increase

Full year cost of a €25 increase

Full year cost of a €30 increase

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Social Assistance Schemes

Pension Payments

State Pension (Non Con)

25.14

50.28

75.42

100.56

125.7

150.83

Carer's Allowance (Aged 66 and over)

0.48

0.96

1.44

1.93

2.41

2.89

Half Rate Carer's Allowance (Aged 66 and over)

1.71

3.42

5.13

6.84

8.55

10.26

Working Age Payments

Blind Pension

0.33

0.67

1

1.33

1.66

2

Widow/ers or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Con) Pension

0.36

0.72

1.08

1.44

1.79

2.15

Deserted Wife's Allowance

0.02

0.05

0.07

0.1

0.12

0.15

One-Parent Family Payment

10.22

20.45

30.67

40.9

51.12

61.35

Carer's Allowance

11.1

22.2

33.3

44.4

55.5

66.6

Half Rate Carer's Allowance

2.97

5.93

8.9

11.87

14.83

17.8

Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)

0.14

0.29

0.43

0.57

0.72

0.86

Jobseeker's Allowance

38.85

77.7

116.7

155.55

194.4

233.25

Jobseeker's Allowance - for those aged 18 to 24 years of age

2.98

5.96

8.93

11.91

14.89

17.87

Jobseeker's Allowance - for those aged 25 years of age

0.47

0.95

1.42

1.89

2.37

2.84

Disability Allowance

39.55

79.11

118.74

158.29

197.85

237.4

Farm Assist

2.17

4.35

6.54

8.71

10.88

13.06

Back to Education Allowance

1.49

2.97

4.46

5.95

7.44

8.93

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

1.79

3.56

5.36

7.13

8.92

10.69

Community Employment

6.22

12.43

18.67

24.89

31.1

37.32

TÚS

1.84

3.68

5.53

7.37

9.21

11.05

Rural Social Scheme

1.06

2.13

3.2

4.26

5.33

6.39

Jobs Initiative

0.35

0.7

1.05

1.4

1.75

2.1

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

4.36

8.72

13.09

17.45

21.81

26.16

Child Related Payments

Domiciliary Care Allowance

2.94

5.89

8.83

11.77

14.71

17.66

Child Benefit

73.29

146.57

219.86

293.14

366.43

439.72

Total Social Assistance Schemes

229.83

459.69

689.82

919.65

1149.49

1379.33

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.

Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals

Ceisteanna (642)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

642. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a jobseeker's benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25202/19]

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 28th 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 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.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (643)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

643. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on the review of further medical evidence submitted in support of a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer has completed a review of the original decision to disallow the appeal of the person concerned in light of additional evidence submitted and, as a result, has decided to allow the appeal. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision.

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.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (644)

James Lawless

Ceist:

644. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the delayed illness benefit to a person (details supplied) will be rectified. [25254/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is currently a qualified adult on her partner's Jobseeker's Allowance claim. This means that her partner is in receipt of a payment in respect of her.

A claim for Illness Benefit by the person concerned has been received and the monetary difference between the qualified adult allowance and her illness benefit entitlement is currently being calculated and processed. Any arrears due to the person concerned will be paid to her within 10 working days.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tús Programme

Ceisteanna (645)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

645. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to recruitment difficulties experienced by a Tús initiative in County Tipperary due to the significant decrease in referrals for the scheme (details supplied);; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25306/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is recognised by Government that Tús is a positive initiative that enables the long-term unemployed to make a contribution to their communities whilst up-skilling themselves for prospective future employment.

Tús provides work placements for a twelve month period for those who are on the Live Register for a year or more. The initiative helps break the cycle of long-term unemployment by providing a work routine and valuable work experience.

The welcome increase in the number of people at work and the continued reduction in Live Register numbers have an impact on recruitment to all work programmes. In this regard, the Department has implemented a number of changes to the terms and conditions of participation on TUS, in order to broaden potential availability to a greater number of people on the Live Register.

The TUS programme in the areas highlighted by the Deputy is administered on behalf of my Department by South Tipperary Development Company and officials from my Department work very closely with that company to identify and refer potential participants to it. In addition, 30% of available Tús places can now be filled by assisted or self-referrals. This allows customers who fulfil the qualifying criteria for Tús, but who may not have been referred under the existing selection process the opportunity to avail of this short term quality work placement.

The Department keeps all aspects of its activation programmes under review to ensure the best outcomes for participants and communities whilst also having regard to the, thankfully, much reduced number of people claiming jobseeker payments. The Government is very mindful of the large number of work programme places involved in service delivery and other valuable services to individuals and communities across Ireland. In this regard if any scheme is experiencing particular recruitment difficulties, they should contact their local Department Intreo Centre for assistance.

Social Welfare Benefits Reviews

Ceisteanna (646)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

646. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of years that can pass before deeming a social welfare entitlements case out of bounds for review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25324/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Where a social welfare payment has been awarded, a Deciding Officer may revise that decision at any stage, where there is either a change of circumstances, or where there was an error in the original decision, or where fresh facts or evidence indicate that the original decision was incorrect. There is no time limit on this.

Where the original decision was to refuse the payment, the decision maker may review that decision in the case of either an error in the original decision, or where fresh facts or evidence indicate that the original decision was incorrect. Again, there is no time limit on this.

In the case of appeals to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office, there is generally a 21 day time limit to seek an appeal, but this can be extended in certain situations by the Chief Appeals Officer.

An Appeals Officer's decision can be reviewed by another Appeals Officer, again without a time limit, where there is an error or where fresh facts or evidence indicate that the original decision was wrong.

Finally, the legislation also allows for the Chief Appeals Officer to revise an Appeal's Officer's decision at any time, where there has been an error of law or of fact.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (647)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

647. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to restore child benefit for children over 18 years of age who are still attending secondary school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25367/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid, as of end-April 2019 to almost 632,000 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2018.

Given the universality of Child Benefit, extending entitlement to parents of full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age would not be a targeted approach. The adoption of such a proposal would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Families on low incomes may be able to avail of a number of social welfare schemes that support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

- Increase for a Qualified Child (IQCs) with primary social welfare payments;

- the Working Family Payment for low-paid employees with children;

- the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

These schemes provide targeted assistance that is directly linked to household income and thereby support low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (648, 649)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

648. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount of land purchased and leased by size and amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and amount expended per year in cases in which land is leased; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25384/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

649. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of buildings and property purchased and leased and the amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and the amount expended per year in cases in which properties are leased; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25401/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 648 and 649 together.

With the exception of the Department headquarters, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, which is held by the Minister on behalf of the Social Insurance Fund, all buildings and property, occupied by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, are owned or leased by the Office of Public Works.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection does not engage in the acquisition of land or buildings, through purchase or lease.

The Office of Public Works is responsible for the delivery of office accommodation to meet the operational needs of Government, including the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and can provide details of all buildings owned or leased.