Invalidity Pension Payments

Ceisteanna (697)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

697. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) was entitled to an arrears payment for invalidity pension in 2013 from the date of application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26068/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for an invalidity pension (IP) was received from the gentleman in question on 08 April 2013. He was awarded IP with effect from 11 April 2013 and received his first payment to his nominated post office on 30 May 2013. Arrears due from 11 April 2013 to 29 May 2013 issued to him by cheque on 06 August 2013. He is in receipt of a state pension contributory from 29 November 2015.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (698)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

698. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application by a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay in same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26097/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 9 May 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (699)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

699. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans in regard to pensions for persons with class S contributions (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The introduction of a Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to establishing the level of entitlement for all new state pension contributory claims was signalled by the then Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010. At that time it set a target date of 2020 for the implementation of TCA. More recently, the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 targeted implementation of the TCA from Q3 of 2020. This is subject to the necessary legislation being enacted and supporting structures being in place.

Consultation is a very important part of the development and design of the new pension. With this in mind, I launched a public consultation on the design of the TCA on the 28th of May 2018 to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited. A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback.

Shortly afterwards, Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing by my officials in Leinster House. The consultation was open for over 3 months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations. Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on the issues of most interest to them including how self-employed people and Class S PRSI contributions since 1988 could be treated.

Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process, my Department is now designing the scheme and I intend to shortly bring a proposal to Government setting out that design. When the Government has agreed the approach to be taken, I will initiate the work required to introduce this reform.

I am aware of a report in one particular publication which was inaccurate in this respect, and I understand that the publication in question has subsequently published a correction.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (700)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

700. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the actions she is taking to reduce the waiting periods for those applying for disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26150/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department is committed to making decisions on entitlement as quickly as possible.

The target processing time for the DA scheme is to process 75% of new claims within 12 weeks. In May 2019, the average waiting time for new DA applications was 14 weeks.

My Department recognises that the current processing times for DA must be improved and is working to achieve this. The current processes in place and resources assigned to this area of my Department, along with the number of Medical Assessors available to provide medical opinions are kept under constant review to ensure that any delays are minimised.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (701)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

701. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a review will be made of the means assessment for disability allowance in order that an applicant who lives with his or her parents and non-married partner can be assessed in his or her own regard financially and not with the partner's income included; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26151/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that, for social assistance schemes, all income and capital (such as savings, investments and property other than the family home) belonging to the claimant and his or her spouse/partner, where applicable, are assessable for means assessment purposes.

If a claimant is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, the Department will assess the couple's means when carrying out a means test for a social assistance payment. This is the case even if only one of the couple is actually claiming a payment. The purpose of this means assessment is to maintain the overarching policy of ensuring that social welfare expenditure is targeted to those who need it most.

For claimants of some schemes who are living with their parents and under the age of 25, parental income is taken into account when assessing means. This is not the case for disability allowance where the parent’s income is not taken into account.

Any changes to the manner in which means are assessed would need to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Ceisteanna (702)

John Brady

Ceist:

702. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the changes that have taken place to date as part of the restructuring of the MABS service; the costs incurred; the changes to office locations or staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26204/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board, provides assistance to people, in particular those on low incomes or living on social welfare payments, who are over-indebted and need help and advice with debt problems. As part of its free services, MABS provides help and advice to those in mortgage arrears.

In February 2017, the CIB Board made the decision to restructure the governance arrangements of the network of 93 local Citizens Information Services and MABS companies to 16 regional companies (8 Regional CIS and 8 Regional MABS).

The aim of the restructuring was to enhance the service for users by improving the governance arrangements for CIB’s funded services and optimising the benefits from operating a more modern and streamlined citizen-focused service delivery model.

This restructuring process was completed in October 2018. New service-level agreements are in place for all the new companies, in line with best governance practice.

All staff, assets and liabilities of the local MABS companies have transferred to the new companies. There have been no job losses, no closure of service delivery points and no diminution in services provided to MABS clients. To support the new regional structure eight additional posts were created across the network with the appointment of a Regional Manager in each of the new MABS companies.

The benefits in service delivery to MABS clients are evident. The regional companies have more flexibility in allocating staff resources to areas of need and specialist skills are more easily shared. Administrative resources freed up from previous work associated with supporting 51 local companies can now be focused directly on client's requirements. Standardisation of practices is being achieved. More regular case reviews are being undertaken and there is increased focus on quality assurance and on achieving improved outcomes to clients debt problems.

The total cost of the restructuring of the MABS companies amounted to €668,240, based on an apportionment of the costs between the CIS (45%) and MABS (55%) networks. This figure also includes the 2018 costs of employing the 8 new Regional Managers in the MABS companies.

CIB continues to work closely with the new boards and regional managers to support the new companies and ensure that delivery of high quality services to citizens remain the priority.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (703)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

703. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason after the consideration of the home caring period of a person (details supplied) the pension rate remained unchanged. [26206/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The state pension (contributory) entitlement of the person concerned was calculated based on the yearly average of their social insurance contributions divided over the number of years of their working life. In that decision, the person benefitted from the maximum allowable homemaking disregard (of 20 years) and currently qualifies for €211.40 weekly (or 85% of maximum rate pension).

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory, entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

The rate of the person concerned has been examined under the new arrangements and the resultant rate compared to their existing payment rate. It has been determined in this case that the person would receive €195.60 (or 78.75% of the maximum rate of pension). As the highest achievable rate is already in payment, the person is better off to remain on their existing rate of payment.

An advisory letter to this effect has issued to the person concerned. This letter encourages them to contact the dedicated helpline if they want this outcome explained to them in more detail.

For those who do not qualify for the maximum rate State pension (contributory), there are other state pension payments available. Notably, they may qualify for the State pension (non-contributory) which is a means-tested payment (based on their share of household means) with a maximum payment of 95% of State pension (contributory). If their spouse has a contributory pension they may qualify for an increase for a qualified adult, (based on the qualified adult's means), amounting to up to 90% of a full rate pension. Only those with significant means would not be eligible for these payments.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (704)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

704. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26254/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Applications for CA were received from the person concerned on 15 March 2019, in respect of both his parents.

An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

The applications were awarded to the person concerned on 19 June 2019 with effect from 21 March 2019. The first payment will issue to his nominated post office on 4 July 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 21 March 2019 to 3 July 2019 will issue shortly.

The person concerned was notified on 19 June 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (705)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

705. 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. [26291/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 16 May 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (706)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

706. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of freedom of information requests granted, part granted, refused, transferred to an appropriate body, withdrawn or handled outside freedom of information in 2018, in tabular form. [26391/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The number of freedom of information requests received in the Department in 2018 was 2,510.

The numbers that were granted, part-granted, refused, transferred to an appropriate body, withdrawn or handled outside freedom of information, are set out in the tabular statement below.

Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests Received by DEASP in 2018

Status

No.

Granted

684

Part-Granted

1,275

Refused

369

Transferred

20

Withdrawn

69

Handled outside of FOI

89

Pending

4

Total No. of FOIs Received

2,510

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment

Ceisteanna (707)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

707. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a working family payment will be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26441/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children. Approximately 53,000 families benefit from this weekly payment.

WFP for the person concerned was due for renewal on 21 February 2019 and an application to renew WFP was received on 24 January 2019.

The person concerned has 2 children and the income limit for a family with 2 children is €622 per week. The person concerned had average net earnings of €601.15 per week in 2018 based on the P60 provided.

WFP is calculated as 60% of the difference between the weekly household income and the income limit applicable to that family.

WFP entitlement for the person concerned was €12.50 per week. However once a person qualifies for WFP they are entitled to a minimum payment of €20 per week.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (708)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

708. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the changes she plans to the State pension (contributory) in 2020; and if this will affect persons paying an S1 PRSI contribution. [26442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The introduction of a Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to establishing the level of entitlement for all new state pension contributory claims was signalled by the then Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010. At that time it set a target date of 2020 for the implementation of TCA. More recently, the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 targeted implementation of the TCA from Q3 of 2020. This is subject to the necessary legislation being enacted and supporting structures being in place.

Consultation is a very important part of the development and design of the new pension. With this in mind, I launched a public consultation on the design of the TCA on the 28th of May 2018 to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited. A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback.

Shortly afterwards, Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing by my officials in Leinster House. The consultation was open for over 3 months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations. Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on the issues of most interest to them including how self-employed people and Class S PRSI contributions since 1988 could be treated.

Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process, my Department is now designing the scheme and I intend to shortly bring a proposal to Government setting out that design. When the Government has agreed the approach to be taken, I will initiate the work required to introduce this reform. As I have stated before, the position of Class S contributors will be considered carefully in the finalisation of the scheme, particularly in the context of the introduction of Class S in 1988, and any implications that might have in relation to the final scheme decided upon.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (709)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

709. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the reason disability allowance has been suspended for a person (details supplied) will be investigated; when a decision will be made on reinstating the payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Disability allowance (DA) is subject to periodic reviews. This lady's entitlement was recently reviewed and it was established that she had means not previously disclosed to the Department.

On 20 May 2019 the person concerned was notified that her DA was suspended pending an investigation. This lady met with a social welfare inspector (SWI) on 17 May 2019 and on 24 May 2019. The SWI requested a further interview on 12 June 2019 but the person concerned failed to attend the interview.

This lady spoke with the deciding officer (DO) on 14 June 2019 who outlined what was required in order for a decision to be made on her review. On receipt of this information a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Payments

Ceisteanna (710)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

710. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a payment for a person (details supplied). [26452/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 22 November 2018. His first payment issued to his nominated bank account on 13 June 2019. Arrears due from 22 November 2018 to 12 June 2019 including the Christmas bonus (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue to his nominated bank account on 27 June 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Unemployment Data

Ceisteanna (711)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

711. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of long-term unemployed in each county who have been unemployed for greater than one, three and more than five years, in tabular form; the number who have never worked; the programmes in place to help transition persons from long-term unemployment back into the workforce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26521/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Labour Force Survey is the official measure of unemployment in the State. I am advised by the Central Statistics Office that data from the Labour Force Survey is not available at a county level, however regional figures that provide an average for 2018 of the number of persons unemployed for one year and over, three years and over and five years and over are set out below.

Meanwhile, the Labour Force survey does not ask respondents if they have never worked in any capacity. Rather, respondents are asked if they have never worked apart from in casual or holiday work, both of which may be a significant sources of employment for some people. On this basis, CSO estimates that the number of people who have been unemployed for at least one year and who have stated that they have never worked (other than in casual or holiday work) is approximately 9,700 at a national level (regional or age breakdowns are unavailable as the sample sizes are too small).

Number of unemployed persons by duration classified by NUTS3 Region, 2018

Region

Persons aged 15-74 years and in unemployment for one year and over (Thousands)

Persons aged 15-74 years and in unemployment for 3 years and over (Thousands)

Persons aged 15-74 years and in unemployment for 5 years and over (Thousands)

Border

3,600

1,900

[1,200]

West

5,800

3,200

2,100

Mid-West

5,400

2,400

[1,500]

South-East

6,500

3,400

2,100

South-West

6,400

3,200

2,000

Dublin

11,400

5,200

3,300

Mid-East

6,500

2,800

[1,600]

Midlands

4,300

2,300

1,700

Total

49,900

24,400

15,500

Parentheses [ ] estimates are considered to have a wider margin of error and should be treated with caution

Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. The policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs have created an environment in which business can succeed and has led to the creation of more than 400,000 jobs since the economic low point. Secondly, through the Pathways to Work strategy, my Department ensures that as many new jobs as possible are filled by people taken from the live register, particularly the long-term unemployed.

Activation Policy continues to focus on support measures for the long-term unemployed. The Pathways to Work strategy prioritises long-term unemployed people, most notably through targeted wage subsidies under JobsPlus; and through reserved places for long-term unemployed jobseekers on employment and training programmes. Furthermore, activation services provided by, or on behalf of my Department through contracted services, provide appropriate activation services for jobseekers in a one-to-one case managed way.

The table below outlines the latest available data on a range of activation programmes which are provided by my Department to the long term unemployed during the activation process to facilitate pathways to secure and sustainable full-time employment. Programme data for February 2019 is compared to February 2018 and shows a fall in participation levels which is in line with reduced levels of unemployment.

Activation Programmes (February 2018 and February 2019)

Activation Schemes

Feb-18

Feb-19

Back to Work Enterprise allowance scheme – self-employed strand.

9,188

6,075

Short-term Enterprise Allowance

344

286

Total - Back to Work schemes

9,532

6,361

Part-time Job Incentive

414

287

TÚS - Community Work Placement Initiative

6,347

6,373

Gateway (2013) (This programme closed in December 2018)

38

0

Other Activation Programmes

6,799

6,660

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

3,309

3,019

Back to Education Allowance

10,704

8,665

Total - Back to Education Courses:

14,013

11,684

Community Employment Schemes (excluding Supervisors)

21,717

21,388

FAS (Solas) full time training for the unemployed

5,823

5,545

Government policy has been effective in reducing long-term unemployment. I welcome the most recent data from the CSO Labour Force Survey which shows that the rate of long-term unemployment in Ireland which peaked at 9.5% in 2012 has fallen to 1.7% by the first quarter of 2019. Ireland has therefore already brought the long term unemployment rate below 2.5%, a target set out in Pathways to Work 2016-2020.

State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (712)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

712. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the entitlements that will accrue for workers who must retire at 65 years in each of the years 2019 to 2021 and who will not reach 67 years of age in 2021, who are not eligible for a State pension in 2021; and if they will have to sign on for a jobseeker's payment for more than one year. [26549/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is well known that people are living for much longer. As a result of this demographic change, the number of State pension recipients is increasing year on year. This has significant implications for the future costs of State pension provision which, arising from these demographic changes alone, are currently increasing by approximately €1 billion every 4 to 5 years.

The purpose of changes to the State pension age is to make the pension system more sustainable in the context of increasing life expectancy. This sustainability is vital, if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age. Therefore, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided that State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will increase to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

In most cases, it is hoped that workers will continue to work up to State pension age, and so the question of claiming a social protection payment would not arise. Where this is not possible and a person loses their employment before reaching State pension age, they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes. Jobseeker’s payments are currently paid to eligible jobseekers aged 18 to 66 years subject to the person satisfying the general scheme conditions. Social Welfare legislation states that jobseeker payments may be made until the person reaches pensionable age. In this regard, the duration of jobseeker's payments will naturally adjust in line with increases in state pension age.

Jobseeker's Benefit is normally paid for 9 months (234 days) for people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid and for 6 months (156 days) for people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid. Arrangements are in place to provide that jobseekers whose benefit expires in their 65th year can generally continue to be paid benefit up until pensionable age provided they satisfy the necessary contribution conditions.

It is important to note that there is no legally mandated retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers. While such a contract may have been entered into with a retirement date of 65, in the context of the previous State pension arrangements, there is no legal impediment to the employer and employee agreeing to increase the duration of employment for one or more years, if both parties wish to do so. In this regard, the Workplace Relations Commission has produced a Code of Practice on Longer Working and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has published guidance material for employers on the use of fixed-term contracts beyond normal retirement age.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (713)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

713. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the contributory pension review for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26647/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

The person concerned has been reviewed using information already held by the Department in relation to their HomeCaring Periods. The person has a total of 752 reckonable paid contributions which combined with the maximum permissible number of combined HomeCaring periods and reckonable credits of 1,040, (as set out in legislation) results in an increase from 85% to 86.15% of maximum rate of pension.

A review outcome letter has issued to the person, outlining details of their increase and includes a breakdown of their social insurance contribution record. Arrears of payment, backdated 30 March 2018, will issue shortly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Payments Administration

Ceisteanna (714)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

714. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated savings in each of the years since the inception of sections 13 and 14 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013. [26750/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Sections 13 and 14 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013 introduced the Recovery of Benefits and Assistance scheme which enables the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to recover the value of certain social welfare payments from compensation awards made to persons as a consequence of personal injuries claims. It is important to note that recovery is made from the compensator and not from the injured person.

The scheme commenced on 1 August 2014 and the amounts recovered in the years 2014 to 2018 inclusive are as follows:

2014 (August to December) €5.03m

2015 €21.60m

2016 €22.75m

2017 €26.41m

2018 €24.75m

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Homeless Persons Supports

Ceisteanna (715)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

715. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her role in the funding and issuing of free Leap cards for homeless families; the estimated cost of providing free cards to families in emergency accommodation outside of school term time; and if free cards for homeless families will be extended to include non-term time. [26766/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland commits to providing access to free public transport for family travel and for school journeys for homeless families in emergency accommodation. My Department is represented on the inter-agency group on homelessness where this issue is under consideration. As the Deputy is aware, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive currently provides Leap Cards to families to help meet costs of getting children to and from school. Further extension of that scheme is a matter for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is considered the "safety net" within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

Families living in emergency accommodation placements may have additional costs, such as travel. Additional supports can be provided through a supplement under the SWA scheme which can be paid in addition to the weekly social welfare payment. In addition, under the SWA 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 out of their weekly income.

Decisions on ENPs and SWA supplements are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. Assistance can be provided for travel costs where there are no other supports available.

I trust that clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (716)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

716. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) was received from the person concerned on the 7th March 2019. The application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance. A letter issued on the 8th May 2019 setting out the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

An appeal was registered by the Social Welfare Office on the 31st May 2019. Further medical evidence that was submitted with the appeal was forwarded to the Department's Medical Assessor for their medical opinion. As part of the appeals process, the application will be re-examined by a deciding officer and a revised decision will be made if warranted. Alternatively, the case will be referred for consideration by the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of the deciding officer's review as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (717)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

717. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The domiciliary care allowance (DCA) application from the person concerned has been finalised. She was notified in a letter dated 4th June 2019 that DCA has been awarded from 1st November 2018. This includes a back-dating payment for the maximum six months allowable in respect of the months November 2018 to April 2019. Arrears due for this period issued to her with the June 2019 payment on the 18th June 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (718)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

718. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26779/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 30 April 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (719)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

719. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that an application from the person concerned for disability allowance (DA) was received by the Department on 13th May 2019.

The application has been referred to a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) for a report on the person's means and circumstances.

Once the SWI has submitted his/her report to DA section, a decision will be made on the application and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Review

Ceisteanna (720)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

720. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of carer's allowance reviews carried out in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [26798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means-tested payment, made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that they require that level of care. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

Before a decision can be made on entitlement to CA, evidence must be provided in respect of the carer’s habitual residence in the State, the level of care they provide, their means and also that the person being cared for has such a disability that they require full-time care and attention.

Carer's allowance reviews take place in a number of circumstance as follows:-

- If the decision on a new claim is negative the customer has the option of a review.

- Once claims are in payment, my Department undertakes periodically reviews to ensure that there is continued entitlement.

- A customer can at any stage request a review of their entitlement

I am advised by my Department that there are no statistics available on the number of carer's allowance reviews carried out each year.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (721)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

721. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of abolishing the means test for the carer's allowance. [26807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Government acknowledges the important role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role. This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for a Partnership Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.

My Department provides a range of supports to those who are caring for family members, friends or neighbours. These measures aim to recognise the needs of carers through the provision of appropriate income supports, to enable carers to remain in touch with the labour market to the greatest extent possible and to empower carers to participate fully in economic and social life. These income supports include the following:

- Carer’s Allowance

- Carer’s Benefit

- Carer’s Support Grant

- Domiciliary Care Allowance

Carers may also (subject to certain conditions) qualify for the Household Benefits Package and a Free Travel Pass.

Spending on these payments in 2019 is expected to exceed €1.2 billion.

Carer's Allowance is a means-tested payment for carers who look after certain people in need of full-time care and attention on a full time basis. The means test for Carer's Allowance is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse’s earnings. Since April 2008, the income disregard has been €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 per week for a couple. This means that a couple with two children can earn in the region of €35,400 and qualify for the maximum rate of Carer's Allowance. A half-rate carer's allowance is also payable with other welfare payments e.g. pensions and disability payments.

The conditions attached to payments of Carer’s Allowance 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. Carer's Allowance acts as an income support for those who cannot earn an income in the open labour market due to their caring responsibilities. The continued application of the means test not only ensures that the recipient has a verifiable income need but that resources are targeted to those with greatest need.

Based on the number of carers identified as part of Census 2016, it is estimated that a universal carer’s payment could cost up to €1.2 billion per annum.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

National Carers Strategy Implementation

Ceisteanna (722)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

722. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she has taken and plans to take to support carers in terms of dealing with the physical and mental toll of providing full-time care. [26808/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Government acknowledges the important role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role. This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for a Partnership Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.

The Department of Health has responsibility for the National Carers’ Strategy which sets out the strategic direction for future policies, supports and services provided by Government Departments and agencies for carers.

The primary responsibility for providing respite care facilities and services rests with the Health Service Executive.

My Department provides a range of supports to those who are caring for family members, friends or neighbours. These measures aim to recognise the needs of carers through the provision of appropriate income supports, to enable carers to remain in touch with the labour market to the greatest extent possible and to empower carers to participate fully in economic and social life.

These income supports include the following:

- Carer’s Allowance

- Carer’s Benefit

- Carer’s Support Grant

- Domiciliary Care Allowance

Spending on these payments in 2019 is expected to exceed €1.2 billion.

In December, I approved funding of over €1.7 million to provide a range of training and supports for family carers under the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2018. The scheme is being administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department and 13 projects were selected to deliver training, information and related support services for family carers.

These projects are:-

- Family Carers Ireland, Dublin

- St Munchin’s Community Centre Company Limited by Guarantee, Limerick

- IRD Duhallow Company Limited by Guarantee, Cork

- Galway Autism Partnership Company Limited by Guarantee, Galway

- Irish Foster Care Association Company Limited by Guarantee, Dublin

- Carebright Company Limited by Guarantee, Limerick

- Irish Heart Foundation, Dublin

- National Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Ireland Ltd, Dublin

- Care Alliance Ireland (in collaboration with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland)

- ABAILE Autism Support Company Limited By Guarantee, Louth

- Peter Bradley Foundation Company Limited By Guarantee (t/a Acquired Brain Injury Ireland), Dublin

- St Francis Hospice, Dublin

- The Rehab Group, Dublin

Finally, as part of its commitment under the Carers’ Strategy, my Department also hosts an Annual Carers' Forum for carers and their representative organisations which affords an opportunity for carers to engage with the relevant Departments and state agencies on an ongoing basis.

The most recent Forum was held on 21 May and was attended by over 70 participants who were individual carers and representatives of carers’ organisations, including Care Alliance Ireland and Family Carers Ireland. Participating Departments and agencies in the Forum were Health; Children and Youth Affairs; Education and Skills; Justice and Equality; Housing, Planning and Local Government; and Transport, Tourism and Sport, Health Service Executive and Tusla.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.