Domestic Violence

Ceisteanna (616)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

616. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of persons who accessed domestic violence services in County Donegal by service in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27788/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency provides funding and coordination supports to some 59 organisations that deliver a range of services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence throughout the country.

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on the matter raised with regard to the number of persons that accessed services in County Donegal by service within the specified time periods.

Departmental Reviews

Ceisteanna (617)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

617. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the live studies, reviews and research undertaken or commissioned by her; and the date by which each study, review and research is scheduled to be completed. [27876/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

A full list of live studies, reviews and research currently being undertaken by staff in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, or being carried out under commission from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, is provided in the following table. Also included are the scheduled completion dates for these pieces of work.

Name of study, review or research

Scheduled completion date

A Landscape Analysis and Research and Data Gap Analysis in Respect of LGBTI+ Youth.

Dec-2019

A Process Evaluation of a Pilot Bursary Payment Scheme and Survey of Participants for Participation in Two Continual Professional Development Courses by Early Years Practitioners

Q4 2019

An Appraisal of the Development of an Integrated Service to Reduce Trauma Being Experienced by Children and Their Families as a Result of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

Sep-2019

Bluetown Local Case Study to Examine the Role of a Criminal Network in Negatively Affecting Children’s Offending Behaviour

Q4 2019

Data Protection Advice and Support Services in Relation to the National Childcare Scheme

Feb-2020

Early Years Service Profile (Annual)

Q4 2019

Ensuring the Collaborative Reform of Youth Justice in Ireland in Line with International Research and Evidence Based Approaches

Q2 2020

Focussed Policy Assessment of the ECCE Higher Capitation Payment

Q4 2019

Growing Up in Ireland; the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth in Ireland. Phase 2 (current contract)

Q4 2019

Impact and Implementation Evaluation of the Pilot Bail Supervision Programme Funded by DCYA

Q4 2019

Independent Review of the Cost of Providing Quality Childcare

Q3 2019

Information About Social Work Placements and Proposals to Inform the Development of a Guiding Framework

Sep-2019

LGBTI Youth Strategy Mid-Cycle Implementation Report

Dec-09

Mid-term review of the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making, 2015-2020

Sep-2019

Organisation Review Including Design and the Development of an Implementation Plan

Jul-2019

Redtown Local Case Study to Examine the Role of a Criminal Network in Negatively Affecting Children’s Offending Behaviour

Q4 2019

Review and Consultation on the Potential Introduction of Open or Semi-Open Adoption in Ireland

Nov-2019

Review of Area Profile, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement

Sep-2019

System Code Review in Respect of the DCYA Early Years Platform/National Childcare Scheme

Aug-2019

‘Audit of School Age Childcare services’ through the City and County Childcare Committees.

Jul-2019

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (618)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

618. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the documents published by her Department since 1 January 2016 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The information requested is currently being collated by my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as it is finalised.

Guardian's Payment

Ceisteanna (619)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

619. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps which can be taken to resolve a matter in the case of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Deputy may be aware that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on individual cases.

I can advise that an application can be made for a Guardianship Payment to the Department of Employment and Social Protection. This payment may be appropriate if a child, who is an orphan or abandoned, is being cared for on a full time basis by adults who are not their parent/guardian.

I hope you find this helpful.

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

Ceisteanna (620)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

620. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to review the situation by which the childcare provider is deemed to be the employer and therefore liable for holiday day, PRSI and so on for persons providing services under the AIM programme as part of ECCE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the ECCE programme. AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school service. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of disability.

Level 7 of AIM provides additional assistance in the pre-school room where this is critical to ensuring a child’s participation in the ECCE programme. In line with emerging best practice to support the integration and independence of children with a disability, AIM does not fund Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). Rather, it provides financial support to the pre-school provider, which can be used by the pre-school provider either to reduce the adult to child ratio in the pre-school room (enabling the provider to reduce the number of children in the room without impacting on the provider's total income) or to buy in additional assistance to the pre-school room. Accordingly, Level 7 assistance is a shared resource for the pre-school setting.

The funding is disbursed to the pre-school provider, through Pobal, who are charged with administration of DCYA programmes. There are restrictions on the use to which AIM funding can be put, as is only right and appropriate to guidelines on grant funding and use of public money. Pre-school providers are awarded AIM Level 7 funding as a result of an assessment carried out by an Early Years Specialist, and guidance and support on how best to utilise the funding may be provided. However, as with all DCYA Early Learning and Care funding programmes, the pre-school provider is the employer of the staff who work in the setting. It is therefore for the pre-school provider to take all necessary steps to ensure they are meeting their legal obligations as an employer.

First 5, the Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, includes a commitment to review the funding model for the Early Learning and Care sector, under which employers will be supported to provide more favourable working conditions to attract and retain staff. The new funding model will leverage additional investment for certain criteria, for example, better pay, or full implementation of the curriculum. It is envisaged that this may open alternative mechanisms by which the State could incentivise services to meet national standards in relation to wages and/or working conditions.

Childcare Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (621)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

621. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will review a situation in view of the operational and administrative difficulties that arise in which a childcare provider (details supplied) in County Cork has been requested to have two separate registration numbers even though the facilities offered are provided by the same service and at the one address; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28066/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As per my Department's rules for childcare funding programmes, each building must have a unique reference number:

"All facilities/locations operated by a service must have an individual DCYA reference numberand children must attend the facility/ location in which they are registered."

Each building must also be inspected by Tusla's Early Years Inspectorate to ensure it meets all regulatory requirements. Officials from my Department have reviewed the service provider in question, it is my understanding that this service provider has two buildings in use, and as such each building is required to have a separate DCYA reference number.

Domestic Violence Services Funding

Ceisteanna (622)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

622. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding allocated to domestic violence emergency refuges accommodation for 2019. [28141/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

The allocation of resources to individual services is an operational matter for Tusla. I have asked Tusla to respond to the Deputy directly with the requested figures.

Since becoming Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I have secured additional resources for domestic sexual and gender based violence services. This year, funding for the further investment and development of these services has increased by €1.5 million. A proportion of this funding will allow for:

- 12 new outreach workers for women and children affected by domestic violence to improve access to support and services.

- The roll out of a 12 week healing programme for children who have been impacted by domestic abuse which also helps parents/guardians to understand their child’s experiences and support their recovery.

It is important that the needs of victims of domestic violence are met in the best way possible, with due attention to the quality, accessibility, and outcome of services. I am committed to supporting Tusla in meeting the needs of individuals who experience domestic violence.

Planning Guidelines

Ceisteanna (623)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

623. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of meetings he has had with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and his officials regarding the revised rural housing guidelines; and if he has made a policy submission regarding the issue. [27519/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I can confirm that I have not had any meetings with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, or his officials, on the issue of revised rural housing guidelines. My Department has not made any policy submissions on this issue.

Western Development Commission Funding

Ceisteanna (624)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

624. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the current and capital allocations in each of the years 2016 to 2019 to the Western Development Commission in tabular form. [27600/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Western Development Commission (WDC) was established on a statutory footing under the Western Development Commission Act, 1998. The main aim of the Commission is to promote, foster and encourage economic and social development in the Western Region, covering counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.

The Exchequer allocations for the Western Development Commission in each of the four years from 2016 to 2019 inclusive are detailed in Table 1. The figures reflect the published Revised Estimates Volume for the years in question.

In addition to its Exchequer allocation, the WDC manages the Western Investment Fund (WIF) which provides loans and equity to businesses and local communities in the West. The WDC currently has €48 million available for investment and lending under this Fund.

An additional €500,000 was allocated to the WDC this year to enable the Commission to appoint extra resources to maximize the use of the WIF and to support the co-ordination of the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative. This additional allocation reflects the important and expanding role of the WDC in contributing to the Government's regional policy objectives under Project Ireland 2040, and in progressing the economic and social development of the Western region in particular.

Table 1 – REV allocations 2016-2018, Western Development Commission

Year

Current

€000

Capital

€000

Total€000

2016

1,488

1,000

2,488

2017

1,495

1,000

2,495

2018

1,516

-

1,516

2019

2,028

-

2,028

Departmental Reviews

Ceisteanna (625)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

625. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of live studies, reviews and research undertaken or commissioned by him; and the date by which each study, review and research is scheduled to be completed. [27889/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department is currently undertaking six live studies, including reviews and research. The details are provided in the following table.

Name of Study/Review/Research undertaken or commissioned

Date scheduled to be completed

Guidance document on potential environmental issues of the infrastructural rollout of the National Broadband Plan. (External)

Q4 2019

Review of Local Community Development Committees

July 2019

Review of Community Services Programme (External)

September 2019

Review of Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010

2020

Review of measures in relation to the Control of Dogs in Ireland

2020

SICAP pre-employment supports. (ESRI)

Q1 2020

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (626)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

626. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the documents published by his Department since 1 January 2016 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department was established on 19 July 2017 and has published the following policy documents and strategies from 2017 to-date.

-

Department of Rural and Community Development Name of current policy documents or strategies

Year of publication

1

Review of Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development (RAPID) programme and the Communities Facilities Scheme

2018

2

Review of Dog Breeding Establishment Guidelines

2018

3

Social Inclusion and Community Activation (SICAP) Programme Requirements

2017

4

Realising our Rural Potential: The Action Plan for Rural Development

2017

5

Review of the Administration of Dormant Account Fund

2018

6

Our Public Libraries 2022: Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities

2018

7

Statement of Strategy

2018

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (627)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

627. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the expenditure and planned expenditure on local radio stations in relation to promoting the working families payment during 2019; when each campaign commenced; and the amount spent or planned to be spent in respect of each local radio station in tabular form. [27459/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department is currently running a nationwide information campaign to promote the Working Family Payment. The campaign began on Monday, 10 June, and includes advertising in national newspapers, “out of home” advertising in commuter locations such as train stations and on Luas, on local and national radio stations, and on digital and social media.

Promotional campaigns are an important part of how we ensure our customers are informed of the schemes and supports to which they may be entitled. In this instance, we want to ensure our customers are informed about the Working Family Payment, particularly working families on low to moderate incomes who may not realise they qualify for the payment.

Public information campaigns are targeted carefully, using the best mix of media formats, to ensure that the Department’s messages reach members of the public effectively. Advertisements on local radio are an important part of this and help to ensure a good regional reach for the campaign.

Wavemaker, the Department’s contracted media buying agency, buys local and regional radio slots on a package basis across IRS and Urban Media (details in the following table). This is to obtain the best value while obtaining strong national reach.

My Department has yet to be invoiced for this advertising activity. The projected expenditure on local and regional radio for this campaign from the Working Family Payment media plan is detailed in the following table:

Station Bundles

Dates

Planned Expenditure (ex. VAT)

IRS (Clare FM, East Coast, Highland Radio, KCLR, Radio Kerry, KFM, Midlands 103, MWR, Ocean FM, Radio Nova, SS/NS, South East, Sunshine, Tipp FM)

Week 1: June 17-23Week 2: July 1-7

€11,500

URBAN MEDIA (FM104, LMFM, Galway, Limerick Live, WLR, Cork 96/103, Q102)

Week 1: June 10-16Week 2: June 17-23

€11,628

My Department does not currently have further promotional activity planned in relation to the Working Family Payment.

Widow's Pension Eligibility

Ceisteanna (628)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

628. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is entitled to a pension under the contributions of their late spouse. [27495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In order to assess a person’s entitlement to a widow(er)’s or surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pension examined, a completed application form must be submitted to my Department. To facilitate the person making a claim, an application form has been posted to them for completion and return to Widow(er)’s or Surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pensions, Social Welfare Services, College Road Sligo. Application forms are also available for download from the Department’s website www.welfare.ie.

On receipt of a completed application received, the entitlement of the person concerned will be examined and they will be notified of the outcome without delay.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (629)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

629. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27502/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 25 April 2019. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred 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 appeal 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 hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (630)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

630. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reduce the waiting time for persons that are waiting for applications for disability allowance to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27538/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. Before a decision can be made on entitlement to disability allowance (DA), evidence must be provided in respect of the person’s medical condition, the extent to which it restricts them from taking up employment, their means and their habitual residency.

In May 2019, the average waiting time for new DA applications was 14 weeks. The claim processing target for DA is to process 75% of claims within 12 weeks. Staff are being redeployed within the DA area to assist with claims processing.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (631)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

631. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a partial capacity benefit application by a person (details supplied). [27557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has not received an application for Partial Capacity Benefit from the person concerned.

An application form has been sent to her for completion and upon its return it will be processed as soon as possible.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

School Meals Programme

Ceisteanna (632)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

632. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the provision of a hot nutritious meal to each schoolchild; if a small grant scheme for schools for this purpose will be considered in discussions on Budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27563/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

All 3,239 primary schools have been issued with an invitation to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot. Schools will be selected having regard to geographical spread, numbers enrolled, range of suppliers and the overall budget available for the pilot in 2019 and 2020 (€1m and €2.5 respectively).

Expanding the scheme beyond the current pilot would have to be considered as part of budget negotiations. Furthermore, proposals to extend the pilot will be contingent on an evaluation of pilot outcomes. To the extent that these will be largely driven by a differential analysis of educational outcomes in pilot vs non-pilot schools the Department of Education and Skills and the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) will need to be involved in establishing an evaluation framework and timeframe.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

One-Parent Family Payment Eligibility

Ceisteanna (633)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

633. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an affidavit is acceptable documentation advising on the separation of a couple in circumstance in which a couple is separated and documentation is requested from her Department. [27572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Yes, an affidavit is acceptable documentation advising on the separation of a couple in circumstance in which a couple is separated.

For a person to qualify as a separated in order to qualify for the One Parent Family Payment s/he must have been living apart from his/her spouse/civil partner for at least 3 months.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (634)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

634. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [27587/19]

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 29 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.

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that the appeal case file provided to the Appeals Officer includes the medical evidence to which he refers.

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 Applications

Ceisteanna (635)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

635. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27667/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 28 February 2019.

On 5 June 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on her eligibility. A further information request issued on 17 June 2019 requesting details regarding maintenance.

If the person concerned wishes to submit evidence from the courts detailing the amount of maintenance which has been actually received by her over a period of time, the means for DA can be assessed based on these details.

On receipt of this information a decision will be made on her DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (636)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

636. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application for carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27669/19]

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 10 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.

JobPath Data

Ceisteanna (637)

John Brady

Ceist:

637. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the types of employment commenced through JobPath; the number of job starts that are part-time and full-time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The primary purpose of JobPath is to provide a case management based employment advice and counseling service to long-term unemployed jobseekers. This is the group of jobseekers facing the most significant barriers to secure and sustain full-time employment.

Between July 2015 and May 2019, some 227,590 jobseekers had commenced their engagement period with the JobPath service. Of this number, 52% were unemployed for over three years. These groups face significant barriers when seeking to enter or return to employment in the open labour market.

To date, some 51,818 jobseekers have commenced employment during their engagement period with JobPath. Of this number, 46,155 had commenced full-time employment and 5,663 had commenced part-time employment. Many clients who are currently engaged with JobPath are still in the first phase of the service and have not had sufficient time with the service to have gained employment. Performance will improve as more clients complete their engagement with the service.

My Department does not maintain statistics on the specific types of employment commenced through JobPath. However the recent econometric review of JobPath noted that the weekly employment earnings of people who secured employment with the JobPath service are 17% higher than the weekly employment earnings of people who secured employment without the support of JobPath in 2018. Taken with the 26% improvement in employment outcomes in the same period, it means the overall positive employment/earnings impact is 37% in 2018 for those who are supported by the JobPath service. These findings indicate that jobseekers who engage with JobPath are more likely to get a positive employment outcome than those jobseekers who aren't supported by the service.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Employment Rights

Ceisteanna (638, 639, 640)

John Brady

Ceist:

638. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of cases brought to the scope section; the number of these cases which were investigated; the number of these cases in which fault was found for each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27677/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

639. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the length of time it takes for a decision to be made following an investigation being carried out by the scope section. [27678/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

640. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of ongoing cases being investigated by the scope section; the average time these cases have been ongoing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27679/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 638 to 640, inclusive, together.

I am committed to address the issue of false self-employment, and I have put in train a series of measures to deter, detect and tackle it. A key element is the increased focus by Social Welfare Inspectors on the enforcement of PRSI compliance obligations. Inspectors nationwide have commenced a campaign of employer inspections and a new unit is being established to focus specifically on the area of false self-employment.

Deliberate mis-classification of employment status is an offence with penalties on prosecution of up to three years imprisonment and/or fines up to €13,000 or twice the amount denied to the Social Insurance Fund as a result of the mis-classification, whichever amount is greater. The new unit will ensure that cases of fraudulent mis-classification of employment status are prosecuted and that the full force of penalties are applied. To this end, led by my Department, the 2007 Code of Practice on Employment Status will reach the end of a comprehensive revision process next month. This Code will be a vital tool for employers and employees alike so they can be clear when a worker is genuinely self-employed. This document will be circulated to ICTU and IBEC for their input before it is published. In addition, Heads of Bill have already been drafted in order to place the revised Code on a statutory footing later this year.

The question of whether a worker is employed or self-employed is not always a simple one. The Courts have repeatedly stated that a decision must be made based on the specific facts of each case, having regard to key tests such as the level of control a would-be employer has over the worker and the level of obligation they have towards each other.

My strong view is that this is a far better mechanism than trying to capture in legislation a definition that can never be black and white.

I have instructed my officials to also explore a range of legislative proposals to complement the increased inspection work that will be key to the long term success of this project. These proposals include anti-penalisation provisions for workers who will be able to take a claim to the WRC if they are victimised by an employer for raising a query regarding their status; and an increase in penalties for employers who deliberately mis-classify employees as being self-employed.

Most of the cases referred to Scope Section cover matters such as modified classes of PRSI for civil and public servants, family employments and the insurability of Directors. However, I understand the Deputy’s questions refer primarily to cases where the insurability of a worker as being either employed or self-employed is to be determined and, in particular, where false self-employment has been found.

Of all the cases referred to Scope, the number involving the mis-classification of an employee as self-employed constitute a small proportion. A breakdown of cases is not available pre 2018 as the historic database in use in Scope did not allow this categorisation.

Number of all cases referred for Scope decision

Year

All cases referred

All cases decisions made

Employed/self-employeddecisions made

2017

1,473

1,065

Not available

2018

2,067

1,339

73

2019 (to end May)

879

575

59

The following statistics show the number of such decisions made and the length of time within which the decisions were made:

Number of cases in sub-category of Employed/Self-Employed (Decision Made)

Decision made within

2018

2019 (to end May)

Under 3 months

33

31

3-6 months

14

9

6-12 months

23

16

Over 12 months

3

3

Total decisions made

73

59

These cases do not always involve a deliberate fraudulent mis-classification of a worker as self-employed. Sometimes it happens that both employer and employee are genuinely mistaken in their approach and are happy to correct the position once the Department’s officials make a determination.

There are currently approximately 142 cases on hands in Scope Section that involve employee/self-employed investigations. The duration of these investigations is will very from case to case, depending on the issues involved. Most of these cases are complex and require referral to a Social Welfare Inspector who will interview the relevant parties at local level and send his/her report on the matter back to Scope Section.

I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputy.