State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (898)

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

898. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons negatively impacted by the changes in the criteria contributions for the State (contributory) pension. [30654/19]

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.

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary Regulations which, together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made. As at 4 July 2019, 77,193 reviews have been completed. Of these, 32,307 pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment and 44,886 are remaining on their existing rate of payment.

Where a person's rate does not increase under this pension review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. No one will be worse off as a result of this review.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (899)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

899. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of implementing a living wage €12.30 for all employees directly employed and or in agencies under her remit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30770/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Living Wage is based on research identifying the income required for the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) for a single-adult household in Ireland. It is an estimate made by a Living Wage Technical Group, led by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ).

The living wage approach starts with an analysis of the expenditure likely to be incurred by an individual in an independent household for the essentials of life and calculates the minimum income required to support this. Not everybody in the labour force is living independently and therefore do not necessarily need to achieve a MESL on a personal basis to achieve MESL on a household basis.

By contrast, the national minimum wage is the legally-binding lowest average hourly rate that can be paid by an employer to an employee. This rate is set and governed by the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, which applies to all employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary and casual employees, with some exceptions. The Low Pay Commission was specifically established to make evidence-based recommendations regarding the national minimum wage, having regard to a range of criteria such as the state of the economy and labour markets, international comparisons and likely impacts on employment and competitiveness. The current rate is €9.80 per hour.

The national minimum wage approach seeks to find the balance between a fair and sustainable rate for low paid workers and one that will not have significant negative consequences for employers and competitiveness. It is a pragmatic approach providing a clearly defined minimum hourly rate for employers, and giving them the freedom to pay higher rates, whilst also providing a measure of security for low-paid workers. As it is legally enforceable, it provides protection for workers.

The national minimum wage applies to all employee's including, if applicable, those employed in my area of responsibility.

Rent Supplement Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (900)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

900. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if landlords are permitted to request and or receive top-up payments in respect of recipients of rent supplement; and if not, the penalty applying. [30783/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its important role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting approximately 20,160 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

Under the legislative provisions governing rent supplement, the Department’s relationship is with the tenant. There is no contractual relationship between the landlord and the Department in the administration of the scheme. The tenant’s engagement with the Department usually takes place after they have reached an agreement with their landlord regarding their tenancy arrangement.

With high premiums in place for vacant properties, and high rental inflation being experienced for in situ tenancies, the Department has had in place since start of 2015, a 'price flexible case-by-case' award approach for both new and existing tenancies. This approach is set out in the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework. The Framework specifically includes a provision for ‘top-up’ payment arrangements - where a 'top-up' arrangement is in place these can be regularised with the additional support provided.

Where a tenant provides details of a 'top-up' arrangement, seeking additional support, no penalty is raised by the Department against the tenant, with the main consideration to ensure the person can remain in their current home.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (901, 902)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

901. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the adequacy of the rules relating to the typical amount provided under the supplementary welfare scheme for items such as replacement washing machines were last reviewed and changed. [30786/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

902. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount budgeted for and spent on exceptional and urgent needs payments in each of the past ten years; the number of payments issued in each of the years; and the number of recipients. [30787/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 901 and 902 together.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (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. An urgent needs payment (UNP) may be made to persons who may not normally qualify for SWA but who have an urgent need which they cannot meet from their own resources or where an alternative is not available at that time.

In total €38.8 million has been provided for ENPs and UNPs in 2019.

The Tabular Statement below shows the revised estimate, expenditure and the number of payments for exceptional and urgent needs payments for each year since 2008.

ENPs are payable 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. There is no automatic entitlement to a payment under this scheme. Payments 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.

Guidance provided to staff included recommendations in relation to the maximum amounts payable for a number of items covered under the scheme. These recommended maximum amounts were last reviewed in 2018. The guidelines assist Departmental staff and do not limit the discretionary powers available to officers administering the scheme to assist an individual or household in any particular hardship situation which may arise.

If the Deputy is aware of particular cases where the recommended maximum amounts have caused difficulties, I would ask that she bring these to the attention of the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular Statement - ENPs and UNPs: Revised Estimates, Expenditure and Number of Payments 2008-2018

Year

Revised Estimate

Expenditure

No. of Payments

2008

€76.5m

€82.3m

259,900

2009

€102.00

€75.2m

239,000

2010

€90.0m

€69.9m

218,000

2011

€72.1m

€62.6m

226,200

2012

€51.60

€52.7m

197,500

2013

€47.5m

€35.7m

132,990

2014

€31.3m

€30.1m

107,100

2015

€27.9m

€31.0m

101,600

2016

€30.3m

€32.2m

100,100

2017

€31.5m

€38.1m

103,500

2018

€36.4m

€42.3m*

112,500

* Provisional outturn

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (903)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

903. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the different income streams directly paid by persons to her Department or agencies under her remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or increment payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department does not receive any incremental staged payments.

All of the Department's streams of income are reported annually in the statutory accounts being Vote 37 Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Appropriation Account and the Social Insurance Fund financial statements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Project Ireland 2040

Ceisteanna (904, 905, 907)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

904. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the capital projects which have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies in tabular form; when these projects will commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30882/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

905. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the capital projects which have commenced under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

907. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if expenditure estimates for capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30964/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 904, 905 and 907 together.

The National Development Plan 2018 to 2027 which forms part of Project Ireland 2040 sets out there two projects that come under my Department's remit, viz. additional ICT modernisation and the refurbishment of my Department’s Áras Mhic Dhiarmada building.

In relation to ICT modernisation, my Department continues to invest in projects to modernise its business systems and ICT infrastructure every year. This involves the continued migration of business functionality to the Department’s strategic ICT platform and the development of a digital services platform. It also includes continued investment in data centres, physical ICT infrastructure, security systems, and ensuring that the complex ICT environment remains fit for purpose. This work is always ongoing within available resources and, as such, there is no estimated overall cost.

The Áras Mhic Dhiarmada building was completed in 1953 and continues to be of significant architectural interest. It is now in need of major refurbishment and my Department is currently engaging with the Office of Public Works to identify the necessary works. Until the refurbishment plan is agreed I am not in a position to establish the estimated cost of the project.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Review

Question No. 907 answered with Question No. 904.

Ceisteanna (906)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

906. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has considered a review of the role of community employment scheme participants between labour activation and social inclusion benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30954/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how social inclusion schemes might best be organised into the future including which Department should hold lead responsibility for sponsoring CE schemes focused on social Inclusion, the Rural Social Scheme and the Job Initiative scheme.

Meetings of the IDG have taken place along with bilateral meetings with appropriate Departments. There has also been a consultative process with relevant Stakeholders and their submissions are being considered as part of the deliberation process. I expect to have a final report shortly.

Question No. 907 answered with Question No. 904.

State Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (908)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

908. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the ongoing reviews of contributory pensions for those in receipt of reduced amounts; when they are expected to be concluded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31020/19]

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.

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary Regulations which, together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made. As at 4 July 2019, 77,193 reviews have been completed. Of these, 32,307 pensioners received an increase in their rate of payment and 44,886 are remaining on their existing rate of payment.

Where an increase is due, the person's rate of payment is adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the person's 66th birthday if later.

Outcomes will continue to issue to individuals as soon as their reviews are completed. It will take a number of months to complete the reviews due to the numbers involved and the individual nature of social insurance records.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (909)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

909. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in receipt of a reduced contributory pension would be entitled to an increased payment if homecaring credits could be taken into account under the averaging calculation of pension rather than the total contributions calculation used as part of the reviews; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31021/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

For those people who reached state pension age since September 2012, two different methods of calculating their entitlement to a contributory state pension are used. There are several differing elements involved in each calculating method. For example, the Yearly Average (YA) method does not include a limit on credited contributions. The interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA), as launched in January 2018, does have a limit on credits but allows up to 20 years HomeCaring periods be added to paid contributions to increase a person’s rate. The YA method rewards those with a shorter timespan between first and last social insurance contributions while TCA looks at a person’s aggregated contributions without regard for timespan. Under YA, there is no maximum number of contributions required, while under TCA 40 years is the maximum required.

The elements which make up each method are set out in law. Accordingly, it is not possible to choose those elements from either method that may prove most advantageous to an applicant. To allow pensioners choose the elements in how their pension is calculated would likely incur very significant costs which could further undermine the sustainability of the State Pension. My department will spend over €8 billion on pensions in 2019 and this figure is already increasing year on year to the tune of c.€1 billion every five years based on demographic changes alone. Instead, pensioners are paid using whichever of the two methods of calculation is most beneficial to them.

The person in question applied for a pension and was assessed with having a yearly average of 21 based on 922 reckonable paid contributions and 107 reckonable credited contributions over 48 years. This places the person into the 20-29 rate band which equates to a payment rate equal to 85% of the maximum rate pension.

A review took place on the person concerned as part of the on-going rate review project. The review resulted in a payment rate equal to 82.02% of the maximum rate pension based on 922 reckonable paid contributions combined with 677 HomeCaring periods and 107 reckonable credits.

As the person is already in receipt of 85% of the maximum rate of pension, it is more financially beneficial for them to remain on their existing payment. A review outcome letter has issued informing the person concerned that their existing rate of payment will continue unchanged.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (910)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

910. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of capital projects being undertaken by her Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31074/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department’s capital allocation is split over three subheads i.e. A.2. (v) Office Equipment and External IT Services, A.2. (vi) Office Premises Expenses and A.2. (ix) eGovernment Related Projects.

The following table outlines my Department’s plans for the 2019 capital allocation of €15m (including €1m capital carry over from 2018).

A.2. (v) Office Equipment and External IT Services

Projects

Estimated Cost/Tender Price

Ongoing purchase of computer hardware, photocopiers, other non-IT office machinery, software licenses including storage technology, investment in server infrastructure and in virtualisation technology etc.

€8.5m (This estimate relates to the ongoing purchase of a range of equipment and software to support the Department in its daily functions – it is not project specific)

Intreo Centre Online Self Service

€0.3m (no tendering process as this is an in-house project).

Sub Total

€8.8m

A.2.(vi) Office Premises

The following table outlines the Department’s planned contribution towards the costs of refurbishment on Departmental Buildings in 2019. The Deputy may wish to note that in relation to refurbishment costs, all accommodation works are contracted by the Office of Public Works (OPW) who will be best positioned to provide details on the final agreed tender price. The OPW may also be providing part funding for some of the projects.

Project

Estimated Project Cost

DEASP Contribution 2019

Dungarvan

200,000

200,000

Lifford

600,000

200,000

Fermoy

600,000

500,000

Killybegs

100,000

100,000

Mallow

600,000

300,000

Clonakility

125,000

25,000

Limerick City - Consolidation

400,000

200,000

Blanchardstown - Expand public office

200,000

200,000

Kilmainham

350,000

200,000

Kilbarrack

350,000

200,000

Bantry

1,000,000

200,000

Nenagh

800,000

200,000

Ballybofey Residual

100,000

100,000

Longford

300,000

150,000

Sligo - residual plus glass office

100,000

100,000

Buncrana

200,000

200,000

Gandon

150,000

150,000

Infinity

3,000,000

100,000

Generators - Residual

175,000

175,000

Reserve - project reserve

500,000

500,000

AMD Building Projects - Canteen / M&E Services

500,000

500,000

Energy Efficiency - LED lighting / EV charging points

500,000

500,000

Front Office Back Office (FOBO) / Digital Signage Programme

550,000

550,000

AMD - Building Refurbishment - Plans

450,000

450,000

Sub-Total

11,850,000

6,000,000

A.2. (ix) eGovernment Related Projects

Projects

Estimated Cost/Tender Price

No specific project identified. Budget allocated in the event of projects arising during 2019.

€0.2m

Subtotal

€0.2m

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (911)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

911. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefore in each case in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I understand the Deputy is seeking information on projects with a spend of €5 million or above since 2010.

The capital allocation for my Department is primarily used to deliver IT modernisation and carry out refurbishments on the Department’s buildings. There have been no individual capital projects with a spend of €5 million or above since 2010.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (912)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

912. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department is responsible for and responsive to inquiries from the general public as to tracing their unclaimed pension entitlements; if its host mailing service and associated efforts are limited solely to inquiries from pension scheme administrators; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31099/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department has arrangements in place to assist with member tracing. Where the administrator of a pension scheme is unable to trace a member using their own resources they can use my Department’s host mailing service.

Following discussions between my Department, the Pensions Authority and the Irish Association of Pension Funds, a revised protocol was put in place in October 2013. The protocol sets out the Department’s requirements for organisations using the host mailing service. The pension provider must have made an unsuccessful attempt to contact the scheme member. The Department will forward letters to the last known address of the member based on its records if this address differs from that which the pension provider has. It is important to note that in all such cases the Department does not share personal data with any third party, and relies on Article 6(f) of the GDPR to perform the communication with the customer.

The Department does not hold information on individuals' private pension entitlements and therefore the host mailing service cannot help people trace unclaimed pensions. If a person believes that they may have an unclaimed pension entitlement the person should contact former employers and pension companies so they can check their records.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Redundancy Rebates

Ceisteanna (913)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

913. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of restoring redundancy rebates to businesses by 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is an employer’s responsibility to pay statutory redundancy to eligible employees. Previously employers were entitled to a rebate from the state of 60% of the relevant redundancy payment. These rebates were abolished from 2013 due to the high cost to the Social Insurance Fund. These Employer rebates were paid to employers regardless of the financial situation of the company and their ability to make statutory redundancy payments.

The Department receives some information form employers through notifications of collective redundancies and also has data on applications received under the redundancy payments scheme. However, this data does not reflect the total number of actual redundancies that take place across the workforce.

The cost to the Social Insurance Fund arising from the restoration of redundancy rebates to employers may also be impacted by the overall performance of the economy and how that performance impacts on the labour market and whether decisions taken by employers would lead to redundancies, temporary lay-offs or putting workers, for example, on a 3 day week.

For these reasons I am advised that my Department is not in a position to provide an accurate estimate of the cost of restoring redundancy payments to businesses.

Redundancy Rebates

Ceisteanna (914)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

914. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on restoring redundancy rebates to businesses which previously facilitated small and micro-sized businesses to hire staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The purpose of the redundancy payments scheme is to compensate employees for the loss of their jobs, where the employer is unable to pay statutory redundancy due to financial difficulties or insolvency. The scheme was never intended as a support to businesses to hire staff. The scheme is funded from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF).

Up to 2011, the scheme provided a rebate of 60 per cent to employers who provided statutory redundancy payments to their employees. I am advised by my Department that in Budget 2013, the rebate payment was abolished. This decision was made because of the high cost of the rebate and its impact on the financial sustainability of the social insurance fund at the time of the economic crisis. Furthermore, the rebate to employers was paid regardless of a company’s financial situation and ability to pay, thus benefitting viable and profitable companies, including multinational companies. It was not a targeted use of the resources of the Social Insurance Fund.

The redundancy payments scheme as it now operates benefits employees whose employers are unable to make statutory redundancy payments. Employers who declare they cannot sustain the cost of redundancy payments, while continuing to trade, are required to submit verified financial information to prove this and are liable to the Social Insurance Fund for any redundancy payments made on their behalf. This ensures that the current scheme takes into account both an employer's ability to pay redundancy payments and that the Social Insurance Fund can be reimbursed in the future, through debt repayment if an employer's financial position improves.

Any proposals to restore the redundancy rebate scheme and any development of policy in this area would have to have regard to: the level of costs involved in restoring the rebate; the many other demands on the Social Insurance Fund including this Government's decisions to extend social insurance benefits to self-employed workers and to provide for paternity benefit and parental leave benefit; and other supports available to businesses who wish to hire staff.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (915)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

915. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if legislation will be passed in order for a public services card to be produced as a form of identification (details supplied). [31142/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Under current legislation, a Public Services Card (PSC) cannot be requested by any public or private body or person that is not designated as a specified body in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). The PSC can only be used by public bodies specified in this legislation when conducting a public transaction with the person concerned.

One of the provisions set out in Section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions, and Civil Registration Bill 2017 would, if enacted, enable citizens to volunteer their PSC where they wish to use it as a form of proof of identity and/or age. However, it is important to note that a non-specified body could not request or demand the production of a PSC. It simply gives individuals the option to use their PSC if they wish, as proof of identity and/or age, in transactions with non-specified bodies.

The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 proposes a number of amendments to the Social Welfare Acts, the Pensions Act 1990 and the Civil Registration Act 2004 in addition to the provisions relating to PSC use.

The amendments to the Pensions Act contain a number of key measures relating to Defined Benefit pension schemes. It is intended that these measures will act to support existing provisions in the Pensions Act by providing for further protection for scheme members’ benefits and enhancing employer responsibilities for their schemes. These provisions in particular are very technical and involve complex policy issues. In order to achieve a resilient solution it has been necessary to consult in detail with other Government Departments and obtain numerous legal advices from the Office of the Attorney General on various aspects of the provisions. When these matters have been resolved and amendments approved by Government, an early date for Committee Stage will be requested.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions Payments

Ceisteanna (916)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

916. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a payment for a person (details supplied). [31200/19]

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 was assessed as having a reduced rate entitlement to state pension (contributory) earlier in 2019 and was informed at the time that they were financially better off to remain as a qualified adult on their spouse's claim.

In May 2019, the person concerned supplied information about their HomeCaring periods. Under the new arrangements, the maximum permissible number of HomeCaring periods 1,040 (as set out in legislation) were awarded to the person concerned. Following a review of their state pension (contributory) entitlement, the person is now entitled to a weekly payment equivalent to 70.46% of maximum rate state pension (contributory). The person has been transferred to their own pension as their entitlement now exceeds the rate of qualified adult increase that was in payment.

A review outcome has issued to the person concerned, outlining details of their increase and arrears, backdated to 31 January 2019, have issued. The first payment was available for collection in the post office on 5 July 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Farm Assist Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (917)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

917. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of farm assist; the amount paid by county in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A detailed breakdown of the number of recipients of Farm Assist by county in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019 is attached in table 1.

An equivalent breakdown of Farm Assist expenditure by county is not available. However, the nationwide expenditure in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019 is detailed in table 2.

Tabular statement attached/.....

Table 1: Farm Assist recipients by county 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019(June)

Carlow

102

95

84

75

76

69

58

60

52

47

Cavan

401

407

404

344

326

300

265

254

219

217

Clare

637

643

609

566

521

455

400

346

307

274

Cork

917

957

922

840

788

689

606

542

475

441

Donegal

1,389

1,491

1,534

1,492

1458

1,299

1,294

1,265

1,086

1,123

Dublin

11

35

37

28

32

30

33

27

23

21

Galway

1,133

1,137

1,112

1,035

1000

858

767

714

635

601

Kerry

742

819

818

766

721

717

568

523

548

433

Kildare

56

53

53

39

37

28

19

21

18

18

Kilkenny

173

154

146

128

120

108

91

86

74

73

Laois

149

177

158

128

116

104

94

85

71

62

Leitrim

331

377

394

396

377

366

331

301

275

253

Limerick

265

247

250

231

216

180

164

139

128

113

Longford

176

258

260

232

205

177

139

130

126

111

Louth

81

84

87

79

82

72

59

60

59

56

Mayo

1,684

1,869

1,813

1,691

1614

1,471

1,289

1,156

1,084

1,013

Meath

90

82

93

81

81

67

55

49

48

44

Monaghan

516

545

504

468

446

386

344

319

286

273

Offaly

127

133

130

107

97

89

76

72

60

59

Roscommon

407

433

424

384

356

319

276

262

235

214

Sligo

478

315

310

283

283

251

228

210

182

173

Tipperary

350

402

404

363

336

300

269

252

223

215

Waterford

84

96

92

85

78

70

64

61

52

51

Westmeath

134

193

197

166

153

131

120

99

91

81

Wexford

202

255

248

224

223

195

166

151

137

129

Wicklow

79

76

79

72

67

59

53

50

41

37

Total

10,174

11,333

11,162

10.303

9,809

8,790

7,828

7,234

6,535

6,132

Farm Assist expenditure 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019.

Year

Expenditure

€million

2010

110.93

2011

113.72

2012

108.17

2013

99.18

2014

93.63

2015

88.49

2016

78.83

2017

78.18

2018

73.82

2019 (Provisional outturn end June)

34.25

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Ceisteanna (918)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

918. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of fish assist; the amount paid by county in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31204/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A breakdown of the number of recipients of Fish Assist by county in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019 is detailed in the attached tabular statement. I regret that expenditure on Fish Assist is not segregated from overall expenditure on Jobseeker's Allowance, so that I cannot provide the corresponding expenditure figures.

Tabular statement attached/.....

The number of recipients by county at the end of December in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019

COUNTY

June 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

CAVAN

1

1

2

CLARE

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

CORK

5

7

5

10

13

20

17

11

DONEGAL

8

8

5

10

10

9

10

13

DUBLIN

1

1

1

GALWAY

19

18

19

24

28

27

26

23

KERRY

4

4

4

7

6

7

7

9

LOUTH

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

MAYO

5

8

8

7

9

9

8

9

SLIGO

2

2

2

5

5

5

5

4

WATERFORD

12

13

10

10

10

11

11

17

WEXFORD

7

8

8

7

6

7

7

8

Total

63

72

65

85

93

99

94

98

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (919)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

919. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a carer's benefit by a person (details supplied) County Sligo has been received in April 2019; when the application will be processed; when a decision will be made on the application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is a condition for receipt of Carer's Benefit (CARB) that the person being cared for must have such a disability that they require full-time care and attention.

This is defined as requiring from another person, continual supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day in connection with normal bodily functions or continual supervision in order to avoid danger to him or herself.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 12 April 2019.

The application for CARB was disallowed on the grounds that the evidence submitted did not indicate that the requirement for full-time care was satisfied.

The person concerned was notified on 26 June 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Administration

Ceisteanna (920)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

920. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) submitted a request to sponsor or sub-sponsor a community employment scheme; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that in a response of 16 May 2019, it was stated that educational provision is the domain of the Department of Education and Skills; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Constitution acknowledges the role of a parent and guardian as the primary educator of the child; and if the application by the school will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Community Employment (CE) projects are typically sponsored by groups wishing to benefit the local community, namely voluntary and community organisations and, to a lesser extent, public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities.

The private school outlined by the Deputy provides an alternative to the mainstream model of education. Charges are applied in respect of those attending the school.

Schools are not permitted to sponsor CE schemes and CE participants cannot be employed by or work in schools. This includes the provision of security, caretaking and other services to schools. As the Deputy may be aware, FAS who had responsibility for CE up until 2012, withdrew the CE services from schools from September 2001. As a result, the budget for schools-based CE schemes was transferred to the Department of Education and Skills.

My colleague, Minister Joe Mc Hugh T.D. has overall responsibility for the services and initiatives provided for the whole education sector including the control of policy, funding and direction.

It is a matter for all private schools to determine how the provision of their services are resourced.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (921)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

921. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the oversight of her Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by her Department following these results; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31324/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the DPER website www.circulars.gov.ie where circulars and guidelines relating to corporate governance matters for Government Departments and Agencies are held. These circulars would provide guidance in matters such as pay, pensions and promotions. In this regard, my Department would take the necessary steps and measures to implement the provisions of the circulars, as appropriate.

In the period from January 2016 to date, approximately 500 circulars and guidelines have been loaded on to the DPER website. If the Deputy has a query in relation to particular circulars or guidelines, he can submit the details to my office and I will undertake to respond setting out how my Department has adhered to the relevant provisions.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (922)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

922. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the recurring weekly meetings attended by either her or the Secretary General of her Department in 2019 at which climate change and or preparations within her Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31340/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department continues to engage with the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI); the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and the Office of Public Works (OPW) to deliver the Government's energy efficiency and climate action plan.

The Management Board of my Department has recently approved the Department's Facility Management Strategy 2019-2022. This Strategy includes the key areas of the Department's environmental plans and is informed by the Government Plan on Climate Action and the responsibilities of the Department therein. The Secretary General has also established an innovation and engagement team, comprising management and staff representatives to examine and report on ways to further improve and develop a sustainable corporate culture.

The Management Board will be kept fully appraised of progress on the implementation of the Strategy and climate action plan goals.