Registration of Deaths

Ceisteanna (2742)

John Brady

Ceist:

2742. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will consider making provision for deaths that occur before 24 weeks gestation to be registered in circumstances in which this is sought by the family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33054/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am conscious that this issue can be the cause of significant impact to those parents and families who are in such circumstances.

I have met recently with individuals affected by this issue and I have been in contact with Féileacán, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland, with a view to arranging to meet with them following submission of proposals that they have made.

The weight and term limits of 500 grams and 24 weeks referenced are based on those developed by the World Health Organisation. Accordingly, I have also written to my colleague, the Minister for Health, in this matter to seek the views of experts in this area. I am advised that the Neonatal Clinical Advisory Group in the HSE is preparing a position paper in relation to the classification of perinatal death and that publication of this is expected shortly.

The progression of these processes will facilitate informed further consideration of the issues when complete.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (2743)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

2743. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a payment for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [33078/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that the department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from the above named person on 27 March 2019.

The application for DA, based upon the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds and the person in question was notified in writing of this decision on 4 July 2019.

The person was also notified of his right to a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. No such request has been received to date.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Data

Ceisteanna (2744, 2745)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

2744. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason appeals in respect of carer’s benefit increased by 47.3% in 2018; the number of appeals to which the percentage corresponds; the grounds on which the appeals were made; the number of same that were successful, refused, withdrawn and or revised; the reasons therefor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

2745. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of appeals in respect of carer’s benefit in each of the past five years; the number which were successful, refused, withdrawn and revised, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2744 and 2745 together.

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.

All decisions taken by Deciding Officers / Designated Persons of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer. About 85% of all claims are awarded and just 1% appealed annually.

As regards the increase in carer’s benefit appeal receipts referred to by the Deputy, it is important to note the context of the significant increase in the number of carer’s benefit applications received by my Department in recent years. 1,344 applications were received in 2016, 3,590 applications were received in 2017 and 4,101 applications were received in 2018. In 2017 a total of 468 carer's benefit applications were refused and in 2018 the figure was 649, an increase of 38.7%. The 47.3% increase in carer's benefit appeals referred to by the Deputy relates to the difference between the 110 appeals received in 2017 and the 162 appeals received in 2018.

Applications for carer’s benefit may be disallowed because the applicant does not satisfy one, or more, of the required qualifying conditions for receipt of a payment. For example, an applicant may not satisfy the qualifying condition in relation to insurance contributions, or they are deemed not to be providing full time care and attention to the care recipient or the care recipient is deemed not sufficiently incapacitated to require full time care and attention. In some appeal cases the appellant may have been awarded a carer’s benefit payment but has submitted an appeal regarding the means assessed against them or the date of award of the payment.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office does not maintain statistics on the specific grounds of appeal submitted by carer's benefit appellants.

Appeals which have a favourable outcome for the appellant consist of appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer, or which were resolved by way of a revised decision in favour of the appellant by a Deciding Officer / Designated Person.

There are a number of reasons why a decision which was refused at first instance might be successful on appeal and it is not necessarily the case that the first decision was incorrect. It is often the case that new evidence is provided with an appeal and that, as a result, the original decision may be revised by the Deciding Officer or Designated Person. This was the case in 60.9% of such successful outcomes of carer’s benefit appeals in 2017, 59.1% of such outcomes in 2018 and 50% of such outcomes to the end of June 2019.

Where the decision is not revised by the Department in light of the appeal contentions, further evidence is often provided by the appellant as the appeal process proceeds and in addition, the Appeals Officer may gain insights when they meet the appellant in person at oral hearing which may influence the outcome of the appeal.

The following four tables provide statistics on applications for carer's benefit for the years 2016, 2017 and 2017, the number of refusals of applications in the same period, the number of carer's benefit appeals in the period 2014-2019 and the appeals outcomes in the same period.

I trust clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer’s Benefit applications received by Carer’s Benefit Section of the Department

2016

1,344

2017

3,590

2018

4,101

Refusal of Carer’s Benefit Applications by Deciding Officers of the Department

2016

366

2017

468

2018

649

Carer’s Benefit Appeal Receipts (2014-2019)

2014

121

2015

93

2016

95

2017

110

2018

162

2019 (to June 2019)

123

Outcome of Carer’s Benefit Appeals (2014-2019)

-

Allowed By Appeals Officer

Partially Allowed By Appeals Officer

Revised DO/DP Decision

Disallowed ByAppeals Officer

Withdrawn

Total

2014

3727.6%

43.0%

4231.3%

4332.1%

86.0%

134

2015

2522.7%

54.5%

5247.3%

2724.5%

10.9%

110

2016

1115.5%

34.2%

3245.1%

2332.4%

22.8%

71

2017

2322.1%

21.9%

3937.5%

3735.6%

32.9%

104

2018

3223.4%

42.9%

5238.0%

4633.6%

32.2%

137

2019 (to 30/6/2019)

2927.6%

11.0%

3028.6%

4139.0%

43.8%

105

Community Employment Schemes Review

Ceisteanna (2746)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

2746. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a review regarding community employment schemes and eligibility of participants to continue on the schemes until they reach State pension age has been carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33124/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Community Employment (CE) is an employment and training scheme which helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine. The scheme assists by enhancing and developing a person’s technical and personal skills which can then be used in the workplace.

Currently, participants aged 62 and over can apply to participate on CE on a continuous basis up to State Pension age on the CE Service Support Stream (SSS). The places allocated to the SSS are subject to limitation and criteria.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government agreed to establish an Inter-departmental Group (IDG) to explore how the CE social inclusion placements might best be organised into the future, including which Department should hold lead responsibility for sponsoring CE schemes focused on social Inclusion. The deliberations of the group will also inform any further consideration to review participation limits

Meetings of the IDG have taken place and bilateral meetings were held 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 in the near future.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (2747)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

2747. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the daily expenses allowance for persons in direct provision to €50 per child per week and €75 per adult per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33139/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection administers the daily expenses allowance which is paid to applicants for international protection who live in the direct provision system where they are provided with full board, accommodation and other services by the Reception and Integration Agency of the Department of Justice and Equality.

The Government has provided €9.38 million for the allowance in 2019. The weekly rates of payment were increased in Budget 2019 from €21.60 per adult and to €38.80 and from €21.60 per child to €29.80.

There are currently approximately 4,300 adults and 1,770 children residing in the system of direct provision in respect of whom daily expenses allowance is being paid. The full-year costs, based on the current numbers, of increasing the adult rate from €38.80 to €75.00 would be approximately €8.1 million and the cost of increasing the weekly child rate from €29.80 to €50 would be approximately €1.9 million.

Any increases to the rate of daily expenses allowance would have to be approved by Government and considered in a budgetary context.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (2748)

John Brady

Ceist:

2748. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of weekly social welfare payments including the State pension (contributory) and State pension (non-contributory). [33158/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information (where available) requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Type of Payment

Recipients

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

95,132

State Pension (Contributory)

419,453

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension

122,329

Total Number of Recipients of Pensions

636,914

Jobseeker's Allowance

146,882

One Parent Family Payment

39,570

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

15,874

Direct Provision Allowance

3,931

Farm Assist

6,132

Jobseeker's Benefit

32,374

Maternity Benefit

19,507

Adoptive Benefit

5

Health and Safety Benefit

33

Paternity Benefit

650

Total Number of Recipients of Working Age on Income Supports

264,958

Community Employment Programme

21,367

Job Initiative

661

Back To Work Enterprise Allowance

5,038

Back To Education Allowance

830

Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme

215

Partial Capacity Benefit

2,712

Total Number of Recipients of Working Age on Employment Supports

30,823

Disability Allowance

143,154

Carer's Allowance

81,941

Illness Benefit

48,487

Injury Benefit

1,099

Invalidity Pension

57,987

Disablement Benefit

15,086

Carer's Benefit

2,699

Total Number of Recipients on Disability/Carers-Related Payments

350,453

Working Family Payment

52,775

Total Child Related Payments

52,775

Rent Allowance

61

Total Miscellaneous Payments

61

Grand Total

1,335,984

Pensions Reform

Ceisteanna (2749)

John Brady

Ceist:

2749. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the work undertaken by her Department to examine linking social welfare payments to adequacy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33159/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform, published last year, commits the Government to examine and develop proposals to set a formal benchmark target of 34% of average earnings for the state pension (contributory) and to institute a process whereby future changes in pension rates of payment are explicitly linked to changes in consumer prices and average wages.

My Department is currently considering options to implement this commitment, by examining previous studies on benchmarking and indexation, international experience and examination of a range of potential benchmarks and indices.

Any change to the current process of setting social welfare rates of payment would require Government approval and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context. This would include taking account of stakeholder views, as well as considerations of cost, work incentives, poverty alleviation, policy alignment and the administration of any proposed system.

In terms of the wider application of indexation of social welfare payments generally, Section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 provides that I and my Department will arrange to “consult with stakeholders on examining ways in which social welfare rates are increased with the aim of ensuring adequacy for all recipients and shall do so in quarter 1 of 2019”. In this context, my Department met with numerous interested stakeholders to gather views on how the adoption of a benchmark, and a system of indexation, might work for social welfare rates more generally. In addition, this issue was considered and discussed at my Department's Pre-Budget Forum earlier this month. The Pre-Budget Forum included representatives from the Community and Voluntary Sector, ICTU and IBEC among others. I would also welcome views from all political parties who are interested in this area.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (2750)

John Brady

Ceist:

2750. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons automatically entitled to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance in 2019; the number of applications received to date; the average waiting time for a decision to be made on an application; the average waiting times for the processing of payments in both cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33160/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme provides a once-off payment to eligible families to assist with the costs of clothing and footwear when children start or return to school each autumn. The Government has provided €56.3m for the scheme in 2019 which operates from June to September. Provision was made to increase the 2018 rates by €25.

The payment rates for the 2019 scheme are €150 for eligible children aged 4 to 11 years and €275 for children aged over 12 years and attending secondary school. The 2019 scheme opened in June.

115,000 customers were awarded the allowance automatically in respect of 209,400 children from a matching exercise on the Department’s computer systems and did not have to make an application. They received their payment during week beginning 8th July. Payments totalling €42.3m were made in respect of these customers.

My Department has received approximately 16,800 manual and online applications for the 2019 Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance since the 24 June 2019. The average waiting time for a decision is currently 10-15 working days and the average waiting time for the processing of payments is 3 working days.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Exceptional Needs Payments

Ceisteanna (2751)

John Brady

Ceist:

2751. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount spent on the exceptional needs payment and urgent needs payment by county in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019. [33162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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 following tabular statement shows expenditure on ENPs and UNPs since 2017 by on a county basis.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Expenditure on ENPs and UNPs, 2017-2019

County

2017

2018

2019 (to end June)

CARLOW

€510,260

€626,436

€513,372

CAVAN

€285,118

€228,511

€152,508

CLARE

€1,091,614

€1,631,017

€469,801

CORK

€5,137,513

€6,934,395

€2,286,422

DONEGAL

€800,383

€1,136,870

€633,186

DUBLIN

€12,026,319

€12,175,194

€7,268,003

GALWAY

€1,218,382

€1,169,893

€620,292

KERRY

€816,287

€976,350

€580,607

KILDARE

€1,628,718

€1,445,641

€770,818

KILKENNY

€589,397

€771,069

€405,964

LAOIS

€678,028

€964,242

€373,938

LEITRIM

€353,180

€323,554

€133,990

LIMERICK

€3,014,621

€3,180,516

€704,354

LONGFORD

€501,404

€462,455

€372,457

LOUTH

€801,095

€1,029,870

€622,274

MAYO

€609,133

€734,462

€291,432

MEATH

€1,048,755

€1,319,082

€748,215

MONAGHAN

€255,180

€258,170

€179,133

OFFALY

€452,359

€550,928

€256,302

ROSCOMMON

€598,386

€916,392

€389,063

SLIGO

€635,154

€676,920

€328,997

TIPPERARY

€1,366,889

€1,529,437

€675,845

WATERFORD

€1,007,334

€1,186,372

€985,073

WESTMEATH

€645,292

€675,867

€449,750

WEXFORD

€632,019

€760,028

€528,064

WICKLOW

€837,930

€1,104,825

€625,152

Total

€37,540,751

€42,768,494

€21,365,014

These figures are taken from the Department’s ENP database and represent a snapshot of ENPs as they are approved by an officer rather than when they are paid. The figures do not capture payments that are cancelled, payments that go out of date or overpayments recouped.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (2752)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

2752. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a carer's allowance will be reviewed for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33186/19]

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 January 2019.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although a certain level of care was being provided the level involved did not amount to full-time care.

The person concerned was notified on 9 April 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of his application.

The application was referred back to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 17 July 2019 to assess the level of care being provided and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance are satisfied.

Once the SWI has reported and the review is complete, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (2753)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

2753. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a matter will be addressed regarding an application for an invalidity pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The Department received a claim for IP for the lady concerned on the 26 June 2019. In order to assist with the assessment of her medical suitability for IP, two forms for completion issued to her on 11 July 2019. On receipt of the completed forms, the IP claim will be processed as quickly as possible and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (2754)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

2754. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans in relation to legislating for defined benefit pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In Ireland, Defined Benefit (DB) schemes are voluntary tri-partite arrangements between employers, employees (or their representatives) and trustees. Responsibility rests with all the parties for ensuring that the scheme is properly managed and funded to meet the promised level of benefits. Currently there is no legislative obligation on an employer to make contributions and no further liability on an employer where contributions cease. Almost all Irish defined benefit pension schemes have a rule that allows the employer to cease contributions, usually after a notice period.

As the Deputy will be aware, the General Scheme of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2017 (now the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017) contained 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 enhance employer responsibilities for their schemes.

In July 2018, Government approval was obtained to draft additional provisions to be included in the Bill at Committee Stage including provisions relating to defined benefit schemes.

In developing these, it is essential to recognise the current pension landscape in Ireland so that a balanced, proportionate approach is developed and that unintended negative consequences do not arise.

The provisions of this Bill will introduce a new regime into the Pensions Act 1990 which, amongst other things, will ensure that an employer cannot “walk away” at short notice from the pension scheme it is supporting by providing for a 12-month notification period, and will enable the Pensions Authority to make a funding obligation direction specifying payments to be made by a sponsoring employer to the pension scheme where no agreement is reached, within a specified time period, to resolve a funding deficit.

The defined benefit pension provisions 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 outstanding 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.

Carer's Allowance Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (2755)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

2755. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average waiting time for reviews of carer's allowance decisions made by her Department to be carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33242/19]

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.

In order to qualify, applicants must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that their means are less than the statutory limit; that they are providing full-time care and attention; and that the person being cared for requires full-time care and attention.

Once a CA claim is in payment, a person can at any stage request a review of their claim where they consider there is a change in their circumstances, including a change to their means, which could affect their rate of entitlement.

The time taken to conduct a review is dependent on the type of review being carried out and the information available at the time of the request. In some cases, it may be necessary to refer a claim to a social welfare inspector for an investigation of means or provision of care, and this can lead to some reviews taking a longer time to complete than others.

At all times every effort is made to complete the reviews as quickly as possible. I am advised that information is not available on the average waiting time for reviews of CA.

Anyone experiencing financial difficulties while awaiting a decision on or a review of any social welfare payment can contact their local Intreo Centre and enquire as to their entitlement to a payment under the Department's Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (2756, 2822)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

2756. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting time for a social welfare appeal to be decided on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33243/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

2822. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average length of time to have an appeal both oral and otherwise heard in each county in each year since 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33905/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2756 and 2822 together.

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.

In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded by the Department and just 1% are appealed. Nevertheless, the Department continues to work to ensure that these cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.

Accordingly, significant efforts and resources have been devoted to reforming the appeal process in recent years. As a result, appeal processing times in respect of all schemes improved between 2011 and 2017 from 52.5 weeks for an oral hearing in 2011 to 26.4 weeks in 2017 and from 25.1 weeks for a summary decision in 2011 to 19.8 weeks in 2017. The corresponding processing times for the year 2018 were 30 weeks for an oral hearing and 24.8 weeks for a summary decision. There has been some improvement for the first six months of 2019 with an oral hearing decision taking 28.2 weeks and a summary decision taking 23.2 weeks.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office does not maintain appeal processing statistics on a county by county basis and it is not in a position to supply that specific information.

The time taken to process an appeal reflects a number of factors including that the appeals process is a quasi-judicial process with Appeals Officers being required to decide all appeals on a ‘de-novo’ basis. In addition, appeals decisions are themselves subject to review by the High Court and decisions have to be formally written up to quasi-judicial standards. Other factors that influence appeals processing times include the quality of the initial decision – in this respect the Department has changed the decisions process in respect of medical schemes, in order to provide more information to the claimant. I expect that this will help to reduce the number of appeals over time.

In addition, a considerable number of new Appeals Officers have joined the Appeals Office over the past 12-18 months to replace staff leaving on retirement. Given the complexity of the appeals process it takes some time for new staff to be trained up and develop expertise and this has led to somewhat longer processing times during this period. The Chief Appeals Officer has advised me that appeal processing times continue to be a priority for her Office.

Finally, where a claimant has been refused a social welfare payment, regardless of the scheme involved, and is appealing that decision, if their means are insufficient to meet their needs it is open to them to apply for supplementary welfare allowance in the interim.

If their application for supplementary welfare allowance is refused, they can also appeal that decision. The supplementary welfare allowance appeal will be prioritised for attention within the Appeals Office as soon as the appeal file and submission is received from my Department.

Appeal processing times for the years 2011 to 2019 are set out in the following table.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Appeal Processing Times 2011 – 2019

Year

Average Processing Times (weeks) Summary Decisions

Average Processing Times (weeks) Oral Hearings

2011

25.1

5 2.5

2012

27.8

39.5

2013

25.8

33.9

2014

21.1

28.6

2015

18.1

25.5

2016

17.6

24.1

2017

19.8

26.4

2018

24.8

30.0

2019 to 30/6/2019)

23.2

28.2

Carer's Allowance Data

Question No. 2758 answered with Question No. 2740.

Ceisteanna (2757)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

2757. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of claims for carer's allowance approved following a review of the original decision in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33244/19]

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 that there are no statistics available on carer's allowance reviews carried out each year.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 2758 answered with Question No. 2740.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (2759)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

2759. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an application has been disallowed for an invalidity pension by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The Department received a claim for IP for the lady referred to on 11 April 2019. Following an in person medical assessment by a medical assessor of the department on 13 May 2019, her claim for IP was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on the 28 June 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Employment Support Services

Ceisteanna (2760)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

2760. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the budget outlay provided to the WALK PEER programme in Walkinstown, Dublin 12 under the ability programme in 2019; the estimated cost of rolling out a similar programme to each county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33269/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Ability is a pre-activation programme for young people with disabilities. The funding for this programme will amount to around €16 million over a three year period and is being provided jointly under the EU's ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) Operational Programme 2014-2020 and the Irish Exchequer. The programme will support over 2,600 young people with disabilities aged between 15 – 29 years of age. Pobal have been contracted by the Department to manage the programme.

The aim of the Ability Programme is to help bring young people with disabilities who are not work-ready closer to the labour market through engagement in training and personal development activities, which would be followed by an incremental exposure to work. The programme is being delivered by 27 community and voluntary groups from around the country, selected on foot of a competitive process. The projects being funded have been designed to assist young people in their transition from school to further education and employment. This will be undertaken using person-centred, case management approaches that support participants to achieve their desired employment goals.

The WALK PEER organisation is funded as a standalone project under the Ability programme and not as a programme in its own right. The project aims to support 200 young people with special educational needs aged 15-24 years within 3 special schools settings to develop their employment aspirations, identify their career goals and to experience work in the open labour market. Total Ability funding of €640,848 has been awarded to WALK PEER over the course of the 3 year programme.

If the WALK PEER project was to be replicated on the same scale to an additional 25 counties, based on a simplistic calculation, this would require additional funding in excess of €5m per year.

To extend the WALK PEER project to the 16 counties currently not covered under the Ability Programme would cost in excess of €3m per year. These figures are based on current levels of funding to WALK PEER and do not include set up costs or factor in a county by county analysis (an analysis for example of existing service provision by county, demand factors etc).

Finally, it should be noted that Walkinstown Green Social Enterprises Limited, which is wholly owned by WALK Ltd, was also awarded €430,175 under the Ability Programme to fund the WALK REAL Project, bringing the total combined amount of funding to WALK Ltd to €1,071,023 over the course of the Ability programme.

I hope this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Question No. 2762 answered with Question No. 2693.

Ceisteanna (2761)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

2761. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay in finalising a jobseeker's allowance claim by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33316/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned was issued with a revised decision on 2nd January 2019 following a revised means assessment. This resulted in an overpayment for the period 4th February 2016 to 4th June 2018. The decision of 2nd January 2019 was reviewed on the 3rd January 2019 as it would be more transparent to the person concerned to issue 3 separate appealable decisions for each period in question from 4th February 2016 to 4th June 2018.

The delay in finalising the Jobseekers Allowance claim since the date of the revised decision was, given the amount of overpayment, intended to allow the person concerned sufficient time to appeal the decisions and/or provide further information.

To date, no appeal has been lodged nor has any further information been provided since the date of the decision. In the absence of any further contact from the person concerned, recovery will commence on 29th July 2019, thus giving the person concerned more time to make contact with my Department.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Question No. 2762 answered with Question No. 2693.

Employment Support Services

Ceisteanna (2763)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

2763. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the supports available to prospective employers who may wish to employ young adult school leavers with a diagnosis such as ASD; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33357/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In addition to providing income supports the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) provides a wide range of employment-related supports for both jobseekers with disabilities and employers seeking to employ a jobseeker with a disability or to retain an exiting employee who acquires a disability. DEASP supports for jobseekers with disabilities have been designed to enable persons with a disability to achieve their employment ambitions by focusing on the individual person’s ability and capacity, rather than on the disability. The supports available include:

Employment Supports for Jobseekers with a Disability:

DEASP Intreo Service

Jobseekers (including jobseekers with disabilities) who seek support from their local Intreo Centre will have a meeting arranged with a case officer with a view to agreeing a suitable personal progression plan in order to access the full range of employment supports available with a view to them achieving their employment ambitions

Local Employment Service

The Department contracts for the provision of the Local Employment Service (LES) with 22 organisations. The LES provide a local gateway, or access point, to the full range of services and facilities that are available to help jobseekers, including jobseekers with disabilities, to enter or return to employment.

EmployAbility Service

The Department has contracts for the provision of the EmployAbility Service with 24 companies. This is a specialist employment service designed to improve employment outcomes for jobseekers with a disability. The service includes the provision of dedicated job coach support as well as both pre-employment and in employment support and assistance.

AHEAD (Support For Graduates With Disabilities)

The Department contracts AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) to deliver the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) and ‘Get Ahead’ programmes. These programmes provide supports for graduates with disabilities seeking to enter the workforce.

‘Ability’

The ‘Ability’ programme is co-funded by the Irish Exchequer and the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning operational programme (PEIL, 2014 – 20). Under this programme funding has been provided, through Pobal, for 27 organizations to support young people (aged 15-29) with disabilities in their transition into further education or employment.

Details of the range of services being provided under the ‘Ability’ umbrella are listed / set out at: https://www.pobal.ie/app/uploads/2018/06/Ability-Description-of-Projects-Funded-2018.pdf

Employment Supports for Employer s

Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Wage Subsidy Scheme is targeted at private sector employers and is aimed at encouraging the employment of people with disabilities through the provision of financial incentives (a wage subsidy). The subsidy is delivered in three strands:

- Strand I subsidy is a general subsidy for any productivity shortfall in excess of 20% for a person with a disability, in comparison to a colleague without a disability. An employee must work for a minimum of 21 hours per week up to a maximum of 39 subsidised hours per week. The rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour and the amount of the subsidy is based on the number of hours worked.

- Strand II subsidy is payable when an employer employs three or more people with a disability who are supported by a WSS Strand I payment. Strand II is intended to cover the additional supervisory, management and other work based costs relating to these employees. This top-up payment is a percentage of the Strand I subsidy and is based on the overall number of employees with a disability employed under Strand I. It ranges from an additional 10% of wage subsidy for 3 to 6 employees with a disability to a maximum of 50% of wage subsidy for 23+employees with a disability.

- Strand III subsidy enables employers who employ 30 or more workers with a disability on the Wage Subsidy Scheme to be eligible for a grant of up to €30,000 per year towards the expense of employing an Employment Assistance Officer to support these employees.

Reasonable Accommodation Fund

The Reasonable Accommodation Fund assists both jobseekers with disabilities and employers to enable a person with a disability/impairment to enter/re-enter employment by providing a range of grants. Where a person with a disability has been offered employment or is in employment, and requires a more accessible workplace or adapted equipment to do the job, s/he or the employer may be able to get a grant towards the costs of adapting premises or equipment. A maximum grant of €6,350 is available towards the cost of adaptations to premises or equipment.

Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme

The Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme provides funding so that employers can buy in Disability Awareness Training for their staff. The purpose of the training is to deliver clear and accurate information about disability and to address questions or concerns that employers and employees may have about working with and supporting a colleague with disabilities.

The Department of Justice & Equality (DJE) is the lead department with regards to Ireland’s Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities. Currently DJE is preparing a revised action plan (in consultation with government departments, agencies and stakeholders) to deliver on the objectives of the CES. This will see further developments not only within DEASP provision but across all departments and agencies operating in this space.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Ceisteanna (2764)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

2764. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a community employment placement will be extended in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33360/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A request has been received from Castlemaine Community Services Group to extend the participation of the person concerned on his current Community Employment Scheme. This request is currently being examined and a reply will issue to the sponsor shortly .

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Ceisteanna (2765)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

2765. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a community employment placement will be extended in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33361/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis. CE helps unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.

The person concerned will complete the overall lifetime limit of 6 years on CE in August 2019. During his time on CE he completed more than 20 modules of training, and achieved QQI Major awards in Horticulture and Occupational First Aid. The purpose of the training and support that the person concerned received while on CE was to prepare him for full-time sustainable employment.

My Department’s Activation Service will work with the person concerned to ensure that the benefits of the experience and training he received during his time on CE are maximised. Case officers will engage with him on an ongoing basis and work with him to agree a personal progression plan (PPP) and support him in order to avail of all reasonable employment opportunities offered to him. The JobPath service is also available through my Department where jobseekers can receive one-to-one, intensive and regular engagement with a personal adviser who will assess his skills, experience, challenges and work goals and assist him in finding full-time sustainable employment. This process will also help identify potential employment opportunities and offer support to jobseekers such as the person concerned in overcoming any barriers to employment.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Personal Public Service Numbers

Ceisteanna (2766)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

2766. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) has received their PPS number; and if not, when it will be received. [33394/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned was allocated a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) on 04 July 2019. They were also issued a Public Services Card, containing their PPSN, on 06 July 2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.