Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Scheme

Ceisteanna (500)

James Browne

Ceist:

500. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to extend the carbon monoxide alarm pilot scheme as administered by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

On 13th of May last I announced an initiative to support the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in the homes of elderly, isolated and vulnerable people throughout rural Ireland. Alarms will be supplied through the organisation referred to by the Deputy, who will install them in people’s homes on a voluntary basis.

I have allocated €115,000 to support this initiative through the Dormant Accounts Fund which is administered by my Department. This funding complements the already established Community Smoke Alarm Scheme, so a suite of safety measures is available to those who otherwise might not be able to afford them.

It should be noted that the carbon monoxide alarms pilot programme anticipated the installation of 2,000 Carbon Monoxide alarms. However, I understand that savings secured through the procurement process will enable a significant number of additional alarms to be provided within the existing budget, and the scheme continues to remain open for further applications. There is therefore no need to extend the scheme at this time.

Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme Funding

Ceisteanna (501)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

501. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the budget allocation for the social inclusion and community activation programme in 2017, 2018 and 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38773/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018 – 2022 provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion at a local level through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.

The budget allocation for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme for 2017, 2018 and 2019 are contained in the following table.

2017

2018

2019

37.44m

38.03m

38.03m

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (502)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

502. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will consider increasing the hours a carer can work or study from 15 hours to 18.5 hours per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38470/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's Allowance is a means-tested payment for carers who look after certain people in need of care and attention on a full time basis. As of end of July 2019, there were 82,015 people in receipt of Carer's Allowance. The projected expenditure on Carer's Allowance in 2019 is almost €840 million.

A primary qualifying condition for the Carer’s Allowance payment is that the applicant provides full-time care and attention to a person in need of such care. However, in order to support a carers continued attachment to the workforce and broader social inclusion, carers may engage in some limited employment, education or training, while still being regarded as being in a position to provide full-time care. During this time of employment, education or training, adequate provision must be made for the care of the relevant person. Both the full-time care and attention requirement and the 15-hour limitation are contained in the respective legislative provisions of the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and Carer’s Support Grant schemes.

As part of Budget 2006,the number of hours per week that carers could engage in employment, education or training outside the home was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week.

Any further changes to this condition would need to be considered in a budgetary context and would also need to maintain a reasonable balance between the requirement to provide full-time care for the care recipient and the needs of the carer.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (503)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

503. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of workers employed by her Department and in each office or agency under the aegis of her Department that earn less than the living wage of €12.30 per hour; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38251/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

At 18th July, the number of staff in my Department on a wage less than €12.30 per hour is 1,185.

All staff in my Department are on pre-determined salary scales negotiated and agreed at central level.

Employment Data

Ceisteanna (504)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

504. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost and-or loss caused by bogus self-employment here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Work is ongoing in my Department to tackle false self-employment across the economy. In that regard I am currently reallocating resources to this issue to understand, measure and quantify better the prevalence of false self-employment and obtain a sectoral analysis of its level of incidence.

It is not possible to provide figures on money recouped on the sole basis of false self-employment cases alone. However, as an indication of the level of work going on in relation to PRSI inspections generally, a total of 1,931 employer inspections have been carried out across the country by my Inspectors this year up to the end of last month. The savings achieved so far this year from all PRSI inspections carried out comes to a total of €1.184m. False self-employment cases form a portion of those figures.

My Department is already focused on increasing the number of employer inspections it conducts nationwide. Based on experience from these inspections, and recognising that that there is a particular challenge when dealing with large companies or companies with complex legal structures, I also established a dedicated team to work strategically in this area. This team has commenced its work, in parallel with other Inspectors across the country.

My officials work in cooperation with the inspectorates of the Workplace Relations Commission and Revenue Commissioners as necessary and strong liaisons have been established with those organisations to focus strategically on tackling false self-employment.

In addition to more rigorous policing of existing law, I intend to introduce a number of new legislative measures to further strengthen our powers. These measures include putting the 'Guidance on Determining Employment Status' – which is a revision of the former Code of Practice in this area – on a statutory footing.

I also will bring forward new provisions to address the potential victimisation of workers who seek a determination on their employment status.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Youth Unemployment Data

Ceisteanna (505)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

505. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of young persons aged between 18 and 24 years of age that remain unemployed; the actions being taken to assist such persons to find employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38259/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. Employment policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs and Future Jobs Ireland strategies have created an environment in which business can succeed and has led to the creation of more than 500,000 jobs since 2012. Secondly, through the Pathways to Work strategy, my Department ensures that as many of these new jobs as possible are filled by jobseekers, particularly the young unemployed.

To date these policies have been effective in reducing youth unemployment. The number of young people in employment has increased by almost 25% since 2012, with 250,000 young people now at work.

Recently released data from the CSO, Labour Force Survey shows that youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% (66,500) in 2012 to 15.7% (46,100) in the second quarter of 2019. Volatility is a big feature of the youth labour force structure, particularly in the context of youth unemployment, as young people are more inclined to move in and out of education or change jobs.

Under the Government’s policies to support the young unemployed, the first intervention is to provide case officer support to help newly unemployed young people find and secure sustainable jobs. There is monthly engagement with all young jobseekers by a case officer, and a personal progression plan is developed to chart the steps to be taken to facilitate a return to employment, which may include availing of further education and training opportunities.

For those who do not find employment through this process, additional offers are provided for through further education and training programmes or in existing community-based employment programmes/workplace based interventions such as Community Employment and Tús; or in subsidies to employers, through JobsPlus Youth. Long-term unemployed jobseekers under-25 are also referred to JobPath, a contracted, payment-by-results employment service that provides additional resources and case managed supports to those long-term unemployed.

In October 2018, I introduced a new work experience programme targeted specifically at young jobseekers who are long term unemployed or who face significant barriers to employment. The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) provides young jobseekers with the opportunity to learn basic and social skills in a supportive work-based environment. Over 400 young jobseekers have participated in the scheme to date, receiving a payment of €229.50 per week. My Department is currently promoting the scheme to employers as part of a series of employer roadshow events.

My Department continues to review its activation programmes and policies to make sure that they remain aligned to labour market needs. Given the progress made during the lifecycle of Pathways to Work 2016-2020 and the improved nature of the labour market, preparations have begun to develop a revised activation framework for the coming period. The new Pathways to Work strategy, covering the period 2020-2024, will complement the ambitions of Future Jobs Ireland, with a particular focus on increasing participation levels among underrepresented groups and those most distant from the labour market, including young jobseekers, ensuring that all jobseekers have the opportunity to compete for available job vacancies.

Over the coming years, we must ensure that our citizens are equipped with the skills to take up jobs of the future and avail of the opportunities arising from a modern economy. Future Jobs Ireland has been launched by Government replacing the Action Plan for Jobs to deliver the required policy reforms to build a resilient workforce and innovative and competitive economy in a changing world of work. The strategy includes a number of youth specific measures which will be delivered on a whole of Government basis.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (506)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

506. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a social welfare claim by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38261/19]

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 gentleman concerned on 2 August 2018. This claim was disallowed as the gentleman did not reply to requests for information required by the Department in order determine his eligibility for IP. He was notified on 12 March 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

He requested a review of the decision on 11 July 2019. A Deciding Officer (DO) of the department wrote to him on 12 July 2019 and 25 July 2019 requesting further information relevant to his claim. As he has failed to provide the information requested, the DO wrote to him again on 17 September 2019 requesting the information be provided in order determine his eligibility for IP.

The review will be finalised as quickly as possible on receipt of the requested information.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (507)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

507. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for a cap of 1,040 for State contributory pension credits; and if same will be rectified in the case of a person (details supplied). [38280/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The interim Aggregated Contributions Method of Total Contribution Approach (TCA12) makes it easier for many post-2012 pensioners affected by the 2012 rate band changes and assessed under the yearly average model, to qualify for a higher rate of the State pension (contributory).

When the Government decided, in January 2018, to announce an interim TCA option for those who had been affected by the change in rate bands in September 2012, 40 years of contributions was set as the requirement for a full rate pension. Crucially though this interim TCA facilitates up to 20 years of HomeCaring periods to be added to paid contributions to increase a person’s rate. It effectively meant that the minimum number of paid contributions of 20 years needed for a full rate pension would be as the National Pensions Framework suggested. However the additional scope for home caring would potentially allow more people, particularly women who took time out of the work place to care for children and others, to earn a higher rate pension.

PRSI contributions can be credited to people in a number of contexts and as such up to 10 years of credits, for example Jobseekers or illness Benefit, may also be used subject to the total of such credits and HomeCaring periods not exceeding 20 years. For example a person might receive a maximum pension based on a record of 20 years paid PRSI contributions, 5 years jobseekers credits, and 15 years HomeCaring (before or after 1994), over a 50 year period, despite additional gaps of up to 10 years.

There will be some people who have contributed less frequently into the Social Insurance Fund (which pays for contributory pensions), and who will therefore be below the threshold required for a maximum rate of the State pension (contributory). However, for those with insufficient contributions to meet the requirements for a State pension (contributory), they may qualify for a means tested State pension (non-contributory), the maximum personal rate for which is €237 (over 95% of the maximum rate of the contributory pension). This rate of payment does not include rent allowance, household benefits or fuel allowance. Alternatively, if their spouse is a State pensioner and they have significant household means, their most beneficial payment may be an Increase for a Qualified Adult, based on their personal means, and amounting up to 90% of a full contributory pension.

Finally, it should be noted that the introduction of the interim TCA model will not bring all pensioners up to the maximum rate of State pension (contributory). However, if a pensioner does not qualify for an increased rate, they will continue to receive their existing rate of entitlement.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (508)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

508. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an invalidity pension application will be approved for a person (details supplied). [38302/19]

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 gentleman concerned on 8 February 2019. His claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 17 May 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review or appeal.

He requested a review of this decision and submitted further medical evidence in support of the review. Following a review of all the information available it was decided that there was no change to the original decision. He was notified on 19 September 2019 of the outcome of the review.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Redundancy Payments

Ceisteanna (509)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

509. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reinstate supports to assist employers (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38369/19]

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 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 during a time of the economic crisis. Furthermore, the rebate to employers was paid regardless of a company’s financial situation and ability to pay, thus benefiting 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 be considered in the overall budgetary context.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (510)

John Brady

Ceist:

510. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of legislation that amends the Gender Recognition Act 2015 in view of the recommendations of the report of the review group of the Act; her plans to table the legislation in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38399/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In July 2018, I published the Report of the Group Established to Review the Operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. The recommendations in the report of the Review Group involve issues that are complex and it has been necessary to take some time to take advice and consider them in detail. That said, a number of recommendations are more administrative in nature and these are currently being progressed at official level.

A report is being prepared under section 7 of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, in response to the review, and I expect to be in a position to lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the near future. I will set out any proposals for legislative change at that stage.

Invalidity Pension Payments

Ceisteanna (511)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

511. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when arrears will issue to a person (details supplied) in respect of a social welfare payment; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38406/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 5 April 2018. Payment will issue to his nominated bank account on 3 October 2019. He was notified of this decision on 19 September 2019.

The gentleman has applied for an increase for a qualified children on his claim and a request for information in relation to this increase was sent to him on 19 September 2019. On receipt of the requested information any arrears due from 5 April 2018 to 2 October 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (512)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

512. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 27 June 2019. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds as it was not found that this lady was substantially restricted in taking up employment.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 18 September 2019 and was also notified of their right to request a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (513, 514, 532)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

513. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reform the means test for carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38466/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

514. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will increase the income disregard for carer's allowance from €332.50 to €450 for a single person and from €665 to €900 for a couple; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

532. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to revise the means test for carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 513, 514 and 532 together.

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

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

- Carer’s Allowance

- Carer’s Benefit

- Carer’s Support Grant

- Domiciliary Care Allowance

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

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

I am advised that it is not possible to make a robust estimate of the costs requested on the level of additional programme costs using available administrative data, particularly as such a change would be highly sensitive to the income distribution in households at the time of implementation. However, analysis based on the SWITCH model (Simulating Welfare and Income Tax Changes) predicted that an increase in the disregard of €117.50 (single) and €235.00 (couple) per week could cost in the region of €73 million, which, when income tax and Working Family Payment offsets are taken into account, produces an estimated net expenditure of €55 million.

Any changes to qualifying criteria for these schemes, including income disregards, would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (515)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

515. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the formula for assessing means from capital savings, shares and property for carer's allowance can be increased in line with the disability allowance in which the first €50,000 of capital is disregarded. [38468/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department operates a range of means-tested social assistance payments. Social welfare legislation provides that the means test takes account of the income and assets of the person (and spouse/partner, if applicable) applying for the relevant scheme. Income and assets include income from employment, self-employment, occupational pensions, maintenance payments as well as property owned (other than the family home) and capital such as savings, shares and other investments.

In this regard, for most social assistance schemes, the first €20,000 of capital is fully disregarded; the next €10,000 assessed at €1 per thousand, the next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per thousand, with the remainder assessed at €4 per thousand.

The assessment of capital reflects the fact that there is an expectation that people with reasonable amounts of capital and property are in a position to use that capital or to realise the value of property to support themselves without having to rely solely on a means tested welfare payment.

In relation to carer's allowance, as the first €332.50 of gross weekly income for single people and the first €665 for couples is disregarded, as well as a general disregard of €7.60 per week, 92% of the approximately 81,000 carer's allowance recipients have their means assessed as zero and less than one per cent would be impacted by raising the capital disregard from €20,000 to €50,000. The estimated cost of this increase is approximately €2.5 million in 2020.

Any proposals to change the capital means assessment for means-tested social assistance schemes would have to be considered in the overall budgetary context.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Ceisteanna (516)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

516. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will consider excluding carer payments in the financial assessment of the working family payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38469/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Working Family Payment (WFP) provides in-work income support for low-income employees with children. The payment is designed to preserve the financial incentive to take-up or remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might be marginally better off in employment than on social welfare payments. It also seeks to alleviate child poverty. To qualify for WFP, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. The family income must also be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

In assessing weekly family income for WFP purposes, most weekly social welfare payments are taken into consideration. Budget 2012 contained a measure which provided for the assessment of carer’s benefit and carer’s allowance payments in determining entitlement to WFP. This measure brought the treatment of these two payments for WFP purposes into line with the treatment of all other primary social welfare payments. It also provided for a more consistent approach to the concurrent payment of WFP with other social welfare payments. Moreover, while this measure reduced a person’s secondary payment (WFP) it did so without affecting their primary payment, in this case carer’s benefit and carer’s allowance, therefore targeting available resources at those in most need.

The income disregard and means test for Carer’s Allowance is the most generous within the social welfare system. The amount of weekly earnings disregarded is €332.50 for a single person and €665 for a couple.

Welfare expenditure plays a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable people in Irish society. I am advised that an estimated cost of disregarding carer’s allowance and carer’s benefit in the means assessment of the working family payment is not readily available.

Any changes to the current arrangements regarding any social welfare payment would have expenditure implications, which could only be decided in a budgetary context.

Social Welfare Benefits Reviews

Ceisteanna (517)

John Brady

Ceist:

517. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which her Department plans to carry out a review of over 750,000 social welfare claims; the way in which this process will work and be undertaken; if particular payments will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38475/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

While it is acknowledged that the vast majority of people on social welfare are claiming the correct entitlement due to them, my Department has a duty to ensure that it pays the right person the right amount of money at the right time. Therefore, it is important that all schemes operated by my Department are subject to on-going control reviews and eligibility checks.

My Department conducted over 742,000 claims reviews during 2018. As part of the new Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2019-2023 published last week, my Department aims to conduct over 750,000 reviews in 2019. This is a key element of the "Detect" pillar in the Strategy where the overall goal is to detect instances of suspected fraud and error as quickly as possible.

Reviews take place across the range of schemes operated by my Department and can take a variety of forms. These include desk-based assessments of customer claims, face-to-face interviews with customers by trained investigators, home visits, audits of employers’ PRSI records, specialist investigations, self-declarations by customers and joint enquiries and operations with other State agencies, including Revenue. Reviews looking at the medical conditionality underpinning certain schemes will also be undertaken.

Reviews arise from both targeted and random case selections and where specific information comes to the attention of the Department. In this context, it should be noted that customers are under a legal obligation to report any change in their circumstances (income or means) to the Department and such notifications may also trigger a review of a person's entitlement.

Control review work in my Department generated over €2.5 billion in control savings over the lifetime of the previous Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018. Control savings represent the value of prevented expenditure over a future period that would have been incurred if investigative, anti-fraud and control work had not been carried out across the range of schemes administered by the Department.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (518)

John Brady

Ceist:

518. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if British pensions paid to persons living here will continue as normal post 31 October 2019 in the case of a no-deal Brexit; the plans in place in this scenario; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38476/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Maintenance of the Common Travel Area (CTA) is one of the Government's key Brexit priorities. The CTA pre-dates both Ireland's and the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union and is not dependent on it.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in relation to the CTA was signed by the Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom in London on the 8 May 2019. The MOU reaffirmed that Irish and British citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and entitlements which include social benefits.

My objective has been to ensure that the reciprocal social welfare rights and entitlements, which currently exist for Irish and UK citizens moving within the CTA are safeguarded and maintained. Because of the unique nature of the CTA, it was agreed that Ireland and the UK would formalise these pre-existing rights and entitlements in a legally binding agreement.

A Convention on Social Security was signed on 1 February 2019 and the Parliamentary ratification processes in both Ireland and the UK were completed in March of this year. Under the terms of the agreement the existing social security coordinating arrangements with regard to the recognition of, and access to, social insurance entitlements (including pensions) and the export of certain payments (such as child benefit) will be maintained in both countries. The Convention will enter into force on the 31 October 2019, in the event of a no-deal Brexit or following the end of the associated transitional period in the event of a deal being agreed.

This means that the rights of Irish or British citizens living in Ireland to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in the UK, and to access social insurance payments if resident in the UK are protected and vice versa.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (519)

John Brady

Ceist:

519. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the British winter fuel payment paid to persons living here will continue as normal post 31 October 2019 in the case of a no-deal Brexit; the plans in place in this scenario; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38477/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My key area of concern is the impact of Brexit on those current reciprocal arrangements for social insurance (which includes pensions) and social assistance (means tested schemes linked to residency rights) and child benefit between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland

I understand that the UK’s Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) is an annual tax-free payment made to eligible people to help towards their winter heating costs. It is a lump sum payment between £100stg and £300stg and in most cases it is paid automatically between November and December, to qualified persons. I also understand that as of winter 2012/13, people who live in the EEA or Switzerland who have “a genuine and sufficient link” to the UK are potentially eligible to receive the WFP, regardless of whether they previously had entitlement to it whilst living in the UK. This change occurred, following the 2011 European Court of Justice ruling (the ‘Stewart Case’). Prior to that, only people who had an entitlement to WFP before moving from the United Kingdom were eligible.

Our Fuel Allowance Scheme represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. It is means tested and is paid only to customers who are getting a qualifying payment, either a State Pension or a means-assessed payment. The rate of fuel allowance is €22.50 per week or €630.00 annually. Currently the fuel season is 28 weeks, and the allowance can be paid weekly or in two lump sums of €315 each, being at the start of the fuel season in October and at the midway point in January.

Post-Brexit, including in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Irish and British citizens will continue to enjoy the right to travel, live and work between the UK and Ireland in the same manner as before. This is because of a long-standing arrangement known as the Common Travel Area (CTA). The CTA pre-dates Irish and UK membership of the EU and is not dependent on it. Both the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom are committed to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances and we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to that effect on the 8 May 2019.

As part of that commitment, the Government entered into a Convention on Social Security with the Government of the United Kingdom signed on the 1st February 2019, which replicates the current arrangements that apply to the coordination of social security benefits between the two jurisdictions. The WFP is not paid on a reciprocal basis and I can confirm that there are no provisions in the Convention which will change the existing practices in relation to these payments.