Social Welfare Overpayments

Ceisteanna (341)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

341. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a more affordable level of recovery of overpayment can be arranged in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40240/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department is obliged to recover all debt owed to it as quickly as possible and within the relevant legislation and guidelines governing the recovery of debt.  The person concerned has an outstanding One Parent Family Parent (OPFP) debt and proposals on its recovery have been made to her.

Previously the person concerned was repaying this debt by monthly direct debit payments for the agreed amount of €100.00 per month.

Under social welfare legislation, a weekly deduction of 15% of the personal rate of all payments can be deducted without written consent in order to recover a debt owing to the Department. It is being proposed to withhold on a weekly basis €45 from the person concerned CA payment.

In order to give consideration to a lesser amount being recovered weekly as requested and to be able to determine a recovery plan, consideration is given to the size of the debt, the cause of the debt, previous efforts to repay the debt, and the level of income and expenditure of the household.

A letter issued on 1 October 2019 requesting the person concerned to provide details of her weekly income and expenditure in order for the recovery plan to be reviewed.

When same as requested has been received the debt recovery officer will be in a position to reconsider the weekly amount to be recovered.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (342)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

342. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a full disability allowance payment will be restored in the case of a person (details supplied); and the timeframe for a decision in the case. [40246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

On 4 June 2019 the person concerned was notified that her DA payment was suspended and she was afforded the opportunity to submit any supporting evidence she may have in respect of her review. No further evidence was submitted.

Based on the information provided to the SWI in June 2019 a decision will be finalised over the coming days and this decision will be communicated to Ms Ryan directly.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Eligibility

Ceisteanna (343)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

343. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 254 of 27 June 2019, when an invalidity pension will be approved. [40248/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Following a review of her application, the lady referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 14 March 2019.  Payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 17 October 2019.  Any arrears due from 14 March 2019 to 16 October 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible.  The lady in question was notified of this decision on 02 October 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Ceisteanna (344)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

344. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1808 to 1810, inclusive, of 6 September 2019 in respect of large debts owed to her Department from customers, if the figures can be further broken down in respect of the number of cases; the amount outstanding in respect of which payment arrangements are in place; the number and value of cases in which no pay arrangements are in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40263/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A breakdown of the cases which are repaying and not repaying by scheme area and by the year in which the overpayment was raised is set out in tables 1 and 2 respectively. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Table 1 - Outstanding customer debts – value outstanding over €10,000 by scheme area – as at end August 2019  

Scheme  

Repaying  

Repaying  

Not Repaying  

Not Repaying  

Total 

Total 

 

No. of cases 

Value Outstanding at end August 2019 

No. of cases 

Value Outstanding at end August 2019 

No. of cases 

Value Outstanding at end August 2019 

Jobseekers Allowance 

1,565 

€42,192,936 

1,526 

€42,306,087 

3,091 

€84,499,023 

One Parent Family Payment 

1,284 

€35,991,554 

1,513 

€35,356,666 

2,797 

€71,348,220 

Disability Allowance 

568 

€16,094,691 

500 

€16,923,983 

1,068 

€33,018,675 

State Pension Non-Con 

294 

€8,737,633 

741 

€31,538,568 

1,035 

€40,276,201 

Carers Allowance 

506 

€14,198,147 

292 

€8,243,575 

798 

€22,441,722 

State Pension Contributory 

182 

€4,707,141 

251 

€7,579,804 

433 

€12,286,945 

Child Benefit 

90 

€1,549,483 

291 

€5,089,970 

381 

€6,639,453 

Illness Benefit 

189 

€4,417,484 

110 

€2,283,605 

299 

€6,701,090 

Invalidity Pension 

196 

€5,520,233 

99 

€2,583,284 

295 

€8,103,518 

Widow(er)s Pension Con 

150 

€5,290,154 

89 

€3,070,193 

239 

€8,360,348 

Basic Supplement Welfare 

85 

€1,802,083 

128 

€2,765,346 

213 

€4,567,429 

Rent Supplement 

76 

€1,638,163 

94 

€2,242,607 

170 

€3,880,770 

Deserted Wife's Benefit 

87 

€4,017,317 

55 

€2,274,517 

142 

€6,291,834 

Farm Assist 

71 

€2,376,896 

56 

€1,662,919 

127 

€4,039,815 

Family Income Supplement 

65 

€1,320,085 

55 

€1,154,737 

120 

€2,474,823 

Widows Non Contributory Pension 

38 

€1,066,345 

37 

€929,899 

75 

€1,996,245 

Jobseekers Benefit 

18 

€293,696 

55 

€825,807 

73 

€1,119,503 

Pre-retirement Allowance 

25 

€585,655 

26 

€504,960.45 

51 

€1,090,616.02 

Back To Work Scheme 

15 

€227,321 

32 

€566,694 

47 

€794,015 

Deserted Wife's Allowance 

17 

€883,554 

20 

€606,529 

37 

€1,490,083 

Blind Persons Pension 

23 

€978,850 

11 

€369,565 

34 

€1,348,415 

State Pension Transition 

15 

€330,256 

15 

€329,795 

30 

€660,051 

Back To Work Enterprise Allowance 

12 

€235,269 

17 

€383,058 

29 

€618,328 

Mortgage Interest Supplement 

12 

€193,296 

11 

€226,182 

23 

€419,478 

Disablement Benefit 

15 

€474,669 

€106,173 

20 

€580,842 

Rent Allowance 

€117,742 

€385,988 

15 

€503,730 

Guardians Payment (Contributory) 

10 

€451,278 

€88,815 

15 

€540,093 

Guardians Payment (Non-Contributory) 

€109,866 

€227,022 

13 

€336,888 

Domiciliary Care 

€68,866 

€96,246 

10 

€165,112 

Carer's Benefit 

€39,108 

€108,352 

€147,460 

Third Level Option 

€32,553 

€76,172 

€108,725 

Second Level Option 

€23,169 

€59,293 

€82,463 

Rural Social Scheme 

€47,805 

€15,681 

€63,486 

Part-time Job Incentive 

€33,339 

€24,578 

€57,918 

Diet Supplement 

 

 

€21,148 

€21,148 

Jobs Initiative Scheme 

 

 

€14,738 

€14,738 

Death Benefit 

€112,107 

 

 

€112,107 

National Internship 

€12,783 

 

 

€12,783 

Respite Care 

€10,925 

 

 

€10,925 

Partial Capacity Benefit 

€10,658 

 

 

€10,658 

Magdalen Commission Scheme 

 

 

€14,619 

€14,619 

Adoptive Parent Benefit 

 

 

€28,299 

€28,299 

Total 

5,638 

€156,193,128 

6,075 

€171,085,486 

11,713 

€327,278,615 

Table 2 - Outstanding customer debts – value outstanding over €10,000 by year debt was raised – as at end August 2019 

Year Raised 

 

Repaying    

Repaying    

Not Repaying  

Not Repaying  

Total 

Total 

 

No. of cases 

Value Outstanding at end August 2019 

No. of cases 

Value Outstanding at end August 2019 

No. of cases 

Value Outstanding at end August 2019 

1984 

€19,930 

€28,778 

€48,708 

1985 

€11,958 

€16,452 

€28,411 

1986 

€43,983 

10 

€167,429 

13 

€211,412 

1987 

€39,656 

€190,041 

12 

€229,698 

1988 

€139,821 

17 

€309,375 

26 

€449,196 

1989 

€102,011 

32 

€584,130 

38 

€686,141 

1990 

14 

€247,224 

27 

€538,016 

41 

€785,240 

1991 

12 

€231,211 

24 

€448,574 

36 

€679,785 

1992 

17 

€283,200 

39 

€656,837 

56 

€940,038 

1993 

13 

€234,408 

25 

€440,106 

38 

€674,514 

1994 

22 

€489,292 

51 

€900,705 

73 

€1,389,998 

1995 

30 

€667,885 

50 

€884,668 

80 

€1,552,554 

1996 

39 

€750,243 

55 

€974,452 

94 

€1,724,696 

1997 

43 

€868,41 

73 

€1,372,747 

116 

€2,241,163 

1998 

41 

€858,632 

67 

€1,320,770 

108 

€2,179,403 

1999 

61 

€1,394,002 

67 

€1,194,358 

128 

€2,588,361 

2000 

48 

€1,018,872 

73 

€1,419,056 

121 

€2,437,929 

2001 

38 

€858,838 

81 

€1,567,510 

119 

€2,426,349 

2002 

45 

€1,034,778 

55 

€1,088,863 

100 

€2,123,641 

2003 

116 

€2,159,039 

173 

€2,972,678 

289 

€5,131,717 

2004 

224 

€4,123,378 

400 

€6,954,932 

624 

€11,078,310 

2005 

180 

€3,991,446 

226 

€5,070,343 

406 

€9,061,789 

2006 

147 

€3,205,559 

166 

€3,516,088 

313 

€6,721,648 

2007 

134 

€3,131,212 

114 

€2,683,754 

248 

€5,814,967 

2008 

163 

€3,914,658 

123 

€2,950,242 

286 

€6,864,900 

2009 

225 

€6,131,559 

187 

€5,384,136 

412 

€11,515,696 

2010 

260 

€7,358,599 

255 

€6,402,283 

515 

€13,760,882 

2011 

319 

€9,440,454 

296 

€7,072,343 

615 

€16,512,798 

2012 

317 

€10,633,923 

329 

€9,286,969 

646 

€19,920,892 

2013 

469 

€14,826,226 

438 

€13,005,313 

907 

€27,831,540 

2014 

416 

€11,504,689 

405 

€11,998,352 

821 

€23,503,041 

2015 

433 

€13,582,919 

409 

€13,251,087 

842 

€26,834,007 

2016 

402 

€12,328,812 

365 

€12,571,999 

767 

€24,900,812 

2017 

530 

€15,010,237 

447 

€16,482,783 

977 

€31,493,020 

2018 

488 

€14,891,558 

525 

€19,997,097 

1,013 

€34,888,656 

2019 

369 

€10,664,481 

459 

€17,382,203 

828 

€28,046,684 

Total  

5,638 

€156,193,128 

6,075 

€171,085,486 

11,713 

€327,278,615 

Departmental Staff Promotions

Ceisteanna (345)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

345. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if executive officer grade positions are available in her Department in Mullingar, County Westmeath. [40290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department, like all Government departments and agencies is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget, which for this Department has involved reductions in staff numbers.

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the ongoing need to respond to new demands across a wide range of services. This is to ensure that the best use is made of available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department.

In accordance with relevant Department of Public Expenditure and Reform circulars and guidelines, when a permanent post is approved to be filled, the assignment will be made from either a panel created through a Public Appointment Service (PAS) competition or from an internal Departmental promotion panel or from the relevant Mobility list.

I am advised that there are currently no positions at the Executive Officer grade available in my Department in Mullingar.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (346)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

346. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding the provision of a pension scheme for community employment scheme supervisors; when the issue will be resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40292/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am currently engaging with representatives of Community Emloyment supervisors and assistant supervisors to discuss issues arising following the 2008 Labour Court Recommendation.  All parties to the engagement process have agreed that the detail of the discussions should remain confidential while the engagement is ongoing and I would ask Deputies to respect these wishes and allow the talks to continue free from speculation which might prove unhelpful. I expect that it will take a number of weeks to reach a conclusion.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Springboard Programme

Ceisteanna (347, 358)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

347. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will take steps to include persons in receipt of a partial capacity payment as eligible to participate in training and education and upskilling opportunities, for example, Springboard in line with the eligibility of those in receipt of disability or jobseeker payments; if her attention has been drawn to the unintended discriminatory nature of the ineligibility of those receiving a partial capacity payment and the impact it has on their efforts to secure employment in view of the ratification of the UNCRPD; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40308/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

358. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection his plans to extend training and education and upskilling opportunities to recipients of the partial capacity benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40490/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 347 and 358 together.

Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) is a social welfare scheme which allows a person to return to work or self-employment (if they have reduced capacity to work) and continue to receive a payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).

A person in receipt of Invalidity Pension or Illness Benefit for a minimum of six months who wishes to return to work may qualify for PCB if their capacity for work is reduced by their medical condition.

It is important to note in relation to PCB that:

- participation is voluntary.

- there is no requirement that a person must undertake work that is of a ‘rehabilitative or therapeutic’ nature (no exemption needs to be sought from DEASP).

- there is no restriction on the number of hours worked.

- there is no restriction on earnings.

- a person who participates on the PCB scheme may return to an Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment if, for example, the employment ceases or if the person cannot continue to work.

- a person on the PCB scheme, with an underlying entitlement to Invalidity Pension, will retain their Free Travel Pass for a period of five years.

- PCB allows people to continue to receive a percentage of their Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension payment while working.  The personal rate of payment of PCB is based on a medical assessment of a person’s restriction, regarding their capacity for work, whether the person was in receipt of Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension and their current rate of payment.  After the medical assessment, if a person's disability is rated as moderate, severe or profound their previous payment continues at 50%, 75% or 100% per cent, respectively.

The PCB scheme extends the welfare system by explicitly recognising and responding to the reality that some people with disabilities will have a capacity to engage in open market employment while continuing to receive some income support from the State.  The objective of the scheme is to support such people to return to the workplace without fear of loss of their disability related social welfare benefits.

The majority of Springboard+ courses are open to employed, unemployed and returners who meet the eligibility criteria at the time of course commencement.  Eligibility for springboard+ is the responsibility for the Higher Education Authority and my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills.

The Back to Education Allowance scheme (BTEA) is an educational opportunities scheme for customers in receipt of certain social welfare payments wishing to pursue second or third level courses of education, subject to meeting the qualifying conditions.  The BTEA aims to assist those who are distant from the labour market to acquire the necessary education to improve their chances at attaining employment.  

Any change to the qualifying conditions for the various schemes operated by the Department  would have to be considered within the annual budgetary context.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (348)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

348. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to restore the full rate of the jobseeker’s allowance to young persons under 26 years of age in budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40319/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The 2019 Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure this year on the jobseeker’s allowance (JA) scheme of €1.6 billion. 

Reduced rates for JA recipients aged 18-25 were introduced on a phased basis to tackle high youth unemployment and to prevent long term welfare dependency.  This is in line with other EU and OECD jurisdictions. Receiving the maximum rate of JA without a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training can lead to long-term welfare dependency from a young age. If a young jobseeker participates in education or training the personal rate that applies is €203 per week.  

In 2013 the EU adopted a Council Recommendation to member states on a Youth Guarantee. Under the Youth Guarantee process my Department’s case officer’s engage with young jobseekers on a monthly basis, to prepare and implement a personal progression plan to help them find work which is tailored to their specific skillset. Where young people do not find work quickly, they are supported through placement on employment and training schemes, which are closely aligned to the needs of the labour market. For example, the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) which I launched last year is a work experience scheme targeted exclusively at young jobseekers facing barriers to employment and participants on the scheme receive a payment of €229.20 per week.  

These policies have been effective in reducing both youth and long-term unemployment. For example, the most recent data shows that Irish youth unemployment has fallen from a peak of 31.2% in 2012 to 14.7% in August 2019.

My Department is finalising a review on the impacts of the reduced rates on young jobseekers which I will be reviewing shortly.  This is a complex and detailed piece of work which also examined the research undertaken by the National University of Maynooth into effectiveness of the introduction of reduced JA rates payable to young jobseekers aged 18 and 19.

Any changes to the age related rates of payment of JA would also have to be considered in a budgetary context and within the scope of the overall resources available for welfare improvements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy at this time.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Ceisteanna (349)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

349. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the 2020 funding allocation for the dedicated mortgage arrears service has been decided; if so, if this decision has been communicated to the Citizens Information Board and the eight regional Money Advice and Budgeting Service companies operating the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40320/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

The Dedicated Mortgage Arrears (DMA) advice service, which operates across the MABS regional network was established in 2015, as part of the Government's response to providing supports to mortgage holders in arrears. 

The DMA service aims to ensure that borrowers in mortgage arrears have access to information on the range of supports and options available to them and, where required, negotiates with lenders on their behalf.  To date, it has helped almost 8,000 borrowers with mortgage arrears issues.

Since its inception, the DMA service has become an integral part of the Abhaile suite of services, which provides access for people who are insolvent and in mortgage arrears, to independent financial and / or legal advice and assistance under a voucher scheme accessed through MABS.  Abhaile is jointly coordinated and funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. MABS, CIB, the Insolvency Service of Ireland and the Legal Aid Board are working together to provide the various Abhaile services.

Together with my colleague, Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Justice , I was pleased to announce, last month,  that the Abhaile service (including DMA) is being extended for a further three years.

The Citizens Information Board (CIB) receives its overall budget allocation for all services, including DMA, on an annual basis. An allocation for the DMA service has been sought for the service for 2020 as part of the Citizens Information Board overall budget requirements for 2020, however this is subject to the completion of the Department's overall estimates process. Once completed this will be communicated to CIB.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

Ceisteanna (350)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

350. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the waiting times for applications for payments (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40346/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.

Table 1. Average weeks to award a claim in August 2019

Average Weeks to Award 

August 2019

 Illness Benefit

1

 Disability Allowance

14 

 Carer's Allowance

16 

 Carer's Benefit

13 

 Invalidity Pension

10 

 Domiciliary Care Allowance

10

Occupational Injuries Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (351)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

351. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of the occupational injury benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40368/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for Occupational Injury Benefit was received by the Department on the 26th September 2019.

This application has been awarded at a rate of €203 per week. The person concerned is currently medically certified as unfit for work until the 7th October 2019, and all arrears have been issued to him.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Occupational Injuries Benefit Data

Ceisteanna (352)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

352. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons (details supplied) that have availed of disablement benefit to date under the occupational injury benefit scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40372/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A total of 583 disablement benefit applications under the occupational injury benefit scheme have been received from former coal miners across the country to date.

The outcome of these applications is as follows: 

No. of applications 

Arigna only

Countrywide

Received

311

583

Pending

5

12

Awarded

140

238

Disallowed

150

287

Withdrawn by the customer

 16

46

In total 12 cases are pending due to incomplete applications, are awaiting further medical evidence or the establishment of insurable employment in the mines.

All applicants who were disallowed the benefit were advised of their entitlement to appeal the decision to the  Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days of the decision being made.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment

Ceisteanna (353)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

353. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the working family payment continues to issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40381/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (formerly Family Income Supplement) is a weekly tax free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

Working Family Payment for the person concerned is currently in payment. The current award period is due to end on the 9th October 2019.  

Working family payment is due for renewal from 10th October 2019.

A renewal form issued to the person concerned on 31 July 2019 but to date this has not been returned to us. A duplicate renewal form has been issued this week. When the person concerned is returning the application form a fulltime education certificate should be provided from the college/university for the dependent child.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Social Welfare Schemes

Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 340.

Ceisteanna (354)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

354. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for illness or disability benefit in view of their medical condition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40382/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Illness Benefit at a weekly rate of €371.70. He is currently medically certified as unfit for work until the 3rd October 2019 and he has been paid fully up to date.

It is open for the person concerned to apply for the long term schemes of Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance if he is permanently incapable of work, where his elegibity for these schemes can be  assessed.

I trust this clarifies the matter for you.

Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 340.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (356)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

356. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40472/19]

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 18 July 2019.

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 1 October 2019 with effect from 18 July 2019. The first payment will issue to her nominated post office on 10 October 2019. 

Arrears of allowance due from 18 July 2019 to 9 October 2019 have issued also.

The person concerned was notified on 1 October 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 Review

Question No. 358 answered with Question No. 347.

Ceisteanna (357)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

357. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the interdepartmental review of community employment schemes; when the review is expected to be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40489/19]

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 be organised going forward. 

A number of meetings of the IDG have taken place and a number of bilateral meetings with relevant Departments have also been undertaken.  There was a consultative process with stakeholders and the associated submissions were considered as part of the wider deliberations.  I expect to have the final report shortly.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 358 answered with Question No. 347.

Water Supply

Ceisteanna (359)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

359. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there are grants for water well drilling for domestic houses. [40175/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

There is a grant currently available, which is funded by my Department through the local authorities, for the provision or necessary improvement of an individual water supply in a house.  This is more commonly called the individual or private wells grant. The grant, subject to certain conditions, assists households dependent on these supplies with the costs incurred in providing such a supply of water for domestic purposes or rectifying serious deficiencies with an existing supply.

Information on this grant is available from local authorities and from my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-services/rural-water-programme/private-wells.

Earlier this year, I announced details of the new Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included an improved funding scheme for individual wells.

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services. The changes that I have approved to the individual wells grant scheme are as follows:

- A maximum grant for rehabilitation works of €3,000, which represents an increase of 47% on the current maximum grant amount;

- Where the local authority agrees that the most appropriate solution is to provide a new well, the maximum grant payable would be €5,000;

- Recognising the role of the grant in improving quality, the water quality treatment element (typically filtration and UV filtration) will qualify for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000;

- Up to 85% of other costs would be met, subject to the total combined maximum costs of €3,000 for well rehabilitation or €5,000 for a new well;

- For clarity, applicants would not be able to avail of both grant amounts, so they would not be able to avail of €3,000 for well rehabilitation as well as the €5,000 for a new well. 

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the new scheme. I expect that the process will be completed shortly when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (360)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

360. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has received a copy of the report of the review group on the planning provisions regarding strategic housing developments; if he will provide a copy of the report; if not, the reason therefor; and when he will release the report. [40195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As part of the actions under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination. 

The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to support efficiency in the planning decision-making process, providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined, while also fully respecting the need to ensure proper planning and sustainable development, the statutory requirements for public consultation and consideration of observations submitted. 

Section 4(2) of the Act provides for a review of the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements. In this regard, I established a Review Group to assess the operation and effectiveness of the SHD provisions and to report back to me by end September 2019. To augment the work of the Review Group, a public consultation on the SHD arrangements was advertised and held in July 2019.

The Report of the Review Group was received on 24 September 2019 and is currently being considered prior to it, and my conclusions of the review, being laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Section 4(2)(a) of the Act provides that this must be done not later than 30 October 2019.