Community Employment Schemes Data

Ceisteanna (540)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

540. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons participating in a community employment programme; the number aged 55 years and over participating in such programmes in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department provides a range of activation supports catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. The table below shows the number of participants currently engaged on Community Employment schemes and the number of those that are aged over 55.

No.

Total Number of Participants on CE

21,189

Total Number of Participants over 55 years of age on CE

9,010

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (541)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

541. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) will be approved for payment of the maximum rate of State pension (contributory) based on the person's contribution record, the years spent out of employment raising a family and the care given to both parents from 2008 to 2017; if a review of the person's circumstances will be undertaken; and if a free travel pass will be issued. [46250/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned applied for State pension contributory on 28 June 2019. It was decided that they were entitled to a reduced rate of €211.40 which equates to 85% of pension. They were informed on 15 October 2019 that it was financially more beneficial for them to remain as a qualified adult on their spouses state pension (contributory). This payment will increase to €222.50 following their 66th birthday.

The person’s pension entitlement was also examined under the Total Contributions Approach, launched in January 2018, which provides for HomeCaring Periods for time spent out of the workforce for caring duties. The person concerned has a total of 550 reckonable paid contributions, which combined with the maximum permissible number of 1,040 combined HomeCaring periods and reckonable credits, results in a rate of 76.44% of the maximum rate of pension.

It is therefore financially more beneficial for the person concerned to continue to claim the increase for a qualified adult on their spouse's state pension (contributory).

Notification of the award of the Free Travel Pass issued to the person concerned on 22 October 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (542)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

542. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae 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. [46259/19]

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 16 July 2019.

Additional information in relation to the person’s application was requested by a deciding officer on 16 October 2019.

Once all of the information is received the application will be dealt with without delay and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (543)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

543. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application for the working family payment by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46264/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work weekly payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children, relative to family size.

A new application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 04 September 2019.

That application was referred to a local Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) for further clarification on 11 September 2019. The relevant SWI has been requested to prioritise this case.

On receipt of the completed SWI report, their WFP application will be processed without delay and the person concerned will be notified of the decision.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Ceisteanna (544, 547)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

544. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the value of illness benefit overpayments in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46272/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

547. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number and value of illness benefit overpayments recouped in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 544 and 547 together.

My officials are compiling the information requested by the Deputy and it will be sent directly to him in the coming days.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (545)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

545. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46273/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children, relative to family size.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 07 October 2019.

They have been awarded WFP for 52 weeks with effect from 12 September 2019 to 09 September 2020. The first weekly payment and all arrears owing will issue to their nominated financial account on 08 November 2019.

The person concerned was notified of this decision on 06 November 2019 and of the right of review and appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Eligibility

Question No. 547 answered with Question No. 544.

Ceisteanna (546)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

546. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to social welfare payments. [46274/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of state pension (contributory) at 85.34% of the maximum rate based on their social insurance record, together with half-rate carers allowance and the household benefits package.

It is open to the person concerned to apply for the State pension (non-contributory) and/or an increase for qualified adult on their spouse’s state pension (contributory) instead of the state pension (contributory). The increase for a qualified adult is a means-tested payment, based on the means of the qualified adult themselves whereas the state pension (non-contributory) is a means tested payment based on the means of both members of the couple.

If the person concerned is eligible for these payments, they will be advised of the rates payable and the payment that is financially more beneficial to them. It will be open to them to decide which payment they wish to claim.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 547 answered with Question No. 544.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (548)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

548. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of vacant desk spaces available in accommodation allocated to her Department in Civil Service accommodation outside Dublin city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46293/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I understand that the Deputy is seeking information in relation to available desk spaces in my Department's headquarter buildings outside Dublin city.

It is common practice for desks to become vacant temporarily due to staff turnover or structural changes in the Department. At present there are approximately 80 vacant desk spaces available across four headquarter buildings. However it would be expected that these will be required over time as accommodation for seasonal and temporary projects and for the staff required to administer new schemes or revised service delivery models.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (549)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

549. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) has entitlement to have the award of the maximum rate of contributory pension backdated to the date the person qualified at the reduced rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46309/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned applied for state pension (contributory) on 17 May 2017, and was awarded a reduced rate pension from 29 July 2017, their 66th birthday, based on their social insurance record as held by my Department at that time.

Their pension entitlement was reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach, launched in January 2018, which provides for the award of HomeCaring Periods, for time spent out of the workforce for caring duties. While they had a pension entitlement under this approach, it was at a lower rate than their existing payment. They were notified in writing of this decision on 11 June 2019.

On 26 July 2019 an application was received by my Department’s Scope Section for consideration of a retrospective partnership between the person concerned and their spouse. It was decided that they had been engaged in self-employment during the tax years 1988 to 2000 inclusive, from 2003 to 2009 inclusive and 2011. The self-employment liabilities outstanding for these periods were paid by 11 October 2019 and their social insurance record was updated accordingly.

Social welfare legislation provides that a self-employed contributor shall not be regarded as satisfying the qualifying conditions for state pension (contributory) unless and until all outstanding self-employment contributions have been paid. The pension entitlement of the person concerned was reviewed on the basis of their revised contribution record. They were awarded the maximum rate of state pension (contributory) with effect from 11 October 2019, the date their self-employed liabilities were discharged.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Eligibility

Ceisteanna (550)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

550. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the entitlement to carer's benefit of a person who is working five mornings per week and is essentially in part-time employment; if the full carer's benefit is payable; if it is a pro rata carer's benefit payable; the number of years carer's benefit can be paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46350/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

To qualify the carer must satisfy PRSI conditions, employment conditions, show that they are providing full-time care and attention and must show that the care recipient requires full-time care and attention.

A person on carer’s benefit can engage in employment, self-employment, training or education courses outside the home for up to 15 hours per week, provided that they can show to the satisfaction of a deciding officer that adequate care has been provided for the care recipient in their absence. The maximum amount an applicant can earn from employment/self-employment is €332.50 per week net of statutory deductions. As part of Budget 2020, the number of hours a carer can work will increase from 15 to 18.5 hours per week with effect from 6 January 2020.

A person can engage in employment for 5 mornings a week and qualify for carer’s benefit provided the above conditions are satisfied.

Carer’s benefit is not a pro-rata payment. The maximum duration of the Carer’s Benefit scheme is 2 years (104 weeks).

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (551)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

551. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the hours a person can work up to of 18.5 hours per week and claim carer's allowance and-or benefit will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46351/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In Budget 2020, I announced that recipients of Carer’s payments would be allowed to increase the number of hours they can work, study or attend a training course, outside the home, from 15 to 18.5 hours per week. Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Carer’s Support Grant can avail of this change.

This change will come into effect week beginning Monday 6 January 2020.

Over 1,200 additional family carers are expected to qualify for payment as a result of this change at an estimated cost of €11.6 million. Also, any carer currently working less than 18.5 hours per week can avail of the additional hours.

I prioritised this measure in response to the carers I have met who have told me that they found the current number of 15 hours to be too restrictive. An increase to 18.5 hours will accommodate increased participation by carers in work or training to strengthen their connection with the labour force, while also serving the additional purpose of reducing the social alienation experienced by many carers.

I hope this clarifies the issue for the deputy.

Carer's Benefit Eligibility

Ceisteanna (552)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

552. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if carer's benefit can be paid to a parent whose son or daughter reaches 16 years of age and will receive a disability payment in his or her own right having previously been on the domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46352/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment which can be made, subject to certain qualifying conditions to a person who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

Once a carer is in receipt of Domiciliary care allowance at the commencement of their carer's leave, there is no requirement to complete the medical report attached to the carers benefit application. However, if the child is aged 16 or over at the commencement of leave the carer will need to have the medical report completed for the person(s) receiving care by his/her doctor. It should be completed, signed and stamped by the doctor.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (553)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

553. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the disclosures log made by her Department under freedom of information was last updated; if this is in line with the disclosure policy of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department processes a large number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests annually, with 2,443 and 2,510 requests received in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The FOI Code of Practice states that disclosure logs in relation to non-personal requests should be published on a regular basis.

The last publication of a disclosure log by the Department was in respect of FOI requests received in 2016.

I am advised that the Department has completed the 2017 disclosure log and will be published shortly. I am also advised that the Department intends publishing the 2018 disclosure log before the end of the year.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (554)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

554. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the details of the first payment of a disability allowance for a person (details supplied) will be provided; the arrears due; and when arrears due will issue to the person. [46503/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Following a successful appeal, this lady has been awarded disability allowance (DA) with effect from 6 March 2019. The first payment will be made by her chosen payment method on 27 November 2019.

Arrears of payment due, will issue as soon as possible once any necessary adjustment is calculated and applied in respect of any overlapping payments (if applicable).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (555)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

555. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [46511/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 8 October 2019.

On 5 November 2019 the person concerned was requested to supply supporting documentation required by the deciding officer in order to make a decision on her eligibility. On receipt of this information a decision will be made on her DA application and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (556)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

556. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will see an increase on the invalidity pension for an adult dependant. [46513/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A deciding officer from invalidity pensions has been in contact with the lady in question regarding her application for an increase for a qualified adult (IQA). Her application will be processed as quickly as possible and she will be notified directly of the decision.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Ceisteanna (557)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

557. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the role her Department is playing in the winter ready campaign; the expenditure her Department will incur in this campaign; and the details of expenditure on external consultancy and advertising or communication. [46628/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Winter Ready campaign was jointly launched on 6 November by the Minister with responsibility for Defence and Chairman of the Government Taskforce, Paul Kehoe TD, Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD and Minister with special responsibility for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English TD.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is represented at meetings held by the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning on winter-preparedness issues and has an important supporting role to play in the winter ready campaign 2019 – 2020.

The Department has measures in place which ensure that, should a weather related emergency arise during the winter months, it will provide the necessary assistance through its Community Welfare Service by way of its Exceptional Needs and Urgent Needs Payments.

In addition, the Department can activate the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme in the immediate aftermath of flooding and severe weather events to support householders whose homes have been damaged by flooding and who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs, household items and in some instances structural repair. The scheme is income tested and assistance is not provided for losses which are covered by insurance or for commercial and business losses.

The Department publishes all Winter Ready messages and updates on its website. When necessary, it uses social media (Twitter and Instagram) to publish urgent messages in the event of an emergency. It has not been necessary to engage external consultancy or advertising for the current season to date. The Department will monitor the need and make decisions in this regard as necessary.

Child Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (558)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

558. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if matters in the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46666/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Child benefit is generally paid to customers who meet the qualifying conditions and submit the appropriate application form. In a case where a parent in receipt of child benefit dies, it is necessary for the other parent or a guardian to complete a claim form so that a new claim with new payment authorisation details, etc. can be set up and processed.

Given the circumstances of the case at hand, and the fact that the person concerned has already provided a signed declaration and information from a school, the child benefit payment is now being transferred into his name. Payment will issue to him, starting with the December 2019 pay date. Any arrears due will also be paid at an early date.

I trust that this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

JobPath Data

Ceisteanna (559)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

559. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department communicated to a JobPath provider to cease using an online CV builder system that was hosted on a server unencrypted outside of the State; if the Data Protection Commission is investigating this matter; if she imposed a sanction on the service provider; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department’s contracts with the JobPath providers are in compliance with all relevant legislation and any information shared is contractually-based and necessary to provide an employment service. All contracts in place are governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Ireland.

JobPath providers are contractually required to register with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner as data processors and are legally bound to observe and adhere to data protection requirements.

Both contractors have undertaken regular independent audits of their data processes and procedures as part of these contractual obligations. In addition, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has conducted audits of each JobPath contractor. Employees of both contractors, and their subcontractors, are subject to the same data protection laws as Departmental staff.

Abintegro is a software package that is a job-seeking aid which has various tools and features, including a library of video tutorials, a CV builder, a cover letter building tool and advice on completing job applications. It is used by a wide range of universities, media broadcasters and companies (including several based in Ireland) and has been made available by Seetec to jobseekers, who are engaged with the JobPath service as a support for them in obtaining employment.

When a jobseeker registers with Seetec they are given access to a pre-populated Abintegro account. It is then up to the individual jobseeker to activate this account and once activated they will receive access to the range of services including a job alert system. The jobseekers use of the service is at their discretion and they can opt out of using this service at any time.

If a client chooses to create a CV this is then saved to their own personal email address and not on the Abintegro platform. Only the following data which is encrypted, is stored on the Abintegro platform, the client's name, email address, client ID number and separately the encrypted password. There is no unencrypted data stored outside of Ireland.

I am advised that in late 2017 an issue was raised concerning specifically the CV Builder element of the Abintegro software package and where relevant CV data was stored. Seetec were requested to remove the capacity to store CVs on the Abintegro platform and this functionality was replaced with CVs being stored on the jobseeker's personal email. Therefore, there was no impediment for Seetec in continuing to offer this tool to jobseekers on an optional basis.

I am not aware of any investigation being carried out by the Data Protection Commissioner in relation to this matter.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.