Child and Family Agency Services

Ceisteanna (208)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

208. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the 41 crèches deemed critical by a person (details supplied) during the engagement by Tusla with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on 6 November 2019, by categories; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46778/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the matters to which the Deputy refers are operational matter for Tusla, I have requested Tusla to respond to the Deputy directly within 10 working days.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (209)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

209. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the supports, funding schemes and grants which are available to non-governmental environmental and conservation organisations; the updates to same made in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46771/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I have provided the information requested by the Deputy in the following table. It details the supports, funding schemes and grants which are available from my Department to non-governmental environmental and conservation organisations and the updates to same made in Budget 2020.

DRCD Supports, funding schemes grants available to non-governmental environmental & conservation organisations.

Budget 2020

Description of Support

Dormant Account Fund – Training and Mentoring Supports for Social Enterprises Pilot Scheme (€800k* in 2019).

€2 million has been allocated to Social Enterprise Measure of the Dormant Accounts Fund, the specific breakdown of this funding has yet to be determined, but will be in line with the objectives of the National Social Enterprise policy. 

The scheme, administered on the Department’s behalf by Pobal, provides supports to organisations providing training and mentoring to social enterprises.

Dormant Account Fund – Small Capital Grants Scheme for Social Enterprises (€1m* in 2019).

(*The above supports are available to social enterprises operating in   all sectors (i.e. healthcare, equality, work integration) including environmental and conservation. )

See above

The scheme, administered on the Department’s behalf by Local Development Companies (LDCs), provides grants of between €2,000 and €15,000 for equipment, repairs or refurbishments which will enable social enterprises to improve their service delivery.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

€53million

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.

 

The Fund sets out to support major coordinated and integrated capital projects which involve co-operation between public bodies and communities, philanthropic funders or the private sector. For the purposes of public financial procedures, however, the lead party to an application has to be a State-funded body, such as a Local Authority, State Agency or LEADER group. It should also be noted that the minimum funding request for Category 1 proposals to the Fund is €500,000.

 

Competitive calls for applications to the Fund are opened on a periodic basis and prospective applicants can familiarise themselves with the objectives and rules of the Fund on the Gov.ie website - https://www.gov.ie/en/policy-information/c77144-rural-regeneration-and-development-fund/.  

LEADER Programme

Rural Environment theme

Funding allocation is set for overall programmable period (2014-2020).  €23.8million allocated allocated to Rural Environment theme.

Depending on the nature of the activity proposed, grant aid is available under the LEADER Programme. Potential applicants should contact their Local Action Group (LAGs) in order to assess the eligibility of their proposed activity.

Community Enhancement Programme

€4.5 million

Community Enhancement Programme provides capital funding to community groups and organisations across Ireland. This allows these groups to enhance facilities in disadvantaged areas.

Examples of projects that can be funded include:

- IT and CCTV equipment

- minor improvements to buildings

- minor renovation of community centres

- development of community amenities

- improvements to town parks, common areas and energy-saving projects

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

€15 million

Community Groups may apply for funding through the Local Authority for projects of an   environmental or conservation nature that fall within the remit of Town and Village Renewal Scheme Outline.

Community  Services Programme

The budget for 2020 has increased by €700,000 to €46.89m

The Community Services Programme, or CSP, supports around 400 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model. The funding is provided as a fixed annual contribution towards the cost of an agreed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions including a manager where warranted.  Almost €47 million is available under the programme in 2020 to support community organisations, including environmental and conservation organisations.

 

There are currently 35 CSP supported organisations deemed as environmental and conservation organisations, which provide a range of supports and services including recycling, insulation, delivery of the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme and other SEAI sponsored initiatives. 

 

During 2020, these CSP supported organisations will receive funding of c. €4.4m towards the cost of employing 174 FTEs and 34 managers.

Library Projects

Ceisteanna (210)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

210. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the original project budget for a library project (details supplied); the anticipated final budget; the level of engagement by his Department with the relevant local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46819/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department funds a Libraries Capital Programme that will invest c. €26 million in 19 library projects up to 2022.

With regard to that programme, my department operates a Four Stage Capital Management process to ensure value for money and compliance with the Public Spending Code.

My Department engages consistently with all local authorities throughout the capital build process and in relation to the project in question, these engagements have included written correspondence, telephone conversations, and a visit by department officials to the local authority to discuss progress. 

The indicative cost of the library project in question, in February 2016, was €8.6m.

The design and planning process took some time to complete and approval to proceed to the tendering stage was issued by my Department in May 2018.

The tendering process is now nearing completion and approval to agree and award a contract, to the preferred bidder, was issued by my Department in September 2019.  I am not in a position to divulge the final costs of the project at this time, as contracts have not yet been finalised and signed. I can say however, that my Department has made a commitment to provide a €4m contribution towards the cost of the library, subject to a number of terms and conditions.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (211)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

211. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a disability allowance payment was suspended for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Following a review of the entitlement of the person in question, disability allowance (DA) was disallowed with effect from 17 July 2019 as she was deemed to have means in excess of the statutory limit for her circumstances.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 31 July 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). No request for an appeal or review has been received.  

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (212, 215, 220)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

212. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the current round of negotiations between community employment supervisors and her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46721/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

215. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of her engagement with representatives of community employment supervisors to discuss their entitlement to an occupational pension as per a 2008 Labour Court recommendation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46733/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

220. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on a matter (details supplied) in relation to the pension entitlements and lack of progression for community employment supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46792/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212, 215 and 220 together.

The Community Employment Scheme (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

The programme is delivered through independent Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies.  The contract agreement between the Department and the Community Employment Sponsoring Body establishes their role as an independent contractor, responsible for all purposes and all persons recruited by them

CE Supervisors have always been employees of Community Employment Sponsoring Bodies which operate in the community and voluntary sector. 

I am currently engaging with representatives of CE supervisors to discuss issues arising following the 2008 Labour Court Recommendation to which my Department and its predecessor as funder (Fas) was not a respondent.  The detail of the discussions have remained confidential while the engagement is on-going and I would ask Deputies to respect these wishes and allow the talks to continue free from speculation.

In order to keep discussions open until a solution is found, it is difficult to specify a definitive date by which these discussions will conclude.  However, it will take a number of weeks to complete.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (213)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

213. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 213 of 6 November 2019, if she envisages a conflict between the personal retirement savings account which operates without the need for a central processing agency and the proposals for auto-enrolment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46722/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am pleased that the Government recently approved significant elements of my design of an automatic enrolment retirement savings system which will commence in 2022.  Key decisions have now been made in relation to the target membership, the contribution rates, the policies in relation to opting-out and re-enrolment, the administrative arrangements and organisational approach and the investment options. 

In common with pension systems internationally, Ireland’s pension system operates on the basis of a multi-pillar approach.  This entails a publicly managed ‘first pillar’ - the State pension, a ‘second pillar’, consisting of occupational pensions, and a ‘third pillar’ consisting of private, individual pension plans funded from personal savings, such as Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSAs).  In order for people to enjoy an adequate income in retirement, the State pension should, in most cases, be combined with a supplementary private retirement savings arrangements in the form of a ‘second pillar’ occupational pension and/or a ‘third pillar’ personal pensions.

The aim of automatic enrolment is to improve supplementary pension coverage and adequacy among the high level of those who work in the private sector, who do not have a supplementary pension, and who are likely to experience an unwanted reduction in living standards when they reach retirement.

To coordinate the administration of the automatic enrolment system, a Central Processing Authority (CPA) will be established by the State.  The precise operational arrangements for the CPA are currently being worked out.

The automatic enrolment system will be an employment based system linked to earnings.  As a second pillar pension, automatic enrolment will complement the existing supplementary pension system, which includes third pillar PRSAs.  Therefore, the introduction of the automatic enrolment system, including the setting up of a CPA, will in no way conflict with current private pension plans in the form of PRSAs.

I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Employment Support Services

Question No. 215 answered with Question No. 212.

Ceisteanna (214)

John Brady

Ceist:

214. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the review into all contracted public employment services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46730/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The JobPath employment service commenced in 2015 and, under the terms of the contracts signed with the providers, was to run for at least six years comprising two consecutive phases: phase one entailed four years of client referrals, while phase two entailed a ‘run off’ period during which time no additional clients were to be referred.  The contract includes an option to extend the term of referrals for a period no greater than two years.

My Department has agreed with the JobPath providers to extend phase one of the contracts for a further twelve months until the end of 2020, which will enable referrals to continue throughout next year. This is not a renewal of the JobPath contracts, but the execution of the extension clauses of the existing contracts.

Indecon, in its reviews of the LES and Job Clubs published in last January, recommended the Department consider the introduction of multiannual contracts and a competitive procurement process for future provision of these services.

This provides my Department with the opportunity to review all contracted public employment services and to design and introduce a comprehensive model that will incorporate various models of response and be fit for purpose for the Irish labour market from 2021 onwards. 

In September, my Department published a Request for Tender for consultancy services, to provide advice and support regarding the future of the State’s public employment service and assist with the procurement of contracted public employment services in Ireland, covering the period 2021-2025.  It is anticipated that the successful tenderer will provide the Department with a final report in 2020.

Question No. 215 answered with Question No. 212.

Citizens Information Services Funding

Ceisteanna (217)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

217. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the Citizens Information Service budget by 8% in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The allocation for the Grant to Citizens Information Board in 2020 is €61.67m, as published in the 2020 Budget Estimates on Budget Day. 

The cost of increasing expenditure by 8% would be €4.93m.

JobPath Data

Question No. 220 answered with Question No. 212.

Ceisteanna (218, 219)

John Brady

Ceist:

218. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons referred to JobPath; the number of those referred that were on the live register for 12 months or more; and the number that were in part-time employment since its introduction, in tabular form. [46772/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

219. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of referral fees made once, twice, three and four times to JobPath providers in respect of the same persons. [46773/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 219 together.

As the Deputy will be aware the JobPath activation service is to help long term unemployed jobseekers to find sustainable full time work. For the purposes of the departments activation services all long-term unemployed jobseekers on the Live Register, aged between 18 and 61 years old inclusive, are categorised into groups based on their duration of unemployment (e.g. 1- 2 years, 2 – 3 years etc.). Selection for referral to receive employment activation services from a JobPath provider is by means of system based stratified random sampling using these groupings; the objective being to ensure equity in selection and also that people referred to JobPath are a representative of the long term cohort on the Live Register. 

The duration of a person's jobseekers claim is recorded in terms of days of unemployment, any two such periods not separated by more than 52 weeks are considered to be the same continuous period of unemployment - this is known as linking the claims. Long-term jobseekers that may have left the live register to go into employment for less than a year are still considered to be long-term if they reopen their claim within that 52 week period.

The linking of claims allows the client to retain certain entitlements (for example no waiting days and other supplemental benefits) and they are also available for selection for activation services including JobPath.

For those people who are referred to the JobPath service after a short period of work, the support and assistance of their personal advisor will ensure that the skills and experience they have gained in the job are built on if necessary and, that they are factored into all future job applications. 

Between July 2015 and October 2019, some 244,219 jobseekers had commenced their engagement period with the JobPath service. Of this number some 33,360 or approximately 14% were working part time & in receipt of a jobseekers payment.

JobPath is a payment by results model and all set-up and day-to-day operational costs are borne by the companies. JobPath providers receive a registration fee each time they register a jobseeker for the service. However the Jobseeker may be withdrawn from the service if they have a change of circumstances. Some common examples of a change of circumstances are for jobseekers to avail of a back to education opportunity or move to another payment, for example disability allowance, illness benefit or carer’s allowance. If after their education course has finished they remain unemployed they may be re-registered to a JobPath provider.  Clients who move address to an area operated by a different provider of the JobPath service will also be re-registered to the new JobPath provider. Registration fees are only incurred when a client engages with the JobPath service and agrees a personal progression plan.

Between July 2015 and October 2019, 156,787 registration fees have been paid for clients who have been referred once. In the same time period 81,714 registration fees have been paid for 40,857 jobseekers who have had two referrals, of which 27,920 jobseekers were those referred after completing a full previous engagement with the service. The balance of 12,937, were withdrawn from JobPath due to their circumstances changing but subsequently re-referred as they reinstated their jobseekers claim.

4,908 registration fees have been paid for 1,636 jobseekers who have had three referrals, of which 1,330 were those referred after completing two full previous engagements with the service. Lastly there have been 32 registration fees paid for 8 jobseekers who have had four referrals to JobPath, none of whom have previously completed three full engagements with JobPath.

Question No. 220 answered with Question No. 212.

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (221, 222, 223)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

221. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department retains data regarding to the free travel pass in relation to individual journeys undertaken; and the length of time such data is retained. [46806/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

222. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if it is possible for her Department to identify a person who has taken a single journey on the free travel pass; and if so, if information is shared with transport providers in relation same including but not limited to in the context of fare evasion. [46807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

223. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the length of time data is retained in all contexts in relation to the free travel pass; and if there is a policy in relation to the free travel pass and data retention. [46808/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 to 223, inclusive, together.

No personal data is collected when  the  free travel pass is used by an individual of  journeys undertaken.

Free travel pass usage data, received by my Department, verifies that a person’s Free Travel Pass was used at a particular time and date on an ITS enabled vehicle.  This data is non-identifying and does not provide journey duration or fare collected. 

Free travel pass usage data is retained by my Department for 13 months.

 I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.