Disability Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (613)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

613. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a disability allowance payment will be made for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47374/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Following a successful appeal, this lady has been awarded disability allowance (DA) with effect from 23 October 2019 when her illness benefit (IB,) which was paid at a higher rate of payment, stopped. The first payment will be made by her chosen payment method on 20 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 (614)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

614. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47378/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that an application from this lady for disability allowance (DA) was received by the Department on 8 October 2019. 

The processing time for individual DA claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information they provide in support of their claim.

The application has been referred to a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI) for a report on the person’s means and circumstances.  Once the SWI has submitted his/her report to DA section, a decision will be made on the application and this lady will be notified directly of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (615)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

615. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a recipient of employment support payments (details supplied) who was previously in receipt of fuel allowance has had their payments stopped with respect to the latter benefit; if the payment was suspended in error when this person can expect a resumption of the payment and backdated moneys owing to them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised that Mr. McGinley is entitled to the Fuel Allowance from 15 February 2018, the date he re-applied for Jobseekers Allowance.

Mr. McGinley commenced a Community Employment Scheme with Udarás na Gaeltachta in June 2018 and his Fuel Allowance entitlement should have carried to the Community Employment Scheme for the 2018/2019 Fuel Season and for the current 2019/2020 Fuel Season.

This transfer of the Fuel entitlement did not happen, and Mr. McGinley is therefore entitled to arrears of fuel allowance on his Jobseeker’s Allowance claim from February to April 2018, which is now being processed in the DEASP Intreo Office.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (616)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

616. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 15 August 2019.  Payment will issue to his nominated bank account on 28 November 2019.  He was notified of this decision on 15 November 2019.

In order to determine his entitlement to claim an increase for a qualified adult and/or child(ren) on his claim, a request for information in relation to claiming these increases was sent to him on 11 September 2019.  A reminder for the requested information issued to him on 14 November 2019.  On receipt of the requested information his entitlement to claim an increase for a qualified adult and/or child(ren) will be determined and he will be notified directly of the decision. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (617)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

617. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for a cut in a fuel allowance for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47415/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Fuel allowance is a means-tested payment to assist householders on long-term social welfare payments towards the cost of their heating needs. 

The main eligibility conditions that apply to the fuel allowance scheme are that a person must be in receipt of a qualifying payment, must satisfy a means test and must either be living alone or with other qualifying persons.  The fuel allowance means test is linked to the maximum rate of the state pension (contributory).  The applicant and their spouse can have a combined weekly household income of €100.00 above the maximum rates for state pension (contributory) and Increase for qualified adult and still be eligible for a fuel allowance. 

The person concerned is in receipt of two occupational pensions in addition to their State pension entitlements, which brings their assessable means over the permissible weekly means for fuel allowance qualification purposes.   Details of other means held by the couple (e.g., bank statements) were therefore not requested.  The person was notified in writing on 5 November 2019 that they do not qualify for fuel allowance.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Redundancy Payments

Ceisteanna (618)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

618. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if correspondence submitted for a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47421/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Redundancy Payments Act 1967, as amended, provides for the making of payments by employers to employees in respect of redundancy. It is the employer’s responsibility to make statutory redundancy payments to all eligible employees.  In the event that an employer is unable to pay due to financial difficulties, an application for payment from the Social Insurance Fund may be submitted to the Department.

When such a redundancy payment is made from the Social Insurance Fund, a debt is immediately raised against the employer. The Department is obliged to make every effort to recover the debt owed to the Social Insurance Fund, in accordance with Section 32 and 43 of the Act. 

In all cases the Department will engage directly with the employer, their personal representative or the relevant officer to ascertain their current financial situation and capacity to repay the debt. Where appropriate, an agreed repayment plan can be put in place to minimise financial hardship; for example, the debt can be recovered by way of instalments over a period of time. 

The debt management policy is that each case is considered on its merits, with a view to achieving full debt recovery. In the case referred to, discussions are ongoing between my Department and a personal insolvency practitioner to establish the full facts. When all information has been received a decision will be made.

Labour Activation Programmes Data

Ceisteanna (619)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

619. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of participants on each of the labour activation programmes administered by her Department in the past ten years; and the annual cost of each programme during those years. [47427/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The information (where available) requested by the Deputy is detailed at the following link.

Tabular Statement

JobPath Data

Question No. 622 answered with Question No. 601.

Ceisteanna (620, 621)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

620. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the date the contracts she and her predecessor entered into with the JobPath companies Seetec and Turas Nua. [47428/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

621. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that have been referred by her officials in Intreo offices to Seetec and Turas Nua each month since they were awarded the JobPath contract; and the length of time on average they were in receipt of social welfare payments before the referral. [47429/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 620 and 621 together.

JobPath is an employment activation service which supports jobseekers to secure and sustain full-time paid employment.  Following the completion of a rigorous public procurement process, two companies were selected to provide the JobPath service - Turas Nua Limited and Seetec Business Technology Centre Limited.  Contracts were signed on 5th June 2015 and the roll-out of the service commenced on 20th July 2015.

The terms of the contracts signed with the companies provided for a duration of 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.

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 Department's 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. 

Between July 2015 and October 2019, some 247,296 jobseekers had commenced their engagement period with the JobPath service, Monthly Totals are set out in Table.

The total number of Jobseekers above has been listed by the duration of time spent on the Live Register, at the time of referral, in Table 2. The tables are available at the following link.

 I trust that this clarifies matter for the Deputy.

Table 1

Question No. 622 answered with Question No. 601.

Dietary Allowance Administration

Ceisteanna (623)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

623. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to reinstate the dietary allowance as a stand-alone payment as it was pre-2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Diet supplement, administered under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, is payable to qualifying persons, in receipt of the supplement prior to February 2014, who have been prescribed a special diet as a result of a specified medical condition.  There are currently 2,100 people in receipt of diet supplement at a cost of €1.1 million in 2019.

A review of the costs of healthy eating and specialised diets by the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute was commissioned by my department during 2013. The research showed that the average costs across all of the retail outlets of the diets supplemented under the scheme could be met from within one-third of the minimum personal rate of social welfare payment, i.e. the SWA rate, which was then paid at €186 per week; the current weekly rate of SWA is €201.  I am advised that the diet supplement scheme was discontinued for new applicants from 1 February 2014 on the basis of this evidence.

Existing recipients continue to receive the diet supplement at the current rate of payment for as long as they continue to have an entitlement to the scheme or until their circumstances change. This measure ensured that nobody was immediately worse off by the closure of the scheme.

In cases of particular hardship, officials continue to have the legislative power to award a SWA payment in cases of exceptional need.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes Administration

Ceisteanna (624)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

624. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if wages of participants of the community employment are open to meanstesting or reduction at source based on family status, age or other status. [47432/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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 Department gives financial support to these Sponsoring Bodies in the form of allowances and funding to assist with the  Community Employment programme, for example participant wages, supervisor  grants, materials grants and specific skills training grants.

The minimum weekly payment for new participants based on 19.5 hours worked is €225.50 with effect from the week beginning 25 March 2019.  If a person has any additional income, for example, from part-time work, it does not affect their CE payment.  However, the rules on 'change of circumstances' that apply to their original social welfare payment also apply to their CE payment.  For example, if a qualified adult commences employment, their income will be assessed as means and the CE payment may be reduced.

The rate of payment on CE is determined by a participant's underlying entitlement to a relevant payment from my Department.  Participants under the age of 25 who were on a reduced rate of Jobseekers Allowance immediately prior to commencing on CE are entitled to the full payment of €225.50 whilst on CE. 

If the Deputy would like to forward the details of a particular case(s) he is referring to I will have them examined. 

Illness Benefit Applications

Questions Nos. 626 and 627 answered with Question No. 601.

Ceisteanna (625)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

625. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if illness benefit will be approved and issued to a person (details supplied). [47450/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Illness Benefit claim from the Person Concerned has been processed and the claimant has been awarded Illness Benefit at the graduated rate of €91.10 per week plus an increase for qualified children of €51.00 per week.

The claimant is currently medically certified as unfit for work until the 18th December 2019, and has been fully paid up to date.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 626 and 627 answered with Question No. 601.

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

Ceisteanna (628)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

628. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a higher pension in view of changes made with regard to the backdating of homemaker's credits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47521/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is currently in receipt of state pension (non-contributory) since 20 March 2015, and has not submitted an application form for state pension (contributory) to my Department.

In order to qualify for the state pension (contributory) a minimum of 520 full-rate paid contributions is required.  The Total Contributions Approach to calculation of pension entitlement, launched in January 2018, determines the rate of payment for those with an entitlement to a state pension (contributory). It does not remove the requirement to be entitled to such a pension in the first place, based on criteria set out in legislation.

It is open to the person concerned to apply for this pension.  When a completed application is received by my Department, the person’s eligibility for this pension will be determined, taking account of time spent out of the workforce for caring duties, once the minimum 520 contribution condition has been met. Notification of the pension decision will issue in writing to the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (629)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

629. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the pension entitlements of a person (details supplied) will be examined; if they are entitled to a non-contributory pension here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47526/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of state pension (contributory) at 75% of the maximum rate, based on his Irish social insurance record.  

Their pension entitlement was also examined under EU regulations based on their combined Irish and UK social insurance records, and under the Irish UK bilateral social security agreement, which takes account of employment periods on the Channel Islands.  However, the person concerned is financially better off on their current rate of standard state pension (contributory).

It is open to the person concerned to re-apply for state pension non-contributory, which is a means-tested, residency-based payment. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (630)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

630. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if pension entitlements in respect of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed. [47592/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A minimum of 520 full-rate paid Irish contributions is required to qualify for the standard state pension (contributory).  According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has 467 full-rate paid Irish contributions.  Since this falls short of the minimum requirement, their claim was disallowed.  The person was notified in writing of this decision on 24 September 2014.

Under European Union Regulations, a person’s EU social insurance record can be combined with their Irish social insurance record, to determine entitlement to an EU pro rata state pension (contributory). The UK social insurance record of the person concerned was requested from the UK pension authority. The Department of Work and Pensions informed my Department that the person does not have a record of UK social insurance contributions.  As the conditions for this pension were not met, the application was disallowed.  The person concerned was notified in writing on 16 April 2015.

As the person concerned is not eligible for the state pension contributory, their entitlement was not reviewed under the total contributions approach. Homemaking credits or homecaring periods for time spent out of the workforce may be used in the determination of the rate of payment for those with an entitlement to a state pension (contributory). It does not remove the requirement to be entitled to such a pension in the first place, based on criteria set out in legislation.

If the person concerned has other periods of insurable employment or self-employment, they should forward details to the state pension contributory section and the matter will be examined.

It is also open to the person concerned to apply for the state pension (non-contributory) which is a means-tested, residency-based payment.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ceisteanna (631)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

631. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the supports and advice her Department will make available to workers laid off at a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47631/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In the event that employees are laid off at the company details supplied, claims can be made at the nearest Intreo Centre or Branch Office in the normal manner.  Each claim will be assessed without delay and in accordance with the relevant legislation and qualifying conditions for the scheme.  It is also open to a person to apply for support under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.  If a person requires advice in relation to their current situation, staff will provide the relevant information to them.

Under the Redundancy Payments Acts the employees may be eligible for a redundancy payment.  It is the responsibility of the employer to pay statutory redundancy payments to eligible employees.  In the event that due to financial difficulties the employer is unable to make statutory redundancy payments, they may submit applications to this Department under the Redundancy Payments Scheme.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Disability Support Services

Ceisteanna (632)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

632. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the level of accreditation needed for a person to offer participants of the disability awareness training in order for the client to avail of the 90% grant available from her Department (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47654/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Through the Disability Awareness Support Scheme (DASS), my department provides financial assistance to private sector organisations to undertake staff development in order to assist the integration of people with disabilities into the workforce and to eliminate mistaken perceptions about the capacity of people with disabilities to be productive and effective employees and colleagues.

This scheme is open to all organisations in the private sector and is available for raising the awareness of personnel at all levels and in all occupations. The DASS is suitable for the following:

- Organisations interested in employing or retaining people with disabilities;

- Organisations interested in promoting the employment of people with disabilities.

The trainer/facilitator proposed by the applicant organisation for this grant should:

- Have a training qualification and/or relevant experience; 

- Have a strong social model perspective.  This means that the trainer should focus on how the physical and social barriers in society can disable an individual;

- Have an extensive knowledge of disability policy issues. The trainer should be up to date with current developments in the disability sector in Ireland; 

- Have experience or awareness of disability and have developed their training programme in consultation with people with disabilities.

In relation to the details supplied with this question, it is important to note that any application by a private sector organisation for a grant under the DASS should be submitted between three weeks and two months prior to commencement of the training.

The Disability Awareness course provider selected by applicant organisation must be approved by my department's Case Officer and Assistant Principal prior to the commencement of the training programme or course.

Applications cannot be processed for training which has already commenced.

DASS guidelines can be downloaded from the Department's website https://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/DisabiltyAwarenessSupportSchemeGuidelines.pdf

Further advice and help can be sourced from the following publications produced by the National Disability Authority (NDA): Guidelines for Purchasers of Disability Equality Training.

http://nda.ie/Publications/Employment/Employment-Publications/Guidelines-for-Purchasers-of-Disability-Equality-Training.html