Jobs Initiative

Ceisteanna (384)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

384. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of young persons under 25 years of age that have been supported by the JobsPlus youth scheme to date by county in a tabular form. [50735/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

JobsPlus provides a direct monthly financial incentive to employers who recruit employees from the Live Register and those transitioning into employment. It provides employers with two levels of payment - €7,500 or €10,000 over two years - paid in monthly installments.

A total of 4,183 people under 25 years of age have been supported to date by the JobsPlus youth scheme.

A county breakdown of those supported is provided in Table 1.

COUNTY

Number of u25's Employees

CARLOW

102

CAVAN

119

CLARE

114

CORK

239

DONEGAL

238

DUBLIN

667

GALWAY

181

KERRY

121

KILDARE

160

KILKENNY

78

LAOIS

88

LEITRIM

52

LIMERICK

206

LONGFORD

52

LOUTH

162

MAYO

124

MEATH

154

MONAGHAN

87

OFFALY

143

ROSCOMMON

65

SLIGO

68

TIPPERARY

214

WATERFORD

232

WESTMEATH

171

WEXFORD

211

WICKLOW

135

TOTAL

4,183

Jobs Initiative

Ceisteanna (385, 386, 387)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

385. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the funding allocation for the JobsPlus scheme has been cut from €20.2 million in 2019 to €10.1 million in 2020 as set out in the budget 2020 expenditure report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50736/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

386. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the funding allocation for the back to education allowance scheme has been cut from €61.67 million in 2019 to €56.7 million in 2020 as set out in the budget 2020 expenditure report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50737/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

387. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the funding allocation for the back to work enterprise allowance scheme has been cut from €70.36 million in 2019 to €37.32 million in 2020 as set out in the budget 2020 expenditure report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50738/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 385 to 387, inclusive, together.

JobsPlus is an incentive to encourage and reward employers who offer employment opportunities to the long term unemployed. The 2020 Budget Day estimate of €10.1m reflects reduced demand for the scheme evident from trends observed in 2019 that are expected to continue in 2020.

Back to Education Allowance and Back to Work Enterprise Allowance are both demand-led schemes and the allocation provided each year is determined by the expected demand.

Participant numbers for Back to Education Allowance and Back to Work Enterprise Allowance have been decreasing every year since 2012 following the fall in numbers on the Live Register.

The 2020 Budget Day estimates of €56.7m for Back to Education Allowance and €37.32m for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance reflect the downward trends in participants since 2012 and the trends observed in 2019 that are expected to continue in 2020.

Training Support Grant

Ceisteanna (388)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

388. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that received a training support grant in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the expenditure on the scheme in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50739/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The purpose of the training support grant is to fund quick access to short term training for individual jobseekers looking to exit the live register. The grant is provided where case officers have identified an immediate skills gap that represents an obstacle to taking up a job offer or accessing other activation measures. This grant provides case officers with financial resources to respond to the identified training needs of the jobseeker, focused on obtaining work in line with their agreed personal progression plan.

A grant of up to €500 is available to a jobseeker and it is paid directly to the training provider. The funding typically helps participants pursue training such as health & safety training, forklift licence, childcare training, beauty therapy training, etc.

The training support grant scheme is not designed to substitute training and activation measures that are provided under other programmes or by other agencies.

The numbers availing of this grant are represented in the following table. The reduction in those availing of the grant is in line with the overall trend of the improved economy and increased availability of job opportunities. A budget of €2.5m has been allocated to the training support grant in 2019.

Year

No of TSG Interventions

Expenditure

2017

7486

€2.6m

2018

6425

€2.2m

2019 to date

5629

€2m

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Labour Activation Measures

Ceisteanna (389)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

389. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the development of the Pathways to Work Strategy 2020-2024; the timetable for the publication of the strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The development of Pathways to Work 2020-2024, which represents the Government’s overall framework for activation and employment support policy, is currently under way by my Department. Following on from previous phases, Pathways to Work 2020-2024, seeks to continue the goal of ensuring that as many jobs as possible go to those on the Live Register, whilst also ensuring that better labour market outcomes are achievable for all groups in Ireland’s society and that our labour force is well positioned to respond to future economic challenges and developments.

The development of Pathways to Work 2020-2024 has involved an extensive consultation process. My Department has engaged with relevant stakeholder groups, frontline staff and Government Departments, and has conducted a series of regional consultation events, in order to inform its strategic direction.

An online public consultation process was also established, incorporating both a survey and open call for general submissions.

Pathways to Work 2020-2024 will therefore reflect the views and ideas gathered during this consultation process, along with input from across all Government Departments, and seeks to address the key issues and trends emerging from the various consultations strands.

Following the conclusion of this consultation process, Pathways to Work 2020-2024 is now currently being drafted, with publication expected in early 2020.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Ceisteanna (390)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

390. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of a social welfare payment that availed of the opportunity to undertake voluntary work and been approved to do so by submitting a VW1 form in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50741/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A person who engages in volunteering within the State may continue to be entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance provided that, in engaging in volunteering, the customer continues to satisfy the statutory conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work.

The aim of the Voluntary Work Option is twofold, namely:

(i) to encourage voluntary organisations to involve jobseekers to the greatest extent possible in their existing activities by creating new opportunities to be considered a volunteering role and

(ii) to inform jobseekers of their option to engage in a volunteering role.

Participants in the Department's Activation Programme who are attending at Group Information Sessions are made aware of the Voluntary Option and advised that such activity may help in gaining new skills and increase the chances of getting a job.

I am advised that my Department does not hold records centrally of persons who availed of the voluntary option for the years in question. At the end of November 2019 there are currently 75 persons recorded as availing of the voluntary option.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Employment and Youth Activation Charter

Ceisteanna (391)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

391. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the employment and youth activation charter; if the charter is still in operation; if so, the number of employers that signed it in each year since it was launched in 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Employment and Youth Activation Charter (EYAC) was launched on 29 September 2014 during a period of very high youth unemployment (25%). The aim of the charter was to encourage companies to consider and support young jobseekers currently on the Live Register when recruiting. Companies are also actively encouraged as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda to develop and participate in initiatives to support and increase the employability skills of jobseekers. This may include site visits, job shadowing, CV preparation, participating in up-skilling initiatives or attendance at recruitment events.

To date, 652 Employers have signed up to the Charter and these employers have undertaken 724 Activities. Since the upturn in the economy and the increased level of employer engagement in other vehicles to reflect corporate social responsibility (CSR) such as with Business in the Community Ireland and the Open Doors Initiative, the numbers of employers newly signed up to the Charter has reduced. The Department is actively involved with both of these initiatives to embed youth activation as part of employers CSR agenda.

YEAR

No Of Signatories

2014

30

2015

256

2016

112

2017

161

2018

65

2019

28

Total

652

Social Insurance

Ceisteanna (392)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

392. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the actions an employee must undertake to maintain their PRSI entitlements in circumstances in which the employee takes a career break and is not in paid employment and is not claiming social welfare benefits; if they should make voluntary contributions or sign for credits to maintain their PRSI records and entitlements for the period for which they are on a career break and not in paid employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Where persons are no longer in paid employment and not claiming social welfare benefits, there are two options available which allow the possibility to maintain their social insurance record.

Credited contributions are social insurance contributions designed to protect the social insurance record of insured workers who are not in a position to make PRSI contributions. For example, during periods of unemployment, credits can cover these gaps in social insurance. In order to qualify for unemployment credits a person must be fit for, available for and genuinely seeking work. Credits can also be awarded for a day of notified incapacity for work, periods of statutory leave or while a person is in receipt of certain social welfare payments.

In order to qualify for credits, an individual must previously have entered insurable employment and must have paid at least one PRSI contribution at Class A, B, C, D, E, H or P. Contributions paid at Class J or S are not reckonable towards the award of credited contributions.

In general, credited contributions can be awarded where a person has had a recent attachment to the workforce i.e. within the last two years. Credits are usually awarded at the same class as the last paid PRSI contribution. For example, if a person paid Class A PRSI in their last employment and are eligible for credits, the credits will protect their potential entitlement to Class A social insurance benefits.

Separately, voluntary contributions are designed to maintain the social insurance record of persons who are no longer employees, or are self-employed and no longer making compulsory PRSI contributions. The Voluntary Contributions scheme facilitates the payment of contributions directly to the Department on a voluntary basis.

Voluntary contributions can help a person to qualify for certain long-term social insurance payments such as pensions in the future but they do not cover short-term benefits such as illness, maternity or jobseeker's benefits.

To become a voluntary contributor, a person must be under pensionable age, currently 66 years, and have paid at least 520 weeks of compulsory PRSI from either employment or self-employment prior to application. A person can apply to join the scheme within 60 months from the end of the year in which contributions were last paid. A person must also no longer be covered by compulsory PRSI in Ireland and must not be covered by PRSI on a compulsory or voluntary basis in another EU country.

It is advisable for any person seeking information on credited or voluntary contributions to contact their local Intreo office, who will be able to discuss options available to the person in order to maintain their social insurance record.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (393)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

393. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50762/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the gentleman concerned on 29 August 2019. This claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 02 December 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Gender Proofing of Policies

Ceisteanna (394, 395, 396)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

394. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the composition of the interdepartmental group examining facilitation of non-binary genders within public services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50763/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

395. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the terms of reference of the research into non-binary and intersex recognition for those aged under 16 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50764/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

396. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to publish a Bill that would make amendments to the Gender Recognition Act 2015 in line with recommendations of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 review. [50765/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 394 to 396, inclusive, together.

In my report under section 7 of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, I have set out my proposals for legislation in response to the recommendations of the Review Group report. These are as follows:

- Simplifying the path to legal gender recognition for children aged 16/17 years by introducing an arrangement for self-declaration, with parental consent; a simple revocation process; and by making family mediation support available on a voluntary basis.

- In order to bring greater clarity to the fact that legal gender recognition is separate and distinct from any question of medical intervention, I propose to legislate to identify clearly on a gender recognition certificate for 16 and 17 year olds that it is awarded on the basis of self-declaration only.

- To provide that a gender recognition certificate may be used to provide proof of change of name as well as proof of change of gender.

- To provide that Irish citizens born outside the State and living outside the State (including Northern Ireland) would be allowed to apply for a gender recognition certificate.

The next step is for the general scheme of the bill to be referred to the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection for pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Review Group report recommended extending legal gender recognition to non-binary people, while also recognising the complexity of the issue and acknowledging that a comprehensive impact analysis may be required. An interdepartmental group will be established shortly that will be tasked with carrying out this impact assessment and submitting a report to Government for consideration by the end of 2020. This group will include representatives from Government Departments and their agencies with significant involvement and interest in this area.

In the meantime, Government Departments and other public bodies will take positive steps to improve the position of non-binary people. This could include measures such as:

- promoting the use and acceptance of correct pronouns;

- improving the design of official forms and documentation to permit the use of a third gender option, or no gender at all, where it is possible to do so.

In addition to these measures I will also jointly commission research, in conjunction with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to examine issues of concern for children under 16 years. I have also agreed to a further review of the Act to be commenced within two years of the commencement of any amending provisions. Terms of reference for this work will be developed at the appropriate time.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Ceisteanna (397)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

397. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the situation in relation to the data collection exercise agreed by her Department in relation to the LCR19293 recommendation CE/JI Supervisors-Assistant Supervisors; the reason it included data from other categories not included in the LRC recommendation; if the data will be corrected to cover just the workers covered by the LCR recommendation; if the Community Sector High Level Forum will be convened in order to resolve the outstanding issues in relation to LCR19293; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50793/19]

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 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.

Participants and supervisors on CE schemes are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector that receive public funding. My Department provides funding in respect of the participant and supervisors' payroll for individuals up to State Pension age. CE Supervisors are not employed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

In July 2008 the Labour Court recommended that an agreed pension scheme should be introduced for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors (LCR19293), and that such a scheme should be adequately funded by FÁS, who were then responsible for CE. FÁS was not a party to the LRC case.

The issue of CE Supervisors’ pension provision was considered by a Community Sector High Level Group chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER). All stakeholders were represented on the group. A detailed scoping exercise was undertaken and included input from the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service on the potential cost of providing Exchequer support for a pension scheme across the wider Community and Voluntary sector.

Any explicit provision of State funding for such a scheme in respect of those employees would inevitably give rise to claims for similar schemes and funding provision on the part of those many thousands of workers in the broader sector. The Government has to have regard to the full potential Exchequer exposure associated with setting such a precedent.

The reconvening of the Community Sector High Level Group is a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (398)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

398. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons employed on an agency basis in her Department and in each agency under her aegis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

There are two agencies under the aegis of my Department, the Citizens Information Board and The Pensions Authority.

The Pensions Authority currently employs three temporary agency staff. These posts are specialist posts in the Regulatory Intelligence Unit covering data analysis and software development. The Authority is endeavouring to fill these posts on a permanent basis.

The Citizens Information Board employs three temporary agency staff. Two of these contracts will cease by year end 2019 while the third is due to cease on the 31st January 2020.

My Department does not employ people on an agency basis.

Data Protection

Question No. 400 answered with Question No. 378.

Ceisteanna (399)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

399. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the basis on which her Department allows a company (details supplied) to make a demand for a passport and-or a driver licence issued here as a method of verifying the identity of a person; if she has consulted with the company in respect of the way in which and-or the location it stores customer identification; if she has consulted with the company on the way in which it shares the information it collects from persons with third parties; if she has met with the owners and directors of the company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Passports and drivers licences do not come under the remit of this Department. This Question is more appropriate to my colleague in either the Department of Foreign Affairs or Transport.

Question No. 400 answered with Question No. 378.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (401)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

401. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an application for the fuel allowance by a person (details supplied) has been refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50878/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Free fuel (FF) allowance is a means tested payment, payable to people who either live alone or only with certain other qualified people.

Based on the information provided to the Department, the person concerned did not qualify for this allowance as their household includes people who are not in a qualifying category. The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 21 January 2019.

If the circumstances of the person concerned has changed they can submit a new application for FF and request that it be backdated to the qualifying date.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Reviews

Ceisteanna (402)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

402. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a review of an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The Department received a claim for IP for the gentleman concerned on 06 February 2018. His claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. He was notified on 06 July 2018 of this decision, the reasons for it and of his right of review or appeal.

He requested a review of this decision and submitted further medical evidence in support of the review. Following a review of all the information available it was decided that there was no change to the original decision. He was notified on 02 November 2018 of the outcome of the review.

A request for a further review was received from your office on 10 October 2019 with further medical evidence attached. Following a review of all the information available it was decided that there was no change to the original decision. He was notified on 02 December 2019 of the outcome of the review.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Non-Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (403)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

403. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 614 of 15 October 2019, the status of the matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that the personal representative of a deceased person, who at any time received a social assistance scheme payment, such as state pension (non-contributory), is obliged to give notice to my Department of their intention to distribute the deceased's estate and to provide a schedule of the assets of the estate. The personal representative is requested not to distribute the assets of the estate in question until they receive formal clearance from my Department. If, on examination of the schedule of assets, it is found that not all of the deceased’s means had been disclosed, or if the values of previously assessed means had changed, my Department will seek to recover any monies overpaid from the estate.

The deceased person concerned was a recipient of state pension (non-contributory). The review of the deceased's state pension (non-contributory) entitlement has now been completed. The Deciding Officer's decision was sent to the personal representatives of the deceased on 22 November 2019. The decision letter informs the personal representatives of their right to submit an appeal to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office if they are dissatisfied with the decision. To date, there is no record of an appeal having been made.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.