Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (292)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

292. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made regarding a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51928/19]

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.

I confirm that my department received an application for CA from the person concerned on 31 May 2019.

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 6 December 2019 and the first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 19 December 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 6 June 2019 to 18 December 2019 will issue shortly.

The person concerned was notified on 6 December 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Labour Activation Programmes

Ceisteanna (293, 299)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

293. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when she will inform major stakeholders on foot of the completed interdepartmental review regarding labour activation schemes; when she plans to publish the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51970/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

299. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the interdepartmental review into community employment schemes; when the outcome of the review will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52028/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 293 and 299 together.

In early 2019, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore how social inclusion schemes might be organised going forward.

A series of meetings of the IDG have taken place and a number of bilateral meetings were also undertaken with the relevant Departments. In addition to this, all submissions received from key stakeholders and community groups were considered as part of the deliberation process. The final report of the IDG is expected to be available over the coming weeks.

The priority for my Department is to ensure that all employment and activation programmes have the best outcomes for participants. The Government is very mindful of the large number of work programme places involved in service delivery and other valuable services to individuals and communities across Ireland.

State Pensions Payments

Ceisteanna (294)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

294. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to improve the income for persons on the State pension living alone in view of the fact that most of the costs they incur are the same as in households with two pensioners; her plans to address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51983/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Primary weekly social welfare payments are intended to enable recipients to meet their basic day-to-day income needs. In addition to the living alone increase my Department pays out a range of other payments, both cash and non-cash on a weekly, monthly or less frequent basis. These payments are considered secondary in nature.

The living alone increase is currently an additional payment of €9, and it is not a payment in its own right, but rather it is a supplement paid to people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who are living alone. It is also available to people who are under 66 years of age who are living alone and are in receipt of Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement or Blind Pension. There are currently over 206,000 recipients of the living alone increase, with circa 167,000 of these in receipt of a state pension payment.

The rate of primary and secondary payments to pensioners, and their adequacy, are considered in the context of the annual budgetary process. In so doing, the Government considers evidence from a wide range of sources, including agencies such as the CSO, and also research submitted by advocacy groups such as the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. I am committed to reducing the risk of poverty of marginalised groups, particularly those who live alone. People living alone can be more vulnerable to economic deprivation than two-person households where resources can be pooled.

To this end, the increase for living alone was increased in Budget 2020 from €9 to €14 per week. This increase will be paid to pensioners from January 6th 2020.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Strategies

Ceisteanna (295)

John Curran

Ceist:

295. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the social inclusion strategy 2019-25 roadmap for social inclusion, which was due for publication in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52009/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I have received the draft of the new social inclusion strategy "Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025", and intend to bring it to cabinet committee and government for review and approval as soon as possible. I expect that the new strategy will be published shortly. I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Fuel Allowance Expenditure

Ceisteanna (296)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

296. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of providing an additional one, two and three weeks of fuel allowance to who that are also in receipt of the over 80s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52022/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Fuel Allowance is a payment made for 28 weeks, from October to April, to help with heating costs during the winter months. I was pleased to announce, as part of Budget 2020, that the Fuel Allowance will be increased by €2 per week from January 2020. This increase will raise the payment to €24.50 per week, benefiting over 373,000 low-income households.

The Over 80 Allowance is an additional payment of €10 per week paid to people who are in receipt of a social welfare payment, including State pensions, and who are over 80 years of age.

The full year cost of increasing the duration of the Fuel Allowance season by 1, 2, and 3 weeks for those who are also in receipt of the Over 80s Allowance, is estimated to be €1.3m, €2.6m and €3.9m respectively.

It should be noted that these costings are subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients. Any decision to extend the fuel season would need to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Child Benefit Expenditure

Ceisteanna (297)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

297. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of providing a single additional monthly child benefit payment to parents on the birth of their first child only; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52025/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The estimated full year cost of providing a single additional monthly child benefit payment to parents on the birth of their first child only is €3.5 million in 2020.

This cost assumes the payment of €140, representing an additional months payment in respect of these children. It is estimated that there will be approximately 25,000 first births in 2020. It should be noted that these costings are subject to change in the context of emerging demographic trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of beneficiaries for 2020.

State Pensions

Question No. 299 answered with Question No. 293.

Ceisteanna (298)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

298. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if correspondence has been received from a union (details supplied) regarding increases in the State pension age; the estimated cost of implementing its proposals, including reversing the decision to increase the State pension age in 2021 and 2028; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52027/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The organisation in question recently corresponded with my Department requesting clarification on various aspects of the increases to State Pension Age as legislated for in the 2011 Social Welfare and Pension Act.

As the Deputy is aware, the organisation concerned is affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) which participates in the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF). This Forum was established in 2016 to bring together representatives of employers and trade unions with Government Ministers to exchange views on economic and employment issues as they affect the Labour Market and which are of mutual concern. A Pensions Sub Group of LEEF meets regularly to cover matters concerning pensions.

In order to provide for sustainable pensions and to facilitate a longer working life, successive Governments have considered the sustainability challenges faced by the Pensions system as a result of changing demographics in Ireland. In 2007, Minister Cullen launched the Green Paper on Pensions, which proposed raising the Pension Age. This was followed by a major public consultation exercise. Three years later, in 2010, Minister Hanafin launched the National Pensions Framework which, following a Government decision, set out the agenda of changes in the State Pension Age in 2014, 2021 and 2028. This strategy was enacted via legislation introduced by then Minister Burton and passed in 2011 which provides for an increase in the State pension age in three separate stages. In 2014, the State pension age was standardised at 66. This will be increased to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.

The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 has stated that future changes in State pension age after 2035 will be based on research into life expectancy. This is in keeping with similar measures introduced by most EU and OECD countries.

This sustainability is vital, if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age. It is the only feasible solution which does not involve reducing pension rates to pensioners (which would result in an increase in the rate of poverty among older people) or reducing other significant areas of Government expenditure (such as other payments made by my Department).

It is estimated that the gross cost to the State Pension (Contributory) of postponing the increase in State Pension Age would be approximately €430m per annum, with a net cost of around €217.5 million per annum. These estimates factor in secondary costs such as foregone PRSI receipts and additional Household Benefit payments. Therefore, if the age changes legislated for in 2021 and 2028 were both reversed, the current estimated net cost from 2028 would be c.€435m per annum.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 299 answered with Question No. 293.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (300)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

300. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance suspension in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

A review of this gentleman's disability allowance (DA) was carried out and it was established by a social welfare inspector (SWI) that the person concerned had means not previously disclosed to this department. DA is a means tested scheme and the way means are assessed is laid down in social welfare legislation. The person concerned was notified on 8 July 2019 that his DA was suspended pending an investigation.

On 9 December 2019 the deciding officer (DO) wrote to the person concerned stating the contentions for termination of their DA and requesting a response to them, along with requesting further supporting information required by the DO in order to review his eligibility for DA.

On receipt of this information a decision will be made on this gentleman's review and he will be notified directly in writing.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Employment Support Services

Ceisteanna (301)

James Browne

Ceist:

301. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to sustain the programme of individual placement and support beyond the service reform fund funding period; if individual placement and support falls under the comprehensive employment strategy for which she is responsible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52082/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department of Justice and Equality is the lead department with regard to Ireland’s Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities.

On 3 December, the Department of Justice and Equality published a revised action plan to support the delivery of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy objectives in the coming years. The revised plan (available at: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/CES_Action_Plan_2019_to_2021.pdf/Files/CES_Action_Plan_2019_to_2021.pdf) sets out a range of actions across various Government departments and agencies and was agreed following consultation with the Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group chaired by Fergus Finlay.

As set out in the revised plan, the HSE is the lead agency with regards to the individual placement and support service (IPS) and has entered into service level agreements for the delivery of same as part of its service for persons who have experienced or are experiencing mental health difficulties. The IPS element of the service is delivered in each of the HSE's Community Health Organisation areas across the country and is integrated into the work of its adult mental health teams.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (302)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

302. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the expenses incurred by her Department to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives that highlight schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of her Department including advertising and promotion on television, radio, newspapers and online in tabular form; and the level of expenditure for each such initiative. [52117/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department administers over 80 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the State. The Department is fully committed to ensuring that members of the general public are fully aware of the social welfare supports and services available, as well as ensuring key changes are communicated to them. Public information campaigns are therefore an important part of the Department’s work.

The Department’s public information and promotional campaigns span national and regional print media and radio, digital, social media and outdoor advertising.

All advertising expenditure undertaken by the Department is tendered for in accordance with Government and EU procurement guidelines, including use of framework agreements from the Office of Government Procurement.

Details of all print, radio, outdoor, digital and social media advertising spend to date in 2019, is detailed below.

Purpose of Public Information Campaign

Formats used

Total campaign costs, inc. creative/design work (ex. VAT)*

Promotion of Jobs Week 2019

Print, Radio, Digital, Social Media

€24,431.71

Public information campaign on the new Employment Legislation Act

Print, Radio, Digital, Social Media

€74,779.09

Promotion of MyWelfare.ie - the home for online welfare services

Outdoor, Radio, Digital, Social Media

€150,934.00

Promotion of Working Family Payment - in particular raising scheme awareness among working families

Print, Radio, Outdoor, Digital, Social Media

€115,053.14

Promotion of Cross Border Job Fair

Print, Radio, Social Media

€6,528.04

Promotion of application dates and online application route for Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance

Digital, Social Media

€12,115.06

Promote the MyWelfare.ie online application route for Maternity and Paternity Benefits

Digital, Social Media

€34,812.47

Promotion of JobsIreland.ie - the Government's national recruitment site for employers and jobseekers

Digital, Social Media

€24,541.78

Intreo (including separate 'Return to Work' element) - promotion of the wide range of schemes & services available to employers, jobseekers and those wishing to return to work

Digital, Social Media

€43,090.10

Promotion of new Jobseeker's Benefit for the Self-Employed

Print, Radio, Digital, Social Media

€89,239.95

Promotion of new Parent's Benefit

Print, Radio, Digital, Social Media

€89,249.11

Promotion of EURES London Job Fair

Print, Digital, Social Media

€6,279.54

* Total costs invoiced to 9 December 2018.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Question No. 304 answered with Question No. 289.

Ceisteanna (303)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

303. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the expenses incurred by her Department to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video that highlighted schemes and programmes operated by her Department in tabular form; if such videos have been commissioned for 2020; and if so, the estimated costs of each such video. [52134/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department administers over 80 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the State. The Department is fully committed to ensuring that members of the general public are fully aware of the social welfare supports and services available, as well as ensuring key changes are communicated to them. This includes the use of videos where this is considered the most effective way to communicate a particular message.

Details of all expenses incurred to date in 2019 for the commissioning, production, promotion and online sharing of video is detailed below.

Video Project

Total Costs (ex. VAT)

Production of seven videos to promote the range of services which Intreo offers to employers and jobseekers for use across two campaigns, including cutdown and GIFs for use in digital and social media advertising

€43,090*(**)

Production of two videos to promote JobsIreland.ie - the Government's national recruitment site for employers and jobseekers, including cutdown and GIFs for use in digital and social media advertising.

€24,542*

Production of video to raise awareness of changes introduced as part of Budget 2020

€1,040

Production of three videos as part of the Government's National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy to promote existing Intreo services to the Traveller and Roma communities.

€13,107

Production of videos to explain to customers the process to get a verified MyGovID account.

€13,760

Production of videos in a range of accessible formats of Make Work Pay reports.

€10,880

Production of Brexit video to outline Department's reassuring 'no change' message with regard to Brexit clearly and succinctly

€15,294

Production of video to promote MyWelfare.ie - the Department's home of online services

€9,795*

*Includes media buying costs/online advertising costs

(**)Includes creative and media buying costs associated with Return to Work element of campaign

No videos highlighting schemes and services have been commissioned for 2020.

Question No. 304 answered with Question No. 289.

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 306 answered with Question No. 67.

Ceisteanna (305)

John Brady

Ceist:

305. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the second income of a person arising from a retained firefighter role can be taken into consideration as guaranteed income as part of a Rebuilding Ireland home loan application process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51924/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, single applicants applying for the loan must not be earning greater than €50,000 gross per annum and the combined income of joint applicants must not be greater than €75,000 gross per annum. This is to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources.

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. Housing Agency recommendations are then considered by the Credit Committee in each local authority, which issues loan approvals.

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each local authority and its Credit Committee on a case-by-case basis. Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the statutory credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure consistency of treatment for all applicants.

Each local authority must have in place a Credit Committee and it is a matter for the Committee to make the final decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, and having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

I have asked the Housing Agency how income such as in the situation of a retained firefighter is assessed. They have confirmed that it is possible for such income can be taken into account in the loan application process, although it depends on the specifics of each situation, in particular how long the applicant has been in the role.

Question No. 306 answered with Question No. 67.

Property Registration

Ceisteanna (307)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

307. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a mapping issue (details supplied) that is currently with the Land Registry will be expedited. [51976/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A service for Oireachtas members was introduced in 2006 through which information can be obtained on the current status of applications to the Property Registration Authority (PRA), such as in the case referenced. This provides a speedy, efficient and cost effective system through which the PRA can address such queries. This service can be contacted at reps@prai.ie.

Housing Policy

Ceisteanna (308)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

308. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce cost-to-rental housing as part of future local authority or approved housing body housing developments in counties Laois and Offaly. [51981/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In order to support the delivery of discounted homes to buy or rent, this Government has committed €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund, from 2019 to 2021, to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of some 6,200 homes. To date, funding of €127 million, in support of 35 projects in 14 local authority areas, has been allocated for infrastructure works on sites that will support the delivery of almost 3,200 homes. Details of all SSF funded infrastructure projects can be found on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following links:

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-10-local-authority-sites-affordable-housing-serviced-sites-fund/.

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/.

The Government is committed to the introduction of a Cost Rental sector in Ireland. Cost Rental is housing where the rents charged cover the cost of delivering, managing, and maintaining the homes only. With the resulting rents significantly below market levels, households on?moderate?incomes will have access to a more affordable and stable form of rental tenure.

Cost Rental homes may be provided by local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, or other bodies as deemed appropriate. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, Cost Rental can make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness. Over the longer term, as homes are delivered at scale, it is envisaged that Cost Rental will have a stabilising effect on the broader private rental market.

It should be noted that Cost Rental is not designed to replace traditional social housing provision for low-income households, which remains a priority for the Government. Cost Rental is a new tenure option for Ireland, and is one of several schemes which my Department is using to deliver on the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan and ultimately provide more affordable housing.

Although my Department is producing a national framework for Cost Rental, which will allow its implementation across the country, the initial pilots have been targeted at large urban centres. These areas have the highest rent levels, driven by increasing demand and present the most acute affordability issues for households. For this reason, my Department is currently supporting initial Cost Rental pilot projects at Emmet Road in Inchicore and Enniskerry Road in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. The latter has already commenced construction, and is being delivered in partnership with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the Respond and Tuath Approved Housing Bodies; the first homes are anticipated to come on stream from 2021.

The selection of further sites for Cost Rental will be informed largely by the financial and operational model that will emerge from the evidence building currently underway.