Medical Card Reviews

Ceisteanna (270)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

270. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Health the reason a medical card review for a person (details supplied) is on hold in view of the fact the person is automatically entitled to a card due to being on a rural social scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52438/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Home Help Service Expenditure

Ceisteanna (271)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

271. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans to increase funding for home support in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52439/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In line with Programme for Government commitments we have made improved access to home support services a priority. We have committed to an additional investment of €52 million in Budget 2020 for home supports and next year the HSE plans to deliver over 19.2 million hours of home support. This represents a substantial increase of 1 million hours more than this year’s target.

This investment is focused on enabling older people to remain at home and reducing the current waiting lists for the service being experienced in almost all areas. As appropriate, provision of hours will also be targeted at times of peak demand in Winter 2019-2020, at the beginning and end of the year, to ensure more timely egress from hospital for our older citizens.

The HSE National Service Plan 2020 has been submitted and is under consideration in my Department. The allocation of hours and targets to Community Healthcare Organisations is currently underway and will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Home Help Service Expenditure

Ceisteanna (272)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

272. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if a substantial increase in funding will be ensured for home support hours in counties Cavan and Monaghan in 2020 in view of delays in having such support provided for patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (273)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

273. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health when additional personnel will be recruited and vacant positions filled in respect of a backlog (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52441/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (274)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

274. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will be admitted to the Mater Hospital as soon as possible to have surgery carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52473/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

HSE Planning

Ceisteanna (275)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

275. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if the National Treatment Purchase Fund has agreed to fund up to 200 additional beds over the winter; if so, the hospitals in which the beds are to be located, in tabular form; when the beds will be opened; if it is planned that the beds will remain available throughout 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52488/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE Winter Plan was launched on Thursday 14 November. The aim of the Winter Plan is to ensure that service providers are prepared for the additional external pressures associated with the winter period, including the prolonged holiday period, severe winter weather, seasonal influenza, and the spread of norovirus and other healthcare associated infections.

Nine Winter Action Teams, each aligned to a Community Healthcare Organisation and associated acute hospitals and Hospital Groups, have prepared Integrated Winter Plans. These plans focus on demand management and reduction, staffing availability, timely access to the most appropriate care pathway for patients, and appropriate timely discharge from acute hospitals.

The HSE Winter Plan is supported by an additional €26m in winter funding nationally. This winter funding will support access to the Fair Deal scheme and will provide additional home support and transitional care to facilitate timely hospital discharge and reduce congestion in EDs over the winter period.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has agreed to support the funding of additional beds for three months over the winter period. This initiative will support the commitment by the HSE and my Department to alleviate winter pressures. Hospitals have been invited to make submissions to the NTPF and the NTPF are currently examining these proposals.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (276)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

276. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when a required residential programme will be offered to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52544/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Speech and Language Therapy Provision

Ceisteanna (277)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

277. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when speech and language therapy will be restored in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52545/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Basic Payment Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (278)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

278. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a payment under the basic payment scheme for a person (details supplied); the reason many farmers are still waiting on farm payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52185/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraint Schemes application on the 14th May 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases remote sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing Eligibility inspection. The outcome of this inspection is currently being processed with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

Afforestation Programme

Ceisteanna (279)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

279. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the funding provided for the native woodland establishment scheme in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of additional hectares supported per year under the scheme; the expenditure on the scheme in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the projects supported in each year since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department operates a package of measures under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020, aimed specifically at promoting the proactive protection and expansion of Ireland’s native woodland resource. These measures represent a key biodiversity component within Ireland’s national forest policy as well as contributing to our climate change objectives. Native Woodland Establishment (NWE) (as represented by Grant & Premium Categories 9 and 10 under the Afforestation Grant & Premium Scheme), which funds the establishment of new native woodland on open “greenfield” sites.

In order to further encourage the planting of native woodlands, my Department has launched a Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) initiative. This provides an opportunity for businesses to partner with the Government and Irish landowners to support the national effort to plant additional native trees. The WEF involves an additional once-off top up payment of €1,000 per hectare paid by the business to the landowner. There has been a positive reaction from the business community to this scheme, with An Post and Accenture already signed up and other businesses submitting formal expressions of interest in participating in the scheme. At a recent event to promote the WEF, there was substantial interest amongst businesses in attendance in investing in the Fund.

Furthermore, my colleague Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I recently announced that Coillte Nature and Bord na Móna are collaborating on a new project which will see bogs that are no longer being used for peat production, transformed into rich native woodlands.

Following on from this, we plan to actively engage with other public bodies in the near future to encourage them to identify possibilities within their land bank for the establishment of native woodlands.

Funding for the scheme is included in overall Forestry Programme. Under the mid-term review of the Programme, I increased grants and premium rates to encourage planting. The grant available for Native Woodland Establishment is €5,620 per hectare and land owners can receive an annual premium of €665/ha or if over 10 hectares, €680/ha for 15 years.

The new hectares planted, expenditure (grants and annual premiums) and the number of sites for the years indicated are given in the table below. Please note that expenditure reflects payments in respect of new planting each year, in addition to planting in previous years for which second grants and annual premiums fall due.

Year

New Hectares Planted

Expenditure €

Number of New Sites

2011

29.88

€828,965

5

2012

16.51

€276.542

4

2013

72.92

€845,244

13

2014

125.17

€514,106

23

2015

137.60

€211,118

20

2016

158.76

€194,359

41

2017

265.54

€288,944

65

2018

374.18

€365,328

83

2019 *

293.70

€596,092

79

* to end November

Woodland Improvement Scheme

Ceisteanna (280)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

280. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the expenditure on the NeighbourWood scheme for new projects in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [52195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The NeighbourWood Scheme, which is operated by my Department under the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020 is an innovative package aimed at developing amenity woodlands for local access and enjoyment, to deliver directly to local communities many of the important social benefits associated with our woodlands and forests. The Scheme brings communities and woodlands together, by helping local authorities and other landowners, both public and private, to create ‘close-to-home’ woodland amenities in partnership with communities, for local people to use and enjoy.

Funding is available under three separate elements:

- NeighbourWood (NBR) Establishment funds the establishment of new neighbourwood

- on open ‘greenfield’ sites.

- NBR Enhancement funds the silvicultural enhancement of existing woodland already

- used as neighbourwood, or proposed for development as neighbourwood.

- NBR Facilities funds the installation and upgrade of appropriate recreational facilities within an area submitted under NBR Establishment or NBR Enhancement, or within an existing woodland suitable for recreation but not submitted under NBR Enhancement.

The expenditure on the NeighbourWood Scheme from 2016 to 2018 is shown below. There has been no expenditure to date in 2019, although my Department has received five applications for the Scheme this year, three of which have been approved and the remaining two are currently being processed.

Year

Amount Paid (€)

2016

166,775

2017

129,948

2018

115,903

Woodland Improvement Scheme

Ceisteanna (281)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

281. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 1137 of 8 May 2019, the allocation to forestry support schemes, forest road works, the reconstitution scheme, the neighbourwood and native woodland conservation and woodland improvement scheme in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and the amount expended in each year. [52200/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The current Forestry Programme provides a range of support schemes, that are voluntary and demand-led. Financial support for the 2014-2020 Forestry Programme is 100% Exchequer-funded under EU State Aid rules.

These schemes include, inter alia, the Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS), the NeighbourWood Scheme (NBR) along with supports for forest roads, Reconstitution of Woodlands (Recon) and Native Woodland Conservation (NWC), along with other expenditure items.

The overall allocation for forestry support schemes and the expenditure under each of the schemes in the years requested is given in the table below.

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Overall Allocation

€9,200,000

€8,000,000

€5,450,000

€4,375,000

€4,700,000

WIS

€917,444

€913,806

€1,274,525

€1,022,763

€741,688

Recon

€973,368

€827,265

€567,067

€950,018

€1,527,313

Roads

€3,693,987

€4,203,983

€3,077,494

€2,708,941

€2,793,611

NBR

€179,692

€351,300

€434,503

€146,475

€5,593

NWC

€818,760

€828,965

€1,221,094

€845,244

€514,106

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 *

Overall Allocation

€6,000,000

€9,380,000

€10,550,000

€11,516,000

€9,400,000

WIS

€497,093

€614,993

€632,271

€458,371

€632,391

Recon

€909,484

€693,899

€940,994

€2,367,752

€1,476,721

Roads

€2,381,407

€2,560,729

€3,888,887

€3,037,883

€3,620,104

NBR

€0

€166,776

€129,949

€115,903

€0

NWC

€211,118

€194,359

€288,944

€365,328

€596,092

* to end November 2019

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (282)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

282. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the capital allocation of his Department in each of the years 2020 to 2025; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each year. [52203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The capital allocations for my Department for the years 2020 to 2022 are set out in the table below:

Year

€m

2020

274

2021

265

2022

275

These allocations will provide for investment in line with the priorities described in Project Ireland 2040 including allocations for

- On farm Investment

- Afforestation and forestry development

- Support for investment by the food industry, the seafood sector and horticulture sector

- Research and other facilities and equipment for Teagasc, BIM, the Marine Institute and SFPA including research vessel for the Marine Institute

- Facilities and amenities for Horse racing and greyhound racing

- Investment in Fisheries Harbour Centres

- Improvements in my Department’s laboratories, and other facilities and its information management and communications infrastructure and equipment

The distribution of the 2020 allocation will be set out in the Revised Estimates Volume which will be published next week. Allocations for 2023, 2024 and 2025 have not yet been determined.

Basic Payment Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (283)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

283. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a payment under the basic payment scheme for a person (details supplied); the reason farmers are still waiting on farm payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52322/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraints Schemes application on the 11th May 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases remote sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing Eligibility inspection. This inspection is currently being processed with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

GLAS Payments

Ceisteanna (284)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

284. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a payment under the GLAS scheme (details supplied); the reason farmers are still waiting on farm payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52351/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received payments in respect of scheme years 2015-2018.

The Department is aware of an issue that has affected processing of the 2019 Advance payment. Officials are currently working on a solution and it is expected this issue will be resolved shortly. Once this issue is resolved, the 2019 payment will issue.

GLAS payments are continuing to issue on a weekly basis.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (285)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

285. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a payment under the basic payment scheme, ANC and GLAS for a person (details supplied); the reason farmers are still waiting on farm payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52353/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named is a member of a Farm Partnership. In relation to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme, an application for participation in these schemes was received from the Farm Partnership on the 10th of May 2019.

Advance and balancing payments have issued to the Partnership under the 2019 BPS. Advance payment has also issued to the Partnership under the 2019 ANC Scheme. The balancing payment under this scheme is currently being processed and will issue to the Partnership shortly.

According to records held by my Department, there is no GLAS application associated with the named individual on file.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (286)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

286. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of credit cards issued to Ministers and officials working in his Department; the amount spent on credit cards in each year since 2016; the bank interest paid on credit cards in each year since 2016; the controls in place to monitor the issuing of and the expenditure on the cards; the controls in place in each agency to monitor expenditure on personally held credit card bills that are subsequently used to recoup work-related expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52394/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There are currently 13 credit cards held by officials within my Department for business purposes.

The total spend by year is as follows:

Year

Spend

Interest Paid

2016

€40,087.28

0

2017

€46,625.80

0

2018

€52,010.76

0

To date in 2019

€42,843.75

0

My Department, where necessary, will authorise the exclusive use of an official credit card by a member of staff for payment of expenses relating to foreign travel and for the payment of goods or services provided to the Department in specific circumstances.

These credit cards are provided strictly for official business use only and all applications must be made through the applicant’s Head of Division and must be approved by an officer of at least Assistant Secretary level or equivalent.

Statements for all official credit cards are billed centrally to my Department's Accounts Division which in turn issue each Cardholder with a copy of their monthly statement. The Cardholders must then check the statement to ensure that all charges incurred are correct and are of an official nature. Cardholders are required to reconcile the balance on their statements on a monthly basis.

In the case of foreign travel, cardholders record all details of the trip as soon as possible on the on-line Travel System and submit receipts, where applicable, to facilitate the timely reconciliation of the expenditure on the credit card. In the event of undue delay in reconciling items charged on the official credit card, the matter is brought to the attention of the relevant Management Board member.

Recoupment claims of work-related expenses on personal credit cards are made and approved through the online PSSC portal. These claims are subject to agreed civil service guidelines.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (287)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

287. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of farm payments under the basic payment scheme, ANC, BDGP, BEAM and knowledge transfer for a person (details supplied); the reason farmers are still waiting on farm payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52413/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraints Schemes application on the 9th March 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases remote sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing Eligibility inspection. The outcome of this inspection is currently being processed with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible. In the event that queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

The person named is also a participant in the Beef Data and Genomics programme (BDGP). Payments under this scheme, including the person named, are currently being processed and will issue in the coming days.

An application under BEAM was received from the person named on the 20th August 2019 and a scheme acceptance letter issued on the 11th October 2019. Payments under this measure are currently being processed and will issue in the coming days.

With respect to the Knowledge Transfer (KT) programme, the participant's group was selected for random quality inspection on the Farm Improvement Plan Element (including Animal Health Measure) in line with EU requirements. This inspection has now been concluded and has been cleared for payment in the next round of KT Beef Participant payments which is expected to issue shortly.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (288)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

288. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the outcome of the inaugural meeting of the beef task force; when the task force will meet again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The inaugural meeting of the Beef Taskforce took place on 3rd December. The Taskforce, which I established on foot of the Beef Sector Agreement, will provide for a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into as part of the Agreement.

Agreed minutes of the meeting and relevant update documents will be made available on my Department's website in due course.

The next meeting of the Taskforce has yet to be scheduled, but I expect that it will take place next month.