School Transport

Ceisteanna (113)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

113. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education the status of a bus ticket for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23090/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. 

In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.  

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Department's Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. 

All children who are eligible for school transport and who have completed the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation. 

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who completed the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. 

Bus Éireann, who operate school transport on behalf of my Department, have advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme as he does not meet the requisite distance criteria.

Concessionary transport may vary from year to year and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s primary school education cycle.  Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann determines the allocation of the tickets and refunds payments made on behalf of those concessionary applicants for whom no seats remain.

Bus Éireann has advised that the pupil referred to by the Deputy was not successful in obtaining a concessionary seat, and all tickets have been allocated on the service in question and that the service is operating to capacity at present. However Bus Éireann has advised that there is a seat available on an alternative route which is approximately 1.2 km from the pupil’s home. The parent is advised to contact Bus Éireann's local office if they wish to enquire about availing of transport on this alternative route.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (114)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

114. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education the status of a bus ticket for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23093/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. 

In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Department's Post-Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school/education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who completed the application process on time are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats.

Bus Éireann, who operate school transport on behalf of my Department, has advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme.

Concessionary transport may vary from year to year and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s post primary school education cycle.  Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann determines the allocation of the tickets and refunds payments made on behalf of those concessionary applicants for whom no seats remain.

Bus Éireann has advised that the pupil referred to by the Deputy was not successful in obtaining a concessionary seat and all tickets have been allocated on the service in question and that the service is operating to capacity at present.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (115)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

115. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education the number of students who applied to Bus Éireann for a bus ticket to go to secondary school; the number granted and outstanding, respectively, in County Kerry as of 4 September 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23110/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. 

In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

The closing date for payment for the 2020/2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020. All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.

The School Transport Scheme Family Portal was temporarily closed for applications and payments on the 20th August 2020.  This temporary closure was necessary to complete the work required to issue tickets to families who at that time remained due to be allocated a ticket for school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year. 

The School Transport Scheme Family Portal has now re-opened.  However, parents/guardians making an application/payment at this time for the 2020/2021 school year are reminded that the closing date for payments for the 2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020.  While it is possible to submit a payment, payments made at this time are now late. Late applicants and/or families who pay late are not guaranteed a seat and will only be allocated a seat if capacity is available once seats are allocated to those families who applied and paid on time for transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

In addition, payments for Post-Primary seats completed or made after 4th August 2020 can only be considered when 50% capacity, required by new Covid19 public health guidelines, is achieved on each route.

In the event of not securing a ticket where no capacity exists, or on cancellation, a full refund will be issued.

Bus Éireann has advised as follows regarding the number of students that applied to Bus Éireann for a bus ticket to go to post primary school; the number granted and the numbers outstanding in County Kerry;

3616 applications were made, and 2891 tickets have issued. Payment was not received for 659 pupils.  46 pupils are currently under assessment. Of those under assessment 22 pupils have part paid; 7 pupils applied late and 17 pupils paid late. 14 pupils were either eligible or concessionary where there were no services available, and 6 concessionary applicants were not successful in obtaining seats.

Oideachas Gaeilge

Ceisteanna (116)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

116. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Oideachais cén fáth nach mbeidh tástálacha caighdeánaithe bunscoile le haghaidh léamh na Gaeilge curtha ar fáil ar líne mar a dhéantar le haghaidh léamh an Bhéarla; conas a tugadh conradh cúig bliana chun na tástálacha seo a reáchtáil gan léamh na Gaeilge san áireamh; agus cén plean atá aici chun léamh na Gaeilge a thástáil i measc daltaí bunscoile. [23118/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Thug an Foras Taighde ar Oideachas (ERC) isteach tástálacha caighdeánaithe ar líne i léitheoireacht an Bhéarla agus sa Mhatamaitic (i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge araon) do bhunscoileanna in 2019 ar an ardán ar líne a bhí ar conradh ag an am sin. Tar éis don ERC nós imeachta soláthair phoiblí a reáchtáil bronnadh conradh ar Prodigy Learning chun na seirbhísí ar líne seo a sholáthar ar ardán nua.

Foráiltear i gconradh an ERC le Prodigy Learning go gcuirfear gach tástáil de chuid an ERC ar ardán nua ar líne. Sa chéad chéim den chonradh nua aistreofar na tástálacha is déanaí a forbraíodh ag an leibhéal bunscoile agus iar-bhunscoile do léitheoireacht an Bhéarla agus don Mhatamaitic (i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge araon) faoi earrach 2021, toisc go raibh na tástálacha seo deartha go sonrach chun iad a riar ar líne. Táthar ag súil go mbeidh Triail Dhroim Conrach don Léitheoireacht Ghaeilge (Gaelcholáistí) do scoláirí i mbliain a dó san iar-bhunscoil ar fáil ar líne san earrach 2021 chomh maith.

Tá tástálacha léitheoireachta éagsúla Gaeilge ar fáil ag an mbunleibhéal do scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge agus scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán an Bhéarla araon (gach ceann normaithe as féin).  Tá siad ar fáil ó 2009 agus 2010, faoi seach, i bhformáid pháipéir agus níor dearadh iad le riar ar líne.  Ina theannta sin, i bhfianaise an achair ama ó forbraíodh na tástálacha seo, aithníonn an Roinn agus an ERC an gá atá leis na tástálacha seo a ath-normú agus tá siad i mbun pléite maidir leis seo. Beifear ábalta leaganacha ar líne de na tástálacha a sholáthar nuair a bheidh an ath-normú agus an athfhorbairt seo déanta.

School Supervision and Substitution Scheme

Ceisteanna (117)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

117. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding substitute teaching; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23165/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Specific arrangements were implemented with regard to the payment of substitute teachers at the commencement of the lockdown period for primary and second level schools.

These arrangements provided that substitute teachers who were contracted by the managerial authorities of the schools in which they were employed were paid for the duration of the contracts.

Qualified substitute teachers paid on payrolls operated by my Department in accordance with these arrangements are awarded incremental credit for the periods of the service.

Emergency Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (118)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

118. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 680 of 14 July 2020 and subsequent correspondence to her Department, when a school (details supplied) in County Sligo will receive funding for emergency works at the school. [23172/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school in question has been approved funding under the Emergency Works Scheme and it is now up to the school authority to progress the works.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (119)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

119. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education if arrangements will be made to allow the children of parents who are at high risk of Covid-19 to receive remote schooling rather than having to attend in person, putting their parents at risk (details supplied). [23175/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has published a suite of helpful guidance for the safe and sustainable reopening of schools. Each school is required to have a COVID-19 Response Plan for the safe operation through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in line with public health advice. This guidance is focused on the practical steps schools must take to minimise the risk of transmission of infection.  

The HSE has published guidance in respect of households with medically vulnerable members and has advised that other than very high risk pupils/students who have an underlying medical condition, all other pupils/students are expected to return to school.   

My Department is aware that some parents and children will be experiencing concerns about returning to school. My Department has developed and prepared a comprehensive response to supporting the wellbeing of school communities at this time. NEPS will work with schools to support them to meet the needs of their students on their return to school.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (120)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

120. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education the way in which the leaving certificate calculated grades standardisation algorithm works (details supplied). [23184/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The design of the Calculated Grades model was informed by advice from a Technical Working Group comprising experts drawn from the State Examinations Commission, the Inspectorate of my Department, the Educational Research Centre, and international external expertise.

The standardisation model for Leaving Certificate 2020 is a statistical procedure and has been subject to a high degree of human oversight by the National Standardisation Group.  A number of safeguards were built in to ensure fair results for students.

Research makes clear that because teacher judgments are made in the context of each school, they need to be examined and adjusted at a national level to ensure comparability across different schools and that a common national standard is applied.

Schools will have taken different approaches to providing estimated percentage marks for their students. While clear guidance was provided to schools during the process of estimating marks for their students, it is inevitable that some schools will have been overly harsh in their estimations while others will have been overly generous. This is to be expected given that there is no national standard on which to base an estimated percentage mark.

The standardisation process seeks to bring schools into line with each other across a national standard. This results in some estimated marks being reduced while others will have increased. 

The Leaving Certificate results from any one year are considered equivalent to the results from any other year. In the Leaving Certificate examinations, standardisation is implemented though the script marking process. This year, the national standardisation process combines the school estimates and other data to ensure the Calculated Grades reflect standards that are properly aligned across schools. 

On 1 September, I announced details in relation to the Calculated Grades model following approval of proposals made to Government. The change proposed removed the use of school-by-school historical data in the standardisation model.

The change made placed a greater emphasis on the estimated marks provided by schools to individual students. The process, through the examination and adjustment of estimated percentage marks from schools, still fulfilled its key role of ensuring that the calculated grades iron out the unfairness that could arise when different schools applied various standards when judging the performance of students.

Technical details of the Calculated Grades model and standardisation process were published on the date of issue of the results and are available here.  To issue the technical detail of the modelling process in advance of the release of grades would risk detracting from the core principle of providing the most fair and equitable set of results for each candidate.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (121)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

121. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education if she will urgently sanction extra capacity on a post-primary school transport route (details supplied) to reinstate school transport for five students who lost their seats on the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23192/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. 

In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who completed the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats.

Bus Éireann, who operate school transport on behalf of my Department, has advised that the children referred to by the Deputy are not eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme.

Concessionary transport may vary from year to year and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s post primary school education cycle.  Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann determines the allocation of the tickets and refunds payments made on behalf of those concessionary applicants for whom no seats remain.

Bus Éireann have advised that the children referred to by the Deputy were unsuccessful in obtaining a concessionary seat, that all tickets have been allocated on the service in question and that the service is operating to capacity at present.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (122)

Paul McAuliffe

Ceist:

122. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Education the number of schools in Dublin receiving an ancillary services grant in tabular form. [23195/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department provides ancillary grant assistance to over 480 primary schools in the Free Education Scheme in Dublin towards the cost of secretarial and caretaking services. 

Within the grant programme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply their own arrangements for secretarial and caretaking services as resources permit.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (123)

Paul McAuliffe

Ceist:

123. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Education the criteria required and the way in which a school applies for a full-time caretaker. [23196/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Boards of Management of schools are responsible for the employment of school caretakers and it is a matter for each school to determine the level of caretaking services required for the school.  Funding to cater for these services is made available by my Department through the Ancillary Services and Capitation Grants.

Within the grant programme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply their own arrangements for caretaking services as resources permit.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (124)

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

124. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Education if it is a requirement for children to wear face masks while taking part in PE classes. [23207/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Physical activity (PE) is important and students should be encouraged to participate in PE in schools.  As part of the return to school plans the Department has published guidance for practical subjects in Post Primary Schools, including guidance for PE.  This guidance is based on Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) guidance for the return to sports activities for children and adolescents. The guidance provides that, where practical, PE lessons should take place outdoors. If this is not possible, the external PE hall doors should be opened.  Face coverings do not have to be worn outdoors.  Indoors where physical distancing is not possible, face coverings should be worn by post primary students.  Face coverings are not recommended to be worn by primary school children.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (125)

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

125. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Education the number of requests received for additional special needs assistants from schools in counties Longford and Westmeath; and the number of requests that have been approved. [23209/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews.

As part of that responsibility, applications for the exceptional review process for SNA support are made directly to the NCSE.  I will forward the Deputy’s question to the NCSE for their direct reply.

It is expected that schools will review and reprioritise the deployment of SNAs within mainstream settings and allocate resources to ensure those with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support. Providing access to SNA support continues to be based on primary care needs as outlined in DES Circular 0030/2014.

Schools may apply to the NCSE for additionality where they can demonstrate that the current allocation does not meet additional care needs within the mainstream classes in the school. Applications  for additionality arising from significant new or emerging additional care needs, which cannot be catered within existing allocations, will be dealt with by way of an exceptional review process.  

The exceptional review process for mainstream allocations will be available to schools throughout the 2020/21 school year.

Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE: website www.ncse.ie.

A school can appeal the outcome of an exceptional review and details of how to do this are here: https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GuidanceSchoolAppealing-Exceptional-Review-outcome.docx

The NCSE received applications during the lockdown period.  These applications were received before and after the 22 May 2020.  The NCSE have provided the information below regarding applications received for exceptional review.

The number of applications for exceptional review received by the NCSE at 26 August 2020 was 1080 and over 1060 applications has been processed. The number of schools who had received an increased SNA allocation was over 550.  As part of the exceptional review process, SENOs will be making visits to schools which commenced with schools reopening.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (126)

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

126. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Education the number of primary and secondary schools in counties Longford and Westmeath that do not have hot water facilities; and the steps that have been taken to rectify same in preparation for children returning to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. [23212/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The specific information requested by the Deputy regarding the number of primary and post-primary school that have access to hot water in the counties in question is not readily available within my Department.

Health guidance states that, while warm running water is preferable for handwashing, cold water is sufficient.  In schools which do not have warm running water, a soap that emulsifies easily in cold water will be provided.

It is also recognised that the existing handwashing facilities in schools are not designed for the enhanced level of handwashing envisaged in a post COVID-19 environment without significantly impacting on educational class time including the requirement for a high level of supervision by teachers to ensure pupils wash their hands properly.  

The public health guidance also states that hand sanitiser can be used. Hand-sanitisers in key areas in every school in the country, as well as in every classroom, are being provided.  To enable the supply of sanitiser fluid for each school, a drawdown framework for use by schools to purchase sanitiser etc. (as well as other potential PPE requirements) is in place and all schools have been advised accordingly.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (127)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

127. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education when the Bus Éireann school transport portal will be reopened to accept payments for school transport; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23233/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education.  In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019. 

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

The closing date for payment for the 2020/2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020.  All children who are eligible for school transport and who applied and paid by the deadline have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.  

The School Transport Scheme Family Portal was temporarily closed for applications and payments on the 20th August 2020.  This temporary closure was necessary to complete the work required to issue tickets to families who at that time remained due to be allocated a ticket for school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year. 

The School Transport Scheme Family Portal has now re-opened.  However, parents/guardians making an application/payment at this time for the 2020/2021 school year are reminded that the closing date for payments for the 20/21 school year  was Tuesday 4th August 2020.  While it is possible to submit a payment, payments made at this time are now late. Late applicants and/or families who pay late are not guaranteed a seat and will only be allocated a seat if capacity is available once seats are allocated to those families who applied and paid on time for transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

In addition, payments for Post-Primary seats completed or made after 4th August 2020 can only be considered when 50% capacity, required by new Covid19 public health guidelines, is achieved on each route.

In the event of not securing a ticket where no capacity exists, or on cancellation, a full refund will be issued.

Flood Relief Schemes

Ceisteanna (128)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

128. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Social Protection if targeted supports will be provided for homes in the areas affected by flooding in western areas of County Cork recently. [23162/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is the lead Department for severe weather emergencies and the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for capital flood relief activities. However, my Department has an important role to play in assisting households in the immediate aftermath of emergency events such as flooding under the humanitarian assistance scheme.

The purpose of the humanitarian assistance scheme is to provide income-tested financial support to people whose homes are damaged and who are not in a position to meet costs for essential needs, household items and in some instances structural repair.

Emergency income support payments to cover essential items such as food, clothing and personal items are issued quickly in the immediate aftermath of the weather event. Supports towards the replacement of white goods, basic furniture items and other essential household items may take longer as it is not until the flood water abates and houses dry out that the full extent of the damage to homes becomes known. The longer term supports can cover remedial works such as plastering, relaying of floors, electrical re-wiring and painting and it can take several months before this stage of the response is completed.

The scheme is available to provide support to householders following the recent flooding events in West Cork. The Community Welfare Service has been engaging with a small number of households that have sought assistance.

If any homeowner affected by the recent flooding needs to access these supports, they should make contact with the Community Welfare Service at 028-21047 or corkswa2020@welfare.ie.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (129)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

129. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons in receipt of the EWSS are also eligible to apply for the short-time work support (details supplied). [23173/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme from 1 September 2020.

Subject to satisfying the relevant eligibility criteria, employees may claim casual (i.e part-time) jobseeker payments or Short-Time Work Support payments for days of unemployment, even where their employer is claiming the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme for days of employment.

The normal scheme rules and application processes for casual jobseeker payments and short-time work support apply, including completion of the relevant forms by the employer to certify days of employment and unemployment.

Invalidity Pension

Ceisteanna (130)

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

130. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of an invalidity pension appeal by a person (details supplied); and when they can expect a decision on the case. [23034/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and for no other reason and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the person concerned on 25 May 2020. She was refused IP on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on 16 July 2020 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

The person concerned subsequently requested a review and appealed the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) and submitted further medical evidence in support of her claim.

Following a review of all the information available it was decided that there was no change to the original decision. A submission has been prepared by the department and was forwarded to the SWAO on 01 September 2020 for determination. The SWAO will be in touch with her directly in due course in relation to the progress of her appeal.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (131)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

131. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of an application for the contributory State pension; and if arrears are due. [23038/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 22 July 2019, in advance of reaching pension age in September 2019. According to the records of my Department, they have a total of 260 paid full-rate Irish social insurance contributions. They had not provided details of employment in any other country. Since their contributions fell short of the requisite 520 paid full-rate contributions, they did not qualify for standard State pension (contributory) based on their Irish social insurance record. They were notified in writing of this decision on 19 August 2019.

Under European Union regulations, the insurance records of other Member States can be combined to satisfy the 520-contribution condition and give entitlement to a proportional or pro rata pension. The person re-applied for State pension (contributory) on 20 September 2019 and provided details of employment in Poland.

The person advised that they had also applied for State pension (non-contributory) and wished to be paid whichever pension would be more financially beneficial to them. On 5 November 2019, the person concerned notified my Department that they no longer wished to proceed with their application for State pension (non-contributory). The Deciding Officer issued a letter to them on 7 November 2019 confirming that their application had been withdrawn. On 15 January 2020, the person concerned re-applied for State pension non-contributory, which was awarded with effect from 17 January 2020, in accordance with legislation. They were notified of this decision on 9 March 2020 and afforded right of appeal.

The person’s Irish and Polish social insurance contributions were combined to establish their entitlement to an EU pro rata State pension (contributory). They have 1,122 contributions and credits, composed of 260 Irish paid full-rate contributions, 9 Irish credited contributions, and 853 EU contributions.

The person concerned qualified for an EU pro rata State pension (contributory) at the current weekly rate of €50.70. However, since they were in receipt of a higher rate of State pension (non-contributory), their State pension (contributory) claim was withdrawn as both cannot be paid concurrently. They were notified in writing of this decision on 17 August 2020.

There are no arrears of State pension (contributory) due as Supplementary Welfare Allowance was in payment prior to award of State pension (non-contributory).

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Child Maintenance Payments

Ceisteanna (132)

Claire Kerrane

Ceist:

132. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the names of the members who make up the child maintenance review group; if the group has met to date; if it is expected to report by the end of 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23128/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Child Maintenance Review Group established by my Department is set to examine certain issues in relation to child maintenance in Ireland. The judge-led group is composed of eminent legal, policy, and academic professionals, and officials from my Department and the Department of Justice & Equality.

The Group will focus on the current treatment of Child Maintenance payments, the current provisions regarding liable relatives and examine the case for the establishment of a Child Maintenance Agency.

A report on the areas under review is due to be submitted to my Department, 12 months from the formal appointment of the members which took place in late June 2020.

The members of the group are:

Ms. Catherine Murphy, Chair and former Circuit Court Judge

Ms. Mary O’Toole, Senior Counsel

Dr. Roisin O’Shea, ARC Mediation

Ms. Simonetta Ryan, former Assistant Secretary General, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Ms. Regina Terry, Principal, Department of Justice & Equality

Mr. Rónán Hession, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The first meeting of the Group will take place in the forthcoming weeks.