Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (550)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

550. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection when backdated pandemic unemployment payments will issue to all recipients who incorrectly had their pandemic unemployment payments reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26561/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced as an emergency measure to provide an income support to those who had lost their employment as a result of Covid.  In order to ensure that the scheme was simple and accessible for the unprecedented number of applicants, a flat payment rate was introduced.

From 26 June 2020, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment moved to 2 rates of payment.  This change more closely linked the rate of payment to the amount that individuals previously earned.

For employees, the greater of their gross weekly earnings in either 2019 or January to February 2020 was used to determine the rate of pandemic unemployment payment.  

For self-employed people a different approach was required, based on their average weekly income for 2018 as this was the last tax year for which verifiable data on self-employed income was available.  

As the Deputy will be aware, I subsequently asked my officials to ensure that where self-employed income for 2019 was available, this was also taken into account.

Any person who felt that the assessment of their earnings, based on returns already submitted to Revenue, was inaccurate could ask for a review of their case.  As of 18 September, 1,064 individuals have had their rate of payment increased of foot of requests for reviews.  

In addition, a detailed examination of all cases was undertaken by the Department to take account of updated income details where these had become available.  This identified a further 3,885 currently awarded claims where the rate of payment should have remained at €350 from 26 June 2020.  Arrears issued to those customers on 22 September . In addition, approximately 5,800 closed claims where the rate of payment should have remained at €350 from 26 June 2020 were identified and arrears are due to issue to those customers on 29 September.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit

Question No. 552 answered with Question No. 527.

Question No. 553 answered with Question No. 523.

Ceisteanna (551)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

551. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the payments a person (details supplied) qualifies for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26563/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The back to education allowance (BTEA) provides income support for jobseekers and others in receipt of certain social welfare payments who pursue courses of education at second or third level. The main focus of the BTEA is to assist qualifying applicants to improve their educational qualifications and improve their prospects of gaining employment.

The BTEA is not intended to provide a basis for a long-duration participation in extended education.  

In limited cases post-graduate courses can be supported via the BTEA.  For example, the BTEA can be approved where the applicant intends to undertake studies leading to a Higher Diploma (H.Dip) in any discipline, the Professional Masters in Education or a Masters degree based solely on life experience where the applicant holds no other third level qualification.  The Professional Masters in Education is included as it is required for persons wishing to pursue employment as a post-primary school teacher.

The BTEA was never intended to be an alternative form of funding for people pursuing third level education.  The student universal support Ireland (SUSI) grant payable by the Department of Education and Skills represents the primary support for persons pursuing education. 

I trust this clarifies the position for the Deputy.                          

Question No. 552 answered with Question No. 527.
Question No. 553 answered with Question No. 523.

Community Employment Schemes

Ceisteanna (554, 577)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

554. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to extend the duration of community employment schemes due to Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26622/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Canney

Ceist:

577. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Social Protection if the time will be extended for community employment scheme workers to remain on their placement due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. [27079/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 554 and 577 together.

The Community Employment (CE) Scheme 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.

In general, the period of participation on CE is for one year.  However, CE participants who are working towards a major award or industry qualification can seek to extend participation by up to a further two years.  A significant number of CE participants each year avail of an extension in order to continue training and obtain qualifications or major awards.

During the recent Covid-19 emergency, my Department continued to provide the necessary funding for CE schemes while also introducing a number of contingency measures.  These measures included the extension of all existing CE participant contracts for the duration of the emergency enabling many CE schemes and their CE participants to continue to deliver their range of services to the community.

In keeping with the “Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol”, the recruitment of new CE participants by CE sponsoring bodies recommenced in early July.  Those CE participants who had their contracts extended during the emergency period have been finishing up on their CE schemes on a phased basis over recent months.

The priority for my Department is to ensure that all employment and activation programmes have the best outcomes for participants.  Places on these work programmes will continue to be made available to support those who are long term unemployed and furthest removed from the labour market, while maintaining the role of CE as an active labour market programme. 

While I understand that sponsoring bodies may wish to extend a CE participant's time on a CE scheme or CE participants themselves may wish to extend their time on a CE scheme, the Deputy will appreciate that such extensions would have a detrimental effect on other long-term unemployed candidates wishing to avail of the opportunities afforded by CE.   

One-Parent Family Payment

Ceisteanna (555)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

555. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 as amended by section 13 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 to include foster parents in the definition of qualified parent for the purposes of determining eligibility for the one-parent family payment. [26650/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The provision of fostering services is a matter for Tusla (the Child and Family Agency). This includes any supports, including financial supports, that are required by either the foster parents or the foster children that specifically relate to fostering.

Under the current social welfare legislation, in order to qualify for payment of One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) an applicant must be a qualified parent of at least one relevant child who is ordinarily resident in the State, is not detained in a children detention school, and has not attained the relevant age. The relevant age is currently 7 years of age.   Additional scheme conditions also apply.

A qualified parent is:

(a) a widow,

(b) a widower,

(c) a separated spouse,

(d) an unmarried person,

(e) a person whose spouse or civil partner has been committed in custody to a prison or place of detention for not less than 6 months, or

(f) a surviving civil partner,

(g) a civil partner who is not living with the other civil partner of the civil partnership, or

(h) a person who is not a party to a civil partnership  

who is the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian of at least one relevant child, who normally resides with that person.   Additional qualifying conditions also apply. 

To be a qualified parent the applicant must therefore be legally defined as either the parent or guardian of the relevant child.  A foster parent is not the legal parent or guardian of the foster child and as such is not a qualified parent and cannot qualify for OFP with the foster child as the relevant child.      

Lone foster parents are treated in the same manner as all lone parents in terms of the social welfare income support payments that are available to them from this Department – assuring, in the process, equal treatment for all lone parents. All lone parents must satisfy the conditionality requirements of the OFP scheme.

While there are no specific provisions for foster children in the legislation relating the OFP scheme, provision is effectively made for foster children on the basis of the legislation covering the payment of increases for qualified children (IQCs). This legislation provides that, where the relevant conditions are met, all qualified children – including foster children – will be paid as a child dependent on these schemes. On that basis, foster children are treated in the same manner as the recipient’s own children, once the recipient has an underlying entitlement to the scheme.  For example, if a foster parent has children of his/her own one of whom is under 7 years of age, and meets the other conditions of the OFP scheme, s/he can qualify for OFP and will be paid an IQC for his/her own children and the foster child.

In addition foster care allowances from Tusla are not taken into account in the means test for social welfare payments.  Where a child has been placed in foster care by Tusla and the child has been in the continuous care of the foster parent(s) for 6 months, Child Benefit may then transfer to the foster parent(s).

I do not have plans to include a foster parent in the definition of a qualified parent for the purposes of determining eligibility for one-parent family payment (OFP).

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (556)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

556. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will reinstate the full €350 pandemic unemployment payment for workers in the arts and live entertainments industries based on such workers being certified by a reference from a relevant employer or an Irish cultural organisation for the duration of the shutdown of live entertainments and artistic events due to Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26709/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Last week, my Department issued payments valued at €61.3 million to over 206,341 people on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). Of these, some 5,822 (or 2.8%) are members of the arts, entertainment and recreation sector.  This represents a 59% reduction from 14,200 claimants in that sector at the peak in May.  In total Government has spent over €3.5 bn on PUP payments.

From 17 September the PUP is being paid at three rates linked to a person's pre-covid employment earnings.  Individuals whose prior earnings were €300 or over per week will receive a payment of €300 per week.  A rate of €250 will apply to those who previously earned between €200 and €300 per week; and the rate of €203 remains unchanged for those who had prior earnings of less than €200 per week.  

The changes to the payment rate means that Government is in a position to extend the scheme until April next and make it more sustainable by linking it to previous earnings. The new rates remain higher than the general weekly personal social welfare payments for people of working age, payable at €203.

In the interest of equality and fairness it is important that the pandemic unemployment payment rate changes apply to all scheme recipients as it would not be appropriate to make exceptions for those who had previously worked in the arts and entertainment sector, while applying the changes to over 97% of recipients who have worked in other sectors.

I trust that this clarifies the position for the Deputy. 

Disability Allowance

Ceisteanna (557)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

557. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of a disability allowance claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [26753/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 22 September 2020. The Appeals Officer dealing with this case will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required and if Covid-19 restrictions allow, hold an oral hearing. 

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit

Ceisteanna (558)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

558. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection if an additional allowance will be given to students from low income families and an extension of child benefit beyond 18 years of age to encourage continuation in education after their junior certificate. [26761/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Child benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years.  The payment continues until their 18th birthday in respect of children who are in full-time education, or who have a disability.  Child benefit is currently paid, as of end-August 2020, to over 638,200 families in respect of over 1.2 million children with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 billion in 2019.

There are no current plans to create an additional payment in respect of students in low income families. Families on low incomes may be able to avail of a number of existing social welfare schemes that support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

- Increase for a Qualified Child (IQCs) with primary social welfare payments; 

- the Working Family Payment for low-paid employees with children; 

- the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance 

These schemes provide targeted assistance that is directly linked to household income and thereby support low-income families with older children participating in full-time education.

Extending Child Benefit to full time students in second level education who are over 18 years of age would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context. 

Carer's Allowance

Ceisteanna (559)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

559. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (detail supplied) in County Cork is entitled to arrears of payment in respect of a carer’s allowance claim. [26770/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

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.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 6 March 2020.

Carer's allowance was awarded to the person concerned on 17 April 2020 with effect from 12 March 2020.  The first payment issued to her nominated bank account on 7 May 2020.

The person concerned was notified on 17 April 2020 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal, and was notified arrears for the period from 12 March 2020 to 6 May 2020 would issue at a later date.

The person concerned was in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance (JA), which included an Increase for a  Qualified Adult (IQA) of €147.00 in respect of her spouse. As a result, on 17 April 2020, the Deciding Officer (DO) contacted the Local Office of the person concerned in order to confirm the amount of JA paid to the person concerned during the period 12 March 2020 to 6 May 2020.

On 11 May 2020, the Carer's Allowance section was notified that the person concerned had received a total of €2,433.78 while on JA during the period 12 March 2020 to 6 May 2020.

Arrears of allowance due from 12 March 2020 to 6 May 2020 less any other payment made on her behalf for this period issued to the person concerned on 28 May 2020.  The person concerned was issued with arrears of €145.72.

Correspondence issued to the person concerned on 8 September 2020 in relation to her arrears. 

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Ceisteanna (560)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

560. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to allegations by workers at company (details supplied) of the improper application of the temporary wage subsidy scheme, which has resulted in the company not completing UP80 forms for workers to access social welfare supports due to the fact that completion of the forms, workers allege, would reveal inconsistencies in the application of the scheme. [26773/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Officials from my Department have engaged with the company and an agreed process is in place to provide any outstanding information by the company to their employees to support their social welfare applications. It has been agreed that the UP80 letter generated by the company which contains all the information on the Department’s official UP80 form is acceptable in support of a jobseeker's claim. On receipt of this information, applications for jobseekers claims are being prioritised within the Department so that claims are put into payment as quickly as possible. This process is in place and claims are being processed.

Decisions around individual entitlements to social welfare claims for periods where the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme was being availed of by the employer will depend on meeting the eligibility conditions, including satisfying the Department with regard to days of unemployment, including that no remuneration was payable for any such day of unemployment. This requires that the specific work pattern and remuneration arrangement in place for each individual needs to be examined for this period. Applications in respect of this period are being assessed on an individual basis and the Department will notify each individual of the outcome of its decision. 

Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that any person who is experiencing financial hardship may access assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme including Exceptional and Urgent Needs Payments.  Information on the supports available under this scheme is available at www.gov.ie

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (561)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

561. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Social Protection if socioeconomic research is being conducted into the short-term and longitudinal effects of the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment scheme; if so, if such research will be used in considering the benefits of other social protection payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26777/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Recent research by the ESRI as part of their Budget Perspectives 2021 series examined the potential cost and distributional effect of Covid-19 unemployment. It found that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme significantly softened the financial impact of Covid-19 on families and household income. Families in the lower 40% of the income distribution were better insulated from income losses due to a combination of the pre-existing tax-benefit system, the pandemic policy measures and the fact that such families were less likely to contain someone in employment.  Additional Budget Perspective 2021 papers focused on the implications of Covid-19 for minimum wage employment; and the effect of the pandemic on consumption and indirect tax.

With regard to the benefits of social protection payments, we know that social transfers in Ireland are highly effective in alleviating poverty. This is most evident when considering the At Risk of Poverty rate (the percentage of the population with incomes below 60% of the median income), produced by the CSO from the annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions.  The most recently available data is for 2018 and shows that social transfers reduced the national at risk of poverty rate by over half from 30.2% (before social transfers) to 14%.

My Department undertakes social impact assessments of the main welfare and direct tax budgetary policies, before and after the Budget each year.  The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is an evidence-based methodology which estimates the likely distributive effects of policies on household incomes, families and poverty.  The analysis is generated through the ESRI’s tax/benefit micro-simulation model, SWITCH, which has recently been upgraded and will allow some analysis of the impact of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Wage Subsidy.

With regard to specific socio-economic research, my Department has funded a poverty and social inclusion research programme since 1987.  Research topics are selected to reflect current national and EU policy priorities and this research informs policy implementation and the development of new policies within the Department.  The contract for a new poverty and social inclusion research programme has been awarded to the ESRI.  It is expected the resulting research will include analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable in Irish society, as well as inform the implementation of the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020 – 2025.  In addition, my Department monitors independent research on areas of interest and commissions research where required.

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance

Ceisteanna (562)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

562. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if backdating social insurance coverage to 1973 will be considered for members of religious orders who were excluded prior to the introduction of social welfare regulations in 1988. [26784/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Between 1974 and 1988 a number of legislative changes were introduced to extend social insurance coverage to members of religious orders.

In 1974, a provision to allow religious congregations to apply to the Minister for Social Welfare for access to social insurance for their members was introduced.  While all religious authorities had the opportunity to apply, only the Church of Ireland congregation made the necessary written representations to the Minister for access to social insurance for its members and in 1975, Church of Ireland ministers of religion became insurable as employees for social insurance purposes, in respect of their pastoral employment.

In 1985, there was a further change to the insurability of certain members of religious orders.  A provision was introduced to allow ministers of religion engaged in secular (non-pastoral) employments to access social insurance provided the appropriate authority, acting on behalf of its members, made representations to the Minister for such access. 

Fundamental changes were made to the social insurance system in 1988.  Ministers of religion who were in employment became insurable in the same way as other employed persons while those who were not in an employment but had income were brought  into social insurance cover as self-employed contributors.

As the arrangements introduced from 1974 offered an opportunity for bodies acting on behalf of ministers of religion who were in employment to access social insurance cover and as in 1988 self-employed ministers of religion were brought into compulsory social insurance cover with all other self-employed persons and those who were employed became compulsorily insured as employees, it is not possible to disturb the arrangements for such persons at this stage. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions

Ceisteanna (563)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

563. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Social Protection if a pension will be reviewed for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26837/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The person concerned reached pension age on 24 September 2018.  According to the records of my Department, they have a total of 929 qualifying full-rate paid contributions and 674 credited contributions from their date of entry into insurable employment on 6 August 1969 to end-December 2017.  This equates to a yearly average of 33 contributions and gives them an entitlement to a standard State pension (contributory) at 90% of the maximum rate.  They were notified in writing of this decision on 27 September 2018.

An interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) was introduced in January 2018 as an alternative to the ‘yearly average’ method of calculating pension entitlement for those State pension (contributory) customers born on or after 1 September 1946 and therefore affected by post-2012 Budget pension rates.  The TCA provides for up to 20 years of HomeCaring Periods in their pension entitlement calculation for applicants who took time out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties.

When the person’s State pension (contributory) was reviewed under this approach, they were awarded 433 HomeCaring Periods.  This increased their rate of pension entitlement from 90% to 90.48% of the maximum rate.  They were notified in writing of this decision on 1 April 2019.

Since the person concerned was employed in the public sector and paid a modified contribution from 1971/2 to 1980/81, their entitlement to a mixed insurance pro rata State pension (contributory) was also determined, based on their combined modified and full- rate social insurance records.  However, their rate of pension entitlement would be lower than their current pension rate.

Accordingly, the person concerned is in receipt of the correct rate of State pension (contributory), commensurate with their social insurance record as held by my Department. If they consider that they have additional contributions or credits that have not been recorded, it is open to them to forward documentary evidence to my Department and their pension entitlement can be reviewed.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy. 

Budget Process

Ceisteanna (564)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

564. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will consider a submission (details supplied) regarding the budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26880/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I thank the Deputy for forwarding me the pre-budget submission from the EU SHAFE project in Louth.  Each year, my Department receives a large number of pre-budget submissions from a wide range of stakeholders, which I find very useful in helping to decide priorities in advance of the budget.

This submission proposes to increase the Household Benefits Package by €2.50 per week.

The Household Benefits Package comprises the electricity or gas allowance, and the free television licence.  The package is available to everyone aged over 70 and to people aged under 70 in certain circumstances.

The allowance is credited to the recipient's electricity or gas bills where possible, or alternatively made as a cash payment each month.  The allowance is worth €1.15 per day, which equates to €8.05 per week. All customers in receipt of the gas or electricity allowance automatically qualify for a free television licence.

The estimated cost of increasing the Household Benefits Package by €2.50 per week is €60.9 million in 2021.

The Government is in the process of considering measures to be included in Budget 2021.  Any decision to increase the electricity and gas aspect of the Household Benefits Package as proposed in this submission would have to be considered in the context of overall budget discussions.

Rural Social Scheme

Ceisteanna (565)

Pa Daly

Ceist:

565. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection if the removal of time limits for the rural social scheme will be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26882/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is an income support initiative providing part-time employment opportunities for farmers or fishers in receipt of certain social welfare payments, and underemployed in their primary occupation, within their local area in community and voluntary organisations.  Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishers and the RSS participants have the opportunity to improve and develop new or existing skills, while performing this valuable work in their local communities.

The RSS scheme has played an important role in sustaining rural communities, with participants having the opportunity to improve existing, or develop new skills, whilst performing valuable work in their local communities.  In tandem, communities as a whole benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishers, and individual community groups have benefited from the many projects undertaken through the scheme.

During 2017 and 2018 the number of places funded on RSS was increased by 750, bringing the total number of places available to 3,350.  A six-year time limit was also introduced at that time for new RSS with effect from 01/02/2017.  Prior to the introduction of the six year time limit, an RSS participant could remain on the RSS scheme for a significant part of their working life.  This had the effect of restricting the turnover of places on RSS and thereby reducing the opportunities for potential new entrants.

There are no plans to remove the six year participation limit on RSS at this time.  The participation limit ensures that places will continue to be available to new RSS participants while also encouraging participants to explore other employment and training opportunities available.

RSS participants who commenced on RSS prior to 01/02/2017 can remain on the scheme provided they continue to satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (566)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

566. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection if an applicant for the pandemic unemployment payment who has been made unemployed as a result of a lay-off due to the Covid-19 crisis and recent restrictions can be assessed on his or her income for 2020 or the period post January and February 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26893/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced as an emergency measure to provide an income support to those who had lost their employment as a result of Covid. In order to ensure that the scheme was simple and accessible for the unprecedented number of applicants, a flat payment rate was introduced. This rate was the equivalent of the rate for a two-person household.

From 26 June 2020, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment moved to 2 rates of payment, and a 3 rate structure is in place since 17 September. These changes more closely link the rate of payment to the amount that individuals previously earned and make the scheme more targeted and fair. In determining the rate payable, the objective was to ensure that recent earnings were taken into account.

For employees, the greater of their gross weekly earnings in either 2019 or January to February 2020 was used to determine the rate of Pandemic Unemployment Payment.  The period January to February 2020 was chosen as this represented the period immediately before the majority of individuals lost their employment due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and was representative of average earnings. It is not intended to extend the period where 2020 earnings are assessed beyond that period, as this would require significant IT development work, potentially compromising the delivery of other essential work.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance

Question No. 568 answered with Question No. 530.

Ceisteanna (567)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

567. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer’s allowance application by a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26899/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

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 carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 6 July 2020.

The application was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 16 September 2020 to assess the level of care being provided, assess means and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance are satisfied.

Once the SWI has reported, a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Question No. 568 answered with Question No. 530.