Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (569, 570)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

569. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Social Protection the timeline for payment of arrears due on the pandemic unemployment payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26946/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

570. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Social Protection if a separate timeline for payment of arrears due on the pandemic unemployment payment has been established for those no longer in receipt of the payment; and if so, if the timeline will be outlined. [26947/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 569 and 570 together.

Since the introduction of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme in March, approximately 750,000 people have applied for payment and in some cases, they have done so on a number of occasions as they moved in and out of employment. Consequently, there are over 1 million applications to be examined to determine if arrears are due.

During the month of March, my Department received and processed jobseeker claims equivalent in number to a three year claim-load. These applications were processed as quickly as possible, with almost 59,000 people paid in the first week of the scheme, 283,000 people paid in the following week, and over 507,000 people in the third week of the scheme. 

My Department is keenly aware that many people are due some arrears and that every case will be different. In order to address an issue of this scale, the Department is currently developing an automated process, which will examine each case and look at their overall entitlement to payment and match this against their payment history. The work involved is complex as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment system itself evolved from a manual applications system to one where applications were submitted online and paid over two different payment platforms (one from March to July and the second from July to date).

Given the complexity attached to the project, it will take some time yet to complete the necessary development work to review all cases and to determine to what extent, if any, arrears are due to individuals. I can assure the Deputy that this is a priority for the Department and it is hoped to make payments before end of the year . It is intended that awarded and closed cases will be identified for arrears payments at the same time.

I hope that this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes

Ceisteanna (571)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

571. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding community employment workers cutting grass in housing estates in which the majority of the residents are elderly and the service is of benefit to the community. [26961/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Community Employment (CE) programme is a community centred labour market initiative established for the purposes of social inclusion and activation, to help long-term unemployed people and other vulnerable groups to enter the workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment.

CE projects are sponsored by groups wishing to benefit the local community, namely voluntary and community organisations and, to a lesser extent, public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities.  CE sponsor groups provide valuable and dedicated services in communities all over the country and we simply could not sustain a lot of our local community services without the work undertaken in these projects.

Eligible work placements under CE are those that respond to an identified community need and provide development opportunities for CE participants in areas involving heritage, arts, culture, tourism, sport and the environment. CE projects must not displace or replace existing jobs, have sufficient insurance cover for the types of work undertaken and offer valuable work experience to the CE participants.   

The range of community and voluntary services delivered by the Department’s employment support schemes does not extend to cover privately held dwellings or business premises or related amenities.  However, I recognise the excellent work undertaken by our tidy towns committees throughout the country and CE participants will continue to work with tidy towns committees to complete eligible work plans and provide valuable services to their communities.

Social Insurance

Ceisteanna (572)

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

572. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the Tax Strategy Group Budget 2021 proposal to adjust the class S PRSI rate for self-employed workers; her views on whether it is imperative to address the difference between contributions paid and access to benefits for the cohort; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26796/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Tax Strategy Group, chaired by the Department of Finance and comprising of senior officials from a number of Departments and Offices, is not a decision making body.  Papers produced by Departments and discussed by the Group are simply a list of options and issues to be considered in the budgetary process.   

One of the papers brought to the Group for discussion was prepared by officials of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and relates to PRSI for self-employed workers. 

There has been an extensive expansion of access to the range of social insurance benefits by self-employed social insurance contributors in recent years without any increase in the 4% rate of contribution made by them.  In effect, self-employed contributors, in return for a contribution of 11 percentage points lower than the combined employer and employee contribution of 15.05% made in respect of employed contributors, have access to benefits which comprise over 90% of the value of all benefits available to employed contributors.

The proposal in the Department's paper is an approach to adjust the rate of PRSI being paid by self-employed workers, currently 4%, to the standard employer rate of 11.05% over a period of four years. The underlying rationale for the proposal is to bring greater coherence to the social insurance system from a contribution/benefits perspective as well as to better balance the contribution base across employment types.

A commitment in the Programme for Government is to give consideration to increasing all classes of PRSI over time to replenish the Social Insurance Fund to help pay for measures and changes to be agreed including to the State pension system, improvements in short-term sick pay benefits, parental leave benefits, pay-related jobseeker's benefit and treatment benefits.  It is expected that the proposal in the Department's paper will inform that consideration.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance

Ceisteanna (573)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

573. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a carer’s allowance payment will be reinstated for a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27009/20]

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 can confirm that the person concerned was in receipt of CA in respect of his spouse from 19 November 1998 to 9 September 2020.

A Carers Benefit (CARB) application was received to care for both the person concerned and the CA care recipient of the person concerned.  A medical report was also submitted with this application which was signed by the person concerned confirming that he requires full time care. On foot of this application for CARB, a review of the CA payment was instigated.

A letter issued to the person concerned on 1 September 2020 to advise that his CA payment was under review, the reason for it and the information available to the Deciding Officer (DO).  The person concerned was offered the opportunity to furnish any statement of evidence on the matter within 7 days of the date of this correspondence.  To date no response has been received.

On 15 September 2020 the CA payment was stopped. The person concerned was notified on the same date of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

To date no request for review or appeal has been received from the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit

Ceisteanna (574)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

574. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a carer’s benefit application by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27015/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Carer's Benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce or reduce their working hours  to care for a person in need of full-time care and attention.  An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people. It is payable for a maximum of 104 weeks for each person being cared for. 

The person concerned applied for CARB on the 14th August 2020. 

Full-time care and attention can be considered to apply where there is an on-going and daily commitment by the carer to provide care. The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although the person concerned is providing a certain level of care, the time involved is not considered to be full time.

The person concerned was notified of this decision on 15 September 2020, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

According to the records of this Department no request for a review or appeal has been received from the person concerned to date.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Carer's Allowance

Ceisteanna (575)

Michael McNamara

Ceist:

575. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Social Protection when arrears will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27046/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

Under social welfare legislation, CA for the care of a care recipient who is aged less than 16 years can only be successful where Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is awarded.

DCA was awarded to the person concerned in respect of the care recipient on 17 February 2020.

An application for CA in respect of this care recipient was received from the person concerned on 26 August 2020.

Where a CA application is submitted within 6 months of a DCA application and the deciding officer considers it has been shown that there was good cause for the delay in making the application, the payment is often automatically backdated, otherwise payment is only awarded form the date of application. Should the person concerned provide good cause for the delay in submitting his application for CA, backdating can be considered in this case.

On 14 September 2020 CA was awarded to the person concerned from 27 August 2020, with the first payment issuing to the preferred payment option of the person concerned, as did all arrears of allowance due from 27 August 2020 to 16 September 2020.

The person concerned was notified on 14 September 2020 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Ministerial Advisers

Question No. 577 answered with Question No. 554.

Ceisteanna (576)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

576. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and or recruited by her since her appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee in tabular form. [27060/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The appointment of Special Advisors is as provided under Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

Guidelines for the Appointment of Ministerial Staff of the 33rd Dáil, including the relevant terms and conditions of appointment of Special Advisers, were approved by Government on 4th August 2020 and have been published by the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform on the gov.ie website.

Under these guidelines, my Department may appoint up to two Special Advisors.  I intend to appoint one advisor in the Department of Social Protection and the formal appointment is currently subject to the approval of Government and the signature of contracts. This appointment is due to be considered by Government on Tuesday 29th September. In line with the decision of Government, and in line with the practice of recent Governments, once the formal appointment of all Special Advisors to the 33rd Dáil has fully concluded, details of all Special Advisors appointed to the 33rd Dáil, including their rates of pay, will be published by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. 

Question No. 577 answered with Question No. 554.

JobPath Programme

Ceisteanna (578)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

578. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount to date paid to Seetec and Turas Nua regarding the JobPath programme. [27080/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

JobPath provides employment service support to jobseekers. It is a payment by results model and all set-up and day-to-day operational costs are borne by the companies.  The companies are paid on the basis of performance and, with the exception of the initial registration fee, payments are made only when a client has achieved sustained employment.  The overall cost of JobPath will be determined by the number of people who participate in the programme and the number who get sustainable jobs.

The gross total expenditure on JobPath is as follows:

2015 - €1.2m;

2016 - €25.2m;

2017 - €57.4m;

2018 - €71.7m

2019 - €58.6m

2020 - €27.4m (to date)

Total - €241.5m  

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (579, 580)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

579. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection the operational guidelines in place for applicants that have previously accessed Covid-19 income supports who are now applying for income support having lost work as a direct result of the recent level 3 restrictions put in place in County Dublin. [27108/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

580. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection the operational guidelines in place for applicants who have not previously accessed Covid-19 income supports and are now applying for income supports having lost work as a direct result of the recent level 3 restrictions put in place in County Dublin. [27109/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 579 and 580 together.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to employees and the self-employed who have lost their job on or after 13 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where a person has returned to work and loses their employment due to the Covid-19 pandemic before the end of the year, they can re-apply for PUP.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for the payment is online at mywelfare.ie.

Information on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available on www.gov.ie under the pandemic unemployment payment section with detailed guidance on how the scheme operates provided for employees and the self-employed.   These  operational guidelines continue to be updates as changes occur to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

I hope that this clarifies the position for the Deputy.  

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (581)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

581. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection if the case of a person will be examined (details supplied). [27134/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

According to the records of my Department, the person concerned applied for a Jobseeker’s Benefit payment on 15/09/2020.  In order to process the application, further documentation was sought from the person concerned on 15/09/2020.  To-date this information has not been provided and the claim remains pending. 

The person concerned applied for a Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) on 18/09/2020 and will receive her first payment to her nominated bank account on 29/09/2020.

If the person concerned is experiencing financial difficulties she can contact her local Community Welfare Service in the Bishop’s Square Intreo Centre where her circumstances will be assessed.  Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, the Department can make a single Exceptional Needs Payment to help meet essential, once-off expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.  There is no automatic entitlement to these payments which are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme, taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case, in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.  The Community Welfare Service may be contacted by phone at (01) 4763500.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (582)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

582. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) will receive arrears of the pandemic unemployment payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27150/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Since the introduction of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme in March, approximately  750,000 people have applied for payment and in some cases, they have done so on a number of occasions as they moved in and out of employment.  Consequently, there are over 1 million applications to be examined to determine if arrears are due.  

In order to address an issue of this scale, the Department is currently developing an automated process, which will examine each case and look at their overall entitlement to payment and match this against their payment history.  The work involved is complex as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment system itself evolved from a manual applications system to one where applications were submitted online and paid over two different payment platforms (one from March to July and the second from July to date).

Given the complexity attached to the project, it will take some time yet to complete the necessary development work to review all cases and to determine to what extent, if any, arrears are due to individuals. It is hoped to make the arrears payments before the end of this year. 

Disability Allowance

Ceisteanna (583)

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

583. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application review by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27151/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, has decided to allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision.  The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision.  

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.

Social Welfare Payments Administration

Question No. 585 answered with Question No. 527.

Question No. 586 answered with Question No. 531.

Ceisteanna (584)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

584. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Social Protection if the Christmas bonus will be paid in 2020. [27162/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Christmas Bonus payment is made to long-term social welfare recipients, such as pensioners, carers, people with disabilities, lone parents and long-term unemployed people who rely wholly or mainly on their social welfare payments for financial support.

As is the case every year, the payment of a Christmas Bonus is a discretionary decision made by Government in the context of the annual Budget process and available resources.  Any decision to pay the bonus this year will be made in an overall budgetary context, and announced as part of Budget 2021 in October.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 585 answered with Question No. 527.
Question No. 586 answered with Question No. 531.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Question No. 588 answered with Question No. 530.

Ceisteanna (587)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

587. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has had discussions in relation to a reversal of the cuts to the pandemic unemployment payment; if so, the estimated cost of a reversal for a three-month period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26707/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Government has agreed, as part of the July Stimulus, that the pandemic unemployment would be paid at three rates from 17 September.  Since this date, the payment has been linked to a person's prior average weekly employment earnings and paid at three rates, €300, €250 and €203 per week. I have recently announced that applications for the scheme will remain open until the end of this year.

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.

The estimated cost of reversing the cuts to the pandemic unemployment payment for a 3 month period based on current numbers of recipients would be approximately €260 million.

I trust this clarifies the position. 

Question No. 588 answered with Question No. 530.