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Gnáthamharc

Thursday, 25 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 265-284

Schools Building Projects

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 265.

Ceisteanna (265, 266)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

265. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education if her Department plans to install a modular building in a school (details supplied) for ASD classes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58218/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mark Ward

Ceist:

266. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education if her Department plans to provide a permanent structure in a school (details supplied) for ASD classes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58219/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 and 266 together.

The school building project to which the Deputy refers has been approved funding under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme to enable the school to build a two-classroom SEN Base. Approval to progress this project to Tender Stage issued in June 2021. The project has been devolved for delivery to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education & Training Board (DDLETB).

Furthermore, to meet the school's interim accommodation needs, rental for one temporary classroom was approved for September 2021. The Department has recently received tender documentation relating to this temporary classroom and has requested outstanding paperwork to be submitted from DDLETB.

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 265.

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (267)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

267. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education if her Department plans to increase the capacity of a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58220/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional school places in a number of school planning areas, including the Lucan School Planning Area (SPA).

Based on a detailed analysis of demographic trends and ongoing consultation with school patrons, my Department is satisfied that there is a requirement for additional post-primary school provision in this SPA. Accordingly, my Department requested Dublin Dun Laoghaire ETB’s (DDLETB) approval, as Patron, to increase the capacity of the school in question to 1,000 students.

This school authority agreed to increase school capacity to 1,000 pupils from September 2021 and officials from my Department continue to engage with the school Patron regarding how best to increase the existing accommodation brief to cater for this enrolment and to identify any interim accommodation needs.

National Educational Psychological Service

Ceisteanna (268)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

268. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education the reason a person (details supplied) has been waiting a long time for an assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58221/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In relation to the NEPS service, NEPS Psychologists work with schools using a problem solving model to help schools identify need and interventions to support those needs. Under the special educational needs model, NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Details of planning and the student response to interventions are recorded on the Student Support File and the teacher may then wish to consult with their assigned psychologist. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment. This system is in line with international best practice and allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually.

Parents/guardians should engage with the Principal of their child’s school or the school’s SET co-ordinator to discuss their child’s needs. In September 2017 a new model to support pupils with special educational needs in our schools was introduced. The new model differs significantly from the old Resource Allocation Model, in that Special Education Teacher allocation is now frontloaded into schools to support children with special educational needs. This model differs from the previous system whereby pupils were allocated a prescribed number of resource teaching hours on the basis of a named disability. The new model gives schools the capacity to respond to individual needs in a flexible way and pupils do not have to have a psychological assessment, or a diagnosis of a disability, in order to access Special Education Teaching. This means that those with highest level of need can access the highest level of support within the school in a timely manner.

In the first instance I would advise that this child’s parents should consult with the school’s principal to discuss the supports in place to meet their daughter’s needs and their daughter’s response to those interventions. Following this, and if appropriate, consideration may be given to a consultation with the assigned NEPS psychologist.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (269)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

269. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the provision of funding she has made in the event that she is required to fund a full allowance of the pandemic unemployment payment in December 2021 and the first six months of 2022. [58133/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

It is estimated that over €4 billion will be spent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in 2021.

The 2022 allocation for PUP is €75 million and is based upon Government Decisions made to date.

General Register Office

Ceisteanna (270)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

270. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will ensure the General Register Office issues marriage paperwork to a couple (details supplied) without further delay. [58044/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I can inform the Deputy that an application for recognition of a foreign divorce was submitted to the General Register Office (GRO) in respect of one of the parties to the proposed marriage.

Where a person is granted a divorce abroad this must be examined to determine if it is entitled to recognition under Irish law. If the divorce is entitled to recognition then the person is deemed to be free to marry in the State.

I have been advised that the GRO has made a determination on the application in this case and that the couple have been informed of the outcome.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ceisteanna (271)

Michael Creed

Ceist:

271. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the policy of her Department with regard to persons in receipt of the disability allowance whose payment is currently terminated if they study abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57676/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Disability Allowance (DA) is a payment for people with an injury, disease or disability that has continued, or may be expected to continue, for at least one year and, as a result of this disability, the person is ‘substantially restricted’ in undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable. At the end of September 2021 there were 154,563 persons in receipt of Disability Allowance.

A person is not disqualified for receipt of a disability allowance while engaging in a prescribed course of education, training or development. However legislation provides for disqualification from the payment where a person is resident, whether temporarily or permanently, outside the State. This is in line with the general rules of social assistance payments which are not payable abroad.

Disability allowance is a qualifying payment for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) scheme, which in certain circumstances allows for study in Northern Ireland, further details are available on the Gov.ie website.

While there are no plans currently to change the conditions that apply to this scheme in the manner proposed, the Department continues to keep the range of income supports available under review.

Community Employment Schemes

Ceisteanna (272)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

272. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of discussions she has had on the issue of pensions for community employment scheme supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [55838/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

As the Deputy will be aware, CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors have been seeking for several years, through their union representatives, SIPTU and Forsa, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme for CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who are employed by CE scheme sponsors. This claim creates some difficulties because the State is not the employer of the supervisors.

Within this context, officials from my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform held discussions on proposals to progress and resolve this complex issue, while having regard to the wider budgetary framework. Department officials also held discussions with unions representing CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors.

At the start of April this year, agreement was reached between the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Social Protection on proposals to resolve the long-standing issue. These proposals included a financial package.

Since that time, discussions on these proposals took place between my Department and the unions representing CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors, in consultation with other relevant Government Departments; the Department of Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance.

Department officials wrote to both SIPTU and Forsa recently setting out the terms of a full and final settlement. The total value of the financial element package now on the table is in excess of €24 million.

The final settlement has the potential to benefit up to 2,200 existing and former CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors subject to certain qualifying criteria.

The proposal is currently under consideration by the representative unions.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Energy Prices

Ceisteanna (273)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Ceist:

273. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons applying for assistance with energy costs under the exceptional needs payment scheme, by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58020/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, my Department operates schemes to help people with energy costs.

My Department may make a single exceptional need payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.

In 2019, over 3,000 ENPs were made to assist with the payment of household bills and heating costs at a cost of €913,000 . Last year, 2,234 ENPs were made in this category at a total cost of €670,000. So far, 1,788 payments have been made this year (to the end of October 2021) at a cost of €565,000.

Table 1 shows the number of ENPs paid by county for energy related costs to end of October 2021.

A Heating Supplement may be paid to assist people in certain circumstances that have exceptional heating costs due to ill health, infirmity or a medical condition and are unable to meet those costs out of household income. Approximately 1,100 people benefited from this supplement in 2020. There are currently just under 1,000 claimants in receipt of a heating supplement.

Anyone who wishes to make an application for a payment under the SWA schemes should contact the Community Welfare Service at their local Intreo Centre. There is a national Income Support Helpline in place - 0818800024 - which will direct callers to the appropriate office. I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Table 1 - Number of ENPs paid by county for 2021 (end of October)

County

Number of Payments

Expenditure (€000)

CARLOW

25

€6,475

CAVAN

27

€8,792

CLARE

38

€11,370

CORK

256

€89,133

DONEGAL

123

€33,909

DUBLIN

177

€75,048

GALWAY

48

€10,935

KERRY

115

€32,401

KILDARE

49

€17,301

KILKENNY

58

€19,744

LAOIS

31

€9,143

LEITRIM

68

€20,466

LIMERICK

75

€28,401

LONGFORD

47

€16,241

LOUTH

52

€20,131

MAYO

57

€16,698

MEATH

92

€21,065

MONAGHAN

4

€850

OFFALY

31

€6,084

ROSCOMMON

30

€8,183

SLIGO

66

€19,538

TIPPERARY

159

€43,008

WATERFORD

27

€9,833

WESTMEATH

50

€11,230

WEXFORD

42

€10,050

WICKLOW

41

€18,962

Total

1,788

€564,991

Employment Support Services

Ceisteanna (274)

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

274. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Social Protection the way the jobs of those currently employed by local employment service and job clubs will be safeguarded in view of the move towards a new model of local employment service delivery; the learnings that have been taken by her Department from RFT 1 in order to improve the new model of local employment and service delivery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58060/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

My Department is now at an advanced stage in its first phase of procuring new employment services. Phase One involves the procurement of regional employment services for seven counties in the Midlands and North-West across four lots where there is no existing local employment service.

The core objective of this procurement is to delivery high quality services to the people who need them. The employment and terms and conditions of employment of employees of contractors to my Department are the responsibility of their employers. This is the case for all contracted employment services.

I am conscious that a level of uncertainty for the employees of existing contractors arises as part of this procurement process in regard to whether their employer will wish to make a bid for the new model and whether they will be successful in doing so. Ultimately this is a decision of their employer and a matter of competitive procurement. However, I am confident that my Department's existing service partners are well placed provided they work collaboratively to succeed in the Phase 2 procurement process given their expertise, community linkages and track record.

In regard to the Phase 1 procurement underway, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any individual circumstance. However, I can say that in cases where existing service-providers have earned preferred bidder status it is matter for them as employers how they wish to staff the delivery of the new contract. In regard to where existing providers in Phase 1 were either unsuccessful or did not wish to provide the new service I understand that the preferred bidders in these areas are having discussions regarding existing staff and appropriate employment opportunities. This is a very welcome development and I expect that their current employers and representative bodies will support these discussions.

The Request for Tenders for Phase two of the Regional Employment Service will be issued before year end, with an approximate deadline of March for tenderers. It is intended that the service will be in place from July 2022.

My Department is currently reflecting on feedback from Phase One and redrafting the Request for Tender as appropriate, specifically in relation to minimum referral numbers but also addressing issues such as up-front advances to assist cash flow for potential tenderers.

The current procurement of public employment services follows extensive consultations by my Department with the existing service providers and employee representatives over the last number of years. My officials are continuing this ongoing dialogue with the stakeholders and employee representatives.

Social Welfare Payments

Ceisteanna (275)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

275. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if a working family payment will be reinstated immediately for a person (details supplied) based on the information provided to them by her Department. [58080/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Working Family Payment is an in work, income tested family payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children.

Once WFP is awarded, it is payable for 52 weeks at a fixed rate, while a claimant continues to be engaged in fulltime employment as an employee for not less than 38 hours per fortnight, with the same employer. If the claimant ceases employment or changes employer during the WFP 52 week award period, their entitlement to WFP ends on the existing claim and the claimant is subject to a new application. This information is available under the Operational guidelines for WFP on Gov.ie.

The WFP claim for the person concerned was renewed with effect from 22 July 2021 to 20 July 2022.

According to the Department's real time records their employment ceased on 23 August 2021. The person concerned commenced employment with a new employer with effect from 24 August 2021. This employment subsequently ceased on 11 October 2021. The person concerned recommenced employment with their former employer from 28 October 2021 to date.

The person concerned informed the Department on 16 September 2021 regarding their change of employer from 24 August 2021. However due to a Departmental error, the claimant was incorrectly advised that they could opt to continue their existing claim or to close their existing claim and reapply for WFP. On the basis of the incorrect information that was provided by the Department's response of 16 September 2021 to the person concerned, the claimant opted to continue their existing claim and payment continued to 10 November 2021.

Following the further cessation of their employment on 11 October 2021 their entitlement to WFP ended on their existing claim and accordingly the person concerned was subject to a new application in respect of their new employment that commenced from 28 October 2021. The person concerned was advised in writing of above on 5 November 2021.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 18 November 2021 and was awarded from 18 November 2021 to 16 November 2022 based on their family circumstances, and income, including their spouse's earnings that applied at the time of re-application.

As the person concerned was subsequently advised of the required procedure in relation to employment cessation and employer change during a WFP award period, in the Department's written communication of 5 November 2021, there are no grounds to reinstate payment on their former WFP claim as they were subject to a new application from 28 October 2021.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Question No. 277 answered with Question No. 276.

Ceisteanna (276, 277)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

276. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection if the pandemic unemployment payment was open to applicants in circumstances in which the applicant was self-employed and lost their job due to the Covid-19 pandemic between 13 March 2020 and 7 July 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58114/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

277. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection if the pandemic unemployment payment was open to applicants in circumstances in which the applicant was in receipt of the back to work enterprise allowance scheme and could not work due to the Covid-19 pandemic between 13 March 2020 and 7 July 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58115/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 277 together.

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was introduced as an emergency payment for qualifying employees and self-employed people who lost employment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. To date expenditure on the scheme is in excess of €8.9 billion.

The PUP scheme evolved and arrangements were introduced for the self-employed so that they could take up intermittent or occasional work opportunities and retain PUP.

The legislation governing entitlement to PUP, introduced in August 2020, required that a self-employed person's income had reduced or ceased as a direct consequence of Covid-19 and the adverse impacts were such that the person would be available to take up full-time employment. Budget 2021 sought to provide clarity to this position by providing that recipients engaging in self-employment could earn up to €480 over a rolling four week period and continue to maintain entitlement to PUP. This was subsequently changed to €960 over an eight-week period as the legislation was developed.

Recipients of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme could avail of PUP if they satisfied the conditions of the scheme.

I trust this clarifies the position.

Question No. 277 answered with Question No. 276.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ceisteanna (278)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

278. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if further medical evidence submitted with a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58122/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 22 September 2021. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds as it was not found that they were substantially restricted in taking up employment.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 26 October 2021 and was also notified of their right to request a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). No request for an appeal or review has been received.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Ceisteanna (279)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

279. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has engaged with the Minister for Health and the Minister of Finance in respect of the reintroduction of the full pandemic unemployment payment in December 2021 and-or the first quarter of 2022. [58134/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The measures announced by Government last week, including the introduction of an earlier closing time limit in the night time industry, do not represent an economic shutdown along the lines of those previously in place. Employers in this situation, many of which have adapted their trading hours, have been encouraged to avail of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to retain staff on their payroll. Where this may not be possible, there are a range of income supports available from my Department for people who lose their employment, under the Jobseeker's schemes.

The Department has not seen an increase in applications for Jobseekers payments over the last week and in fact the numbers on the Live Register are falling. It is also the case that while employment opportunities were very limited under the wider restrictions of previous lockdowns, many business are at present actively trying to recruit staff.

Taking all these considerations into account, Government has no plans to change the position around the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) at this time.

The situation remains under close review by Government as we continue to monitor the impacts of the Covid-19 virus on our health services over the coming weeks.

Social Welfare Payments

Ceisteanna (280)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

280. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if the Christmas bonus will be paid to supplementary welfare recipients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58151/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I was pleased to announce on Budget Day that a 100% Christmas Bonus will be paid in early December this year benefitting over 1.4 million people in recipient of long-term social welfare payments. The payment of the Bonus this year will cost €313 million.

As we know, this payment is an additional help to people as we enter the Christmas period and much of this is spent locally, supporting local economies throughout the country.

The Bonus includes payments to pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, lone parents and the long-term unemployed in recognition of their long-term financial dependence on their social welfare payment for all, or most, of their income.

Long-term recipients of the Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance will receive the Christmas Bonus. Generally, this would require a person to be in receipt of the payment for a period of at least 15 months. This year, however, I am reducing that period to 12 months.

Social Welfare Payments

Ceisteanna (281)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

281. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the degree to which the processing of various applications for social welfare payments continues to be in line with best possible waiting times; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58176/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The requested information is outlined in the table below and outlines the average performance of schemes for the previous twelve months, for which operational data is available, versus targets issued as part of the published Revised Estimates Volume.

Scheme

Revised Estimates Volume Target

Average targets achieved (12 month average)

State Pension (Contributory)

90%

93%

Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension

90%

95%

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

75%

89%

Jobseeker's Allowance

90%

96%

Jobseeker's Benefit

90%

92%

One-Parent Family Payment

90%

97%

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

90%

94%

Maternity Benefit

90%

85%

Paternity Benefit

90%

83%

Parent's Benefit

90%

97%

Carer's Allowance

75%

95%

Disability Allowance

75%

93%

Invalidity Pension

90%

92%

Illness Benefit

90%

78%

Occupational Injury Benefit

90%

60%

Domiciliary Care Allowance

90%

94%

Household Benefits

90%

100%

Free Travel

90%

97%

Notwithstanding the difficulties posed by the pandemic, it can be seen that the great majority of schemes have performed in excess of the published targets.

Social Welfare Payments

Ceisteanna (282)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

282. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the degree to which she and her Department continue to ensure the making of a basic payment to applicants of social welfare payments while the primary application is being processed in order to alleviate hardship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58177/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is the safety net within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependents.

The basic supplementary welfare allowance provides immediate assistance for those in need who are awaiting the outcome of a claim or an appeal for a primary social welfare payment or do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

I wish to assure the Deputy that the SWA scheme is kept under review to ensure that it continues to support those most in need of assistance. If the Deputy has concerns in respect of a particular case he should bring the details to the attention of the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Payments

Ceisteanna (283)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

283. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which waiting times for payments in respect of means-tested applications compare with those for contribution-related payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58178/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The following means test based schemes are assessed in terms of operational performance:

- State Pension (Non-Contributory)

- Jobseeker's Allowance

- One-Parent Family Payment

- Supplementary Welfare Allowance Total

- Carer's Allowance

- Disability Allowance

- Household Benefits

The following schemes which are based on PRSI contributions are also assessed:

- State Pension (Contributory)

- Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension

- Jobseeker's Benefit

- Maternity Benefit

- Paternity Benefit

- Invalidity Pension

- Illness Benefit

- Occupational Injury Benefit

Over the 12 month period from November 2020 to October 2021 the average performance for all means bases schemes exceeded their targets, as set out in the table.

Scheme

Target

Average Performance

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

75%

89%

Jobseeker's Allowance

90%

96%

One-Parent Family Payment

90%

97%

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Total

90%

94%

Carer's Allowance

75%

95%

Disability Allowance

75%

93%

Household Benefits

90%

100%

For schemes whose eligibility are based on PRSI contributions the performances were as set out in the following table.

Scheme

Target

Average Performance

State Pension (Contributory)

90%

93%

Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension

90%

95%

Jobseeker's Benefit

90%

92%

Maternity Benefit

90%

85%

Paternity Benefit

90%

83%

Invalidity Pension

90%

92%

Illness Benefit

90%

78%

Occupational Injury Benefit

90%

60%

Social Welfare Benefits

Ceisteanna (284)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

284. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the availability of exceptional needs payments in order to alleviate exceptional needs situations that have arisen in the context of Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58179/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, my Department may make an 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. Government has provided €46 million for the exceptional and urgent needs scheme in 2021. The exceptional needs payment scheme is available to provide supports to people who may be experiencing exceptional needs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Payments are made 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. Exceptional needs payments are not subject to the habitual residence condition and payments can be made to people who do not qualify for other social welfare supports. Any person who considers they may have an entitlement to an exceptional needs payment should contact the Community Welfare Service at their local Intreo Centre. There is a national Income Support Helpline in place - 0818800024 - which will assist callers to make contact with the appropriate office.

If the Deputy has concerns about a particular case or particular issue relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, he should bring it to the attention of my Department. I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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