39. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 45 of 11 December 2014, if she will provide a table including the overall training budget of each division in her Department; the number of community employment schemes and participants in each division in her Department; and the number of participants with respect to whom the budget allocated was exceeded in each division in her Department. (Question 48628/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Community Employment Schemes Funding)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): The training budget for Community Employment (CE) in 2014 is €5.896m. The budget for each Division is set out in Table 1 below.
Table 1: CE Training Budget by Division
 Division Training Budget 2014 (€) Dublin Central 644,045 Dublin North 489,362 Dublin South 405,473 Mid-Leinster 395,029 Midlands North 407,158 Mid-West 435,696 North-East 385,903 North-West 434,282 West 539,340 Cork-Centr...

133. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10 who is in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance is entitled to the Christmas bonus. (Question 47904/14 asked on 16 Dec 2014 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): To satisfy the eligibility criteria for the Christmas bonus, the person concerned must have been in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance for a minimum of 390 days on 26/11/2014, the commencement date of the payment week in which the bonus payment fell due. The person concerned had only been paid jobseeker’s allowance for 362 days up to this date and therefore does not qualify for payment of the Christmas bonus.
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214. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the sale by the National Assets Management Agency of occupied apartment complexes to investors, both national and international, is contributing to rent inflation as the profiteering companies seem to immediately inflate the rent on the day of the rent review, as in the case of rental properties (details supplied) in Dublin 12, which was sold recently by NAMA to a foreign investor, who have hiked rents by 23% from €1,100 to €1,600; and his views on the action being taken to address this inflationary trend. (Question 47953/14 asked on 16 Dec 2014 - NAMA Property Sales)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): In line with the purposes of the NAMA Act and NAMA’s objectives, NAMA has committed to repay 80% of its senior debt by end-2016. To meet this objective, NAMA must realise assets including through the sale residential property portfolios. It is entirely incorrect to claim that the sale of assets securing NAMA’s loans is contributing to rent inflation in the private residential rental market. Rent levels are determined by the interaction of supply a...

240. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the delay in enacting legislation on including social clauses in major State-local authority construction contracts. (Question 47888/14 asked on 16 Dec 2014 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): As the Deputy is aware, on 17 October 2014, the Government supported in principle the Second Stage of the Private Member’s Social Clauses in Public Procurement Bill 2013, which was put forward by Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, and sees significant merit in developing a social clause framework where such clauses are applied in a targeted manner.  The Government did not oppose the Bill.
Whilst Government sees the merit in using social ...

605. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the sale by the National Assets Management Agency of occupied apartment complexes to investors, both national and international, is contributing to rent inflation as these profiteering companies seem to immediately inflate the rent on the day of the rent review, as in the case of rental properties (details supplied) in Dublin 12, which was sold recently by NAMA to a foreign investor, who have hiked rents by 23% from €1,100 to €1,600; and his views on the action being taken to address the effects this is having on the rental market in particular for low to middle income renters and those on rent allowance. (Question 47954/14 asked on 16 Dec 2014 - Private Rented Accommodation Costs and Controls)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 regulates the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented sector and sets out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants relating to, inter-alia, security of tenure, termination of tenancies, rent and rent reviews. The 2004 Act provides that rents may not be greater than the open market rate and may only be reviewed upward or downward ...

45. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the amount available for community employment projects annually per CE participant for training and courses; and the options available to the project in the event of course costing more than the individual training grant. (Question 47551/14 asked on 11 Dec 2014 - Community Employment Schemes Funding)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): The training budget for Community Employment (CE) in 2014 is €5.8m. Each DSP Division is allocated an overall training budget for schemes. There is flexibility that can be applied in the approval of training rates, particularly when the training is leading to a Major Award e.g. in childcare. However, each Division has to keep expenditure in line with the annual budget allocation for training.
Delivery of traini...

2. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection her views to figures published by a newspaper (details supplied) on 30 November 2014 that the average gap between the rent supplement caps and actual rent prices now stands at 44% across the State, and is as big as 54% in County Wicklow and 45% in Dublin city; and if she will take emergency action in response to these findings and the resulting rise in homelessness. (Question 47108/14 asked on 10 Dec 2014 - Rent Supplement Scheme Administration)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: My question aims to ascertain whether the Minister appreciates fully the scale of the growing gap between the rent supplement maximum limits where they have been set and the actual price of rents. What, if any, steps will be taken by the Government to stem the rise in homelessness that is resulting from her inaction on rent supplement and that of the Cabinet as a whole?
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5. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection her views on the findings of the domiciliary care allowance review reports; if she is committed to implementing all the recommendations; and the steps she has taken from April 2013 to date in 2014 to implement same. (Question 47085/14 asked on 10 Dec 2014 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Review)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I am asking about the recommendation of the report on the domiciliary care allowance scheme and its reform. What are the recommendations and what is outstanding?
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6. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the implications of the European Court of Justice ruling that Member States may refuse non-contributory benefits to economically inactive EU migrants; her views that this effectively excludes persons with disabilities so severe that they cannot work from the right to freedom of movement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47083/14 asked on 10 Dec 2014 - European Court of Justice Rulings)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: The Tánaiste spoke on this matter earlier as my question relates to the Dano judgment of the European Court of Justice, ECJ. Member states can now refuse social assistance payments to certain “economically inactive” people, to use the words that I think the court used. Does the Tánaiste share my concern that this ruling could affect people with severe disabilities that mean they cannot work but are in a member state, such as Ireland, to access medical expertise?
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8. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the reforms she will introduce to the rent supplement scheme in response to the recent High Court ruling that the Department was wrong to discount the accommodation needs of a separated father’s children when assessing his housing need; her views that the scheme as operated served to deny children their right to the care of both their parents; and the estimated number of persons for whom the ruling could potentially have implications. (Question 47084/14 asked on 10 Dec 2014 - Rent Supplement Scheme Administration)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: This question relates to the recent High Court ruling that the Department of Social Protection was wrong to discount or ignore the accommodation needs of a separated father’s children when assessing his housing need for the purpose of rent supplement. Does the Minister agree that the scheme as operated served to deny children their right to care from both of their parents and will she take action to remedy this denial of children’s rights?
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17. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection her views on the current application process for carer’s allowance being unsuitable with respect to those looking after persons with learning disabilities or autism; the reason for the delay in taking steps to reform the system; her plans to reform the system; and the expected date by which new application forms and guidance for deciding officers will be in place. (Question 47082/14 asked on 10 Dec 2014 - Carer’s Allowance Eligibility)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I should state at the outset that eligibility for Carer’s Allowance is not based on the type of impairment or disease but on the level of the care requirement consequent on the impairment.
Carers’ Allowance is payable to those providing full-time care and attention to a care recipient where the recipient of care is aged 16 or over and so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention or aged under 16 and getting a Domici...

31. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the capacity of the emergency needs payment scheme to meet the growing and future demands on it, from persons who are struggling due to cuts made to other social welfare schemes and rates and the imposition of new taxes and charges such as the water charges, in view of the fact that spending on the scheme has been halved since she to took up office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47086/14 asked on 10 Dec 2014 - Exceptional Needs Payment Application Numbers)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. The Government has provided €31.3 million for the scheme in 2014.
In 2012 a Departmental working group made up of staff from the Community Welfare Service reviewed the e...

152. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the reason outgoings such as the property tax, bin charges and water charges are not taken into account when assessing a person’s means when applying for a social welfare payment. (Question 47152/14 asked on 09 Dec 2014 - Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Department operates a range of means tested social assistance payments. The means test takes account of the income and assets of the person (and spouse/partner, if applicable) applying for the relevant scheme. Income and assets include income from employment, self-employment, occupational pensions, maintenance payments as well as property owned (other than the family home and capital such as savings, shares and other investmen...

168. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the delay in issuing a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 their tax rebate by cheque; if this rebate will be issued to them as soon as possible. (Question 46739/14 asked on 09 Dec 2014 - Tax Rebates)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant repayment claim was received and processed on 13 August 2014.  On 14 August a refund was credited by electronic fund transfer to the bank account then on record for the person concerned, the details of which had been previously provided to Revenue by that person.  On 16 September the person concerned advised Revenue that he no longer had access to the account in question and confirmed that ...

339. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the reason outgoings such as the property tax, bin charges and water charges are not taken into account when assessing a person’s means when applying for a medical card. (Question 47153/14 asked on 09 Dec 2014 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): The HSE has produced the Medical Card / GP Visit Card National Assessment Guidelines to provide a clear framework to assist in making reasonable, consistent and equitable decisions when assessing people who are applying for a medical card. The National Assessment Guidelines are available on the HSE website and can be accessed at the following link: http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/mc/about/Assessmentprocess/. 
I ...

39. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the reason an application for one-parent family payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 was not backdated to the date of the original application; and if this backdated pay will be awarded. (Question 46560/14 asked on 04 Dec 2014 - One-Parent Family Payment Applications)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The person concerned has been in receipt of One Parent Family payment since November 2011. In January 2014 she was assessed with means arising from her engagement in employment, however, she recently advised of a reduction in the number of hours that she worked. Accordingly a revision of her means was carried out and an increased rate has been awarded.
 I am pleased to inform the Deputy that backdated payment, arising from a chang...

146. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 will be considered for a discretionary medical card in view of the serious ongoing medical conditions they suffer. (Question 46567/14 asked on 04 Dec 2014 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.
The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, wh...

79. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; when a decision will issue (Question 46398/14 asked on 03 Dec 2014 - Medical Card Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.
The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, whi...

151. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she has published all reports on the domiciliary care allowance scheme; if not, the current status of reports on same; the recommendations of any as yet unpublished report on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 45906/14 asked on 02 Dec 2014 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Review)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The domiciliary care allowance scheme has been the subject of two reports which were commissioned by me during 2012. Both of these were published in April 2013 and are available for download on www.welfare.ie. The detail on the reports is as follows:
1 The second report of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare on the review of Budget 2012 proposals regarding Disability Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance.
2. The Repo...

165. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she or the Minister of State have scheduled any official trips overseas between now and the end of 2015; and, if so, the details of these. (Question 46227/14 asked on 02 Dec 2014 - Ministerial Travel)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): At this stage my only confirmed trip abroad is to attend the meeting of employment and social affairs ministers (EPSCO) scheduled for the 11th December 2014 in Brussels. I would hope to be able to attend EPSCO meetings scheduled for 2015 but this will depend on other business commitments at the time of the meetings and the items scheduled for discussion.
There are no official trips scheduled for Minister Humphreys at present.
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194. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Revenue Commissioners have begun to apply VAT to certain food supplements such as probiotics and glucosamine which had been supplied at the zero VAT rate; his views on the cost implications of this for consumers with dietary requirements and deficiencies; and his further views on amending legislation to enshrine the zero VAT rate that had always applied to food supplements that provide sustenance. (Question 46030/14 asked on 02 Dec 2014 - VAT Rate Application)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): VAT is guided by EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. The EU VAT Directive generally provides that supplies of goods and services be chargeable to VAT at the standard rate but that lower rates are permitted in very limited circumstances. Food products can only benefit from the zero rating in accordance with Article 110 of the VAT Directive which permits the retention of the zero rate for “clearly defined social reasons” where the produ...

325. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the national age card is not accepted as valid ID for many purposes, for example, to sit the driver theory test or as ID for financial institutions despite being authenticated by An Garda Síochána, requiring a birth certificate, passport or GNIB card and a fee of €10, while less secure ID, for example, student ID, is acceptable; and the steps she will take to encourage more Departments, Government agencies and private sector companies to accept the national age card as acceptable and secure photographic ID. (Question 46026/14 asked on 02 Dec 2014 - Age Identity Cards)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 to 327, inclusive, together.
The Garda Age Card is a voluntary proof of age card which may be issued by An Garda Síochána to persons aged 18 years and over under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (Age Card) Regulations 2010. The purpose of the card is to verify a person’s age in relation to the sale of alcohol and it may also be used in relation to the sale of tobacco as provided in section 45 of ...

326. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost to An Garda Síochána of administering the national age card scheme; the number of cards issued each year since it was launched; and the total income received from applications. (Question 46027/14 asked on 02 Dec 2014 - Age Identity Cards)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 to 327, inclusive, together.
The Garda Age Card is a voluntary proof of age card which may be issued by An Garda Síochána to persons aged 18 years and over under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (Age Card) Regulations 2010. The purpose of the card is to verify a person’s age in relation to the sale of alcohol and it may also be used in relation to the sale of tobacco as provided in section 45 of ...

327. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the purpose of the national age card; and if it is intended to review it as being fit for purpose. (Question 46028/14 asked on 02 Dec 2014 - Age Identity Cards)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 to 327, inclusive, together.
The Garda Age Card is a voluntary proof of age card which may be issued by An Garda Síochána to persons aged 18 years and over under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (Age Card) Regulations 2010. The purpose of the card is to verify a person’s age in relation to the sale of alcohol and it may also be used in relation to the sale of tobacco as provided in section 45 of ...

170. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if there was a change made to the rules governing the duration a person can be on a community employment scheme and whether a person’s placement on a Tús scheme results in that person only being allowed to do a CE scheme for a shorter period than would otherwise be the case. (Question 45068/14 asked on 25 Nov 2014 - Community Employment Schemes Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): With effect from 3rd April 2000, lifetime cumulative participation on CE by an individual is limited to:
- 3 years (156 weeks) for persons under 55 years of age;
- 6 years (312 weeks) for persons of 55 years of age up to State Pension age; and
- Eligible persons in receipt of a qualifying disability-linked Social Welfare payment will be eligible for one additional year on CE over the standard maximum participation...