1560. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount it would cost to restore the full Christmas bonus to all social welfare recipients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36396/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Benefits Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1475, 1521, 1522, 1523 and 1560 together.
The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 26 weeks from October to April, to over 390,000 low income households. This payment assists these households with the higher energy costs that arise in that period. It is a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per hous...

51. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is considering reversing previous cuts to young persons JSA in the upcoming budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26042/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 51 together.
In line with other EU and OECD jurisdictions where such measures feature, reduced rates for younger jobseeker’s allowance recipients were first introduced in 2009 and extended to those under 26 in Budget 2014.
These measures were introduced to protect young people from welfare dependency by providing young jobseekers with a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training or to...

55. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the decision by his Department to write off moneys owed by employers under the insolvency and redundancy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26041/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Social Insurance Fund Deficit)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 98 together. 
Employers pay into the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) at a rate of up to 10.75% of employee salaries. This payment is designed to contribute to the cost of benefits paid out of the social insurance fund.
One of the benefits funded by the SIF is the provision of redundancy related payments in circumstances where the employer making the redundancies is unable to fund these payments itself – in ...

60. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will justify the expenditure on the advertising campaign against social welfare fraud in view of the resources available to his department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26039/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Social Welfare Fraud)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 52, 59, 60, 78 and 93 together.
The Department administers over 70 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the State. In 2016, some 1.7 million applications for benefit, assistance and access to schemes were received and processed and over 82 million individual payments were made to people across all age groups and to employers. Measures to prevent and detect fraud and...

99. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection when he plans to report on the pension inequality that has emerged post-changes to the way the State contributory pension is calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26040/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Departmental Reports)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 99 together. 
I understand that the Deputies’ questions relate to a comment I made in the course of the recent Social Welfare Bill 2016, when I announced that the issue of homemaker periods would be considered in the context of the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) reform that is being planned, and would feature in the consultation document produced as part of that process. The aim is to implement the...

58. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will review FIS means testing with the rent allowance payment in view of the fact prior to 2012 FIS was not calculated when means testing for rent allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17716/17 asked on 11 Apr 2017 - Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 87 together.
Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting 44,800 recipients at a cost of €253 million in 2017. 
Rent supplement is a statutory means tested scheme which is payable at differentiated rates of payment taking into account the applicant’s means and their accommodation requirements. Rent supplement is normally calculated to ensure that a p...

74. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will review the way maintenance is calculated for lone parents; the detail of the policy of cutting the income of lone parents that are not receiving maintenance from the absent parent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17717/17 asked on 11 Apr 2017 - One-Parent Family Payment Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): My Department is not responsible for the calculation of maintenance payments between individuals. The arrangement of maintenance is a Family Law matter under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality (D/JE).
It is important to clarify to the Deputy that there is no current policy to reduce payments to lone parents where they are not in receipt of maintenance from the absent parent. The one-parent family payment (OFP) and jobseeker...

346. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons in receipt of rent allowance that refuse to transfer to a HAP payment for reasons including losing the time spent on the housing waiting list can have their rent allowance discontinued or be threatened with same, as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12183/17 asked on 07 Mar 2017 - Rent Supplement Scheme)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The person concerned received a letter from the Department under Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 Section 198 (3G)(a)(i)(1) as inserted by Section 54 (3) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, requesting them to apply to South Dublin County Council for social housing support which includes the housing assistance payment (HAP). All customers residing in a HAP area are obliged to register for the HAP scheme. The person con...

33. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will report on the findings of the survey on income and living conditions, SILC, report; if he will make changes to the one-parent family payment as a result of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8441/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Poverty Data)

Deputy Gino Kenny: Will the Minister for Social Protection report on the findings of the SILC report and make changes to the one-parent family payment as a result of those findings?
 ...

40. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection when he expects to have his report on the changes to the homemaker’s credit that he committed to in the course of the Social Welfare Bill 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8442/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Homemakers Scheme)

Deputy Bríd Smith: With regard to the pensions and the homemaker’s scheme, when we were moving an amendment to the Social Welfare Bill, the Minister promised he would issue a report within six months on the question of social protection and the homemaker’s credit. Perhaps the Minister would issue a statement on the matter. I know that the six months is not yet up, but the Minister, Deputy Varadkar, is coming under a lot of scrutiny and pressure on this issue because many people are falling int...

56. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans for community employment and the impacts any changes to these schemes would have in communities around the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8438/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Community Employment Schemes Administration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 52, 56, 63 and 76 together. 
As the Deputies will be aware, my Department provides a range of activation supports catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market. These supports include employment schemes such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús. These schemes provide part-time temporary work in local communities, as a stepping stone back to employment. The ob...

73. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will reinstate the bereavement grant and make additional funds available to the exceptional needs payment, which were cut in January 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8439/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Bereavement Grant)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): In recent Budgets the Department has protected primary social welfare rates. Abolishing the bereavement grant provided a significant annual saving. This allowed the Department to protect other social welfare payments such as the State pension. 
There are a range of supports available for people following bereavement which provide more significant support than the grant. These include a weekly-paid widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil part...

8. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is still of the view that the one-parent family payment was not cut by the previous Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 28732/16 asked on 06 Oct 2016 - One-Parent Family Payment)

Deputy Gino Kenny: Does the Minister for Social Protection stand over his assertion that the one-parent family payment was not cut by the previous Government, and will he make a statement on the matter?
 ...

47. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will reverse the discriminatory cuts to social protection payments to young adults under 25 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 28733/16 asked on 06 Oct 2016 - Social Welfare Rates)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Reduced rates for younger jobseeker’s allowance recipients were first introduced in 2009 and were further extended in subsequent budgets and apply to jobseekers under 26 years of age.
These measures were introduced as they were considered to protect young people from welfare dependency by providing young jobseekers with a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training or to take up employment. Should a young jobseeker on a red...

32. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will reverse the lower social protection payment discrimination against young adults under 25 years of age given that those under 25 years of age often have exactly the same expenses for food, rent and other needs as those over 25 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18805/16 asked on 30 Jun 2016 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): In line with other EU and OECD jurisdictions where such measures feature in their social welfare systems, reduced rates for younger jobseeker’s allowance recipients were first introduced in 2009. These were further extended in subsequent budgets and now apply to jobseeker’s allowance recipients under 26 years of age.
This is a targeted, non-discriminatory, measure aimed at protecting young people from welfare dependency by incentivising them...

50. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will restore social protection payments to pre-austerity levels adjusted for inflation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18804/16 asked on 30 Jun 2016 - Social Welfare Rates)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): My Department’s allocation for 2016, at over €19.625 billion, is almost €1.9 billion higher or 10.4% than expenditure in 2008. The cost of increasing all working age weekly payments to their 2009 equivalent rates is of the order of €0.9 billion. 
After a series of challenging years, improvements for people in receipt of social welfare payments began in Budget 2015 and continued in Budget 2016. This included increases in the weekly rates of...

51. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will abolish means testing for the carer’s allowance, increase the respite care grant and replace the mobility allowance that ceased in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18802/16 asked on 30 Jun 2016 - Carer’s Allowance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Carer’s Allowance is a means-tested payment for carers who look after certain people in need of full-time care and attention on a full time basis. The means test for carers allowance has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse’s earnings. Since April 2008, the income disregard has been €332.50 per week for a single person and €6...

138. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of children living in relative and consistent poverty here; how this compares to the European Union and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14722/16 asked on 29 Jun 2016 - Child Poverty)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions shows that 134,000 children were living in consistent poverty in 2014 and 222,000 children were at-risk-of-poverty (relative poverty).
Neither Eurostat nor the OECD produces a measure equivalent to the Irish measure of consistent poverty.
Eurostat data find that 209,000 children were living in relative poverty in Ireland in 2014. This is a lower number than the national figure, reflecting minor ...

41. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection to afford a full stamp to persons who are in receipt of the carer’s allowance in order that, in the event of their carer’s job ending, they are eligible for full benefits and in recognition of the service they are providing to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11642/16 asked on 25 May 2016 - Carer’s Allowance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The new partnership Government is committed to supporting carers through an increase in carer’s benefit and allowance. Credited contributions, normally known as credits, are awarded to recipients of carer’s benefit and of carer’s allowance where they have an underlying entitlement to credits. Recipients of these payments qualify for credits where they have at least one paid contribution in the previous two years or have had credited contribu...