266. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average processing times for applications for partial capacity benefit; her views on whether the time it is taking to process such applications is discouraging persons from returning to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20301/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Administration)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): The partial capacity benefit (PCB) scheme allows people with restricted capacity to avail of employment opportunities while still in receipt of an income support. The scheme is open to people who:
a) have been in receipt of illness benefit for a minimum of six months;
or
b) are in receipt of invalidity pension.
The process of claiming PCB involves the submission and consideration of medica...

1476. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend eligibility for child benefit to those children over 18 years of age that are still in full time secondary education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16680/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Child Benefit Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid to almost 628,000 families in respect of over 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 bil...

560. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there are subsidised courses or workshops for spouses of self-employed persons who are not working or receiving unemployment benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11052/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is a scheme that allows persons in receipt of long-term social welfare payments the opportunity to pursue a course of study, while still maintaining their income support, subject to satisfying a number of conditions. These conditions include age and being in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a specific period of time.
The student support grant payable by the Dep...

246. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the process for a person or body to set up or become a manager of a community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10533/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Administration)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Community Employment (CE) projects are typically 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. Such projects provide a valuable service to local communities and may also provide training and educational opportunities to jobseekers. The Department’s priority in supporting CE is havi...

247. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason some community employment schemes are of two, three and six years in duration; the process and criteria for the way in which a person can extend their community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10534/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Operation)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): In the context of the economic recovery, my Department undertook a review of the work programmes in 2016. Arising from the review, the Government agreed to implement changes to the qualifying conditions for Community Employment (CE) in order to broaden access to a wider range of people. These new rules were implemented from July 2017. In general all placements will now be for one year only - if a CE participant ...

674. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of efforts to rectify pension entitlements for persons, mostly women, who left the workforce for a time during their careers and are now subsequently penalised in view of the fact their pension entitlements are assessed as an average over their working lifetime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9453/18 asked on 27 Feb 2018 - State Pensions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020.
In advance of this, on 23 January, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension e...

289. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average processing times for applications for social welfare payments (details supplied); the average processing times for appeals to decisions to refuse applications for same, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6222/18 asked on 07 Feb 2018 - Social Welfare Benefits Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested (where available) by the Deputy is detailed in the tabular statement.
 Social Welfare claims by average waiting times December 2017 Claim Processing Appeals Processing Scheme Average Waiting Time (weeks) Average processing times (weeks) Summary Decisions Average processing times (weeks) -Oral Hearings Carer’s Benefit 10 17.8 21.3 Carer’s Allowance 17 21.7 24.0 Disabilit...

587. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that new applications for carer’s allowance are taking at least 17 weeks to process; her views as to whether this is an acceptable length of time to wait for such an application to be granted; if her attention has been further drawn to the hardship this waiting time is placing on persons who often have no source of income; if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5555/18 asked on 06 Feb 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Delays)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.
Before a decision can be made on entitlement to carer’s allowance, evidence must be provided in respect of the care recipient’s care requirement, the level of care the carer provides and the carer’s means. In general,...

503. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer’s benefit for a person (details supplied) may be applied for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52752/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Carer’s Benefit Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The spouse of the person for whom details have been supplied has been in receipt of carer’s benefit since July 2016. On the basis of current legislative provisions that provide for a maximum payment period of 104 weeks, the payment is due to end in July 2018. Carer’s benefit is an income support payment for people who have made social insurance contributions and who have recently left the workforce, or have reduced...

566. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the recent changes to maternity leave regarding mothers whose babies are delivered prematurely will be extended to include mothers who are currently on maternity leave or who have recently returned to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43487/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Maternity Leave)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): On 3 October 2017 I, together with my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., announced increased maternity leave and maternity benefit for mothers whose babies are born prematurely.
Under the new arrangements, in addition to the current 26 weeks of paid maternity leave a mother will be entitled to an additional period of maternity leave and benefit where her baby is born prematurely, w...

185. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if child benefit will be extended to persons over 18 years of age until they complete full time secondary education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43106/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Child Benefit Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Child Benefit is a monthly payment made to families with children in respect of all qualified children up to the age of 16 years. The payment continues to be paid in respect of children up to their 18th birthday who are in full-time education, or who have a disability. Child Benefit is currently paid to almost 622,000 families in respect of some 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of more than €2 bil...

210. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a carer’s allowance has been cut from a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42057/17 asked on 04 Oct 2017 - Carer’s Allowance Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Carer’s allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to a person who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has a disability such that they require that level of care.
The department periodically reviews claims in payment to ensure that there is continued entitlement.
CA is in payment to the person concerned since 5 November 2009 and a review of means was recently carried out. 
T...

215. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined who has been placed on two different back to work schemes but has been told they can only accept certain offers and have reluctantly had to turn down a number of suitable offers; if their social welfare payments can be affected if they refuse to accept a place on a scheme they do not wish to participate in; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42050/17 asked on 04 Oct 2017 - Labour Activation Programmes)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The customer was referred to the Job Club service on 12th June 2017 and attended in September 2017. The customer was also referred to the JobPath service on 17th June 2017, and agreed a personal progression plan with the JobPath provider on 6th July 2017. Having been referred to JobPath which provides an intensive 12 month programme of support for the Long Term Unemployed the customer’s attendance at the JobClub wa...

696. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to recent changes to the back to education allowance (details supplied), if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties these changes pose particularly for persons that work at weekends and receive premium rates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39312/17 asked on 20 Sep 2017 - Back to Education Allowance Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is designed primarily to support second chance education. It is an educational opportunities scheme for persons in receipt of certain qualifying social welfare payments wishing to pursue second or third level courses of education in order to improve their employment prospects. 
Entitlement to BTEA is conditional on having on-going entitlement to the qualifying scheme payment. ...

1775. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person that is 18 years of age and has finished second level education cannot receive social protection payments until September in view of the fact that their parents are on the live register and have no other means to support them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36892/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017 - Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The jobseeker’s allowance scheme provides income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative full-time employment. The 2017 Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure this year on the jobseeker’s allowance scheme of €2.16 billion.
Social welfare legislation provides that a person is not entitled to jobseeker’s allowance while attending a course of study. This disqualification al...

1809. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the partial capacity scheme for public sector workers that wish to work part time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37377/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017 - Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Administration)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Partial capacity benefit (PCB) allows a person to return to work if they have reduced capacity, and continue to receive a payment from the Department. To qualify for the PCB scheme, a person needs to be currently in receipt of either illness benefit (for a minimum of 6 months) or invalidity pension. 
Public servants who were in employment before 6 April 1995 and continued to be so employed without a break in servi...

1826. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason persons (details supplied) on certain work schemes which are seasonal receive a reduced rate of jobseeker’s payment during summer, Christmas and Easter periods; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37545/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017 - Jobseeker’s Benefit Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The amount of the person’s average reckonable weekly earnings in the Governing Contribution Year (GCY) determines the rate of jobseeker’s benefit payable. The GCY is the second last complete contribution year before the benefit year in which the claim is made. 
To qualify for the full rate of jobseeker’s benefit, the weekly earnings in the GCY must be €300.00 or greater. If the average weekly earnings are less th...

1926. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason participants on community employment schemes are not allowed to draw down the fuel allowance in two lump-sum payments; the rationale for this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38920/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017 - Fuel Allowance Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Fuel Allowance is a means tested payment to assist householders on long-term social welfare payments who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. Fuel allowance is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household. Up until now fuel allowance was payable as a weekly payment only.
I recently announced that the Department’s fuel allowance customers would be given a choice to...