277. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection if all agencies under her aegis have an up to date tax clearance certificate; the agencies which do not have an up to date tax clearance certificate; the reason they do not have a tax clearance certificate in each case, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 30292/17 asked on 28 Jun 2017 - Departmental Agencies Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of my Department are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Authority, the Pensions Council, the Pensions Ombudsman and the Social Welfare Tribunal.
I can confirm that the Citizens Information Board and the Pensions Authority have up-to-date tax clearance certificates.
As the financial and budgetary matters in relation to the operation of the Pensions Council, the Pensions Ombudsman and t...

1990. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding workers having to retire at 65 years of age; if she will address the issue of these workers having to claim jobseeker’s payments before they can receive a pension at 66 years of age; her plans to address this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26737/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers. 
Where a person exits the workforce before reaching State pension age they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes. Jobseeker’s payments are paid to eligible jobseekers aged 18 to 66 years and all recipients of a jobseeker’s payment are s...

255. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the delays of up to a month for maternity benefit payments; the reason for such delays; the number of persons affected; his plans to resolve this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22831/17 asked on 16 May 2017 - Maternity Benefit)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Currently there are 2,850 claims for Maternity Benefit waiting to be processed. Some 1,450 of these have a maternity leave commencement date of 15 May or earlier. Maternity Benefit claims are processed in leave commencement date order. The average time to process a paper claim is 6 weeks. Processing claims by leave commencement date order ensures that those whose maternity leave is impending or has already started receive priority. Once...

264. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons on certain work schemes (details supplied) which are seasonal receive a reduced rate of jobseeker’s payment during summer, Christmas and Easter breaks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22913/17 asked on 16 May 2017 - Jobseeker’s Benefit Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): 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 than €300 then a lesser ...

188. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on extending the cut-off for entitlement to children’s allowance to allow children who turn 18 years of age who are still in secondary education to continue to receive the children’s allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20951/17 asked on 03 May 2017 - Child Benefit Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): 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 around 623,000 families in respect of some 1.2 million children, with an estimated expenditure of over €2 billion in 2017. 
Budget 2009 red...

348. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the detail of the proposed changes to the structure and function of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service; the reason this restructuring is being undertaken; the way this restructuring benefits clients of the service; the research that was undertaken that supports the proposed changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16183/17 asked on 04 Apr 2017 - Money Advice and Budgeting Service)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Citizens Information Board (CIB), which has statutory responsibility for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and the Citizens Information Services (CIS) decided, on 15 February 2017, to restructure the governance arrangements of these services. The decision was communicated by the Board of CIB to all CIS and MABS Boards and to all staff on the same day. 
The decision comes after a lengthy and extensive analysis of options for ...

122. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the details of any payments made by his Department, its agencies or any bodies under his aegis to any broadcasters here in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016; the broadcaster to which the funds were provided; the reason for the payments; and if there are any reasons for payments to broadcasters in 2017. (Question 14729/17 asked on 23 Mar 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I understand that the Deputy’s question relates to payments to broadcasting organisations.
The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of my Department are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Authority, the Pensions Council, the Pensions Ombudsman and the Social Welfare Tribunal. No payments were made by any of these bodies to broadcasting organisations in 2014, 2015 or 2016.
The Department placed a number of small scale advertis...

531. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the budget allocated to Seetec Ireland in each of the past three years, in tabular form; the total money budgeted for allocation for 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13624/17 asked on 21 Mar 2017 - JobPath Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): JobPath is a payment by results model and all initial costs are borne by the companies. 
In 2015 payments to the JobPath companies amounted to €1.2m and in 2016, €25.2m.
It is not intended to publish the individual payments to the JobPath companies as these are commercially sensitive and to do so would place the State at a disadvantage both in terms of the contracts now in place and any future procurement that may be undertaken. 
The budget f...

532. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of service users referred by his Department to Seetec in each of the past three years, in tabular form; the outcomes for each person, specifying the employment which was gained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13625/17 asked on 21 Mar 2017 - JobPath Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): As the Deputy will be aware, JobPath is an employment activation service that supports people who are long-term unemployed and those most at risk of becoming long-term unemployed to secure and sustain paid employment. The service is delivered by two companies, Seetec and Turas Nua.
To date, some 42,025 jobseekers have started their engagement period with Seetec. The figures per year are shown in the table below - 
 Year No. of Servic...

549. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will consider granting an extension to a person (details supplied) participating in a community employment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13806/17 asked on 21 Mar 2017 - Community Employment Schemes Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): As the Deputy may be aware Section 3.1.1 Eligible Applicants of the CE Procedures Manual provides that “With effect from 3rd April 2000, lifetime participation on Community Employment by an individual will be limited to 3 cumulative years (156 weeks) for persons under 55 years of age.”
The participant concerned is under 55 year of age and is therefore only eligible to a maximum total of three years on CE. The participant commenced on CE on 1...

330. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person that is over 80 years of age and is a qualified adult on their spouse’s pension is not eligible for the over 80 age allowance; his plans to change this position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11859/17 asked on 07 Mar 2017 - Pensions Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The over 80 allowance is an increase of €10 per week on the basic pension rate, which is automatically awarded to qualified pensioners on attaining 80 years of age. Only one such allowance is payable in respect of each pension.
An Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) is paid, generally, where a pensioner has an adult dependent (e.g., a spouse who is financially dependent upon them), who does not have enough contributions to claim a maximum r...

300. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the social protections that are available to a person (details supplied); if the action the person has been requested to take is correct; the social protections that are available generally for persons who are unemployed, divorced, not in receipt of maintenance payments and who do not qualify for the one-parent family payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8563/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): All jobseekers claiming a jobseekers payment are required to be available and genuinely seeking work. They are also required to engage with the department’s activation service and this obligation applies irrespective of whether the service is provided by the department’s own case officers or those employed by the Local Employment Service or by JobPath companies. 
In general the department’s activation services provide jobseekers with assistan...

153. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection if any investments, either directly or indirectly through pension or other investment funds, are held in tobacco companies by his Department, any agency within the remit of his Department, or any agency or entity in receipt of departmental funding; if his Department has any guidelines in relation to such investment; if his Department intend to introduce any policies or guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39037/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - State Investments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Neither my Department nor the Agencies within its remit hold any investments in tobacco companies either directly or indirectly through pension or other investment funds. We do not have any guidelines in relation to such investments or have any proposals to introduce any. 
We would not be aware if any of the entities that receive funding from the Department have such investments.
 ...

108. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of the case of a person (details supplied) who sought a transfer to another community employment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36515/16 asked on 23 Nov 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Places)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I understand that a departmental case officer has met with the person concerned and that a number of options are being considered. The department will contact the person again in the near future with a view to bringing the matter to a conclusion.
 ...

284. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of an application for a domiciliary care allowance by a person (details supplied) which has been delayed without explanation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35953/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received in respect of this child on 7 April 2016. The application was not allowed as it was considered that the child did not meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. A letter issued on 5 August 2016 outlining the decision in this case and the right to seek a review of the decision and/or to appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
...

95. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has not received any communication or engagement with SEETEC regarding a programme in which the person has been placed; if the person can be transferred to another community employment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 33125/16 asked on 03 Nov 2016 - Employment Support Services)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): My department will contact the person concerned and make arrangements to meet with her to clarify her situation and to determine the most suitable support available to assist her in gaining sustainable employment.
 ...

317. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to address the existing situation whereby some public sector workers must retire at 65 years of age but cannot qualify for the old age pension until 67 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 30385/16 asked on 18 Oct 2016 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided that State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This began in January 2014 with the abolition of the State pension (transition) available from 65 for those who satisfied the qualifying conditions, thereby standardising State pension age for all at 66 years, which is the current State pension age. This will increase to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. The changes introduced in 20...

35. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the consideration which has been given to the adverse effects changes to State contributory pensions entitlements are having on parents who took time off work to raise children and are now of retirement age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 29951/16 asked on 12 Oct 2016 - State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The State pension (contributory) is a very valuable benefit and is the bedrock of the Irish pension system. Therefore, it is important to ensure that those qualifying have made a sustained contribution to the Social Insurance Fund over their working lives. To ensure that the individual can maximise their entitlement to a State pension, all contributions paid or credited over their working life from when they first enter insurable employment...

146. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will consider changing the layout of adoption certificates in order that they are more similar to birth certificates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 29128/16 asked on 06 Oct 2016 - Adoption Registration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Adoption Act 2010 provides for two versions of certificates of entries to be issued by the General Register Office. 
Section 87 provides for a copy of the entry and contains details that it is taken from the Adopted Children Register. 
Section 89 of the Act provides for an abridged certificate of entry the format of which is set out by regulations made by the Minister for Social Protection in consultation with the Minister for Children a...

310. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the figures for his Department on the percentage of working days lost to sickness absence through certified leave and uncertified leave in each year from 2011 to 2015, inclusive. (Question 23418/16 asked on 21 Jul 2016 - Sick Pay Scheme Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The percentage of working days lost to sickness absence through certified leave and uncertified leave in each year from 2011 to 2015: 
 Year Percentage of Working Days Lost 2011 6.3% 2012 5.7% 2013 5.5% 2014 5.6% 2015 5.7% 
 ...

376. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of miles claimed for and the amount of travel expenses paid to him and each Minister of State in his Department in respect of their functions as a Minister in his Department between 1 January 2016 and 10 March 2016; between 11 March 2016 and 6 May 2016; and since 7 May 2016. (Question 24303/16 asked on 21 Jul 2016 - Ministerial Travel)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The total number of kilometres claimed for and the amount paid to me under the Ministerial Travel Scheme since my appointment as Minister for Social Protection from 6 May 2016 to date are as follows:
 No. of Kilometres claimed Amount Paid 6,360 €3,756.86 

The total number of kilometres claimed for and the amounts paid to Minister of State Kevin Humphreys are as follows:
 Period No. of Kms claimed Amount Paid 1/1/2016 t...

377. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection to provide the name, position and annual salary awarded to his special advisers; to provide details of requests, if any, for an increase above the special advisers pay cap as set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 24320/16 asked on 21 Jul 2016 - Ministerial Advisers Remuneration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Mr. Miller’s salary is €87,258. Mr. Murphy’s salary is €99,370.
These are the same salaries they were paid as my advisers in the Dept of Health. I have not sought an increase for either of them.
 ...

38. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection why he is continuing to issue correspondence urging recipients under the jobseeker’s benefit scheme to use financial institutions instead of using the post office to collect payments. (Question 18700/16 asked on 30 Jun 2016 - Social Welfare Payments Administration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Programme for Government clearly states the Government’s commitment to actively encouraging payments at Post Offices. While responsibility for An Post and the Post Office Network rests with my colleagues the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources and the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and Gaeltacht, I wish to highlight the size of my department’s business with An Post which was over 38 m...

44. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection to provide the details of recent developments at the Blanchardstown Centre for the Unemployed community employment scheme including the efforts he has and will make to ensure it continues. (Question 18701/16 asked on 30 Jun 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Operation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): On 26 May 2016, the Sponsor board of Blanchardstown Centre for the Unemployed formally advised the Department that it intended to discontinue its Community Employment (CE) Scheme. 
On foot of this decision by the Sponsor Board, the Department has extended the scheme until 14/10/2016, by agreement with the Sponsor, to facilitate an orderly wind down of the Scheme.
It is the Department’s intention that the Sponsor will retain all participants, ...

296. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Social Protection why he is continuing to send letters requesting recipients of jobseeker’s benefit to use financial institutions instead of using the post office to collect payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14377/16 asked on 08 Jun 2016 - Departmental Correspondence)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 296, 301, 337 and 338 together.
My Department provides two main options for payment methods for its customers: payments direct to customer accounts in financial institutions or payments in cash at post offices.
Specifically in respect of cash payments at Post Offices, in 2015 my department made over 38 million such payments in cash at a cost of €54 million. These welfare payments through post offices are acro...