1495. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons aged 65 and over in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment, by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35257/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested by the deputy is detailed in the following table:
 County Jobseeker’s Benefit (including people signing for PRSI credits only) Jobseeker’s Allowance Carlow 19 51 Cavan 32 42 Clare 74 73 Cork 281 240 Donegal 58 141 Dublin 803 626 Galway 164 156 Kerry 101 118 Kildare 130 117 Kilkenny 25 52 Laois 42 61 Leitrim 20 23 Limerick 142 115 Longford 22 31 Louth 79 78 Mayo 68 89 Meath...

1582. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when the cost benefit analysis of the restructuring of MABS and CIS will commence; the expected date for completion and publication of this analysis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36591/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Money Advice and Budgeting Service)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): As the Deputy is aware, the Citizens Information Board (CIB) has statutory responsibility for the Citizens Information Service (CIS) and Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). 
CIB has already commenced the cost-benefit analysis of the reorganisation of CIS and MABS companies into 8 regions. It expects to complete it for presentation to the Board of CIB at the end of September 2017. 
As highlighted previously, cost savings is not the d...

1583. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the cost of increasing funding to the community service programme in line with the recommendation to increase the national minimum wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36592/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - National Minimum Wage)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1583 and 1584 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the Community Services Programme (CSP) provides financial support to community companies that provide revenue generating services of a socially inclusive nature. Many of these companies are also funded from other sources and generate revenue from the public use of their facilities and services. 
The additional programme cost involved in increasing the CSP cont...

1584. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to increase funding to the community service programme in line with the recommendation increase in the national minimum wage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36593/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - National Minimum Wage)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1583 and 1584 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the Community Services Programme (CSP) provides financial support to community companies that provide revenue generating services of a socially inclusive nature. Many of these companies are also funded from other sources and generate revenue from the public use of their facilities and services. 
The additional programme cost involved in increasing the CSP cont...

1585. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department has considered the impact that the recommendation to increase the national minimum wage will have on income thresholds set to qualify for certain social welfare payments; her plans to increase the income thresholds for social welfare payments in line with the recommendations for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36594/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - National Minimum Wage)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I welcome the recent recommendation by the Low Pay Commission to increase the hourly rate of the Minimum Wage with effect from January 2018. The report of the Commission does not make any mention or recommendations in relation to means tested social welfare entitlements. 
The Department operates a range of means tested social assistance schemes where, in order to qualify for the payment, the claimant must satisfy a means test which takes...

1586. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons who have been issued a public services card in each year since first introduced; the waiting time to issue a public services card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36595/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Public Services Card)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department commenced issuing Public Services Cards (PSC) on a phased basis from October 2011. Since then it has issued over 2.71 million PSCs. A breakdown of the number of PSCs issued per annum is -
PSCs issued from 2012 to 2017 (to date)
 Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017(to date 21/7/17) PSCs issued 4,001 79,773 355,721 689,627 627,943 610,519 347,537 Running total 4,001 83,774 435,494 1,125,121 1,753,064...

1587. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of the new working family payment that her Department is planning to introduce; the way in which this payment will differ from family income supplement, FIS; if this payment will replace FIS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36596/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Family Income Supplement)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department has established an internal working group and an Inter-Departmental Group of the relevant Government Departments to consider proposals to advance the Programme for Government commitment on delivering a new Working Family Payment. 
The Department has carried out extensive analysis of its existing supports. The analysis is at an advanced stage and shows the existing in-work supports are effective, and work well in assisting in...

1588. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she will take following the report by her Department on lone parents and the impact that changes to the one parent family payment had on lone parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36597/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - One-Parent Family Payment)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The review of the changes to the One-Parent Family Payment, which was agreed during the passage of the Social Welfare Act 2016, is currently well underway and is due to be completed in the coming weeks. 
When I receive the report I will examine and consider its contents, including the detailed analysis, that the changes have had on lone parents from a financial, poverty, social and welfare dependency perspectives.
I anticipate that the repo...

1589. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to further extend benefits available to the self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36598/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Insurance Fund)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment “to introduce a PRSI scheme for the self-employed and provide a supportive tax regime for entrepreneurs and the self-employed ”. Significant progress was made on this commitment in Budget 2017. Self-employed contributors now have access to treatment benefits since last March and, from December next will have access to invalidity pension. This is a real and progressive advan...

1590. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department has started contingency planning in the event that the common travel area and the reciprocal arrangements for social insurance and social assistance are not preserved or are altered in the aftermath of Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36599/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Brexit Issues)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Government’s long-term objective is to ensure that the reciprocity of civic rights and social welfare rights and entitlements, which currently exist for Irish and UK citizens moving within Ireland and between Ireland and Britain under the Common Travel Area (CTA), are safeguarded and maintained. The importance of maintaining the CTA has been acknowledged in Prime Minister May’s letter of 29 March 2017 triggering Article 50 of the TEU a...

1600. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection her targets for poverty including child poverty; if these targets are being met; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36722/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Child Poverty)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The national social target for poverty reduction agreed by Government in 2012 is to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 and to 2% or less by 2020. The child poverty target is to lift over 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020. Ireland’s contribution to the Europe 2020 poverty target is to lift a minimum of 200,000 people out of ‘combined poverty’ (i.e. at-risk-of-poverty and/or basic deprivation) by 2020. 
The latest natio...

1203. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if there are delays in her Department in issuing payments that fall under her Department’s remit; if so, the payments that are affected; the timeframe the payment is supposed to be paid in; the actual time it is taking to issue the payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34301/17 asked on 13 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The issuing of payments from the Department of Social Protection is broken down into two parts; the process of determining whether a claim is valid and the payment of the awarded claim. There is no delay in the payment of claims, once awarded, by the Department.
The current timeframes with regard to the determination process of whether claims are valid and can be awarded is as follows:
Social Welfare claims by average waiting times 31 May ...

1204. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of complaints since commencement to date that have been made against the two companies tasked with delivering JobPath; the actions taken to investigate such complaints; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34302/17 asked on 13 Jul 2017 - JobPath Implementation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The overall reaction to JobPath has been very positive. To date 105,640 Jobseekers have been referred to the service, with 332 complaints received in total – 0.31 per cent. 
Of these 267 have been responded to and are now closed, 65 are in progress. 
Each JobPath provider has a comprehensive Complaints Procedure which is advertised in every location. The procedure contains levels of escalation whereby complaints are dealt with at the appr...

1205. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the actions she will take following the Citizens Assembly recommendations regarding the need for a mandatory pension scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34303/17 asked on 13 Jul 2017 - Citizens Assembly)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The rate of supplementary pension coverage in Ireland is estimated at just 35% of the working population when the private sector is considered in isolation. If measures are not taken to address this low rate of coverage, many future retirees will experience unwanted reductions in their living standards when they reach retirement. Therefore, I both welcome and support the outcome of the Citizen’s Assembly deliberations regarding retirement...

1206. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons by payment who have been refused a social welfare payment; the number that subsequently were awarded a payment on appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34304/17 asked on 13 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Payments Administration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled by my Department and will be provided to the Deputy shortly.
 ...

734. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the timeframe for the changes to community employment schemes announced by the previous Minister for Social Protection to come into effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32193/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Community Employment Schemes Review)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Following the publication of my Department’s Report - An Analysis of the Community Employment Programme- earlier in the year, the Government approved a number of changes to the terms and conditions around participation on Community Employment (CE). The main purpose of these changes is to broaden the availability of CE to a greater number of people on the live register and to standardise other conditions around the length of time a person c...

735. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount spent by her Department on external consultancy reports between May 2016 and June 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32194/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Consultancy Contracts Expenditure)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The table sets out the external consultancy reports in relation to which expenditure was incurred by my Department in the period from May 2016 and June 2017. 
 External Consultancy Report Amount spent (€) Health & Safety Risk Audit - Longford Headquarters and Intreo Office €1,224 Assessment of Indoor Air Quality - Longford Headquarters €1,913 Joint Research Programme on Retirement €61,500 Data Protection – General Data Prot...

736. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has given consideration to the Dáil Éireann motion which called for the restructuring of MABS and CIS to be halted and a report from the Joint Committee on Social Protection which advocated for same; her plans to proceed with the restructuring process regardless of this motion and report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32195/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Money Advice and Budgeting Service)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): As the Deputy is aware, the Citizens Information Board (CIB) has statutory responsibility for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and the Citizens Information Services (CIS). In November 2014 the Board of the Citizens Information Board decided to restructure the local CIS/MABS networks. In October 2016 the Board decided that the new structure should be regionally based. In February 2017 the Board adopted a recommendation that t...

737. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of social welfare appeals lodged in each of the years 2012 to 2016 and to date in 2017, in tabular form; the percentage of appeals which were successful; the average waiting time in these years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32196/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Appeals Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The tables provide the details which have been requested by the Deputy from 2012 to date in 2017.
The figures provided in the tables for appeals which had a favourable outcome for the appellant relate to appeals which were either allowed in full or in part by an Appeals Officer, or which were resolved by way of a revised decision in favour of the appellant by a Deciding Officer/Designated Person. 
There are a number of reasons why a decisi...

738. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the average waiting time in 2017 in respect of a decision for all social welfare payments paid on a weekly basis; the average waiting time for appeal for each of these payments in cases in which there is no oral hearing and an oral hearing respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32197/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Appeals Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the tables.
Social Welfare claims by average waiting times 31 May 2017
 Scheme Average Waiting time(weeks) Jobseeker’s Benefit 1 Jobseeker’s Allowance 2 One-Parent Family Payment 5 State Pension Contributory 5 Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension 1 State Pension Non-Contributory 12 Free Travel 2 Domiciliary Care Allowance 18 Sup...

762. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department has considered allowing the fuel allowance to be paid on a lump sum basis as opposed to a weekly basis; the estimated full year administrative cost of enabling flexibility in relation to the way this allowance is paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32905/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Fuel Allowance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The fuel allowance is paid over the winter season and in the 2016/17 season it was paid for 26 weeks at the rate of €22.50 per week amounting to €585 per annum. Expenditure for 2016/2017 is estimated at €229 million with approximately 376,000 households benefiting. It 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 ...

763. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated number of children in consistent poverty and experiencing deprivation; the way in which these figures compare to the European average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32906/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Poverty Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): In Ireland, consistent poverty at the household level is defined as having a household income below 60% of the median household income and experiencing basic deprivation (measured as lacking 2 or more of a list of 11 basic necessities).
The latest national data from the CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2015 shows that the number of children in consistent poverty in 2015 was 139,000, a decrease of 13,000 children on the...

764. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that are long term employed; the way in which this compares to the EU average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32907/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Unemployment Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Based on EUROSTAT Labour Force Survey data, the number of Irish long-term unemployed was 80,000 in Q4 2016, as compared with 9,278,000 in the EU overall. The situation in Ireland has improved substantially both in absolute terms and relative to the EU average in the last few years. The number of long-term unemployed here peaked at 204,000 in Q1 2012 at a time when the EU number was 10,778,000. The EU figure subsequently peaked at 12,768...

765. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the rate of long-term youth unemployment here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32908/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Unemployment Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. First, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs; and second, through Pathways to Work to ensure that as many of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise in our economy are filled by people taken from the Live Register, including young people. 
To date, these policies have been effective in reducing y...

766. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the budget for exceptional needs payment in each of the years 2012 to 2016 and to date in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32909/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Exceptional Needs Payment Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 749, 750, 766 and 767 together.
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 €31.5 million for exceptional and urgent needs payments in 2017.
The ENP scheme is dem...