30. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans for the future of the local employment service and jobs club; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50709/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Local Employment Service)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: There is growing concern that the local employment service and jobs clubs are being increasingly marginalised by JobPath. I seek an assurance that the local employment service has a future, and that it will not be abolished or privatised.
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32. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the safeguards in place to ensure lone parents in receipt of the one-parent family payment are not required to seek maintenance from those who have abused them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50710/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - One-Parent Family Payment)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I raise this question because, as the Minister will be aware, one of the criteria for receiving a lone parent allowance is that the lone parent can receive maintenance from his or her former partner. My understanding is that it is the policy of the Department that people will not be required to pursue an ex-partner who has been violent or abusive. Unfortunately, while this may be the general policy, the Department does not appear to have protocols or procedures in place to...

11. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of the media campaign designed to promote the public services card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46856/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017 - Public Services Card)

Deputy Dara Calleary: There has been quite considerable controversy around the public services card. The Data Protection Commissioner is investigating issues around it under section 10 of the Data Protection Act. Can the Minister outline how much money is being used to promote the use of the public services card and whether the expenditure of that money is being suspended pending the outcome of the data protection review?
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49. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all members of the Citizens Information Board unanimously signed off on the cost-benefit analysis report on the restructuring of MABS and the CIS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46918/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Departmental Agencies Reports)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: My question is self-explanatory. Did the Citizens Information Board unanimously sign off on the cost-benefit analysis of the restructuring of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS, and the Citizens Information service, CIS? I want to know if the Citizens Information Board unanimously signed off on the cost-benefit analysis on the restructuring of MABS and CIS.
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51. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the report she has asked her Department to prepare on the post-2012 contributory pension band rates is expected to be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46919/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: This question relates to the recent motion, passed unanimously by the House, on changing the pension contribution rules introduced in 2012. The Minister will recall that in her counter-motion, she made certain commitments, namely, that she would examine the problem, ask her Department to study it and get back to her, and then report to the Cabinet. Has that process started? If so, at what stage is it?
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60. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the heads of the Bill regarding protection for persons on insecure low hour contracts will be published; when the Bill will be introduced on Second Stage in Dáil Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46855/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Legislative Programme)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: It is the Government’s stated intention to introduce the legislation referred to in the question before the Christmas break. I merely want to know if it is on target.
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61. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the Citizens Information Board’s refusal to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection to discuss the reorganisation of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS and the Citizen Information Service, CIS and the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46859/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Citizen Information Services)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The question is self-explanatory. I am seeking the Minister’s views on the refusal by the Citizens Information Board, CIB, to attend a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection to discuss the reorganisation of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS and the Citizen’s Information Service, CIS.
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65. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason she no longer plans on introducing a new working family payment, as committed to in the programme for Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46857/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Working Family Payment)

Deputy Regina Doherty: The Department’s approach, my approach and that of my predecessor to the working family payment is guided by two principles: first, that we have to ensure that work pays and that it is worthwhile for people to go out to work, and, second, that it should have a positive impact on reducing child poverty in the country, which is still far too high. This is of particular importance to me. To advance the commitment contained in the programme for Government, the Department est...

30. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the community employment scheme known as Pathways to Employment at Southill, Limerick, has been threatened with closure due to the failure of its insurance company to renew its insurance; her plans to rectify this issue; the implications for CE schemes nationally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39692/17 asked on 20 Sep 2017 - Community Employment Schemes Administration)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: This refers to a matter brought to my attention in my constituency but it may have wider ramifications. That is the reason I am seeking clarification on the matter.
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32. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the scope of the public services card; the measures currently in place to ensure data protection and confidentiality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39693/17 asked on 20 Sep 2017 - Public Services Card)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I am aware that there are 2.7 million public services cards in circulation but as the Minister is aware, concerns have been expressed recently about plans to extend the scope of the public service card and about how confidentiality of the information contained on the card can be maintained.
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34. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the efforts she has made to halt the restructuring of MABS and CIS until such a time as the concerns of the many staff and volunteers have been comprehensively addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39439/17 asked on 20 Sep 2017 - Money Advice and Budgeting Service)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The Minister will be aware that not only myself but colleagues on all sides of the House have had representations throughout the summer from MABS and the community information centres to the effect that the proposed reorganisation is going full tilt ahead despite the views of this House and the Joint Committee on Social Protection. I made representations to the Minister about this during the summer and she agreed to consider it. Has she concluded her consideration, is she ...

26. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the way in which the figure of €506 million given in the “welfare cheats cheat us all” campaign is calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26051/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Social Welfare Fraud Cost)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: In tabling this question I wish to make it very clear that I fully support the hardest possible line being taken against social welfare fraud, a particularly dispicable form of crime. However, I am somewhat confused about what the anti-fraud campaign seeks to achieve and how it will achieve it, hence my question.
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28. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the report from the Joint Committee on Social Protection on the restructuring of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Citizens Information Service; the actions he plans to take on foot of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26052/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - State Bodies Mergers)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: In my initial comments, I forgot to mention that this may be the last time the Deputy opposite addresses the House as Minister for Social Protection. We wish him the very best in the future, in whatever onerous responsibilities he may be called upon to take.
We have discussed the issue raised in my question ad nauseam. We had a Private Members’ motion on it which was carried by a large majority, as the Minister will be aware. We have had detailed discussions on it in the ...

32. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to extend the treatment benefit scheme to employed and self-employed persons; if he has conducted an analysis of the cost of extending the treatments available under this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 25710/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Treatment Benefit Scheme Eligibility)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: As the Minister will be aware, treatment benefits were hit particularly hard in the cuts during the recession. My question is self-explanatory. What improvements does the Minister intend to introduce with regard to treatment benefits?
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34. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is considering developing a different system of assessment for eligibility for disability and carer’s allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 25707/17 asked on 31 May 2017 - Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: My question is pretty much self-explanatory. I think there has been some internal discussion in the Department on this matter. Could the Minister bring us up to date on developments?
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36. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the future of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Citizens Information service in view of a motion in Dáil Éireann requesting the restructuring of these services be halted to allow for meaningful engagement on this issue from all relevant stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18239/17 asked on 11 Apr 2017 - Citizen Information Services)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: As the Minister will be aware, we debated a motion in the Dáil recently on the question of citizens information centres and MABS. I just want to ascertain what the position is now.
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38. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons who have been subject to sanctions and penalties for non-engagement with employment and activation schemes or measures from 2014 to 2016, inclusive, and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18240/17 asked on 11 Apr 2017 - Labour Activation Measures)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The question is self-explanatory. I am concerned about the connection between the activation systems that are in place and compulsion. Rather than having a link between both, they appear to be two sides of the same coin. That is the reason I asked for the figures.
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46. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the social insurance measures that are to be introduced in December 2017 for the self employed; the type of benefits that will be included; the amount which has been allocated for this extension; the estimated full year cost of the measures that are due to come into effect in December 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17858/17 asked on 11 Apr 2017 - Social Insurance)

Deputy Willie Penrose: What plans has the Minister to extend and reform PRSI? He has recently spoken about this possibility. In particular, what plans are there to extend the range of benefits for people who make their PRSI contributions. There has been a recent debate in the House on that issue.
I got a letter today from the mother of a surrogate child. She is a teacher who pays PRSI. She gets no PRSI benefit, no maternity benefits, nothing. That is a huge hole in the availability of bene...

48. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the concerns that have been expressed regarding the moves towards increasingly using for-profit companies as opposed to not-for-profit companies for services such as employment activation services and the local employment service, his further views on the impact that this is having on the community and voluntary sector and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17860/17 asked on 11 Apr 2017 - Employment Support Services)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: As the Minister is aware, the move towards using private for-profit companies to deliver employment activation services and local employment services, which were previously delivered by the State and the voluntary sector, has caused a number of concerns. Is the Minister aware of these concerns and what action is being taken?
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26. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the recently published survey on income and living conditions, SILC, data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8532/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Poverty Data)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The introduction will be very short. I raised the question to ascertain the Government’s response to the survey on income and living conditions, SILC, figures, which give details of poverty levels across various strands of society for the year 2015.
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28. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will clarify recent media reports which suggested that a number of activation programmes will close; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8533/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Labour Activation Projects)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I tabled this question because of recent media reports that certain labour market activation programmes were due to close down. First, I want to ascertain if this is true. Second, what are the programmes in question? Third, has there been an evaluation carried out in advance of this decision?
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45. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the fact that a profitable company can close down a defined benefit pension scheme whilst the scheme is in deficit to the detriment of existing and deferred pensioners; his plans to rectify the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3027/17 asked on 24 Jan 2017 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The Minister will be aware of the controversy before Christmas that indicated a major gap in Irish law, namely, that a solvent company can walk away at will from a defined benefit pension scheme. I ask the Minister if there are any proposals to change that situation.
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47. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will clarify recent comments he made in the media to establish a new SSIA-style universal scheme for private sector workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3028/17 asked on 24 Jan 2017 - Pensions Reform)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: This is as a result of a recent newspaper interview given by the Minister referring to the pressure that what we know as the old age pension system will come under due to the rapidly increasing elderly population. I merely want the Minister to elaborate on his ideas on how to deal with that.
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43. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the criticisms being levelled at JobPath; if so, the way he plans to address these criticisms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36085/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - JobPath Implementation)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I am raising this question because of the large volume of complaints that not only I am receiving but also other colleagues on all sides of the House about the operation of the JobPath scheme.
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45. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will address the anomaly in the calculation of the contributory pension which tends to disadvantage those who took time out of the workforce to care for children or relatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36086/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - Pension Provisions)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: This problem has been well ventilated. We are all aware of the unfairness in the contributory old age pension system whereby people who have paid fewer contributions can often get a higher pension than people who have paid a greater number of contributions. We discussed the issue last week on Committee Stage of the Social Welfare Bill and we will be discussing it again tomorrow. I just want to find out how far the Minister has advanced with the study he is carrying out on...