279. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason participants on the jobs initiative programme that are now required to work 39 hours per week up from 34 hours per week as worked previously by some will not be receiving salary increases to reflect these additional hours being applied to their working week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20518/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Jobs Initiative)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Job Initiative (JI) scheme was launched by FÁS in 1996 and transferred to my Department with effect from 1 January 2012. A Memorandum of Agreement for the contract period is completed annually between my Department and the Managing Agents for this scheme. My Department provides financial funding to schemes towards administration costs, participant and supervisor wages.
Recruitment to JI ceased with effect from 10...

280. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a domiciliary care allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20532/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received from this lady on the 15th March 2018. Applications received in late February 2018 are currently being finalised. The application will be considered by a deciding officer and the decision notified to her as soon as possible.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
 ...

281. Deputy Louise O’Reilly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the cost of the free school meals programme in each of the past five years; the rates of payment per meal, child and day, respectively; the number of students availing of each meal option in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20561/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - School Meals Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 to 283, inclusive, together.
The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children at a total cost of €54 million in 2018. Expenditure for the school meals programme for the last five years is provided in the attached tabular statement. Funding is based on a rate of payment per meal, per child...

282. Deputy Louise O’Reilly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which the free school meals programme is assessed or audited in terms of the provision of suitable quality and nutritional value; the way in which the programme is assessed or audited in terms of the way in which meals are prepared and consumed; if her attention has been drawn to instances in which the lack of access to appropriate infrastructure has hindered the ability of a school to avail of the scheme or a particular meal option; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20562/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - School Meals Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 to 283, inclusive, together.
The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children at a total cost of €54 million in 2018. Expenditure for the school meals programme for the last five years is provided in the attached tabular statement. Funding is based on a rate of payment per meal, per child...

283. Deputy Louise O’Reilly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the new school food standards developed for the school meals programme will become a mandatory standard applied to all schools; the costs involved in working towards this in terms of education, training and other costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20574/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - School Meals Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 to 283, inclusive, together.
The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children at a total cost of €54 million in 2018. Expenditure for the school meals programme for the last five years is provided in the attached tabular statement. Funding is based on a rate of payment per meal, per child...

284. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a comprehensive review of a carer’s allowance which was recently withdrawn from a child’s (details supplied) parents even though this child has very complex needs will be undertaken; if it will be reinstated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20597/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Review)

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 habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.
It is a condition for receipt of CA that the applicant’s means are less than the statutory limit which in this case is €265.10 weekly.
CA was in payment to the person conc...

285. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons living outside the Republic of Ireland that receive a State pension payment from her Department; and the associated costs involved. (Question 20641/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - State Pensions Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement. 
Eligibility for the State Pension (Non-Contributory) requires that the claimant be habitually resident in the State.
Tabular statement
 Pension Number of recipients residing outside the State Average weekly payment (all claimants) Approximate weekly expenditure (non-resident claimants)€m State Pension Contributory 46,...

286. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of recipients of a State pension payment that are under 66 years of age; the associated cost involved; and the average payments awarded. (Question 20642/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - State Pensions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested (where available) by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement. I note that all Invalidity Pension recipients are transferred to State Pension (Contributory) on reaching the age of 66. 
Tabular statement
 Pension Number of Recipients under the age of 66 Average weekly payment (all claimants) Approximate weekly expenditure (claimants under 66) State Pension Non-Con...

287. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a report (details supplied) on the local employment services will be released; if not, the reason therefor; and when it will be released. (Question 20645/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Local Employment Service)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department commissioned Indecon to conduct a review of the Local Employment and Jobclub services. This review is the first significant independent review that has been commissioned since the Local Employment Services (LES) was established in 1995 and it will help inform future decisions regarding how the Department contracts, monitors and procures for LES.
My officials are currently working through the final report...

288. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that have been through the employability service since its introduction; the number that have successfully gained employment as a result of the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20678/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Employment Support Services)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): The EmployAbility service is a nationwide service funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). The service provides employment support for people with a health condition, injury, illness or disability and a recruitment advice service for the business community to support such jobseekers. The overall objective of the service is to increase the numbers of people...

289. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application will be processed for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20717/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Invalidity Pension)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from the 01 February 2018. Payment will issue to his nominated bank account on the 24 May 2018. Any arrears due from 01 February 2018 to 23 May 2018 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue in due course. The gentleman in question was notified of this decision on the 10 May 2018.
I hope this clarifies...

290. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application for a carer’s allowance by a person (details supplied) will be determined; if same can be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20747/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on the 20 February 2018. 
CA is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.
A person can be considered to be providing full-time care and attention w...

291. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the processing time for applications for each social welfare payment in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20755/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Social Welfare Payments Administration)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information requested (where available) by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.
Tabular statement
Average time to Award for principal DEASP schemes, March 2018
 Schemes Average time to award (weeks) Jobseeker’s Benefit 1 Jobseeker’s Allowance 2 One-Parent Family Payment 5 State Pension Contributory 4 Widow, Widower’s and Surviving Civil Partners Contributory Pension 4 Wid...

292. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the processing time for appeals for each social welfare payment in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20756/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Social Welfare Appeals)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements. 
All claim decisions taken by the Department’s deciding officers are appealable to the Chief Appeals Officer. In any year about 85% of all claims are awarded and just 1% are...

293. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the percentage of decisions overturned on appeals for each social welfare payment by written and oral appeals in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20757/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Social Welfare Appeals)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements. 
I understand the Deputy’s question relates to outcomes of appeals dealt with by Appeals Officers by reference to whether the appeal was dealt with summarily or by way of an ...

294. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the wait time for case files to be forwarded to the appeals office for each social welfare payment section, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20758/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements. 
Article 10 of the Social Welfare (Appeals) Regulations 1998, provides that the Minister shall furnish to the Chief Appeals Officer a statement from the Deciding Officer, or ...

295. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay in issuing the files of a person (details supplied) on foot of a request from the appeals office; when she expects these files will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20759/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Social Welfare Appeals)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The person concerned appealed the decision to refuse her claim for Carer’s Support Grant. Unfortunately, the notice of appeal was sent to the wrong office of my Department. It has now been received by the Deciding Officer who refused the claim. Talking account of all details of the claim, including the issues raised by the person concerned in her letter of appeal, the Deciding Officer has now requested a report from a...

296. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has the right to reduce jobseeker’s benefit for non-attendance at Intreo meetings (details supplied). (Question 20764/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Jobseeker’s Benefit)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Penalty Rates are a legal provision within the Jobseeker schemes to ensure that the Department can achieve compliance with Government Activation Policy as stated in Pathways to Work. 
Activation measures include the requirement to attend group or individual meetings, and/or avail of suitable education, training or development opportunities, or specified employment programmes, which are considered appropriate to a per...

262. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has an obligation to advise jobseekers who are taking up employment that they may have an entitlement to certain payments such as the back to work family dividend scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20269/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department operates a network of some 120 Intreo centres and Branch offices throughout the country. These offices provide information on the wide range of schemes and services provided by the Department. Frontline staff are available to give timely and accurate advice to people who contact any of the Department’s offices on the various supports and services available including back to work family dividend to cus...

263. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the back to work dividend scheme does not facilitate an arrangement whereby payments can be collected by recipients at post offices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20270/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Back to Work Family Dividend Scheme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The back to work family dividend (BTWFD) scheme is an in-work support payment. As an in-work support, payment by electronic fund transfer (EFT) into a bank account was chosen as the most convenient and appropriate payment method for the scheme whose recipients are at work. There is no provision for it to be paid into a post office account. 
More generally, the Deputy should note however that customers of the Depart...

264. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a carer’s allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20282/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

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 habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care. 
CA was awarded on 19 April 2018 in respect of care provided by the person concerned to both of her parents and the first payment was issued to her nominated bank account...

265. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans or proposals under discussion to increase the age for the disability allowance application from 16 to 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20285/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Disability Allowance Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to a national consultation process undertaken by my Department in relation to a number of recommendations made in the Make Work Pay (MWP) for people with disabilities report. The MWP report itself was published in April 2017 following a commitment in the Comprehensive Employment Strategy 2015 -2024 and was undertaken in order to better identify how people with disabilities c...

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...

267. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the contracts awarded by her Department or an agency under her remit to a company (details supplied) since March 2011, by year in tabular form; the cost per contract; the basis for each contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20315/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Consultancy Contracts Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Details of the contracts awarded to the company referred to by the Deputy are outlined in tabular form:
 Year contract awarded Details of contract Value of contract 2015 Eircode Database – quarterly update. (Includes an annual data access fee of €500 p.a.) €30,000 p.a. (excl. VAT) 

The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of my Department are the Citizens Information Board, the Low Pay Commission...

268. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20345/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

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 habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.
Disability allowance (DA) is a means-tested allowance paid to a person with a disability who is substantially restricted from employment.
It is a condition for receipt of ...