686. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of if-and-when contracts in the labour market as defined by the UL study into low-hours contracts; and the number of zero-hour contracts, as defined under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, in operation. (Question 53692/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Employment Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The University of Limerick (UL), in their study on zero hour contracts and low hour contracts, were not able to quantify the numbers of people on zero hour contracts or “if and when” contracts. However, based on their stakeholder interviews, UL found that zero hour contracts within the meaning of Section 18 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 are not extensively used in Ireland. Through the stakeholder inte...

687. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of progress towards the programme for Government commitment to review the fish assist scheme in recognition of the irregular earning patterns of fishermen. (Question 53985/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Social Welfare Code)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The farm/fish assist schemes provide support for farmers and fishermen on low incomes and are similar to jobseeker’s allowance. Recipients retain the advantages of the jobseeker’s allowance scheme such as the retention of secondary benefits and access to activation programmes. The 2017 Revised Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure of €82.8 million on the farm/fish assist scheme. 
The Programme for Go...

688. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if persons in receipt of farm assist payments are eligible to pay PRSI; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53511/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Social Insurance Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): In general PRSI is payable on income which is subject to income tax. One of the exceptions to this is that PRSI is not chargeable on any social welfare payment. Farm assist is a means tested social assistance payment available to farmers on low income. Accordingly it is not subject to PRSI. 
Farmers on low income may be required to pay PRSI on their self-employed income from farming. Self-employed farmers in rec...

690. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of departmental staff, by departmental premises, and within statutory bodies under her remit and their grades who are employed in Drogheda. (Question 53532/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Staff Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The total number of Departmental staff, by premises and grade, working for my Department in Drogheda are summarised in the table as follows:
 Department Premises Assistant Principal Higher Executive Officer Executive Officer Clerical  Officer Temporary Clerical  Officer Service  Officer TOTAL Intreo Custom House Quay, Drogheda 1 9.8 14.1 21.2 1 1 48.1 Intreo Dyer St, Drogheda  0 6 2 4.8 2  0 14....

691. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason self-employed persons who became disabled and as a result were unable to work in the past number of years are not entitled to invalidity pensions, even if they worked for many years prior to becoming disabled and for a few years were not in a position to make PRSI contributions, are now being penalised for this; her plans to amend the legislation to ensure that all self-employed persons who have become disabled will be entitled to an invalidity pension; if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53538/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Invalidity Pension Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Self-employed people who earn €5,000 or more in a contribution year, are liable for PRSI at the class S rate of 4%, subject to a minimum annual payment of €500. This provides them with access to the following benefits: State pension (contributory), widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension (contributory), guardian’s payment (contributory), maternity benefit, adoptive benefit and paternity benefit. 
...

692. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the entitlements of persons qualifying for the long-term illness scheme; her plans to make provision for persons within this category who do not receive a social welfare payment in their own right to be included in vocational training opportunities and employment schemes; if persons qualifying under the long-term illness scheme can be deemed eligible for workplace programmes and training courses even if they do not receive a social welfare payment; her further plans to review this scheme with the objective of making other supports available for persons within this category; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53555/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): This Government recognises the importance of increasing participation in employment for persons with a disability and is committed to removing any barriers that remain which prevent those persons with disabilities from participating in activation programmes and employment. 
The long term illness (LTI) scheme is a Health Service Executive (HSE) scheme that allows people with certain conditions to obtain the drugs, me...

693. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if illness benefit will be paid to a person (details supplied). (Question 53558/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Illness Benefit Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Illness Benefit is payable in respect of incapacity for work due to illness to persons who satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions. 
The claim from the person concerned has been approved and payment has been made to 8 December 2017, the last date of medical certification.
 ...

694. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the Acts, or parts of Acts, awaiting commencement within her area of statutory responsibility; the reason for the delay in the commencement of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53567/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Commencement of Legislation)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department is responsible for the legislation underpinning the social welfare code and for a number of other areas of legislation. These are occupational and private pensions, civil registration and gender recognition, redundancy and employer’s insolvency, employment rights and Citizens Information Board/Comhairle legislation. 
A number of provisions of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended, have s...

695. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of progress on the programme for Government commitment to implement the pathways to work five-year strategy which aims to help 50,000 long-term unemployed persons into jobs. (Question 53661/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Unemployment Levels)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The target was to move 50,000 people, who were long-term unemployed at the beginning of 2016, into employment by the end of 2020.
The number of people who were long-term unemployed at the beginning of 2016 was approximately 144,000. By the end of September 2017, almost 42,000 of these people had moved into employment. The rate of exit to employment is therefore running some way ahead of the target level.
 ...

696. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a State pension (contributory) by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53713/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - State Pension (Contributory) Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The person concerned was awarded a mixed rate insurance pro rata state pension (contributory) from 2 May 2017, their 66th birthday. Written notification of this decision issued on 10 April 2017. 
Following a requested review of the person’s pension entitlement, it was ascertained that all of the person’s social insurance contributions had not been included in the initial pension calculation. The person’s social ins...

697. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of progress on pathways to work 2016-2020 to reduce the ratio between youth and overall unemployment from 2.2:1 to less than 2:1 by the end of 2017. (Question 53795/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Youth Unemployment Measures)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The average values for overall unemployment, youth unemployment, and the ratio between them for the years 2012 to 2016 are as follows:
 - Unemployment rate (%) Year Total Aged <25 Ratio of youth to total 2012 14.7 30.4 2.07 2013 13.1 26.7 2.05 2014 11.3 23.9 2.13 2015 9.4 20.9 2.21 2016 7.9 17.2 2.17 
 
 Full-year and end of year unemployment figures for 2017 will not be available until ...

698. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reconsider refusal of an exceptional needs payment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53927/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Exceptional Needs Payment Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The person concerned made an application for an Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) to assist with the cost of a replacement cooker. As a payment of €310.00 was awarded in September 2015 to purchase this item, the Designated Person adjudged that this particular need had been recently met and given the general durability of such items it was reasonable to expect that this item would be in full working order for more than ...

699. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a jobseeker’s allowance application will be approved in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53930/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): An application for jobseeker’s allowance is currently pending as documentation requested from the person concerned remains outstanding. When the requested outstanding documentation is received by the Department the application will be processed and the person concerned will be advised of the decision.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
 ...

700. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to previous parliamentary questions in the case of a person (details supplied), if an exceptional needs payment will be reconsidered as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53932/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Exceptional Needs Payment Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): According to the records of this Department the person concerned has not submitted an application for an exceptional needs payment. It is open to the person concerned to submit an application for financial assistance if she does not have sufficient means to meet her needs. A community welfare officer will phone her regarding her situation.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
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701. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to previous parliamentary questions in respect of a preferential claim against a person (details supplied), if this can be taken into account in the determination of the person’s case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53935/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Social Insurance Fund)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department deals with employers who owe a debt to the Social Insurance Fund in line with its debt management policy and procedures. 
I would urge the person in question to engage with the Department’s employer debt management unit to discuss their financial situation and capacity to repay their debt. They can contact the unit on (01) 673 4549 or at debtmanagement@welfare.ie.
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702. Deputy Willie Penrose 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 54011/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I confirm that my department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 4 August 2017.
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. 
The matter was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) ...

703. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54015/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Disability Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): I confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance from this gentleman on 31 October 2017. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome. 
The processing time for individual disability allowance claims may vary in accordance with their relative comp...

704. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if managers of local community employment schemes are permitted to request financial contributions from community groups to support the running costs of the scheme; if so, the relevant guidelines regarding requests for such financial donations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54058/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Community Employment Schemes Operation)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The aim of Community Employment (CE) is to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. In addition, it helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine.
CE projects are typically sponsored by groups...

705. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the in-work training and upskilling schemes funded by her Department, in tabular form; the number of persons in each such scheme; the funding provided in 2016 and 2017; and the budget allocation for 2018. (Question 54127/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Schemes)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has no functions in relation to the funding of in-work training for people in employment.
 ...

706. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the labour market activation measures and schemes by her Department that are being deployed to reduce long-term unemployment, in tabular form; the number of persons in each such scheme; the funding provided in 2016 and 2017; and the budget allocation for 2018. (Question 54128/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Labour Activation Measures)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Government’s primary strategy to tackle unemployment – including long-term unemployment – is twofold. The Action Plan for Jobs supports continuing strong economic recovery and employment growth. Policies and actions to ensure that unemployed people benefit from the increase in employment are set out in the strategy paper Pathways to Work 2016-2020. 
To date, these policies have been effective in reducing long-te...

707. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in nationally accredited internships; the number of internships in the public and private sectors; the regulatory framework concerning persons in internship schemes or nationally accredited internships; and the national minimum wage (Question 54129/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - National Internship Scheme Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department is not responsible for nationally accredited internships, so cannot provide the information requested in respect of them. 
The Department has responsibility for First Steps, which, while not an accredited internship, is a work experience programme. The programme is targeted at young unemployed people aged 18-24 who face significant barriers in their efforts to gain employment – people who even during t...

708. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the rate of youth unemployment here; the way in which this compares with the EU average, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54155/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Youth Unemployment Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The rate of youth unemployment was 14.0% in October 2017. This compares with the most recent available EU figure (from EUROSTAT) of 18.6% as at October 2017.
Reflecting the impact of government policy, and the overall improvement in the labour market, the rate of youth unemployment has fallen sharply from a peak of over 31.1% in 2012. At that time, the EU youth unemployment rate was 23.1%. Irish youth unemployment h...

709. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the rate of unemployment for persons with a disability here; the way in which this compares with the EU average in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54156/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Unemployment Levels)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): As information on disability status is not collected routinely as part of the EU Labour Force Survey, there are no regular official data on unemployment among people with disabilities for many EU countries or for the EU on average.
An approximate indicator for the information sought, for 2014, is provided by a once-off study by the Centre for European Social and Economic Policy (CESEP ASBL) on behalf of the Academic N...

710. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the Government’s child poverty target; the likelihood of this target being reached within the timeframe set; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54157/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Child Poverty)

Minister for Employment Affairs and 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. There is a specific child poverty sub-target which is to lift over 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020 (from a 2011 baseline of 111,000). 
In the event, the number of children in consistent poverty rose sharply after 2011, to a peak of 152,000 in 2014, b...

711. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the national social target for poverty reduction; the likelihood of this target being reached within the timeframe set; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54158/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Poverty Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The national social target for poverty reduction agreed by Government in 2012 is to reduce consistent poverty from 6.3% in 2010 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 (from a 2011 baseline figure of 111,000). 
Data from the CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) indicate that in fact consistent poverty rose sharply...