1469. Deputy Louise O’Reilly asked the Minister for Social Protection the cost of introducing an annual scale and polish under the DTBS, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35185/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Dental Services )

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The cost of providing services under the treatment benefit scheme is dependent on the demand for such services from qualified customers. As a result, the annual cost of re-introducing the scale and polish treatment can only be estimated at this time. If the demand for this treatment is in line with the 2009 out turn (the last time the scale and polish treatment was provided under the scheme), then the estimated cost of re-introducing this...

1470. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection the funding available for repairs of private property damaged by flooding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36083/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Flood Relief Schemes Funding)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government is the lead Department for severe weather emergencies and the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for capital flood relief activities. However, my Department has an important role to play in assisting households in the immediate aftermath of emergency events such as flooding through the humanitarian assistance scheme.
The purpose of the humanitarian assistance ...

1471. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount that would be collected if both current bands of employers’ PRSI were increased by 2%. (Question 36309/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Insurance Yield)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1471 and 1472 together.
Currently, Class A employers pay PRSI at the rate of 8.5% where weekly earnings are between €38 and €376. Once weekly earnings exceed €376, the rate of employer PRSI is 10.75%.
The estimated increase in the PRSI yield to the Social Insurance Fund from increasing the class A employer PRSI rates by 2% is provided in the following table:
 % Increase inRate ofEmployer PRSI Inc...

1472. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount that would be collected if a new PRSI rate of 19.75% was introduced for employers hiring staff that earn more than €100,000. (Question 36310/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Insurance Yield)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1471 and 1472 together.
Currently, Class A employers pay PRSI at the rate of 8.5% where weekly earnings are between €38 and €376. Once weekly earnings exceed €376, the rate of employer PRSI is 10.75%.
The estimated increase in the PRSI yield to the Social Insurance Fund from increasing the class A employer PRSI rates by 2% is provided in the following table:
 % Increase inRate ofEmployer PRSI Inc...

1473. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated yearly cost of restoring the full telephone allowance under the household benefits package to the 2012 level of €270 per year; her views on whether the telephone allowance was an important measure for vulnerable persons particularly those living alone; her plans to restore the telephone allowance in the forthcoming budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34911/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Household Benefits Scheme)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The savings arising from the initial reduction and subsequent discontinuance of the telephone allowance meant that my Department was able to retain the other valuable elements of the household benefits package such as the electricity and gas allowance and the television licence. My Department will spend approximately €232 million this year on these elements of the household benefits package for over 428,000 customers.
The cost of the telep...

1474. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated yearly cost of restoring the bereavement grant of €850; her views on whether the grant was a major benefit to families at a time of grief and at a time of immense financial pressure in view of the cost of funerals; her plans to restore the bereavement grant in the forthcoming budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34912/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Bereavement Grant)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Abolishing the bereavement grant provided a significant annual saving and allowed my Department to protect other core social welfare payments such as the State pension in successive Budgets. 
The number of bereavement grant claims in 2013 was 23,716, and this represented an increase of approximately 4% on 2012. Based on a similar yearly increase each year since 2013, it is estimated that the number of bereavement grant claims that might ar...

1475. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated yearly cost of restoring the fuel allowance to payment over 32 weeks rather than the current 26 weeks; her views on whether the allowance was of major benefit to low income households; her plans to restore the fuel allowance to 32 weeks per year in the forthcoming budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34913/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Benefits Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1475, 1521, 1522, 1523 and 1560 together.
The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 26 weeks from October to April, to over 390,000 low income households. This payment assists these households with the higher energy costs that arise in that period. It is a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per hous...

1476. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Social Protection the job activation supports available to long-term unemployed persons who do not qualify for means tested social protection payments, that is, jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 34928/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Labour Activation Measures)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective prioritises resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments – Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance – that are conditional on the recipient being actively seeking and available for employment, as well as, in the case ...

1477. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on a carer’s allowance claim by a person (details supplied). (Question 34929/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I confirm that my department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 23 March 2017.
The application was awarded to the person concerned on 19 July 2017 and the first payment will issue to her nominated post office on 27 July 2017. 
Arrears of allowance due from 23 March 2017 to 26 July 2017 will issue shortly.
The person concerned was notified on 19 July 2017 of this decision, the reason for it and o...

1478. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of families in receipt of assistance payments for fuel in their home; her views on the prevalence of fuel poverty in here as outlined by a charity (details supplied); the steps she is taking to work with other agencies and departments to address this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35044/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Fuel Allowance Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 26 weeks from October to April, to low income households, at an estimated cost of €229 million in 2017. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per household. At the end of the 2016/17 ...

1479. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a decision has not been made in respect of a disability allowance appeal lodged by a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that the appeal was lodged on 9 February 2017; the reason for the delay in making a decision on this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35057/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Disability Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1479 and 1491 together.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to hold an oral hearing in this case on 31st August 2017. The person concerned will shortly be notified of the arrangements for the hearing. 
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and o...

1480. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department has set the criteria, training programmes or guidelines for staff that deliver the JobPath scheme via private operators; if so, the criteria for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35116/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - JobPath Implementation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1480 to 1484, inclusive, together.
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 Ltd and Turas Nua Ltd.
At present there are over 450 full-time equivalent personal advisers (excluding admi...

1481. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection the process by which persons are selected to take part in the JobPath scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35117/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - JobPath Implementation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1480 to 1484, inclusive, together.
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 Ltd and Turas Nua Ltd.
At present there are over 450 full-time equivalent personal advisers (excluding admi...

1482. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons over 62 years of age and who are therefore exempt from job activation schemes are being referred to JobPath on a regular basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35118/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - JobPath Implementation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1480 to 1484, inclusive, together.
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 Ltd and Turas Nua Ltd.
At present there are over 450 full-time equivalent personal advisers (excluding admi...

1483. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons who have been unemployed for only a very short period of time are being regularly referred to JobPath despite it being a scheme for long-term unemployed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35119/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - JobPath Implementation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1480 to 1484, inclusive, together.
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 Ltd and Turas Nua Ltd.
At present there are over 450 full-time equivalent personal advisers (excluding admi...

1484. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Protection the agreements regarding personal data in place between her Department and the private operators of JobPath (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35120/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - JobPath Implementation)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1480 to 1484, inclusive, together.
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 Ltd and Turas Nua Ltd.
At present there are over 450 full-time equivalent personal advisers (excluding admi...

1485. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will investigate the delay regarding a carer’s allowance appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35151/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Carer’s Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to hold an oral hearing in this case on 10th August 2017. The person concerned will shortly be notified of the arrangements for the hearing. 
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeal...

1486. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of an appeal in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35163/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned was held on 9 March 2017. However, the appeal decision was not finalised due to the Appeals Officer’s sudden absence from work due to illness. 
While it had been hoped that the Appeals Officer would be in a position to return to work in the short term, unfortunately this has not proven to be the case. In the circumstances and in ord...

1487. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the grounds upon which an appeal for jobseeker’s allowance was refused following an oral hearing in the case of a person (details supplied) that submitted extra documentation as required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35164/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Deputy will be aware that in order to qualify for a jobseekers allowance payment a person must satisfy a number of qualifying conditions.
The person concerned was refused jobseeker’s allowance by a Deciding Officer of the Department on the grounds that he did not satisfy the habitual residence condition.
I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having considered all the available evidence including that ...

1488. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 452 of 12 July 2017 and the revised projected inflation figure for 2018 included in the summer economic statement published on 12 July 2017, the rates of all weekly payments; the resulting rates if they were to be increased in line with the revised harmonised index of consumer prices for 2018; and the estimated cost of this increase per scheme identifying the full and partial year effect if relevant, in tabular form. (Question 35199/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Benefits Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The information that the Deputy is looking for is detailed in the following table. The costs are based on the 1.2% Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices rate for 2018, forecast in the Department of Finance’s Summer Economic Statement.
 Scheme Total Full Year Cost     -     €m Rate of Payment  2017 Proposed Rate of Payment 2018 Social Insurance Schemes     State Pension (Contributory) 56.93 €238.30 €241.10 Widow/er’s or Sur...

1489. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the analysis that has been carried out on the level of activity in each Intreo office in respect of the number and percentage of persons that they have interviewed in each of the past three years; the actions that have been taken on these interviews; the training and job placement rates, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35211/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Labour Activation Measures)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Labour market policy is guided by the Pathways to Work Strategy, which seeks to ensure that as many jobs as possible go to people on the Live Register. In line with this objective and as part of the activation agenda, Case Officers employed by my Department deliver activation and case management services to jobseekers across the network of Intreo Centres. Case Officers by their proactive engagement with jobseekers and through the provisio...

1490. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will address a clerical error made in respect of a carer’s allowance application granted on appeal to a person (details supplied) in view of the fact the carer’s allowance applications were made in respect of two persons and payment only issued in respect of one person; if she will ensure that the person receives their full rate of payment in respect of the two persons they are caring for and issue the full arrears owed in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35212/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): An application for carer’s allowance (CA) was received from the person concerned on 27 April 2016 in respect of two care recipients.
As a result of an appeals officer’s revised decision, CA was awarded to the person concerned on 26 June 2017 with effect from 28 April 2016. However, in error it was awarded in respect of one care recipient only. 
When the error was realised, CA was awarded in respect of both care recipients on 18 July 2017. ...

1491. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a decision has not been made in respect of a disability allowance appeal lodged by a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that the appeal was lodged on 9 February 2017; the reason for the delay in making a decision on this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35213/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Disability Allowance Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1479 and 1491 together.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to hold an oral hearing in this case on 31st August 2017. The person concerned will shortly be notified of the arrangements for the hearing. 
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and o...

1492. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of a carer’s allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35219/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I confirm that the department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 13 February 2017 in respect of two care recipients.
The application was disallowed on the grounds that the person concerned failed to provide information as requested by a deciding officer (DO) and as a result her entitlement could not be determined.
The person concerned was notified on 19 May 2017 of this decision, the reasons for ...

1493. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection if all security and contract cleaning companies that have obtained contracts from her Department and agencies under the aegis of her Department under public procurement rules are paying the legal Employment Regulation Order (ERO) hourly rate to their security and contract cleaning employees; the steps she has taken to confirm full compliance with the ERO system; if she has cancelled contracts with companies that have been found to be in breach of the ERO system since 1 October 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35233/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Contracts Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department’s cleaning and security suppliers wrote to the Department in 2015 to advise their implementation of the Employment Regulation Order (ERO) hourly rate increase from 1 October 2015. 
Further Employment Regulation Order (ERO) hourly rate increases were implemented in 2016 (cleaning) and 2017 (security). 
Additional increases are planned for later in 2017 (cleaning), for both cleaning and security in 2018, and for security in 201...