418. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to commence discussions with a view to reaching agreement with the Irish Dental Association on the restoration of treatments under the dental benefit treatment scheme following the suspension of all treatments other than a dental examination in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 27054/16 asked on 27 Sep 2016 - Dental Services Provision)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Department officials met with representatives of the Irish Dental Association recently to discuss matters outlined in the programme for Government. 
Any changes to the scheme can only be considered within the overall budgetary context, taking account of available resources and competing demands. 
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
 ...

310. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will allow an increase in the self referral percentage for Tús work placement initiative participants in Cork from the current 20% (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19635/16 asked on 05 Jul 2016 - Community Work Initiatives)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Tús, the community work placement initiative was set up to provide short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. This initiative is being delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tús is designed to break the cycle of unemployment and maintain work readiness thereby improving a person’s opportunities of returning to the labour market. Initially all par...

23. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection why a person (details supplied) in County Cork who has been awarded partial capacity benefit of 75% will not be able to receive a top-up of the remaining 25%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6582/16 asked on 14 Apr 2016 - Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme Eligibility)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) is a social welfare scheme which allows a person return to employment if they have a reduced capacity for work and to continue to receive a payment from my department. A person who applies for PCB will, in the first instance, be assessed by a Medical Assessor who assesses the degree of partial capacity.
Following a medical assessment the person concerned was assessed as having a severely reduced cap...

24. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in forwarding the file of a person (details supplied) in County Cork to the appeals office to facilitate the case in proceeding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6583/16 asked on 14 Apr 2016 - Social Welfare Appeals)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence including that adduced at the oral hearing, has decided to disallow the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the Appeals Officer’s decision 
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is r...

36. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if some pupils in schools with DEIS status have an entitlement to a school meal, while others do not; if so, the reason; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 1045/16 asked on 13 Jan 2016 - School Meals Programme)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 36 and 179 together.
The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food services to some 1,700 schools and organisations which benefits approximately 217,000 children at a total cost of €39 million in 2015. An additional €3 million was allocated to the programme as part of Budget 2016, bringing the allocation to €42 million in 2016.
There are two scheme...

38. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection regarding the humanitarian fund, if she will allow residents (details supplied) in County Cork to purchase preventative equipment such as pumps and sandbags in order that the community can immediately take preventative measures to avoid flooding. (Question 1380/16 asked on 13 Jan 2016 - Humanitarian Assistance Scheme)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 to 39, inclusive, 104, 106, 114, 181 and 182 together.
The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is the lead Department for severe weather emergencies and the Office of Public Works has responsibility for capital flood relief activities. However, the Department of Social Protection has an important role to play in assisting households in the immediate aftermath of emergen...

39. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the assistance available to residents who cannot obtain flood insurance for their homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 1385/16 asked on 13 Jan 2016 - Humanitarian Assistance Scheme)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 to 39, inclusive, 104, 106, 114, 181 and 182 together.
The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is the lead Department for severe weather emergencies and the Office of Public Works has responsibility for capital flood relief activities. However, the Department of Social Protection has an important role to play in assisting households in the immediate aftermath of emergen...

264. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will consider revisiting the rule whereby persons who are in receipt of the widow’s pension, and who work and pay PRSI, could also be in receipt of illness benefit, even at a half-rate, similar to persons who can claim a half-rate carer’s allowance while in receipt of another social protection payment. (Question 38286/15 asked on 03 Nov 2015 - Social Welfare Code)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The social welfare system is primarily a contingency-based system, with entitlement based on a number of defined contingencies such as sickness, unemployment, old age or widowhood.
There are two basic principles which underpin the Irish social insurance system. Firstly there is the contributory principle. Under this principle there is a direct link between the PRSI contributions that a person has paid and entitlement to a varyin...

212. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the full-year cost in 2016 of increasing the jobseeker’s allowance for those aged from 18 to 24 years, by €10; €20; and €30 per week. (Question 35988/15 asked on 20 Oct 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Question Nos. 212 to 214, inclusive, together.
The estimated full year cost in 2016 of increasing the €100 and €144 rates of jobseeker’s allowance for those aged 18 to 24 years of age by €10.00, €20.00 and €30.00 is detailed in the following table. 
 Weekly Increase 18 to 24 year olds (on €144 per week rate only)Cost €m 18 to 24 year olds (on €100 per week rate only)Cost €m €10.00 0.8 15.40 €20.00 1....

213. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the estimated full-year cost in 2016 of increasing the jobseeker’s allowance for those under 26 years of age by €10; €20; and €30 per week. (Question 35989/15 asked on 20 Oct 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Question Nos. 212 to 214, inclusive, together.
The estimated full year cost in 2016 of increasing the €100 and €144 rates of jobseeker’s allowance for those aged 18 to 24 years of age by €10.00, €20.00 and €30.00 is detailed in the following table. 
 Weekly Increase 18 to 24 year olds (on €144 per week rate only)Cost €m 18 to 24 year olds (on €100 per week rate only)Cost €m €10.00 0.8 15.40 €20.00 1....

214. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the disability allowance; the blind pension; the invalidity pension; and the carer’s allowance, by €20; €25; and €30 per week. (Question 36010/15 asked on 20 Oct 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Question Nos. 212 to 214, inclusive, together.
The estimated full year cost in 2016 of increasing the €100 and €144 rates of jobseeker’s allowance for those aged 18 to 24 years of age by €10.00, €20.00 and €30.00 is detailed in the following table. 
 Weekly Increase 18 to 24 year olds (on €144 per week rate only)Cost €m 18 to 24 year olds (on €100 per week rate only)Cost €m €10.00 0.8 15.40 €20.00 1....

215. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the estimated cost in 2016 of increasing the income disregard of €350 for those in receipt of disability allowance by €10; €16; and €20 per week. (Question 36011/15 asked on 20 Oct 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 to 217, inclusive, together.
Given the demand-led nature of the three schemes in question, such changes in the qualifying conditions would have an unquantifiable impact on the numbers of people claiming, and as a result, it is not possible to estimate the costs involved.
 ...

216. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the estimated cost in 2016 of increasing the income disregard of €350 for those in receipt of the Blind Pension by €10; €16; and €20, per week. (Question 36012/15 asked on 20 Oct 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 to 217, inclusive, together.
Given the demand-led nature of the three schemes in question, such changes in the qualifying conditions would have an unquantifiable impact on the numbers of people claiming, and as a result, it is not possible to estimate the costs involved.
 ...

217. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of abolishing the means test for the carer’s allowance. (Question 36014/15 asked on 20 Oct 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 to 217, inclusive, together.
Given the demand-led nature of the three schemes in question, such changes in the qualifying conditions would have an unquantifiable impact on the numbers of people claiming, and as a result, it is not possible to estimate the costs involved.
 ...

49. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide in tabular form the current waiting times for each social welfare payment for the processing of applications by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32385/15 asked on 23 Sep 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): A breakdown of the average time, where available, to award claims during August 2015 is detailed in the following tabular statement.
It should be noted that processing times vary by scheme reflecting the differing requirements to satisfy conditions such as income/means limits and medical eligibility. The processing times provided in the table also incorporate the impact of overall processing times of the appeals process.
Average T...

146. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the number of families whose one-parent family payment was discontinued from July 2015, and who transferred to other social welfare benefits; and if she will provide, in tabular form, a breakdown, by county. (Question 30541/15 asked on 22 Sep 2015 - One-Parent Family Payment Application Numbers)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The latest data collated by the Department on the numbers of customers who transitioned out of the one-parent family payment (OFP) as a result of the reform on 2 July, 2015, show that some 25,500 customers transitioned out of the scheme on that day. Of those customers approximately:
- 13,700 moved to the jobseeker’s transitional payment;
- 2,500 moved to the jobseeker’s allowance (JA) scheme, and
- 8,100 moved to the family incom...

208. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide in tabular form divided by county, the number of recipients of employment supports in each county at the end of August 2015 or the most recent date available. (Question 31283/15 asked on 22 Sep 2015 - Employment Support Services)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The information requested by the Deputy is collated annually at the 31st of December for inclusion in my Department’s Statistical Information on Social Welfare report which will be shortly be presented to the Oireachtas and will be available in the Dáil library.
It should be noted that the county level statistics indicate the number of people signing-on for payment at an office located in the county indicated. As the catchment ar...

89. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide, in tabular form for 2013 and 2014 and for 2015 to date, the number of persons to whom her Department provided data relating to the Health Service Executive under section 8 of the Health (Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Act 2013. (Question 30007/15 asked on 16 Jul 2015 - Departmental Correspondence)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Compilation of the detailed figures requested covering a multi annual period will take a number of day’s work. A full answer to the question will follow within the next two weeks when the necessary work has been completed.
 ...

105. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection when her Department’s annual report for 2014 will be published. (Question 30219/15 asked on 16 Jul 2015 - Departmental Reports)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The 2014 Annual Report of the Department of Social Protection was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 22 May 2015, and was published on the 25 May 2015.
The 2014 Annual Report is available for download on the Department’s website at http://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/ar2014.pdf.
 ...

118. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide, in tabular form for 2013 and 2014 and for 2015 to date, the number of persons regarding whom her Department requested the Health Service Executive to provide personal data on, under section 8 of the Health (Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Act 2013, where the data is required to calculate the means of a person, in order to assess or review entitlements to benefits and services provided under the Social Welfare Acts. (Question 30375/15 asked on 16 Jul 2015 - Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Department of Social Protection does not seek or receive personal details from the Health Service Executive in order to establish Social Welfare entitlements.
 ...

104. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan, given that a determination on a local authority house will be made within a week, and this is dependent on the person being in receipt of a social welfare payment. (Question 27719/15 asked on 07 Jul 2015 - Social Welfare Appeals)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 30 June 2015, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing. 
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals a...

166. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide, in tabular form by county, the number of persons being impacted by the changes being introduced to the one-parent family payment on 1 July 2015. (Question 25883/15 asked on 30 Jun 2015 - One-Parent Family Payments)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): It is anticipated that approximately 29,400 one-parent family payment recipients will be transitioning out of the one-parent family payment scheme on 2 July, 2015.
A breakdown by county basis of the number of persons who will be impacted by the changes is not available.
 ...

51. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection to set out the estimated full year cost of a €1 increase in the living alone allowance. (Question 24396/15 asked on 18 Jun 2015 - Social Welfare Schemes)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 52 together.
The estimated full year cost of increasing the Living Alone Allowance by €1 per week is €9.9 million.
The estimated full year cost of increasing the Respite Care Grant to €1,700 per annum is €29.4 million.
It should be noted that these costings are subject to change over the coming months in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recip...

52. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection to set out the estimated full year cost of restoring the respite grant to the level it was prior to the 2013 budget. (Question 24397/15 asked on 18 Jun 2015 - Social Welfare Schemes)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 52 together.
The estimated full year cost of increasing the Living Alone Allowance by €1 per week is €9.9 million.
The estimated full year cost of increasing the Respite Care Grant to €1,700 per annum is €29.4 million.
It should be noted that these costings are subject to change over the coming months in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recip...

44. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection her views on changing the qualifying criteria for the carer’s allowance to allow those who care for high-dependency children with rare illnesses to qualify regardless of means; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22701/15 asked on 11 Jun 2015 - Carer’s Allowance Eligibility)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I should point out that the means test for carer’s allowance (CA) has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system - the income disregard is €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 per week for a couple
I am satisfied that the means test as it presently applies in respect of CA helps to ensure that the allowance is targeted appropriately, in supporting ...