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 ...

729. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 32120/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Social Welfare Appeals)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31st May 2017. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Social Protection. These papers have been received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 8th June 2017 and the case...

1994. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of time it is taking to process maternity benefits; the amount of time persons are waiting for their benefit to be paid; if her attention has been drawn to the stress caused especially for persons with no other income; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26822/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Maternity Benefit Administration)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department continues to make good progress on processing the backlog of maternity claims and I can report that all claims relating to people who have already commenced their maternity leave have now been processed. The Department is currently processing claims where the expectant mother is commencing her maternity leave in the current week and the waiting time for these customers has been eliminated.
Claims are processed by reference to...

2029. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if the former workers of a company (details supplied) have been written to; when they can expect their payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 27532/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2029 to 2031, inclusive, together.
The mediated agreement for former Waterford Crystal workers, covers members of the Waterford Crystal Limited Contributory Pension Plan for Staff and the Waterford Crystal Limited Contributory Pension Scheme for Factory Employees, and provides for the payment of – 
(a) a tax-free once-off lump sum of €1,200 for every year of pension scheme service (not company service), not...

2030. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if there are outstanding issues relating to the pension schemes of a company (details supplied) to which former employees may still have a claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 27533/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2029 to 2031, inclusive, together.
The mediated agreement for former Waterford Crystal workers, covers members of the Waterford Crystal Limited Contributory Pension Plan for Staff and the Waterford Crystal Limited Contributory Pension Scheme for Factory Employees, and provides for the payment of – 
(a) a tax-free once-off lump sum of €1,200 for every year of pension scheme service (not company service), not...

2031. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to former members of a company (details supplied) who still have claims outstanding relating to their pension entitlements under pension schemes. (Question 27534/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2029 to 2031, inclusive, together.
The mediated agreement for former Waterford Crystal workers, covers members of the Waterford Crystal Limited Contributory Pension Plan for Staff and the Waterford Crystal Limited Contributory Pension Scheme for Factory Employees, and provides for the payment of – 
(a) a tax-free once-off lump sum of €1,200 for every year of pension scheme service (not company service), not...

115. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason the waiting list for domiciliary care allowance applicants is 14 weeks or more; his plans to improve this waiting time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26337/17 asked on 01 Jun 2017 - Domiciliary Care Allowance)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) claims that require medical and other supporting documentation can take some time to properly assess, particularly as the opinion of one of the department’s medical assessor’s is routinely required.
Increasing numbers applying for DCA have been a feature of this scheme in recent years. In the 4 year period from 2013 to 2016 the number of applications has increased by 54%, from under...

325. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of a domiciliary allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 24212/17 asked on 23 May 2017 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from this lady on the 24th January 2017. This lady was notified on the 18th May 2017 that her domiciliary care allowance claim has been awarded from 1st February 2017. The first payment of the allowance, along with arrears due, will issue on the 20th June 2017.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
 ...

413. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons on jobseeker’s allowance aged 65 years of age in each of the years 2014 to 2016 and to date in 2017 by county, in tabular form. (Question 9687/17 asked on 28 Feb 2017 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following table.
 Recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance aged 65 by county at 31 December in each of the years 2014 to 2016 and at 31 January 2017 County 31 December 2014 31 December 2015 31 December 2016 31 January 2017 Carlow 44 32 41 43 Cavan 47 43 42 32 Clare 106 61 75 72 Cork 275 256 258 240 Donegal 133 131 127 122 Dublin 473 562 607 586 Galway 122 132 ...

146. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection when he will bring a memorandum to Government on the review of the community employment programme; when he will publish same, as outlined by him in October 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2115/17 asked on 18 Jan 2017 - Community Employment Schemes Review)

Minister for Social Protection Deputy Leo Varadkar: My Department operates a number of programmes including Community Employment (CE), Tús, Gateway and the Rural Social Scheme that provide part-time temporary work in local communities, including opportunities for training and development as a stepping-stone back to employment, for people in receipt of a range of social welfare payments, including those on a long-term jobseeker’s payment. 
These schemes help to break the cycle of unemployment and...

184. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection when he will make a statement on the recent review of community employment which his Department recently conducted; if he will publish this review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35652/16 asked on 17 Nov 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Review)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Department of Social Protection completed a report on the Community Employment (CE) Programme in late 2015. This report was completed in the context of the Government’s activation strategy Pathways to Work and meets the Department’s commitment to analysing CE, as the largest employment programme, and to ensuring the delivery of services, value for money and progression of the individual is central to its core objective. 
I met with my s...

306. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if a use or lose by year end rule is or has been in operation within his Department when devolving funding to labour activation programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 30205/16 asked on 18 Oct 2016 - Labour Activation Measures)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Department’s schemes are mainly demand led. The demand for individual schemes is driven by demographic trends and economic factors. In the case of most labour activation programmes, like Community Employment for example, scheme funds are drawn down as required on a regular basis over the course of the year based on projected expenditure which is closely monitored by the Department. If the full allocation is not required in any given ye...

308. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for an underspend in the budget allocation 2015 for supervision of €1.5 million on the labour activation programme, community employment; the details of where the surplus went to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 30211/16 asked on 18 Oct 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Funding)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Community Employment (CE) Scheme funds are drawn down as required on a regular basis over the course of the year based on projected expenditure which is closely monitored by the Department. If the full allocation for any scheme is not required in any given year, funds will not be drawn down from the Exchequer. Various factors may have led to lower than estimated supervisory expenditure in 2015. Approximately 50 supervisors per year retire...

397. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the funding of the community employment programme 2015 under the headings in budget and actual amounts in participant allowances, supervision, materials and training, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 21962/16 asked on 19 Jul 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Funding)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Community Employment (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged with an opportunity to engage in part-time work and training within their communities on a temporary, fixed-term basis. 
The CE budget allocation for 2016 is €376.5m and it allows for 23,752 participants and 1,375 supervisory staff. Details of the funding in 2015, under the headings budget and actual ...

398. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors in each region of his Department who are due to retire or reach 66 years of age for the years 2016 and 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 21963/16 asked on 19 Jul 2016 - Departmental Staff Retirements)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Details of CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors due to reach 66 years of age during the remainder of 2016 are set out as follows: 
 Region Supervisor Assistant Supervisor Grand Total Cork Central 2 2 Dublin Central 1 1 Dublin South 1 1 Mid-Leinster 4 4 Midlands North 4 1 5 Midlands South 2 2 Mid-West 1 1 North East 1 1 3 North West 2 2 South East 1 1 South West 2 2 West 2 2 Grand Total 23 2 2...

242. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is aware that supervisors working on community employment schemes reaching 66 years of age are being forced to retire from their jobs as funding for their salaries is being withdrawn when in fact there is no legal retirement age here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18176/16 asked on 28 Jun 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Supervisors)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Community Employment (CE) is a non-statutory scheme put in place to support persons who are long-term unemployed and other vulnerable groups to gain the confidence and skills to re-enter the labour market. Schemes are sponsored by local community and voluntary groups who provide valuable support services to local communities. These sponsoring organisations employ supervisory staff to administer the scheme. 
Funding is provided by the Depart...

271. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is aware that funding is being withdrawn from community employment schemes for supervisors reaching 66 years of age and thereby forcing supervisors into retirement when there is no legal retirement age here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18178/16 asked on 28 Jun 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Community Employment (CE) is a non-statutory scheme put in place to support persons who are long-term unemployed and other vulnerable groups to gain the confidence and skills to re-enter the labour market. Schemes are sponsored by local community and voluntary groups who provide valuable support services to local communities. These sponsoring organisations employ supervisory staff to administer the scheme.
Funding is provided by the Departm...

272. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is aware that currently the financial viability of a large number of community employment schemes is at stake and may face closure due to the massive increases both in insurance premiums and accounting fees imposed on community and voluntary sponsors; if he will consider increasing the material grant per participant to 2011 rate of €20 per week per participant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18183/16 asked on 28 Jun 2016 - Community Employment Schemes Funding)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Each community employment (CE) scheme has an individually set weekly materials rate per participant based on a detailed appraisal of their actual annual expenditure levels in previous years. All expenditure must be accounted for and vouched by way of receipts. It is the responsibility of the scheme to ensure that they have obtained the best price, including for the scheme’s audit and insurance services and that they have achieved value for ...

478. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will consider lowering the starting age of the State pension to 65 years of age to put it in line with the general age of retirement; if he accepts the unfairness of a person who has worked all their life and has paid full contributions should not have to claim jobseeker’s allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13171/16 asked on 31 May 2016 - State Pension (Contributory))

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provided for increases in the State pension age over a period of years. This process began in January 2014 with the abolition of the State pension (transition) previously available at 65, thereby currently standardising State pension age for all at 66 years. The changes introduced in 2011 were on foot of a Government commitment included in the National Recovery Plan published in 2010 and in the subse...

40. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection why she issued correspondence encouraging social protection recipients, especially jobseekers who work casually and part time, to use banks and financial institutions instead of post offices to receive payments; if this is undermining the post office network; if she will respond to concerns raised by persons who wish to continue to use their post office in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6707/16 asked on 14 Apr 2016 - Post Office Network)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Government is committed to the maintenance of the Post Office network and to the development of the Standard Bank Account. Mindful of the current and ongoing discussions on Government formation any further development of policy will be a matter for the incoming Government.
The current position is that the department has a cohort of jobseeker customers who are classified as casual jobseekers. These are in-work customers who ca...