Header Item ^Written Answers Nos.223-242^
 Header Item Semi-State Bodies Dividends
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Constitutional Convention Recommendations
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Dáil Reform
 Header Item Treatment Benefit Scheme
 Header Item Free Travel Scheme
 Header Item Disability Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Status
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Delays
 Header Item Rent Supplement Scheme Administration
 Header Item Back to Work Family Dividend Scheme Implementation
 Header Item Disability Allowance Applications
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 875 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

^Written Answers Nos.223-242^

Semi-State Bodies Dividends

 223. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will provide a list of the semi-State commercial companies under his control; the policy of a dividend payment to the Exchequer from each company; the dividend paid by each company to the Exchequer for each year from 2000 to 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14972/15]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), the only State Agency under the aegis of my Department.

  There are no semi-State commercial companies under the remit of my Department.

Crime Data

 224. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny when the quarter 3, 2014 crime statistics will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14679/15]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The publication of recorded crime statistics has been temporarily suspended by the CSO. This decision has been made on foot of the Garda Inspectorate report on Crime Investigation, published 11th November 2014.

The CSO understands that, while the claims in the report relate to the work of the Garda Síochána, the issues raised may have an impact on level and classification of CSO recorded crime statistics. Given such claims, the CSO could not continue to publish official statistics without a detailed examination of the issues raised by the Inspectorate.

The CSO is therefore currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the findings of the Garda Inspectorate report to assess the extent to which the findings of the Inspectorate are reflected in the data made available to the CSO for the compilation of recorded crime statistics.

On completion of this analysis the CSO will decide whether to resume publication of recorded crime statistics. If publication is resumed, users will be provided with a comprehensive analysis of the quality of the data source used for statistical purposes and by extension the quality of the recorded crime statistics.

Constitutional Convention Recommendations

 225. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his views on the provision for citizen initiated referendums to empower persons, and the separation of the Government and Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14270/15]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I take it that this question concerns the Fourth Report of the Convention on the Constitution.

The subject of the Fourth Report was the Dáil electoral system and the Convention made various recommendations in that regard. It also made three other recommendations, detailed below, to which I assume the Deputy is referring. The Fourth Report was debated in Dáil Éireann on 18 December 2014 and the script circulated in the Dáil that day by the Minister of State with special responsibility for Rural Economic Development and Rural Transport setting out the Government’s response is available on the website of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The three items referred to above, on which the Convention recommended that referendums be held, and the Government’s response on each, are as follows.

The Convention recommended that there should be a referendum to permit the appointment of non-Oireachtas members as Ministers. However, as the House will be aware, the Constitution already allows the Taoiseach to nominate as Ministers up to two people who have not been elected to the Oireachtas but have been nominated to the Seanad.  This provision enables the thrust of the Convention’s recommendation to be met without the need for a referendum. Taoisigh have availed of this facility only twice since 1937, in each case appointing one person as Minister.  The holding of a referendum to widen the scope of an option that already exists but has very rarely been used, and never to the full, would be very hard to justify.

The Convention also recommended a referendum to require Dáil members to resign their Dáil seats on appointment to Ministerial office. However, proposing a referendum to amend the Constitution to this effect would be a major change from the current Constitutional arrangement whereby members of the Government sit in the Oireachtas.

It would be difficult to propose such a referendum without making provision for who would succeed to the vacant seats and to secure the objective of freeing Ministers from constituency work. However, as regards filling the vacant seats, the Convention had not favoured a list system when considering the Dáil electoral system; and as regards freeing Ministers from constituency work, the Convention did not recommend automatic re-election of Ministers at the next general election.

Finally, the Convention recommended providing a right for citizens to petition on influencing the legislative agenda and to petition for referendums. However, referendums are already relatively common in Ireland and there is nothing to prevent citizens presenting petitions. Also, the Government has already substantially opened up the legislative process to citizens both via the work of the Convention itself and with the various packages of Dáil reform introduced since 2011. For example, a Public Service Oversight and Petitions Committee, chaired by a member of the Opposition, was established in 2011.  As part of its remit, the Committee receives and considers public petitions submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Committee also engages with the Ombudsman and other oversight bodies.

In addition, in 2011 the Government introduced a system of pre-legislative review before Oireachtas Committees. In 2013 this was expanded to become a pre-legislative stage before the relevant Oireachtas Committee as a requirement for non-emergency legislation generally. This allows for an unprecedented and extensive engagement by the public directly in the law making process. The Committee can consult with citizens with expertise in the area, civic society groups and other interested groups; crucially, such consultation takes place before the legislation is drafted.

The Government will however bear in mind these recommendations of the Convention when the latest package of Dáil reform, and its success in opening up the legislative process, is being reviewed.

Job Creation

 226. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding unemployment figures. [14003/15]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy requested the following details-

  Regarding the current unemployment figures, can you advise how many people are currently on the various back to work/further education schemes? Can you provide a breakdown on this for each county/constituency including the Dublin Bay north constituency? Can you also confirm if the people on the various back to work/education schemes are included in the overall unemployment figures that are published on a regular basis? If they are not, can you please provide an explanation why this is the case?

  The CSO can supply statistical related information pertaining to the Deputy's request for details regarding unemployment figures.

  The following table outlines the number of people on the various activation schemes run by the Department of Social Protection. There were 85,769 people in total engaged in these schemes in February 2015. The CSO does not have a geographical breakdown of these schemes.

  People who are engaged in work based activation programmes do not fall under the definition of being unemployed and do not appear in the unemployment estimates as reported by the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) which is the official source of estimates of unemployment in the State. The primary classification used for these QNHS results is the ILO (International Labour Office) labour force classification. Those engaged in education based activation programmes may or may not be classified as unemployed; depending upon their labour force situation they are classified based on the ILO labour force definition used in the QNHS. The classification for unemployed persons includes those persons who, in the week before the survey, were without work and available for work within the next two weeks, and had taken specific steps, in the preceding four weeks, to find work.

  Live Register Activation Programmes

Back to Work SchemesFebruary 2015
Back to Work allowance scheme - Employee strand12
Back to Work Enterprise allowance scheme -self employed strand11,260
Short-term Enterprise Allowance2447
Total Back to Work payments 11,709
Other Activation Programmes  
DSP Part-time Job Incentive397
TUS - Community Work Placement Initiative (2011) 7,877
JobBridge (2011)6,140
Total Other Activation Programmes14,414
Community Employment Schemes (excluding Supervisors) 23,034
FAS Full Time Training for Unemployed People(3)7,739
Back to Education Courses 
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)(4)N/A
Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)(5)23,873
Total Back to Education Courses 28,873
Total Activation Programmes85,769
  Source: CSO Live Register

1   This scheme was closed to new applications from 1st May 2009.

2   This scheme was introduced from 1st May 2009. It provides immediate support for someone in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit who wants to start a business.

3   Specific Skills Training/Local Training initiative/Traineeship/Return to Work.

4   VTOS figures are estimated at 5,000 each year.

5   BTEA figures include all schemes but participants from JA & JB are not entitled to BTEA during the summer holidays.

Crime Data

 227. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny when the Central Statistics Office will be in a position to publish more recorded crime data, in view of the crime recording classification issues that came to light in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15162/15]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The publication of recorded crime statistics has been temporarily suspended by the CSO. This decision has been made on foot of the Garda Inspectorate report on Crime Investigation, published 11th November 2014.

The CSO understands that, while the claims in the report relates to the work of the Garda Síochána, the issues raised may have an impact on level and classification of CSO recorded crime statistics. Given such claims, the CSO could not continue to publish official statistics without a detailed examination of the issues raised by the Inspectorate.

The CSO is therefore currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the findings of the Garda Inspectorate report to assess the extent to which the findings of the Inspectorate are reflected in the data made available to the CSO for the compilation of recorded crime statistics.

On completion of this analysis the CSO will decide whether to resume publication of recorded crime statistics. If publication is resumed, users will be provided with a comprehensive analysis of the quality of the data source used for statistical purposes and by extension the quality of the recorded crime statistics. Therefore, the CSO cannot currently state a date on which the publication of crime statistics will be resumed.

Dáil Reform

 228. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his progress on reform of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15165/15]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The process of parliamentary reform is an ongoing one. The Programme for Government outlined an ambitious agenda for Dáil Reform to be introduced in a phased process over the lifetime of the Government. On foot of this, since 2011 the working of the Dáil has been steadily reformed to enhance the legislative role of elected members and improve the working of the House.

  The measures introduced have included the following.

  The number of Dáil sitting days has been significantly increased by reducing the length of Dáil breaks at Christmas, Easter, bank holidays and the summer and introducing regular Friday sitting days. Since 2011, the Dáil has sat 31 more days per year (33%), with an average 124 sitting days per year, than the previous Dáil, which had an average of 93 days per year.

  The first phase of the Dáil Reform Programme was introduced in the summer of 2011 and included:

  - An additional Leaders' Questions session on Thursdays, taken by the Tánaiste

  - Topical Issues Debates to replace the outmoded Adjournment Debates so as to give Deputies an opportunity to raise issues directly with Ministers from the relevant Department

  - Friday sittings to enable Deputies to play a fuller role in the legislative process by introducing their own Bills and having those Bills debated on the floor of the Dáil

  -A mechanism for appeal to the Ceann Comhairle if a Deputy is unhappy with the reply received to a Parliamentary Question

  -A Pre-Legislative review system where by Ministers could provide the Heads of a Bill to the Oireachtas Committee to review before the Bill was published

  - Restructuring of the Oireachtas Committee system by reducing the number of Oireachtas Committees from 25 to 16

  - Introducing a new Oireachtas Committee chaired by an Opposition Deputy to work with Ombudsmen's offices and review petitions.

  In the summer of 2012, further reforms to the Oireachtas Committee system were introduced, which streamlined the structure and provided an additional focus on areas of priority such as Jobs and Agriculture.

  In September 2013 the Government announced the second phase of Dáil Reforms and the Dáil debated and approved changes to Standing Orders in October 2013. These reforms are being phased in and include changes to allow more public involvement in the law making process:

 - A Pre-Legislative Stage before an Oireachtas Committee is now a general requirement for non-emergency legislation. A Minister who does not bring a Bill to Committee for Pre-Legislative Stage is required to explain that decision to the Dáil.

  - The new Pre-Legislative Stage allows for an unprecedented and extensive engagement by the public in law making. The Committee can consult with experts and civic society groups; crucially, this takes place before the legislation is drafted.

  -Where there has been a Pre-Legislative Stage, the Chair or Vice Chair of the Committee has an opportunity to outline the Committee's work to the members of the Dáil during the Second Stage debate after the Minister and main opposition spokespeople have spoken on the Bill

  - By 28 February 2015, Oireachtas Committees had completed 39 Pre–Legislative Stages resulting in 37 Reports and two letters being sent to sponsoring Ministers.

  In addition, each year the Taoiseach and Tánaiste will address the Dáil setting out the Government’s annual priorities, with Ministers setting out their Department’s plans.

  The role of Oireachtas Committees in the Budget process has also been expanded.

  As a result of a set of reforms introduced to reduce the use of the guillotine, only three Bills were guillotined in the Dáil in 2014, down from 12 in 2013 and 19 in 2010. This has been achieved by reforms including a reduction in the number of Legislative Programmes to two per year increasing the time available for legislative debate in the Dáil by increasing the total number of sitting days, extending the length of sitting days and starting at 9.30 am on Wednesday and Thursdays.

  The way legislation is debated in the Chamber has been improved:

  - At First Stage the proposer of a Private Member’s Bill now has five minutes to outline the purpose of the Bill to the Dáil and explain the reasons for proposing it.

  - Where proposed legislation has been the subject of Pre-Legislative Scrutiny, at Second Stage the Chair or Vice Chair of the Committee which considered the Bill at Pre-Legislative Stage has a speaking slot, of the same length as that of the Minister and Opposition Spokespeople, to report to the Dáil on the Committee's findings.

  - At the end of the Second Stage debate, 45 minutes may be allowed for concluding remarks by Deputies, chosen by the Ceann Comhairle, who have previously spoken.

  The number of Friday sittings has been expanded and the Dáil now sits every second Friday to debate Private Members' Bills and Committee Reports selected using a lottery system. The new Friday sittings also allow Committees, for the first time, to seek directly to have their own reports debated in the Dáil. This has encouraged a rapid growth in the number of Bills introduced by Deputies, from 14 published in 2010 to 53 published in 2014. 82 Private Members' Bills were debated in the four years to 6 March 2015, compared to 16 debated in the 30th Dáil, and 21 Committee Reports have been debated, compared to nine debated in the 30th Dáil.

  The system of Topical Issues now requires the Minister or a Minister of State from the relevant Department to reply; if this is not the case, the Deputy who raised the issue can have it deferred until a Minister or Minister of State from that Department is available.

  The time allocated to Oral Parliamentary Questions to Ministers has been standardised to 75 minutes. An ordinary Oral Question will be answered only if the Deputy tabling the Question is in the Chamber when it is reached and the Deputy is given a brief period, of 30 seconds, to outline the question.

  The Government also passed the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges & Procedures) Act 2013 and the Standing Orders to establish Oireachtas Inquiry system are now in place. The Banking Inquiry is the first Oireachtas Inquiry established under this new legislation.

  Dáil Reform is an ongoing process and the Government intend, in the next few months, to bring forward a further package of reforms for consideration.

Treatment Benefit Scheme

 229. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if consideration is being given to re-instating the optical benefit scheme or the dental health scheme.  [15346/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The services available under the treatment benefit scheme were restricted in Budget 2010 due to the prevailing economic situation at that time and the urgent need to reduce public expenditure. Any future expansion of the schemes would have to be considered in light of available resources and competing priorities.

The changes to the treatment benefit scheme in Budget 2010 still allow for an annual free dental exam and an optical examination every two years, encouraging people to continue attending and helping maintain their dental and optical health.

Over 2 million people remain qualified for this entitlement under their or their spouse’s PRSI contributions. In 2014 over 450,000 people availed of either a free dental or optical examination, a 13% increase in uptake since 2012.

Free Travel Scheme

 230. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if the recent attempts to privatise part of the bus service is the first step in trying to do away with the free travel pass for senior citizens; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15731/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton There are currently approximately 800,000 people in Ireland in receipt of free travel at an annual cost of €77 million per annum. The free travel scheme is available to all people aged over 66 living permanently in the State. Applicants who are under age 66 must be in receipt of a qualifying payment in order to qualify for the scheme.

While the management and restructuring of bus routes etc. is primarily a matter for my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I wish to assure the Deputy that there is no intention of removing free travel from senior citizens.

Disability Allowance Applications

 231. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding a disability allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15154/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for disability allowance from the above named person on 23 March 2015. 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 application will be processed as quickly as possible.

The processing time for individual disability allowance claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information they provide in support of their claim.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 232. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will issue on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15156/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 6th January 2015. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

 233. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will expedite an appeal for jobseeker's and supplementary allowances in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.  [15166/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 24th March 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 against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

  Question No. 234 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

 235. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15175/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 29th January 2015. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Delays

 236. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if carer's allowance will be approved in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if the application will be expedited.  [15247/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance from the person in question on the 25th February 2015. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Rent Supplement Scheme Administration

 237. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide, in tabular form, the cost to the State arising from the rent supplement scheme for each of the years, 1989, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2013. [15250/15]

 258. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons, on a county basis, who have availed of the interim tenancy sustainment protocol to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15397/15]

 277. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the rent supplement cap in Balbriggan in County Dublin and in Drogheda and Dundalk in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15633/15]

 279. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will reconsider her decision not to increase rent supplement in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15636/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 237, 258, 277 and 279 together.

  The rent supplement scheme provides support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. There are currently approximately 70,000 rent supplement recipients, for which Government has provided over €298 million for 2015. Rent supplement expenditure figures from 1999 are provided in the following tabular statement; separate rent supplement expenditure data for the years 1989, 1993 and 1996 are not available.

  Details of the current maximum rent limits on a county basis are provided in the tabular statement below. The Department recently published a review of the maximum rent limits, “Maximum Rent Limit Analysis and Findings” and it is available on www.welfare.ie. The review finds that increasing rent limits at this time could potentially add to further rental inflation in an already distressed market, affecting not alone rent supplement recipients, but lower-income workers and students. Between the rent supplement scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) administered by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the State accounts for a third of the private rented market. The State is therefore a very significant player in the sector which has a responsibility not alone to rent supplement recipients but also to the market as a whole, including all those in private accommodation. The review finds that increasing the rent limits would have several potentially negative effects, including providing an impetus for current rent supplement landlords to renegotiate their lease agreements to the new limits impacting on all existing recipients at significant cost to the Exchequer.

  In light of the review’s findings, the Department will instead continue to allow for flexibility in assessing customers’ accommodation needs through the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework. Under this approach, each tenant’s circumstances throughout the country, including those in the Louth area, are considered on a case-by-case basis and rents can be increased above prescribed limits if deemed appropriate. I am satisfied that this is the appropriate response at this time which has assisted in excess of 1,000 rent supplement recipients throughout the country to retain their rented accommodation.

  In addition, the Department in conjunction with Threshold operates a Tenancy Sustainment Protocol in the Dublin and Cork areas where supply is most acute. The primary objective of the Protocol is to ensure a speedy intervention to ensure that families at immediate risk of losing their tenancy get rapid assistance. Of the 1,000 recipients mentioned above, over 500 households in Dublin and some 12 in Cork city have been provided assistance through increased rent limits under the Protocol.

  The review clearly points out that the main cause of difficulty for persons renting or seeking to rent at this time is the much reduced availability of affordable private rented accommodation. The issue of supply is being addressed by Government through the Construction 2020 Strategy and the Social Housing Strategy. My Government colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, is also considering a number of policy options in relation to achieving greater rent certainty.

  I can assure the Deputies that I am keeping this matter under close review to ensure that the appropriate supports continue to be provided for rent supplement recipients.

  Tabular Statements

  Table 1 : Maximum Rent Limits

CountySingle SharedCouple SharedSingleCoupleCouple/

One Parent Family - 1 Qualified Child
Couple/

One Parent Family - 2 Qualified

Children
Couple/

One Parent Family - 3 Qualified

Children
Dublin - Fingal300350520700850900950
Dublin - Not Fingal3504005207509509751,000
Carlow230250375433520560590
Cavan160190325350400415433
Clare190210320350400450500
Cork250270485575700725750
Donegal175200300325350400450
Galway280300475540700725750
Kerry190220365390500520540
Kildare250300433500650700750
Kilkenny200230390430540565590
Laois200230340350450480520
Leitrim175195300325350375400
Limerick200240375400500550600
Longford160175290300325340350
Louth215250390400550575600
Mayo195215375390433465500
Meath200260390420550600650
Monaghan180190300350400433450
Offaly200220360400450475500
Roscommon200220300325400410425
Sligo195220400425520540550
Tipperary195220370400485500525
Waterford220240375390475500525
Westmeath190210390400500520530
Wexford250270375390500540575
Wicklow240290425450600610625
North Kildare270290500575750800850
Bray2753005206808509251,000


  Table 2 : Rent Supplement Expenditure: 1999 to Present
YearCost - €000
1999128,240
2000150,590
2001179,438
2002252,203
2003331,471
2004353,762
2005368,705
2006388,339
2007391,466
2008440,548
2009510,751
2010 516,538
2011502,747
2012422,536
2013 372,909
2014338,1351
2015298,4152
1   2014 Revised Estimate.

2   Rev 2015 February Exp.

  Question 238 withdrawn.

Back to Work Family Dividend Scheme Implementation

 239. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when Social Welfare legislation to provide for the back to work family dividend scheme will be published.  [15291/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015, which provides for the Back to Work Family Dividend scheme was published on 16 February, 2015. The Bill has passed all stages in the Dáil and is currently being considered in the Seanad. It is expected to be enacted in May 2015.

Disability Allowance Applications

 240. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if all of the information submitted by a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, relative to that person's appeal for disability allowance, and the information submitted by this Deputy and acknowledged on the 26 February 2015, was considered in the context of that appeal; if an oral hearing will be granted in the case, as some information requested by her Department's official is not available, as it is quite dated and the person has done his best to comply with requests for information.  [15292/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  The Department received an application from the person in question on 30 April 2014. The file was sent to a social welfare inspector (SWI) to carry out a means assessment. The SWI was unable to finalise their report as the person in question had not supplied all the necessary information as requested. The application was disallowed on 12 February 2015 as the deciding officer was unable to establish the person’s means.

  I can confirm that additional information was subsequently received from the person in question. These documents are currently being reviewed by a deciding officer and the person concerned will be informed directly of the outcome of the review. If, following the review, the decision to disallow the application remains unchanged the file will be passed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 241. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton further to an application for carer's allowance which was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, if she will arrange an oral hearing; if the oral hearing will be expedited in view of the fact the case is urgent.  [15294/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the Department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person in question on the 24th June 2014. The person in question was refused CA as a deciding officer, having reviewed the evidence provided, found that full time care and attention as required for CA were not being provided by the person concerned. She was notified of this decision on the 25th September 2014, the reasons for it and of her right of review or appeal.

The person concerned appealed this decision and the case was submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination. An appeals officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned was notified on 21st January 2015 of the appeals officer’s decision and the reason(s) for it.

Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of an appeals officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the appeals officer in the light of new evidence or new facts which were not available at the time of the decision. It is open to the person in question to submit a new application for carer's allowance and this will be processed in the normal way.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 242. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a carer's allowance appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary.  [15303/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The appeal for the person concerned has been allowed and carer’s allowance has been awarded and is in payment. The person in question was notified of this decision on the 1st April 2015.


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