Header Item Written Answers Nos. 115 - 137
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Applications
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Disability Allowance Payments
 Header Item Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Data
 Header Item Registration of Marriages
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme
 Header Item Budget Statement
 Header Item Insurance Coverage
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Property Tax Exemptions
 Header Item Stamp Duty
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Mortgage Schemes
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Data

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 906 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 70 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 115 - 137

Carer's Allowance Applications

 115. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the steps she will take to expedite an application under the carer's allowance scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6167/16]

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 concerned on 3 February 2016. Once this application is processed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

  In the meantime, if the means of the person concerned are insufficient to meet his needs he can apply for a means-tested supplementary welfare allowance from his local community welfare service.

Family Income Supplement Applications

 116. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the status of an application under the family income supplement scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6168/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the Department received a Family Income Supplement application on 02 December, 2015 from the person concerned.

  A letter was issued on 11 December, 2015 to the person concerned requesting her to provided further information from the United Kingdom authorities in relation to her spouse. This information has not been received to date. When this information is received, her claim will be reviewed.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 117. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath following an unsuccessful application under the disability allowance scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6169/16]

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 disability allowance from the above named person on 12 November 2015.

  The application, based upon the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds and the person in question was notified in writing of this decision on 23 January 2016. The person was also notified of his right to a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

  To date the department has not received any application for a review or an appeal.

Disability Allowance Payments

 118. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a reply will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cavan regarding deductions in their disability allowance payment; if she will ensure that the full rate of social protection payment will be restored without further delay to this person and the reductions in their present payment ceased, as they have outlined the full circumstances of their case to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6172/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I confirm that the above named is currently in receipt of disability allowance. Deductions of €28.20 per week are in place as the person concerned has an outstanding debt owing to the department.

  The debt recovery unit have examined the documents submitted by the person concerned outlining his outgoings and they have agreed to reduce his weekly deductions to €15.00, commencing 13 April 2016.

Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme

 119. 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 if she plans changes to the partial capacity scheme; and if exemption arrangements will be put in place to allow persons to work part-time for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes. [6175/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Partial capacity benefit (PCB) is a statutory scheme, introduced by the Department in 2012, which is open to people who currently are in receipt of illness benefit for a minimum of 6 months or are in receipt of invalidity pension.

Participation on the PCB scheme is voluntary – its objective is to support people in receipt of those payments who acknowledge that they may have capacity to undertake some level of employment and wish to return to the workplace.

PCB replaced the previous exemption arrangements where people on illness benefit or invalidity pension, if they wished to continue to receive their social welfare payment, would have to seek permission from the Department to work part-time for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes.

National Internship Scheme Eligibility

 120. Deputy Bobby Aylward Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if an employer can re-hire an employee who has just completed a work placement on the Tús programme within the same organisation under the JobBridge scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6188/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, was introduced in July 2011 with the aim of providing unemployed people with the opportunity to secure work experience and to prove their competence to prospective employers, thereby breaking the vicious cycle of “no work, no experience; no experience, no work”.

The programme has strict eligibility criteria in place to protect the interests of participants, including the condition that a host organisation may not offer an internship opportunity to a person with whom they have an existing or previous employment relationship. Therefore a TÚS sponsor may not offer an internship to a person who has completed a TÚS placement with their organistion.

  Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 42.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 122. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if, in the case of an Irish citizen who returns from another European country after being abroad for two years and becomes homeless, the provision of a bed and breakfast address will qualify the person to apply for rent allowance or jobseeker’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6190/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton In order to qualify for social welfare payments in Ireland an applicant must satisfy the eligibility criteria applicable to the scheme concerned. Such criteria in the cases of rent supplement and jobseeker’s allowance include a means test, and satisfying the habitual residence condition. In all cases, decisions on the eligibility of persons to these schemes are made following consideration of all the circumstances of the person concerned. With respect to habitual residence, the Department of Social Protection’s published guidelines on the application of the condition specifically address the issue of returning emigrants stating that such persons may be regarded as habitually resident immediately on resuming their long-term residence in the State.

The primary responsibility for the provision of accommodation for homeless persons rests with local authorities. The Department of Social Protection's role with regard to people who are homeless is mainly income maintenance. Under the social welfare system, people who are homeless and people in temporary accommodation have entitlement to the full range of social welfare schemes, including supplementary welfare allowance, subject to the normal qualifying conditions.

Where a person is residing in homeless accommodation, such as bed and breakfast or long term hostel, steps are taken to verify their address in order to facilitate the payment of jobseeker’s allowance. Where a person is homeless and has no fixed abode or has night by night accommodation then he or she is referred to the Community Welfare Service for support under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

In applying for rent supplement under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, the tenant’s engagement with the Department usually takes place after the tenant has reached an agreement with the landlord, and would therefore detail the address for the proposed tenancy.

National Internship Scheme Data

 123. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of participants in the JobBridge scheme who secured employment with the firm or department in which they worked as part of the scheme; the number who were not offered work following the completion of their JobBridge placement; her views on whether the JobBridge scheme is a success; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6191/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys As of 1 April 2016, a total of 42,619 people had completed internships, of which 15,211 progressed immediately into employment on conclusion of the internship. 9,525 entered into employment with the host organisation and 5,686 with a different company. This represents a progression rate, upon conclusion, of 36%.

An independent evaluation conducted by Indecon Economic Consultants (Report 2013) indicated that the progression to employment rate increased 61% within 5 months or more of completion of an internship.

A commitment was given in Pathways to Work 2015 to develop and implement a robust evaluation programme to assess the impact of Pathways to Work initiatives and identify potential areas for future attention. A second independent external evaluation of JobBridge is currently underway. The results of the review will be published later this year and will provide an evidential basis upon which to consider how the scheme might best be improved.

Registration of Marriages

 124. 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 if she will examine the case of persons (details supplied) in County Cork who wish to be married here; the way in which the matter may be resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6235/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Where one or more of the parties to a proposed marriage have previously been granted a foreign divorce they must satisfy the registrar that the divorce is recognised in Ireland. The recognition of a foreign divorce in Ireland is governed by the Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorce Act 1986.

  The case referred to by the Deputy is currently being dealt with by the General Register Office and that office has been in direct contact with the applicants.

  As the Registrar General, by way of section 8(4) of the Civil Registration Act 2004, is independent in the performance of his or her functions the Minister has no jurisdiction in this matter.

  Documents supplied by the Deputy in relation to this case have been forwarded to General Register Office.

  Question No. 125 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 126. 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 an application for a hearing aid by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6264/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  Eligibility for this Benefit is based on a person’s PRSI record. To qualify in 2016, the customer must have:

  1. At least 260 PRSI contributions paid at Class A, E, H, or P since first starting work, and

  2. At least 39 such contributions paid or credited in 2014.

  While the customer meets the first condition she does not meet the second, and as a result does not qualify for benefit in her own right.

  As she is also in receipt of a pension in her own right, she does not qualify as a dependent spouse on her husband’s PRSI record.

  If she is the holder of a medical card, she should contact her local HSE, who will be able to advise her of her entitlements under their parallel scheme.

Jobseeker's Allowance Appeals

 127. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the progress in respect of an appeal for jobseeker's allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6277/16]

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 4 January 2016. 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.

  Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 6.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

 129. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will widen the remit relating to primary medical certificates (details supplied) to take into consideration parents of children with disabilities, such as children with severely low muscle tone. [5475/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a fuel grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme, an applicant must have a permanent and severe physical disability within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations (S.I. 353 of 1994) and satisfy one of the six qualifying criteria outlined in the Regulations. The Senior Medical Officer for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. A successful applicant is provided with a Primary Medical Certificate, which is required under the Regulations to claim the reliefs provided for in the Regulations. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the Senior Medical Officer to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual. The Regulations mandate that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions to ensure the integrity of its clinical determinations. After six months a citizen can reapply if there is a deterioration in their condition.

Parents may apply to the scheme on behalf of their child, who would be a disabled passenger in the parent's car, once the child satisfies one of the six qualifying criteria as outlined in the Regulations.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 and satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT foregone, and the repayment of excise on fuel used by members of the Scheme, the Scheme represented a cost of €48.6 million to the Exchequer in 2014, of which €7.6m related to excise relief on fuel costs, and €41m related to remission or repayment of VAT and VRT. This represents an increase of €5.1 million on the 2013 cost of the Scheme. This figure does not include the revenue foregone to the Local Government Fund in the respect of the relief from Motor Tax provided to members of the Scheme. 

I understand that there are sympathetic cases of individuals that do not come within the remit of the Scheme. Furthermore I recognise the important role that the Scheme plays in expanding the mobility of citizens with disabilities. I have managed to maintain the relief at current levels throughout the crisis despite the requirement for significant fiscal consolidation.  Unfortunately, the current context is still one of constrained resources.  In the still challenging fiscal environment and given the scale and scope of the Scheme, I have no plans to expand the medical criteria beyond the six currently provided for in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994.

Budget Statement

 130. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan for a breakdown of the line item gross fixed capital formation for each of the years 2016 to 2021 inclusive, contained in the 2016 budget manual, page C 50, table A8, line 4. [5577/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The annual general government Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) outturn is produced by the CSO and is published as part of the Government Finance statistics. This is produced in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010) where GFCF of general government consists of annual government investments, deducting disposals, in fixed assets. Fixed assets are tangible or intangible assets produced as outputs from production processes that are used repeatedly, or continuously, for more than one year.

  The forecast values for GFCF of general government for the period 2016 to 2021 referred to by the Deputy were produced by my Department and published in Budget 2016. These are extropolated from the outturns estimated by the CSO and known policy decisions. A breakdown of these values can be found in the table. Further information on capital expenditure plans over the period can be found in the Public Capital Plan published by the Department on Public Expenditure and Reform in September 2015.   

  General Government Gross fixed capital formation

-201620172018201920202021
€billions      
Voted2.02.22.52.93.33.7
Other General Government Bodies1.11.01.01.21.11.1
Local Government1.01.11.01.01.01.0
Total4.24.24.55.15.45.8

Insurance Coverage

 131. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his plans to tackle insurance issues for those affected by flooding (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5648/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am aware of the difficulties that the absence or withdrawal of flood insurance cover can cause to businesses. However, the provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter for insurance companies and is based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept and adequate provisioning to meet those risks.  In my role as Minister for Finance, I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation.  Neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products or have the power to direct insurance companies to provide flood cover to specific individuals or businesses.

Government policy in relation to flooding is focused on the development of a sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to dealing with flooding problems, with a view to addressing the increased availability of flood insurance.  To achieve this aim, there is a focus on prioritising spending on flood relief measures, and development and implementation of plans by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to implement flood relief schemes. This strategy is complemented by a Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and Insurance Ireland which provides for the transfer by the OPW of data in relation to completed flood defence schemes to the insurance industry, which should provide a basis for the increased provision of flood insurance in areas where works have been completed. 

The OPW has advised me that Athleague is one of the 300 areas being assessed under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) project and will therefore be the subject of a Flood Risk Management Plan (FRMP) to be produced by the end of 2016. Decisions on future investment in relation to flood risk management will be informed by the FRMPs.

The current flooding crisis has raised issues in relation to insurance and flooding. The Taoiseach and some other of my colleagues in Government met the insurance industry on Tuesday 12th January 2016 to discuss the industry's role in providing flood insurance and to obtain the industry's views on flood insurance issues.

In addition, my officials are undertaking research in the area of flood insurance which will include a comparative analysis of the different approaches to flood insurance taken in other countries.

Tax Code

 132. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the status of the change in the work practice arrangements of dental hygienists, whereby they are now classed as employees as opposed to self-employed, resulting in their payment being reduced by approximately €15 per patient; the reason this change was introduced to the detriment of dental hygienists; if he will reverse this change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5946/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed that the Revenue Commissioners engaged in discussions with the Irish Dental Association in 2012 to examine the particulars surrounding the engagement of Dental Associates and Dental Hygienists by Dental practices.  

  The Deputy may be aware that the terms "employed" and "self-employed" are not defined in tax law. The decision as to whether an individual is "employed" or "self-employed" is arrived at by looking at the terms and conditions under which he or she is engaged, be they written, oral or implied. It is not simply a matter of labelling a job an "employment" or "self-employment".

  There are widely accepted criteria in case law that help determine whether a worker is an employee or self-employed. Revenue's approach is to examine cases having regard to The Code of Practice for Determining Employment or Self Employment Status of Individuals (which is available on the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/codes-practice.html) and relevant case law. The Code sets out the various factors to be considered in determining the employment status of individuals. An important consideration in making this determination will always be whether the person performing the work does so "as a person in business on their own account."

  Having considered the circumstances surrounding the engagement of dental associates and dental hygienists in a number of cases it is the Revenue view that, generally speaking, associates and hygienists engaged by dental practices are engaged under a contract of service (i.e. they are employees) and their remuneration comes within the scope of PAYE.

  Notwithstanding the above, it is accepted that there may be exceptional cases where the terms of engagement differ from the norm and in these instances Revenue is prepared to look at these on a case-by-case basis. Revenue will consider each case on its own merits and in cases of doubt a submission outlining the terms and conditions of the engagement should be submitted by the dentist or the hygienist to their local Revenue District for consideration. It is not clear from the Deputy's question as to how the classification of dental hygienists as employees could affect payments received by them per patient. However, if the Deputy can submit additional information, I would be happy to have my officials look further into the matter.

Property Tax Exemptions

 133. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan when a person (details supplied) will receive the property tax exemption due to pyrite heave. [6041/16]

 143. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the status of an exemption from property tax for pyrite, including the changes proposed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5698/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 143 together.

  I am advised by Revenue that the qualifying criteria in respect of exemption from Local Property Tax (LPT) for properties with 'significant pyritic damage' was modified by the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Act 2015.

  The Amendment modified the qualifying criteria to include properties where:

  1. a certificate of damage has been completed by a competent person as set down in the relevant Regulations or,

  2. the property has been accepted into the pyrite remediation scheme operated by the Pyrite Resolution Board or,

  3. an insurance company has remediated the property or provided sufficient funds to carry out the remediation or,

  4. the person who built the property has remediated it or provided sufficient funds to carry out the remediation.

  1. Property owners claiming the exemption under Criteria 1 must provide a certificate to Revenue, which is completed in accordance with I.S. 398-1.2013 as set down by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. Property owners claiming the exemption under Criteria 2 to 4 must provide appropriate supporting documentation.

  1. Revenue has confirmed that updated guidelines in regard to the exemption from LPT on foot of significant pyritic damage are available on its website @http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/lpt/exemptions.html#section10 and property owners can apply by writing to LPT Branch, PO Box 100, Ennis, Co Clare or by calling the LPT Helpline at 1890 200255. Revenue has also confirmed that it is currently reviewing all applications for the exemption that were previously refused and will contact the relevant property owners in due course in regard to the outcomes or to request additional information as necessary.

  1. In regard to the specific case mentioned by the Deputy, Revenue has confirmed that the exemption has been granted to the person in question.

Stamp Duty

 134. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if persons can qualify for stamp duty exemption on transfers of land to young farmers where the persons concerned have a bachelor of agricultural science degree majoring in engineering technology, which is a full-time level 8 honours programme from University College Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5422/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a stamp duty exemption is available in respect of the transfer of agricultural land to young farmers where certain conditions are met. The conditions for the relief are set out in section 81AA of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 and one of these conditions is that a qualifying young trained farmer must hold one of the relevant educational qualifications listed in Schedule 2B to the Act. This Schedule is updated as new qualifications are approved by Teagasc. The Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree specialising in Engineering Technology awarded by University College Dublin is not currently included in the Schedule.   

The normal procedure for a qualification to be included on the Schedule 2B list is for Teagasc, at the request of the educational institution that awards the qualification, to evaluate a course and, where it considers the course to be suitable, to recommend it to the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. This department then asks my department to include the qualification on the Schedule 2B list by way of a provision in the next available Finance Bill.

Alternatively, the stamp duty exemption is available where Teagasc certifies that a particular educational qualification corresponds to a qualification included on the Schedule 2B list and that the qualification is deemed by the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland to be at least at a level equivalent to that of the particular Schedule 2B qualification.

Pension Provisions

 135. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if there is a mechanism to allow a person (details supplied) in County Galway who paid voluntary pension contributions in 2014 but failed to pay in 2015 to pay voluntary pension contributions for 2015; if there is an appeals mechanism in this regard; if he will consider an oversight of the payment deadline for 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5467/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by Revenue that all self-employed persons between 16 and 66 years of age, with reckonable income or emoluments of €5,000 or more per year, are liable for compulsory PRSI pension contributions. A self employed person who is not liable to pay PRSI in a particular year may, subject to meeting certain conditions, be eligible to become a voluntary contributor.

Compulsory PRSI contributions are assessed and charged through the Income Tax system. The person concerned made a tax return for 2014 and he was liable for compulsory PRSI contributions. He will shortly receive a tax return for 2015 which must be sent back to Revenue on or before 31 October 2016. If the amount of reckonable income is greater than €5,000 he will again be liable for compulsory PRSI pension contributions - when the return is made, an assessment will be issued by Revenue that will show the amount of PRSI due for 2015.

If the amount of reckonable income for 2015 is less than €5,000, the person concerned may, subject to meeting certain conditions, make voluntary PRSI pension contributions. Any queries in that regard are a matter for the Department of Social Protection. Further information is available from the Voluntary Contributions Section, Department of Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford.

Mortgage Schemes

 136. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the banks are required to regard an application for a mortgage from an Irish couple living in the United Kingdom, through which the family intend to buy a family home here for themselves to live in, as a buy-to-let mortgage with the associated deposit rules; if he recognises the immense difficulty this presents for Irish couples working in the United Kingdom who wish to return and live here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5472/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Firstly, let me make clear that the banks in Ireland are independent institutions and I, as Minister for Finance, have no role in operational matters in the banks including decisions in relation to the granting of credit, notwithstanding the fact that the State is a shareholder in some of these institutions.   

However, I have consulted with the Central Bank on the relevant Regulations, the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013 (Section 48) (Housing Loan Requirements) Regulations 2015.

According to the Regulations, different percentages apply depending on whether or not the property is intended to be used for principal home purposes. "Principal home purposes" means a residential property which a borrower uses or intends to use for the purpose of his or her principal home. The Regulations make no distinction as to the current country of residence of the borrower and do not require the lender to apply a lower threshold to mortgage applications by people currently based in another country.

The Regulations are not designed as a substitute for lenders' responsibilities to assess affordability and lend prudently on a case-by-case basis and these decisions are a matter for the banks themselves.

Section 57 BX of the Central Bank Act 1942 , as amended, provides that an eligible consumer may complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman about "a failure by the financial service provider to provide a particular financial service that has been requested." If the couple have made a formal complaint to the financial institution in question and are not satisfied with the reply received, I would suggest that they make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Tax Reliefs Data

 137. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will comply with European Union Communication OJEC C 332/0 and launch a dedicated website detailing the beneficiaries of section 481 tax relief relating to the film industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5529/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Finance Act 2014 made amendments to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 to provide for the publication of the details referred to by the Deputy. Following the commencement of the new section 481 corporation tax credit scheme in January 2015, Revenue has published details of beneficiaries of the scheme on the Revenue website on a quarterly basis.  This information can be found at the following address: http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/publications/beneficiaries-tax-relief.html.


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