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Questions on Promised Legislation (13 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I will certainly examine the matter. I know the cost of transport is a real issue. Of course it is not only an issue for people who are attending JobPath. It is an issue for people who go to work.

Questions on Promised Legislation (13 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: It is an issue as well for people who take part in CE schemes and in other areas.

Questions on Promised Legislation (13 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I have read the recommendation. My Department is not the employer, and the responsibility for implementing any Labour Court recommendation falls on the employer. While the Department is certainly the employer of many staff, the supervisors are employed by the sponsoring bodies.

Other Questions: Employment Support Services (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: The evidence that exists, which is there in the first quarterly report on the Department of Social Protection website, and there will be another quarterly report out in the next couple of weeks, shows very high levels of customer satisfaction. It also shows that people who have been referred to Seetec and Turas Nua are more likely to be in employment and to gain employment than a similar...

Other Questions: Jobseeker's Allowance Payments (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: The Central Statistics Office latest monthly figures report that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for persons aged between 15 and 24 was 13.9% in March 2017. This is a significant decrease of more than five percentage points, from 19% in March 2016. Lower weekly rates for younger jobseekers were first introduced in 2009 and further extended in subsequent budgets. The rationale...

Other Questions: Jobseeker's Allowance Payments (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I do not have the report so I cannot bring it forward at this stage. Once I have it I will certainly read it and bring it forward then. Changes I am making at the moment which the Deputy may be aware of include the opening up of the community employment, CE, scheme to younger people by reducing the minimum age from 25 to 21 for all schemes. It is already the case for child care and one or...

Other Questions: State Pensions (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: There are anomalies. The Government made the right decision to increase the pension age. It might not be popular but it was necessary. The State pension age in the 1970s was 70. Average life expectancy in those days was 68 for a man and 72 for a woman so people paid into the pension system for 40 or 50 years and retired for a few years. We are now in a very different situation where...

Other Questions: State Pensions (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I am aware of the problem. We are looking for a solution precisely because of the reason mentioned by the Deputy, namely, the fact that this issue will become twice as frequent in 2021 and three times as frequent in 2028 so it would be wise of us to find a solution as quickly as possible. Admittedly, it certainly would have been wiser when the change was made a few years ago to think...

Other Questions: Employment Support Services (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: The State's public employment service is managed by my Department and delivered directly by its own Intreo service, as well as by contracted private companies such as the two JobPath companies, Seetec Limited and Turas Nua Limited, the local employment service companies and job club providers. The Department has contracts in place with in excess of 60 companies for the provision of these...

Other Questions: Employment Support Services (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I am certainly aware of allegations of cherry-picking but they do not stack up because it is my Department that decides who is referred to JobPath. This is very different to the model used in the UK, which has been much criticised and where cherry-picking was possible. We decide who is referred and we make sure it is a decent spread of people with different types of needs. I do not...

Other Questions: Social Insurance (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I will have to get back to the Deputy with the details on that. The self-employed will be able to apply for invalidity pension but not illness benefit. There is a difference between the schemes but the criteria for the self-employed will be the same as for employees for invalidity pension. The costs for 2017 are €1.5 million; €23 million for 2018 and €38 million for...

Other Questions: Social Insurance (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: In response to Deputy Penrose first, it does not have to be the case but it has always been the case that the benefit is aligned with the leave. If somebody gets X number of weeks statutory maternity leave we will match that with the benefit. I had intended to do the same. Of course, the money does not come from my pot. It comes from the Social Insurance Fund so that has to come from...

Other Questions: State Pensions (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers. Where a person exits the workforce before reaching State pension age they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes. Jobseeker’s payments are paid to eligible...

Other Questions: Unemployment Levels (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I did not claim, nor do I believe, that everything is rosy in the garden of Wexford. That is not what I said. I appreciate that there are long-standing problems in Wexford. As Deputy Walllace knows, I lived there for a few months while I was a hospital doctor. I got to know the county and liked it a lot. It has a lot to offer. It has not done as well is it should have done for decades...

Other Questions: Unemployment Levels (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: No one thing will solve all our problems. However, the vast majority of people in Wexford, certainly any I have talked to, welcome the substantial investment that has been made in the road network in Wexford including that Gorey is bypassed and we are building new roads for Enniscorthy and New Ross. Roads help to bring economic development into a county. The national broadband plan is...

Other Questions: Social Insurance (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I do not know why that is so. The Deputy might pass that letter on to me. I would be interested to see it.

Other Questions: Social Insurance (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: It may concern a pre-1995 public servant who pays 0.9% rather than 15%. If the contribution is less than one fifteenth of the normal contribution, the benefits will be less.

Other Questions: Social Insurance (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 46 together. PRSI is just one element of a statutory payroll deduction system that includes three parts, income tax, USC, and PRSI, which between them have three different sets of thresholds and entry points, seven bands and eight rates. Given its complexity, this is a system that most people find difficult to understand. It is expensive to...

Other Questions: Free Travel Scheme (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: First of all, we only have a certain amount of money allocated in the budget for free travel this year, which is in the region of €77 million to €80 million. That is the envelope in which I can operate. I do not have the authority to spend a whole load of extra money beyond that envelope in one year because of the way the Estimates work. It is not the case that I can just...

Other Questions: Family Income Supplement (11 Apr 2017)

Leo Varadkar: The family income supplement, FIS, is an in-work support, which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings who have dependent children. FIS is designed to prevent in-work poverty for lower paid workers with child dependants and to offer a financial incentive to take up employment. There are in excess of 57,000 families with more than 126,000 children in receipt of FIS. The...

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