Written answers

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Department of Social Protection

Humanitarian Assistance Scheme

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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37. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the amount of the €15 million humanitarian funding for flood victims that has been disbursed to victims to date; and the amount of the €10 million emergency assistance funding for homeowners that has been recouped. [1105/16]

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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38. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection regarding the humanitarian fund, if she will allow residents (details supplied) in County Cork to purchase preventative equipment such as pumps and sandbags in order that the community can immediately take preventative measures to avoid flooding. [1380/16]

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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39. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the assistance available to residents who cannot obtain flood insurance for their homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1385/16]

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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104. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection how many persons in County Mayo have applied for assistance and how many have received assistance under her Flooding Hardship Scheme, since 4 December 2015; the total value of payments made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1039/16]

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
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106. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the assistance provided to those whose homes and other properties were flooded in past number of weeks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1101/16]

Photo of Michelle MulherinMichelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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114. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will extend the humanitarian assistance scheme to cover private rented accommodation that has been damaged in flooding so as to lessen the financial impact on owners of small rental properties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1232/16]

Photo of Gabrielle McFaddenGabrielle McFadden (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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181. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the amount paid out to date to flood-affected householders under the humanitarian assistance scheme by county and by town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1575/16]

Photo of Gabrielle McFaddenGabrielle McFadden (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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182. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection to establish if applications under the humanitarian assistance scheme are being processed speedily, in order to provide respite to those affected by flooding; the average processing time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1576/16]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 to 39, inclusive, 104, 106, 114, 181 and 182 together.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is the lead Department for severe weather emergencies and the Office of Public Works has responsibility for capital flood relief activities. However, the Department of Social Protection has an important role to play in assisting households in the immediate aftermath of emergency events such as flooding.

In early December 2015, the Department of Social Protection activated its humanitarian assistance scheme, administered by the local Community Welfare Service (CWS), to assist householders affected by the severe weather conditions. The situation in all affected areas is being monitored and CWS staff are engaging with the local authorities and other agencies to ensure supports are being provided to those affected as swiftly as possible. Emergency clinics have been opened in towns where required including Ballinasloe, Crossmolina, Athlone, Gort, Carrick on Suir and a number of towns in Kilkenny and staff are assessing and meeting the demand for assistance by the public as the needs arise and are visiting the homes of persons affected.

In dealing with emergency events of this nature, the Department generally adopts a three stage approach as follows:

- Stage 1 is to provide emergency income support payments (food, clothing and personal items) in the immediate aftermath of the event. A relatively small amount of financial assistance is generally provided initially with payments around the country ranging from €100 to €500 depending on family size.

- Stage 2 generally involves the replacement of white goods, basic furniture items and other essential household items. It is not until the flood water abates and houses dry out that the full extent of the damage to homes will become known.

- Stage 3 is to identify what longer term financial support or works are required. It could take several months before this stage of response commences and this involves a cross Departmental/Agency response. Works carried out can include plastering, dry-lining, relaying of floors, electrical re-wiring and painting.

There has been over €3.9m spent under this scheme since 2009. Since 4 December 2015 emergency payments have been made to 270 households with expenditure of over €235,000 with further claims being processed. These are mainly payments covering essential clothing, food, toiletries, meals for families relocated to alternative accommodation and fuel costs. Support has been provided to 28 households in County Mayo to date under the scheme with expenditure of €40,000. A breakdown of payments by county is provided in the tabular statement below. Statistics are not maintained for individual towns.

The scheme is demand led and there is a time lag between the flooding event and actual claims for financial support. It is expected that the number of claims will increase in the coming weeks as we move into stage 2 and stage 3 supports which cover the replacement of furniture and white goods and longer term financial supports. I can assure the Deputies that CWS staff are working hard to ensure that supports are provided to people as quickly as possible. Statistics are not maintained on the number of applications received or their outcome.

Assistance is not provided for losses which are covered by insurance or for commercial and business losses, or generally any loss or damage to private rented accommodation or local authority accommodation. However, the Department’s focus at this time is on ensuring that persons, including tenants, immediate needs are met and emergency stage 1 payments are being made to tenants to ensure that basic requirements are provided.

Emergency payments under the Department’s urgent needs payment (UNP) scheme may be considered in exceptional circumstances for landlords to cover essential items that have been damaged by flooding. The normal conditions that apply to the UNP scheme would apply including that any subsequent insurance recovery may be used to reimburse the Department. Consideration will also be given to the ability of the landlord to meet these immediate costs. Details on the UNP scheme is at

The Department has been advised that the residents in the area referred to by Deputy Kelleher were affected on 29th/30th December when the river Glashaboy burst its banks. The flooding appears to have been fluvial which is within the remit of the OPW. The local authority is the principal response agency and Cork County Council responded to the flooding event by providing pumping equipment, where appropriate, and sandbags. The purpose of the Department’s humanitarian assistance scheme is to provide assistance to households who have been affected by flooding and other severe weather events, this can include hire of pumps for private houses in conjunction with the local authority as required, however, would not generally include the purchase of preventative equipment.

People seeking assistance under the scheme should contact their local DSP Intreo Centre or CWS office who will be able to offer assistance. Department contact phone numbers for persons in affected areas are available on the Department’s website, as follows:

Humanitarian Assistance Payments by County ( 4 December 2015 – 8January 2016)

County
Number of Households
Expenditure
GALWAY
93
€58,398
CORK
32
€56,173
MAYO
28
€39,904
TIPPERARY
26
€9,200
WESTMEATH
21
€5,814
CLARE
13
€7,400
SLIGO
11
€9,073
KERRY
9
€13,622
KILKENNY
7
€2,250
LIMERICK
7
€6,435
ROSCOMMON
7
€3,400
WATERFORD
5
€9,710
DONEGAL
3
€8,653
LEITRIM
3
€1,500
OFFALY
3
€2,810
CARLOW
1
€500
WICKLOW
1
€230
Total
270
€235,072

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