Written answers

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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405. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in each of the years 2011 to 2018, and to date in 2019, who have been subject to sanctions and have had their social welfare payment reduced or ceased due to no compliance as determined by her Department in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30412/19]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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Penalty rates were introduced in 2011 as a means of encouraging jobseekers to engage with activation measures and to co-operate with efforts of the Department to assist them in securing employment.  The Department is committed, under Pathways to Work, to incentivise the take-up of activation opportunities, and this includes implementing sanctions for failure to engage where appropriate.

The legislation underpinning the application of penalty rates is provided for in the Social Welfare Act.  Penalty rates can only be applied in specific circumstances and the decision to impose a penalty can only be made by a Deciding Officer of the Department.  If dissatisfied with that decision it is open to the Jobseeker to appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeal’s Office. 

A total number of 66,628 Penalty Rates have been applied to 46,300 people over the full period from 2011 to 2 June 2019. The following table includes individuals who may have had a Penalty Rate applied in more than one year.

Details of the numbers of people who were subject to penalty rates each year since their introduction in 2011 and up to 2June 2019.

Year Penalty Rates applied201120122013201420152016201720182019
No. of People Penalty rated3531,4713,1794,9696,1159,56513,50312,3805,821

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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406. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the rate of severe material deprivation for lone parent households here as measured by EUROSTAT in tabular form; the way in which this rate compares to the EU average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30413/19]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The material deprivation rate is an indicator derived from Eurostat EU-SILC (Survey on Income and Living Conditions) data that expresses the inability to afford some items considered by most people to be desirable, or even necessary, to lead an adequate life. The indicator distinguishes between individuals who cannot afford a certain good or service, and those who do not have this good or service for another reason e.g. because they do not want or do not need it.

The indicator adopted by the Social Protection Committee of the European Commission measures the percentage of the population that cannot afford at least three of the following nine items:

1. to pay their rent, mortgage or utility bills;  

2. to keep their home adequately warm;

3. to face unexpected expenses;

4. to eat meat or proteins regularly;

5. to go on holiday;

6. a television set;

7. a washing machine;

8. a car; or

9. a telephone.

The severe material deprivation rate is defined as the enforced inability to pay for at least four of the above-mentioned items.

As the following table shows, the EU-SILC severe material deprivation figure for Irish single parents for 2017 was 17.9%.  It is important to note that there has been a steady reduction of the severe material deprivation rate for single parents in Ireland over the period from 2012 to 2017, and the rate has almost halved from its high point of 32.3% in 2013. With the social welfare improvements in Budgets 2018 and 2019, this rate of reduction should continue to bring it more in line with the EU average.

Budget 2019 raised the weekly rates of payment for working age schemes and also increased the income disregard for one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s transitional payment recipients to €150 per week with effect from 25/03/19 (the highest disregard level to date).  The weekly rates of the Qualified Child Allowance in 2019 also increased by €2.20 per week (from €31.80 to €34) for children under 12, and by €5.20 per week (from €31.80 to €37) for children of 12 and over.  This measure will benefit over 370,000 children and will help to further tackle child poverty.

With regard to increases introduced in Budget 2019 alone, for example, a lone parent working 15 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage is now better off by almost €1,000 per year.

The Department’s social impact assessments of the last five Budgets (2015 to 2019) are an indicator of the improvements over that time for lone parents. These show a cumulative increase of €43.75 in the average weekly household income of employed lone parents (and €45.00 for unemployed lone parents). This compares favourably with a weekly increase of €39.25 for the average household. 

Severe Material deprivation rate: household type - Single Person with dependent children

20102011201220132014201520162017
EU-2817.118.421.620.719.217.115.713.3
Ireland 12.823.327.432.325.122.623.217.9

Source: EU-SILC Data

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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