Submissions and Policy Recommendations 2012
Working Age Supports Submission to the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare
Publication Date: December 2012
There are a number of cross cutting issues identified by CIB delivery partner services relating to working age supports. These refer mostly to specific household situations where social welfare replacement rates result in people being only marginally better off if they take up low-paid or part-time employment. Many of the queries dealt with by services reflect the multi-faceted nature of peoples' engagement with the social welfare system. The main disincentives to employment that have been identified by CIB delivery partners are: working hours criteria - the fact that jobseekers' payments are calculated according to days rather than hours worked; the withdrawal of Rent Supplement; different treatment of married and co-habiting couples in the income tax and social welfare codes; in-work costs (childcare, transport); impact of the Universal Social Charge; loss of a medical card and administrative delays in processing payments, particularly in respect of reclaiming benefits lost in a return-to-work situation. This submission to the Tax and Social Welfare Advisory Group focuses on a number of factors in relation to working age supports including perceptions regarding welfare traps; dealing with situations where replacement rates are high; targeted education, training and up-skilling; the single working age payment concept; distinguishing between short-term and long-term unemployment; casual and atypical working and the role of Family income Supplement (FIS). A number of case examples are included illustrating the experiences of people using Citizens Information Services and the Citizens Information Phone Service.
Submission on Draft Standards for Residential Centres for people with disabilities
Publication Date: November 2012
CIB has experience of the difficulties and challenges faced by people with disabilities from its involvement in delivering the National Advocacy Service (NAS) which provides independent, representative advocacy for vulnerable people with disabilities, including those in residential centres. The Standards are extensive and cover a wide range of daily living, organisational and administrative matters and this is very welcome. However, there are some gaps which are highlighted in the submission including the need for standards relating to how the voice of residents is captured, what charges in residential services cover, what constitutes ‘extras' and what the responsibility of the resident is in this regard and a need for further exploration as to how the advocacy support role for people with disabilities in residential settings might be developed.
The finalisation of these standards will help to ensure a much needed stronger support system for people with disabilities in residential centres and their implementation will supplement the various initiatives taken to date under the National Disability Strategy. Putting these standards on a statutory footing with provision for registration and mandatory inspection will be crucial.
Rent Supplement problems
Publication Date: November 2012
This submission draws attention to specific concerns in relation to Rent Supplement presented by clients of the national network of Citizens Information Services (CISs), the National Advocacy Service and callers to the Citizens Information Phone Service. In the first half of 2012, CISs dealt with 10,600 Rent Supplement related queries nationally. Over 10% of all social policy returns to CIB during the most recent reporting period (quarter three of 2012), concerned Rent Supplement (RS), making it the single most reported-on policy issue during this period. This continues the pattern experienced throughout 2012, during which the level of feedback regarding Rent Supplement has been extremely high. A Phone Service (CIPS) sample survey in September 2012 of 200 callers with Rent Supplement queries produced the following statistics: rental limits too low to secure accommodation (29%); unable to contact departmental staff to respond to queries (over 21%); low income workers unable to get assistance with rent because of full time work rule of 30 hours (15%); delays in processing claims (13%); lack of clarity about which office is processing claims (11%) and gaps in coverage 9%. The CIB submission to the Department of Social Protection identifies problems with the current administrative arrangements for processing Rent Supplement applications through the new central rent units as well as concerns relating to the impact of the reduction in maximum rent levels and disincentives for some in low income full time employment who are not eligible for support under the scheme.
Publication Date: November 2012
This CIB Submission which includes CISs, CIPS, NAS and MABS concerns sets out priorities for Budget 2013 based on a consideration of the difficulties reported by citizens using these information, advocacy and money advice services. The cumulative effect of budget cutbacks in recent years is emerging as a significant issue for many households. In 2011, Citizens Information Services and the Citizens Information Phone Service nationally dealt with over 800,000 callers and one million queries from members of the public. MABS worked with over 26,000 clients around the country and the MABS National Helpline received almost 30,000 calls in 2011. Growing indebtedness and an inability to meet the costs of daily living are concerns that are being increasingly reflected in queries from the public to CIB delivery partners. Welfare to work benefit traps are also a recurrent theme in these queries.
Recommendations in the submission include exploring additional ways of eliminating welfare to work traps including an analysis of the long-term effects of the various incentive measures and retention of secondary benefits; eligibility for jobseekers payments based on hours rather than the number of days worked to reflect part time and casual work patterns; reducing delays in processing of claims and appeals for social welfare payments; review of the current Rent Supplement caps and the rates of tenants' contribution; the need for sustainable solutions to the mortgage debt crisis with medium- and long-term supports for those experiencing difficulty maintaining repayments on their family home; recognition within guidelines supplementing the Personal Insolvency Legislation of agreed levels of reasonable expenditure and income retention, endorsement of voluntary debt settlement arrangements and provision of social lending facilities for indebted households.
Personal Insolvency Bill
Publication Date: October 2012
A submission on the Personal Insolvency Bill prepared by MABSndl in conjunction with CIB has been made to the Minister for Justice and Equality. The Bill, provides for the introduction of a range of non-judicial debt settlement provisions, with MABS acting as an 'approved intermediary' in relation to the Debt Relief aspects of the legislation. The submission, draws attention amongst other things to the need for financial inclusion measures to ensure that those subject to insolvency arrangements and debt relief are not excluded from financial services. The submission also seeks clarification on essential household income and recommends the introduction of a pre-action protocol for voluntary debt settlement arrangement as well as a right of appeal for debtors.
Domiciliary Care Allowance
Publication Date: October 2012
The review of the operation of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) was announced in July and is being undertaken by a Group appointed by the Minister for Social Protection. The review is considering the policy objectives and legal provisions of the Scheme as well as administrative processes, medical assessment reviews and appeals. Citizens Information Services (CISs) handled over 27,000 queries in relation to disability and illness payments in 2011 and issues concerning DCA feature prominently in the social policy feedback. DCA is a monthly payment (currently €309) paid to the carer of a child with a disability so severe that the child requires care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. An important consideration in reviewing the DCA is that the payment be assessed against the overall level of support services for families with children with disabilities. Concerns raised in this submission relate to the application process and impact of delays, medical assessment criteria, the support needs of children with significant disability, DCA as a gateway payment for other supports, the communication of decisions to families and the current appeals process.
Nursing Homes Support Scheme Review
Publication Date: July 2012
This Submission highlights issues reported by CIB delivery partners relating to both the implementation of the Fair Deal scheme and the gaps in provision for the long-term care needs of citizens . The submission identifies core components of an integrated response to the care needs of older people including planning for future needs, integrated needs assessment, enhancing and supporting family care and timely access to long-term care support services. The CIB welcomes the consideration in the review of the balance of funding between long-term residential care and community care services. Over 10% of callers to Citizens Information Services (CIS's) around the country are over 66 and not surprisingly have a higher proportion of queries in relation to health and social care services in general. While many people have successfully negotiated access to the Fair Deal scheme and benefit from its provisions, there is evidence from CIB delivery partners of difficulties encountered availing of and securing support under the scheme, additional charges imposed for services and concerns about on-going funding for the scheme.
National Consent Policy
Publication Date: June 2012
As part of a national consultation process, the CIB recently made a submission to the HSE on the draft National Consent Policy for use in health and social care settings. The requirement for consent to be obtained extends to all interventions including social as well as health care interventions and applies to those receiving care and treatment in hospitals, in the community and in residential care settings. The need for consent is also required by Irish and international law. This submission focuses primarily on consent in relation to the provision of personal or social care for a service user.
Reform of the State's Employment Rights and Industrial Relations Structures and Procedures
Publication Date: April 2012
In this submission the CIB welcomes the proposals for reform of the State's employment rights and industrial relations infrastructure and the proposed Workplace Relations Service which should make it easier for employees and employers seeking redress. The Labour Court as the single appeal body for all workplace relations appeals should also facilitate easier access. The establishment of these two statutorily independent bodies to replace the current five is welcome. There were over 99.000 employment rights related queries to Citizens Information Services and the Citizens Information Phone Service in 2011. These queries indicate that people that seek information and advice in relation to employment protection matters experience difficulty in identifying the appropriate resolution mechanism and negotiating their way through it. This submission sets out observations on specific aspects of the proposed new structure drawing on the experiences of frontline information providers and their clients
Proposed changes to payments for young people with a disability
Publication Date: February 2012
In a recent submission to the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare on the proposed changes to payments for young people with a disability the CIB highlighted a number of concerns raised by Citizens Information and Advocacy Services regarding the needs of young people and families caring for children with disabilities and the need to take account of the additional costs incurred by households with a person with a disability, whether a child or adult.