What's New

Coping with hot weather

While we are all delighted to see bright blue skies across Ireland this week, older and very young people can find very hot temperatures difficult to cope with.

The National Ambulance Service has a range of advice on how to deal with warm weather and the HSE has advice on coping with heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

If you are barbecuing safefood has information on how to cook and store food safely. 

And, of course, always cover up and use sunscreen in the sun. The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has information on the standards to look out for when buying sunscreen, sunglasses, armbands, tents and other summer equipment.

Census 2016

The census is a detailed account of everybody who is in the country on census night. On Sunday 24 April 2016 everybody in Ireland was required to enter their details on a census form.

The first results of the 2016 census were released today and show that the preliminary total of the population enumerated on census night was 4,757,976 persons. This compares with 4,588,252 persons in April 2011, an increase of 169,724 persons since 2011 or 3.7 percent. This release also contains first results on housing and vacant dwellings and show the number of occupied houses has increased by 49,285 since April 2011 while the number of vacant dwellings has fallen by 29,889.

Further results will be released in different phases as they become available during 2017, commencing with “This is Ireland, Part 1 – Principal Demographic Results” due to be published in March 2017.

View full preliminary results on census.ie and read the press release from the Central Statistics Office. 

Know your rights: Garda vetting

Question

I have applied for a job in a sports club and have been told that I must be vetted by the Gardaí. What does this mean?

Answer (July 2016)

Since 29 April 2016, people working with children or vulnerable adults must be vetted by the Garda Síochána National Vetting Bureau. Workers include staff, volunteers and those on student placements working for an organisation through which they have unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

Under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012–2016, organisations that require Garda vetting of individuals must register with the National Vetting Bureau. These include childcare services, schools, hospitals, health services and organisations providing leisure, sporting or physical activities to children and/or vulnerable people.

If you are applying for a job with a registered organisation, the organisation will send you a vetting invitation form. You must complete the form and return to the organisation with proof of your identity. After validating your identity, the organisation will send you an email with a link to the vetting application form. You then apply to be vetted online using e-Vetting. If you wish, you may apply using a paper form instead. If you are aged under 18 you must submit a signed parent or guardian consent form.

After reviewing your vetting application, the organisation submits it to the National Vetting Bureau. The National Vetting Bureau processes the application and sends a vetting disclosure to the organisation. A vetting disclosure may include details of convictions and pending prosecutions or a statement that there is no criminal record. The organisation will review the disclosure and will send you a copy of it.

You can track the progress of your e-Vetting application online.

Further information is available from the National Vetting Bureau.  

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Know your rights: State pensions and qualified adults

Question

I am retiring from work when I turn 66 and will be eligible for a reduced-rate State Pension (Contributory) of €198.60. My husband is getting his full State Pension (Contributory) of €233. He thinks we would be better off if he claimed for me as a qualified adult on his pension. Is he correct? If we do this, will all the money be paid to him?

Answer

If your husband claims for you as a qualified adult on his pension, then his pension will consist of €233 plus an increase of €209 – a total of €442. The increase is automatically paid directly to you (although you can request that it is paid with your husband’s pension). If you decide to claim a reduced rate contributory pension then the total for you both will be €431.60. Therefore, it would appear that you are indeed better off being a qualified adult.

However, there are other factors that you should take into account. While your husband’s pension is not means tested, the Increase for a Qualified Adult is means tested. This means that any income you have in your own right from employment, self-employment, savings, investments and capital (for example, any property except your own home) is taken into account. If you have joint savings or investments with your spouse, half is taken into account.

You also need to look at the tax situation. Your husband is entitled to claim a PAYE tax credit (€1,650) with his pension. Even though the Increase for a Qualified Adult is paid directly to you it is not a social welfare payment to you so you cannot claim a PAYE tax credit of €1,650. However if you claim a social welfare payment in your own right (for example, your reduced-rate pension) you can claim a full PAYE tax credit.

You should analyse both options carefully and do detailed calculations, taking all the factors that affect how much you receive into account. After you do the calculations, you may find that you are better off claiming the reduced-rate contributory pension in your own right.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

New Rent Supplement limits

Rent limits will increase for the Rent Supplement scheme from Friday 1 July.

Every county or county sub-district in Ireland has a maximum rent limit, within which Rent Supplement can be paid.

If you have entered into an informal top-up arrangement with your landlord you should contact your Community Welfare Service for assistance, as the Department of Social Protection will regularise these top-ups in most cases.

You can see the new limits on our Rent Supplement page. 

Similar maximum limits apply to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme and these will also increase from Friday 1 July.

Change of mind deadline for college courses is 1 July

You can change your mind about your course choices up until 5.15 pm on Friday 1 July. There is no fee for changing your mind and you can submit as many change of mind requests as you wish. If you submit a Change of Mind, it cancels and supersedes all the previous course choices in any category in which changes are made.

The Central Applications Office (CAO) provides information about how the process works including a video. 

UK vote to leave European Union

The Taoiseach has today made a statement on the UK vote to leave the European Union, as has the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Both statements stress that the UK is not leaving the EU immediately and that arrangements, rights and facilities linked to EU membership still apply in full. A negotiation process will get underway and is expected to take a minimum of two years prior to a UK exit.

A contingency framework has been announced so that the Government and its departments can focus on key policy areas or issues to be addressed in any exit negotiations.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has published an FAQ document in relation to Irish citizens resident in the UK, UK citizens resident in Ireland, citizenship, passports and the Common Travel Area.

The Department of Social Protection has published an FAQ document in relation to social security contributions and social welfare payments.

You can also find further information, including FAQs, statements and reports, on the merrionstreet.ie website.

 

 

Know your rights: Cohabiting and social welfare payments

Question

I have applied for a means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance but I was told that I’m not eligible because of my live-in partner’s earnings. We live together but we are not married and we split our expenses equally. Why is this?

Answer

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) treats married and unmarried couples in the same way when assessing entitlement to a means-tested social welfare payment. It assesses the total income of the household, rather than the circumstances of the individual claimant.

This means that if you are married, or are living with another person in an intimate and committed relationship, the means of your spouse or partner are also taken into account. This is the case even if only one of you is actually claiming a payment. The DSP uses detailed definitions and criteria to assess whether a couple are cohabiting and you can read these online at welfare.ie.

How the means of a couple are assessed differs slightly depending on the payment being applied for. For Blind Pension, State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Carer’s Allowance, the DSP adds all of your means together and then halves them to get the assessable means for each one of you. For Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, and Farm Assist, the DSP adds all your combined means together and then assesses them against the maximum household payment for your circumstances. If your spouse or partner is getting a social welfare payment in their own right, your means are taken to be half of the total means of yourself and your spouse or partner.

Sometimes a certain amount of income, or income from particular sources, is not taken into account. This is called an income disregard. For example, a certain amount of income from employment can be disregarded.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.