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Staying safe in the water

It’s National Water Safety Awareness Week (18–24 June 2018).

Here are some simple things you can do to stay safe in the water.

  • Only swim at waterways with a lifeguard
  • Stay within your depth
  • Wear a lifejacket
  • Avoid alcohol

You can use this list of lifeguarded waterways to find a safe place to go swimming.

Check out more water safety tips and advice on watersafety.ie.

Your rights as an air passenger

If you are travelling abroad by air this summer, the flight rights calculator can help you find out your rights if something goes wrong, for example, if your flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked, or if something happens to your baggage.

Once you know your rights, you should make a formal complaint to the airline by email or through the airline’s website. Details for the online complaints sections of most European airlines are listed on eccireland.ie.

You can find more information about your rights as an air passenger on flightrights.ie.

Social Welfare Appeals Office Annual Report

The Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) has published its annual report for 2017. The SWAO provides an independent appeals service for anyone who wants to appeal a decision about their social welfare payment.

In 2017, the SWAO received 19,658 appeals which was a reduction on the 22,461 appeals for 2016.

Appeals about Working Age – Income and Employment Support schemes reduced the most. Appeals about Supplementary Welfare Allowance reduced by 33.9%, Jobseeker’s Allowance by 17.5% and appeals about Jobseeker’s Allowance means tests were down by 26.6%.

There were also reductions in the number of appeals about Illness Benefit (down 45.9%), Carer’s Allowance (down 17.7%) and Family Income Supplement (now Working Family Payment) down by 6.5%.

The number of appeals about some payments increased slightly, Disability Allowance (up 3.4%), Invalidity Pension (up 1.4%) and Domiciliary Care Allowance (up 0.1%).

You can read the full report on the Social Welfare Appeals website (pdf).

Know Your Rights: Seniors Alert Scheme

Question

I am a pensioner and live with my daughter who works full-time. I am on my own a lot of the time and I’m worried about my safety. I would like to get a personal alarm but I can’t afford one.

Answer (May 2018)

The Seniors Alert Scheme gives support to provide and install monitored personal alarm systems to older people of limited means. The scheme aims to support older people to continue to live securely and independently in their homes. The scheme is available through local community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations registered with Pobal, the non-profit company that administers the scheme.

The personal alarm is worn as a pendant around your neck or around your wrist like a watch and connects to a base unit in your home. When the alarm is activated, it automatically rings a helpline, which is open 24 hours a day, all year round. A helpline operator talks to you through the base unit and decides whether to alert a local volunteer responder or, if necessary, the emergency services.

The alarm monitoring service is free for the first year. After the first year, you pay an annual monitoring fee. Charges vary by provider and the type of alarm or pendant.

People aged 65 or over with limited means are eligible for the scheme. You must also be either living alone, living alone for most of the day, living with someone who also meets the eligibility criteria, or caring for someone else in your household. You must be able to benefit from the equipment being supplied and willing to maintain contact with the group administering the scheme. The equipment is supplied and installed for free, however you must return it to the registered group if no longer needed.

Contact the local group administering the scheme in your area to apply. Pobal publishes a list of all registered groups in the country on its website pobal.ie. You can also contact Pobal at (01) 511 7000 for details of your local group.

Getting through airport security

If you are travelling by air this summer, being prepared can help you avoid delays while passing through airport security.

When packing your hand luggage, do not pack any of these prohibited items. You can only bring liquids in hand luggage if they are in containers of 100ml or less, packed in a transparent, re-sealable 1-litre plastic bag.

Airport security staff will examine laptops and other large electrical items separately to your hand luggage. When packing, you should try to make these items easy to access.

While you can bring most things in your checked baggage, for transport in the aircraft’s hold, you cannot bring any of these prohibited articles.

Dublinairport.com has a security checklist to help you get through security quicker and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Renting out a room in your home

If you rent out a room to a private tenant, the rental income you earn may be exempt from income tax. This is called the rent-a-room relief.

You can claim rent-a-room relief as long as the rental income you earn does not exceed a certain limit in a tax year. Currently, the total (gross) rent that you get, including sums the tenant pays for food, utilities, laundry or similar goods and services, cannot exceed €14,000 in the tax year (1 January to 31 December).

If you qualify for rent-a-room relief, the income you get from renting out the room is not liable to PRSI, the Universal Social Charge or income tax.

You should note that the relief applies only to residential tenancies, not to short-term guest arrangements. Renting a room to a student for the academic year or for a one-month course is covered, but you don’t qualify if you are providing accommodation to occasional visitors for short periods – for example, through an online accommodation booking site.

Read more about renting out a room in your home.

Benefit of Work Estimator

The Benefit of Work Estimator is an online resource for people who are getting certain disability or illness payments. It is provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The estimator allows you to calculate how income from employment would affect your disability or illness payment.

You enter details of your household circumstances, your current social welfare payment and the wages that you will get from work. The estimator then calculates your new social welfare rate and estimates your total income after starting work.

If you are already working, you can use the estimator to calculate how working extra hours would affect your payment.

You can use the Benefit of Work Estimator on mywelfare.ie and read more about it on welfare.ie

Free EU rail travel for 18-year-olds this summer

The Discover EU initiative is offering free rail travel to 15,000 young EU citizens over summer 2018. (Travel by ferry or bus will also be covered.)

Under this initiative, you get a travel pass which allows you to travel for up to 30 days and visit up to 4 different EU countries. The passes are valid for travel between 9 July and 30 September 2018.

To be eligible, you must be 18 years of age on 1 July 2018 and be a citizen of an EU member state.

The online applications are open from 12 to 26 June 2018.

Read more in these FAQs.

Funding for creative activities

The Creative Ireland Programme Scheme 2018-2019 provides funding for a range of cultural and creative activities.

There are three themes:

  • Individual and collective wellbeing
  • Innovation
  • Connecting communities

Projects, events and research activities related to these themes are eligible for funding.

Individuals, community groups, small businesses, non-profit organisations and research bodies can apply. The scheme guidelines (pdf) include information about how to complete the application form (.doc).

Your proposed activities must cost between €10,000 and €70,000. You can apply for a maximum grant of 70% of the total cost of your project.

Applications for the 2018-2019 scheme close at midnight on 15 June 2018.

Read more about the scheme on creative.ireland.ie.

 

Carer’s Support Grant will be paid on Thursday

The Carer’s Support Grant for 2018 will be paid on Thursday 7 June.

The grant is an annual payment made to carers by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Carers can use the grant in whatever way they wish.

In 2018 the grant will be €1,700. It is paid automatically to carers getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance. If you are not getting one of these payments, you should fill in an application form CSG 1 (pdf) in respect of each person you are caring for.

Read more about the Carer’s Support Grant.