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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 23 Nov 1960

Vol. 185 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Assistance: Grounds for Disallowance.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the grounds on which applicants are disallowed unemployment assistance.

Only the holder of a qualification certificate issued pursuant to section 10 of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1933, as amended, is entitled to make an application for unemployment assistance. No unemployment assistance is payable in any case in which the weekly rate of means, calculated in accordance with the provisions of the Unemployment Assistance Acts, less 1/- equals or exceeds the scheduled rate of unemployment assistance payable.

The grounds on which applications for unemployment assistance are disallowed fall into two categories:—

(1) failure to satisfy the statutory conditions laid down in the Unemployment Assistance Acts for the receipt of assistance, and

(2) statutory disqualification under the Acts for the receipt of such assistance.

As regards the first category, the statutory conditions to be satisfied by an applicant are, in effect, that he or she must:—

(a) be unemployed;

(b) be capable of work and be available for and genuinely seeking but unable to obtain suitable work;

(c) be not debarred by reason of a change in means since the qualification certificate was issued;

(d) satisfy certain tests as to residence or employment in an urban area if the applicant is resident in an urban area;

(e) in the case of a widow or spinster without dependants, have not less than 52 employment contributions paid in respect of her during the four contribution years preceding the date of the application for assistance.

As regards the second category, a person is disqualified for the receipt of unemployment assistance:—

(a) while resident temporarily or permanently outside the State;

(b) while an inmate of any institution (including a prison or other place of detention) which is maintained wholly or partly out of public moneys or by a local authority;

(c) while in receipt of or entitled to a blind pension, disability benefit, unemployment benefit, a widow's pension or a maternity allowance;

(d) if he loses his employment through his misconduct or leaves it of his own accord without good cause (the disqualification in this instance being for a period of not less than one week or more than three months from the date on which he became unemployed);

(e) if unemployed as a result of a trade dispute except in special circumstances.

Every applicant for unemployment assistance who is dissatisfied with the decision on his application has the right of appeal to an appeals officer.

With regard to the statutory condition that an applicant must be unemployed, I should perhaps point out that persons affected by the two Employment Period Orders made each year under the Unemployment Assistance Acts are deemed not to be unemployed during the period specified in the relevant Order.

The Deputy may also wish to know that it is the practice of my Department to issue to every new applicant for unemployment assistance copies of explanatory leaflets which set out, inter alia, the statutory conditions and disqualifications I have mentioned and also the applicant's right of appeal.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware there is a general feeling in recent years that the conditions relating to unemployment assistance are being applied with unusual severity, with the result that people who should be assisted by the State are now being assisted by the local authority? Could the Parliamentary Secretary say if particular directions to the social welfare officers throughout the country were given in this regard? There is a feeling that the local authorities are carrying more than a fair share of this section of the populace on their books.

I have repeated again and again that no special direction has been given the social welfare officers, beyond bringing the valuations up to present day standards. They were not reviewed for 18 years —since 1940.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the claims of a large number of men were recently disallowed on the pretence that they were not genuinely seeking work? If the Parliamentary Secretary would state where there was work available, I can assure him that there would be a queue a mile long in the morning. There are 17,000 unemployed in Dublin and their claims are being disallowed on the ground that they are not seeking work.

The Deputy is making a speech.

The Parliamentary Secretary made three speeches.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that the instruction given to his welfare officers throughout the country to increase valuations constitutes a special directive operating a hardship on recipients?

They did not get an instruction to increase. They got instructions to seek present day valuations.

A rose by any other name.

Bumble would not have said it any better.