Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Paul Connaughton


756 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if there is a change in the method for application for unemployment benefit for part-time workers; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are certain categories of part-time workers who never had any difficulty in getting unemployment benefit before but who are now having great difficulty with their unemployment benefit claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1895/99]

It is one of the statutory conditions for receipt of unemployment benefit-assistance that a person must be available for and genuinely seeking suitable work. A deciding officer must be satisfied that each claimant fulfils this requirement before a decision to award a payment can be made.

There has been no change in the rules of entitlement to unemployment payments for part-time workers. Part-time and seasonal workers must be available for and seeking work for the periods in which they are not employed. To qualify for a payment, part-time workers who, for example, work three days per week, must be making efforts to find work for the other days of the week, or full-time employment elsewhere. Similarly, seasonal workers and others, who can be unemployed at regular intervals, are required to be available for and seeking work during these periods.

Unemployed persons are required to provide information regarding their availability for and their efforts to secure full-time employment.

A claim for an unemployment payment will not be approved if the deciding officer is not satisfied that the claimant is available for and making reasonable efforts to find suitable employment. In making this determination the deciding officer will have regard to, inter alia, the availability of employment or other suitable opportunities in the area. This is a factor which can change from time to time.

A deciding officer may revise his decision if the claimant subsequently demonstrated that he-she satisfies the statutory conditions for receipt of an unemployment payment. Furthermore, if a claimant is not satisfied with a deciding officer's decision regarding availability and efforts to find work, he-she may appeal the decision to the social welfare appeals office.

Seán Haughey


757 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the reason an adult dependant allowance is no longer payable to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if the £60 threshold regulation has not been increased since 1995; if he will review this statutory regulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1898/99]

As a first step towards alleviating the poverty trap associated with the complete withdrawal of the qualified adult allowance once the earnings of the spouse or partners of the social welfare claimant exceeded £60 per week, regulations were introduced in November 1997 to provide for the tapered withdrawal of the qualified adult allowance for people claiming unemployment benefit, unemployment assistance, disability benefit, disability allowance, pre-retirement allowance, injury benefit and unemployability supplement.

Under the revised arrangements, where the spouse or partner is earning between £60 and £90, a reduced rate qualified adult allowance continues to be payable. In the 1999 budget, provision has been made to extend the upper limit of the income range from £90 to £105, in order to further enhance the incentive for people to avail of employment opportunities.

In seeking to alleviate the poverty trap caused by the withdrawal of the qualified adult allowance, priority has been given to those schemes where disincentives to employment are most prevalent.

The person concerned is in receipt of an old age (contributory) pension which is not amongst the schemes to which the revised arrangements apply.

Consideration will be given in the future to extending the arrangements governing the tapered withdrawal of the qualified adult allowance to cover other categories of welfare claimants.