Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Richard Bruton

Question:

761 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, once an adult dependant's earnings exceed £60, the child dependent rate is immediately cut to the half rate rather than a tapering rule being applied; and if he will consider aggregating the child dependant element with the adult dependant element and applying the tapering arrangement to the combined amount which would be a much fairer arrangement. [2096/99]

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 partner 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 unemployment 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.

The question of further amending these arrangements along the lines suggested by the Deputy would have cost implications and could only be considered, therefore, in a budgetary context.