Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

252 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will amend the widow's non-contributory pension guidelines, similar to those in receipt of a lone parent's allowance, in order that widows who go on a community employment scheme will not have a reduction in benefits. [5165/00]

Recipients of the one-parent family payment – OFP – which includes some widows and widowers with dependent children, are allowed to earn up to £115.38 per week without their payment being affected. Accordingly, lone parents participating on community employment schemes – CE – receive their OFP in addition to their CE earnings. The earnings disregard applying to the OFP means test is designed to recognise the additional costs and difficulties which a lone parent may face in moving into employment or training and to ensure that the financial implications of making such a move are straightforward and easily understood by them.

A widow or widower who does not have dependent children and is receiving a widow/er's non-contributory pension will, like many other social welfare recipients, relinquish entitlement to their social welfare payment for the duration of their participation on a CE scheme.

The CE allowance will, in effect, be paid in lieu of their pension entitlement. Such people may, subject to the qualifying conditions still being satisfied, return to widow/er's non-contributory pension on cessation of their participation on a CE scheme.
A person in receipt of widow/er's non-contributory pension who takes up a CE scheme will, like other participants, retain, subject to certain terms and conditions, any secondary benefits that were in payment prior to participation on the scheme. In the case of rent and mortgage supplement, the maximum amount of the supplement that may be retained is £250 per month. However, as announced in the recent budget this limit will be abolished with effect from 6 April 2000 and the supplement will be tapered out over four years.