Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

253 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the reason telephone rental allowance is not applicable to mobile phones; and the proposals, if any, he has to change this. [5188/00]

A fundamental review of the free schemes of this Department, including the free telephone rental allowance, is being carried out to assess whether the objectives of these schemes are being achieved in the most efficient and effective manner. This includes an examination of the qualifying conditions for the schemes, the target groups and the scope for alternative policy arrangements. The issue of extending the free telephone rental allowance scheme to include mobile phones is being addressed as part of the review process.

The review of the free schemes is being carried out by an official of my Department on secondment, as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Policy Institute, Trinity College, Dublin. It is expected that the research conducted will be formally published by the Policy Institute in the "Trinity Studies in Public Policy" series in March 2000.