Written Answers. - Homemakers Scheme.

Michael Ring


729 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plans, if any, he has to extend the homemakers scheme to people who have returned from the United Kingdom or any EU country to be a carer here and allow them credits for the time spent caring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19334/00]

A person leaving employment in the UK, or another EU country, and returning to Ireland to care for a person in need of full-time care and attention, and who qualifies for carer's allowance, is entitled to receive carer's allowance credits, provided they have paid or credited contributions in the preceding two contribution years. In order to allow any EC insurance contributions to be taken into account for credit purposes, the claimant must have previously entered social insurance in Ireland.

If no title exists for carer's allowance a person may qualify for disregard years under the homemakers scheme, provided they satisfy the conditions of the scheme.

Under the homemakers scheme, introduced in 1994, years spent out of the workforce caring either for children up to the age of six, increased to age 12 from 6 April 1995 or incapacitated people may be disregarded in calculating the person's yearly average number of contributions for old age contributory pension purposes. A maximum of 20 years may be disregarded in this way.

Provision is also made for the award of credited contributions in the year in which a person commences or ceases to be a homemaker.

In addition, earnings of up to £30 per week where a person is engaged in part-time employment outside the home are also permitted.

However, I recognise that issues remain to be addressed in area of homemakers and, as I have previously indicated, I have ordered a review of the arrangements which are already in place. Accordingly, an examination of the homemakers scheme will be undertaken as part of the ongoing review of eligibility conditions for contributory old age pensions.