I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 and 5 together.
I thank Deputies Ó Ríordáin and Boyd Barrett for their questions. Eligibility for social welfare supports, as the Deputies will be aware, is a matter for the Minister for Social Protection and neither I nor the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, have any statutory functions in that regard.
However, I can assure the Deputy that the issue of disabled artists participating in the basic income scheme it is a matter which the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, takes very seriously. The Minister wants to ensure that all artists, including those with a disability, can apply to participate in the pilot.
The basic income for the arts is a sectoral support for the arts to give recognition to the intrinsic value of the arts to Irish society and to place a value on the often unpaid work that is undertaken in order to develop an arts practice required to produce the art we all as a society enjoy and benefit from.
Stakeholder engagement has been core to the policy development process for the basic income for the arts and this included a stakeholder forum on 15 December 2021, which over 150 people attended, representing 50 resource organisations and representative organisations, including disabled artists and representatives from Arts and Disability Ireland. In addition, the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, held a public consultation throughout the month of January and the impact of such a scheme on artists with disabilities was a theme which was raised throughout the consultation.
As the Deputies will be aware, the basic income for the arts pilot scheme was the number one recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce, which the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, established to make recommendations to ensure that the arts and culture sector would recover fully after Covid and thrive post pandemic. The Department of Social Protection was a member of the oversight group the Minister established last year tasked with appraising the recommendations set out in the Life Worth Living report, including on the manner in which the basic income for the arts pilot should be implemented.
In addition, bilateral engagement between the two Departments on the treatment of the basic income for the arts payment has been ongoing over the past number of months, in particular, discussions around the treatment of the grant payment for the purposes of income disregards across a number of social welfare schemes, including disability allowance.
I can assure the Deputies that the issue of artists with disabilities is something which the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, is focused on. The Minister believes that the basic income for the arts has the potential to help artists and creative arts workers, including those with disabilities, to overcome labour market barriers by creating a self-sustaining creative practice, operating on a self-employed basis.
As the Deputy will be aware, the pilot scheme is a three-year research programme to examine the impact a basic income-style payment could have on artists and creative arts workers and their creative practice. A key research question will be the impact such a payment could have on artists with disabilities. To that end, the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, was determined since the outset of the pilot scheme that artists with disabilities would be in a position to participate in the scheme to the greatest extent possible within the legislative framework to ensure the research captured the experience of disabled artists.
Accordingly, as I mentioned already, the Department has worked with the Department of Social Protection, to establish that the payment will be treated as earnings from self-employment and can be taken into account in earnings disregards that apply to many social welfare payments, including disability allowance and the one-parent family payment. That means that the basic income for the arts will be treated like any other income a person on social welfare earns from employment.
In the case of the disability allowance, it will be possible for many people to avail of the basic income and retain social welfare benefits in addition to the moneys received from the pilot scheme. Of course, each individual case will differ depending on other household income.
The actual impact of the basic income on a person's welfare entitlements will depend on each individual’s circumstances and applicants will need to engage with the Department of Social Protection on the matter.
The Department of Social Protection published a guide to the interaction of the basic income for the arts pilot scheme with Department of Social Protection payments, www.gov.ie/en/publication/bd818-interaction-of-the-basic-income-for-the-arts-pilot-scheme-with-dsp-payments, on Gov.ie on 13 April to assist all applicants in receipt of Department of Social Protection supports, including those with disabilities.
The Department of Social Protection has also undertaken to engage directly with disabled artists who are selected for the pilot to help them understand the impact accepting the payment would have in their individual circumstances.
The Department has met with representatives from the disabled artists community to examine how best we can make artists aware of the position established between my Department and the Department of Social Protection in respect of supports and the treatment of the basic income for the purposes of income disregards. My Department also has a dedicated email address to answer any questions that applicants may have about any aspect of the scheme to assist artists and creative arts workers with queries about the pilot.