Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (904, 905)

Bernard Allen

Question:

1025 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will increase the limit of the allowance governing the payment of benefits to qualified adults. [1405/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

Social welfare legislation currently provides for the gradual reduction of the qualified adult allowance, QAA, for claimants of certain welfare payments, where the qualified adult is earning €88.88 or more up to €210 per week, at which point the QAA is fully withdrawn. The initial threshold of €88.88 together with the gradual withdrawal ensure that a spouse is not unduly penalised for taking up employment.

A number of changes to these tapered arrangements have been introduced in recent years to ensure that the impact of increases in earnings are not negated for families where the spouse is the sole earner and is in low paid employment. For example, the range of income over which the QAA is withdrawn has been progressively extended. For instance, in 1999 the QAA was withdrawn over an income range of €76.18 to €114.28. The current range is €88.88 to €210.00. Furthermore, whereas prior to March 2000 the child dependant allowance, CDA, was halved where a tapered rate of QAA was payable, full CDA is now payable in such cases.

The question of further extending the QAA income range would be a matter for consideration in a budgetary context and in the context of priorities generally.

Michael Ring

Question:

1026 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of applications received by the health boards for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance in 2003; the number of applications granted; the number refused; and the number of children involved. [1413/04]

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The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme is designed to provide assistance towards the cost of school clothing and footwear for children attending primary and post-primary schools. The scheme operates from the beginning of June to the end of September each year and is administered on behalf of my Department by the health boards.

A person may qualify for payment of a back to school clothing and footwear allowance if he/she is in receipt of a social welfare or health board payment, is participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education and training course and has household income at or below certain set levels.

Under the scheme an allowance of €80 is payable in respect of qualified children aged from two to 11 years and an allowance of €150 is payable in respect of qualified children aged from 12 to 22 years.

A total of 81,851 applications for the allowance were received in 2003. Allowances were awarded in 75,202 cases covering 172,123 children. A total of 6,649 applications were refused.