Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (173, 174, 175, 176)

Michael Ring

Question:

173 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason unemployment assistance to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was stopped; and if it will be restored immediately. [2574/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

The person concerned was in receipt of unemployment assistance from 29 September 1999. In the course of a review of his entitlements, it came to light that the person concerned is engaged in self-employment. He was requested to provide details of his earnings, but failed to do so. His unemployment assistance payments were, therefore, suspended and his claim was subsequently closed with effect from 12 December 2003. He was informed of this by letter and advised that he could make another claim at any time.

Following receipt of correspondence from the person concerned, an appointment was arranged for him with a social welfare inspector on 12 January 2004 to discuss his entitlements. The person concerned failed to attend. If the person concerned makes a new claim, details of his income, as requested by the inspector, will be required. The question of backdating his claim to the date on which his payments were suspended can be considered at that stage.

Michael Ring

Question:

174 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo did not receive the Christmas bonus 2003 or the fuel allowance for 2003/2004. [2590/04]

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The Christmas bonus and the free fuel allowance are payable to persons in receipt of pensions and long-term payments only. The person concerned was in receipt of disability benefit which is a short-term payment and did not qualify for either payment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

175 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if an exceptional needs supplementary payment can be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who has special needs in regard to heating requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2653/04]

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The supplementary welfare allowance scheme which is administered by the health boards provides for a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of his or her weekly income. These payments are made at the discretion of the health boards and neither I nor my Department have any function in deciding individual cases.

The South Western Area Health Board was contacted on behalf of the individual concerned and has advised that an exceptional needs payment to the value of €200 issued in October 2003 in respect of assistance with heating costs. A recent application for another payment to further assist with heating costs was refused. The health board is satisfied that the level of assistance already provided is appropriate to the circumstances of the case. The individual in question has been informed of her right to appeal against this decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

176 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if rent allowance can be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that they are unemployed and unable to meet rent repayments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2654/04]

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The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which is administered on behalf of my Department by the health boards, provides for the payment of a weekly or monthly supplement in respect of rent to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation needs.

The South Western Area Health Board was contacted and has advised that there is no record of an application for rent supplement from the individual in question. If he wishes to make an application for rent supplement he should contact the community welfare officer at his local health centre so that an assessment of his circumstances can be carried out in order to determine whether or not he has an entitlement to a rent supplement under the terms of the supplementary allowance scheme.