Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (166)

Michael Ring

Question:

246 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason unemployment benefit is not a recognised social welfare payment when persons are being assessed for a top-up grant. [6564/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

The report of the action group on access to third level education makes detailed recommendations concerning the introduction of special rates of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, usually referred to as "top-up" grants. The target group of "those most in need" has been defined in terms of the dependants of people receiving long-term welfare payments, where the necessary conditions are fulfilled. The special rates of grant are also available to mature students who meet prescribed conditions.

To qualify for the special rate of maintenance grant a candidate must meet a number of conditions, including the following: he or she must already qualify for one of my Department's ordinary maintenance grants; total reckonable income must not exceed the specified limit for the academic year in question; and, on the operative date, the income into the household must include one of the specified long-term social welfare payments.

Unemployment benefit is one of the eligible payments listed for the special rates of maintenance grant. However, in order to satisfy the requirement of long-term welfare payment the grant schemes specify that unemployment benefit must be payable for a specified period of 12 months on the operative date.