Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (341, 342)

Mary Upton

Question:

427 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a couple (details supplied) in Dublin 12 is entitled to the fuel allowance. [6673/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

The purpose of the fuel allowance is to assist householders who are in receipt of long-term social welfare or health board payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs.

One of the conditions for receipt of a fuel allowance is that the combined household income must not be more than €50.80 per week above the appropriate maximum weekly rate of contributory pension, in this case €302.90 per week.

The person concerned is in receipt of an old age contributory pension at the maximum rate of €302.90 per week, €173.70 personal rate and €129.20 in respect of a qualified adult. My Department's records show that he also receives a private pension which, when combined with his old age contributory pension, brings the total household income above the limit to qualify for the fuel allowance. Accordingly, he does not qualify for the allowance and was notified of this in September 2003.

Seán Crowe

Question:

428 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the progress to date in transferring more than 1,200 disabled persons living in residential institutions without income on to disability allowance as promised in the budget of 2003. [6714/04]

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Budget 2003 provided for the establishment of a working group to examine the take-over by my Department of the spending allowances paid to people with disabilities in residential care who are not entitled to disability allowance and for the standardisation of the level of these allowances.

In 2003, following discussions between my Department and the Department of Health and Children, the health boards were requested to provide relevant details on the spending allowances currently being paid. Once the necessary information has been obtained, my Department will make an assessment of the best method for arranging for the transfer of responsibility for the payment of these allowances and of the funds involved. This will include setting up a working group comprising representatives of people with disabilities, their families, service providers and other relevant organisations to advise on issues regarding money management and other issues arising in this context.

It should be noted that there are other people with disabilities in residential care who do not currently have any form of income, whether by way of disability allowance or spending allowance. As part of the current take-over process, the health boards have been requested to provide information also on this group. Following the take-over of the spending allowances, my Department will examine the options for addressing the income needs of this group.