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Social Welfare Benefits.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 March 2005

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Questions (281, 282)

Michael Ring

Question:

281 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an oral hearing in relation to unemployment benefit. [8786/05]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

The person concerned applied for unemployment benefit on 10 January 2005. His claim was disallowed by the deciding officer on the grounds that he was not available for full-time work and not genuinely seeking employment.

The person appealed against this decision to the social welfare appeals office and an appeals officer is of the opinion that an oral hearing is required. He will be advised of the date and venue for the hearing when the necessary arrangements have been made. Under social welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

282 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when persons who only have mobile phones can use their free telephone allowance. [8820/05]

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I am committed to the development of the telephone allowance scheme to respond to the expanding telecommunications market and to facilitate greater social welfare client choice of telephone services. My Department is in contact with the communications regulator, ComReg, regarding the technical and administrative requirements for mobile phone, as well as land-line, services. To date three mobile phone companies, Meteor, O2 and Vodaphone, have expressed an interest in participating in the telephone allowance scheme. These companies are in discussions with my Department and the telecommunications regulator.

My Department is carrying out a fundamental review of the household benefits available to our customers and arrangements which we have with service providers. As part of this review the communications regulator, interest groups and other entities will be consulted as required. It is expected that this review will be completed during the first half of the year. When this review has been finalised, I will be in a position to make decisions on the expansion of the telephone allowance scheme to include mobile phones.

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