Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (162)

Peter Mathews


163 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Social Protection the options available to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35625/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Social Protection)

The current differentiation in the treatment of a spouse/partner's income from employment and self-employment for the purposes of jobseeker's allowance has existed for many years, as has the non-eligibility of the self-employed for family income supplement. I note the concerns put forward by the Deputy's correspondent in this regard. However, any changes to the current arrangements would need to be considered from the broader policy perspective and in a Budgetary context.

I also note that the person involved states that his income from self-employment in the current year has declined. In the case of jobseeker's allowance, the relevant legislation provides for the assessment of all income in cash and any non-cash benefits which the person or his or her spouse/partner may reasonably expect to receive during the succeeding year. The legislation also provides that where the income in the coming 12 months is not ascertainable otherwise, the income for the last 12 months shall be assessed.

However, account may also be taken of the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next. This could arise, as would appear to have now happened in the case in question, where a self-employed person lost a contract and was unlikely to find a similar substitute contract in the coming year. In this regard, it is recognised that the present downturn in the economy is having a significant impact on many self-employed persons and the consequent reduction in their income and activity levels should be reflected in any assessment of their means from self-employment for jobseeker's allowance purposes.

If this is the situation in this instance, the spouse/partner of the self-employed person should contact the relevant local office of this Department and request a review of entitlement based on changed circumstances. In addition it is open to the individual, if they are dissatisfied with the means assessed, to appeal any such decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.