Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (323)

Simon Harris

Question:

323. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons who were in receipt of the now defunct deserted wife's allowance prior to its discontinuation in 1997 continue to receive this payment until they reach transition pension age; her plans to review this practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9716/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The deserted wife's allowance (DWA) is a means-tested payment paid to a woman under the age of 66 years who has no dependent children and who was deserted by her husband, and who does not qualify for the social insurance contribution-based deserted wife’s benefit (DWB). The scheme was closed to new applications with effect from 2 January, 1997, when the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme was introduced. Thereafter, both lone parents and deserted wives came to be supported under the OFP scheme. Some women have continued to get the DWA because they qualified for the payment before the 2 January 1997 cut-off date and because they have continued to satisfy the following conditions to retain entitlement to the payment: be aged over 40 years with no qualified children; satisfy a means test; be inadequately maintained by their husband; not be co-habiting with any person; continue to make appropriate efforts to obtain financial maintenance from their husband; and have not resumed living with, or re-married, their husband.

328 recipients are in receipt of the DWA as of January, 2013 – down from 1,523 recipients in 2003. Given that this payment is no longer available to new applicants, there are no plans to review these arrangements on the grounds that recipients of DWA are a decreasing cohort within the social welfare system and the payment will cease to exist over time.