Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Questions (174)

Jim Daly


174. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 415 of 12 February 2013, if she will compile and provide an approximate estimate of the cost per annum of means testing individuals for various welfare benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10501/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Estimates for the Department published on Budget day provides for expenditure of €20.257 billion on schemes, services and administration in 2013. Of this, just under €595 million or 2.9% of total estimated expenditure will be spent on administration.

My Department operates a range of means tested schemes and these schemes, including the means testing elements, are administered through a network of local and central offices.

Means testing is an integral part of the administration process to decide if a person has an entitlement to a payment or a continuing entitlement to a payment and the amount of that payment for the following schemes: Jobseeker’s allowance, one parent family payment, widows / widowers / surviving civil partners non-contributory pension, deserted wife’s allowance, basic supplementary welfare allowance, farm assist, pre-retirement allowance, back to work allowance, back to education allowance, disability allowance, blind pension, carer’s allowance, family income supplement and back to school clothing and footwear allowance. In addition there is a means testing element to determining entitlement to an increase for a qualified adult and qualified child as well as the fuel allowance for social insurance schemes.

The main components of workflow in the department’s processing sections are claim processing, maintenance, control activity and dealing with enquiries. Means testing is just one aspect of the process. The means of a claimant where required are established following an assessment of the claimant’s financial position. This may be carried out at the relevant scheme office and, in some cases, may involve referral to a Social Welfare Inspector/Community Welfare Officer to carry out a home visit. The means are determined by the Deciding Officer/Designated Person and as appropriate are used to adjust the amount of the payment, if any; a claimant will receive, subject to all the other conditions of the scheme being satisfied.

The Department’s administration processes are supported by shared infrastructure and IT systems. These systems support various aspects of claim processing, including means assessment.

For the reasons outlined above it is not possible to disaggregate the specific administration costs relating to means testing as it forms just one element of determining entitlement to a specific payment and, in many cases, the staff who administer these schemes in Social Welfare Offices or as part of the Departmental Inspectorate are also simultaneously administering other schemes, including schemes which are not means tested.

Question No. 175 withdrawn.