Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (121)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

121. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the rules that apply to the family income supplement scheme in respect of fathers who do not have full custody of their children but who financially contribute to their children's upkeep and who live with them for agreed periods but not full time; and the statutory basis for these rules. [42557/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The family income supplement (FIS) provides an income support for employees with families on low earnings who otherwise might be at risk of financial poverty. It also preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might only be marginally better off than if he or she were unemployed and claiming social welfare.

Expenditure on FIS for 2012 was of the order of €224 million in respect of some 32,000 families. The estimated expenditure for 2013 is expected to be €229 million.

To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

The applicant must also be living with or supporting his/her spouse and at least one qualified child. In the case of parents who are separated, a parent who is wholly or mainly maintaining a former spouse can qualify for FIS. This is provided for in Section 227 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, which sets out the definition of the family for this payment. Section 230 (2) of the 2005 Act provides that only one FIS payment can be made in respect of any family and that a person included in one particular family for any period for FIS purposes shall not be regarded as a member of any other family during that period. Section 231 of the 2005 Act provides that FIS shall be payable to the member of the family who is engaged in remunerative full-time employment as an employee or, where there are two members of the family engaged in full-time employment as an employee, to the member whose assessed weekly income forms the greater part of the weekly family income. Therefore, current provisions do not allow for FIS payments to be divided between parents.

Where a question arises in determining the residence of a child for FIS purposes, an investigation of specific circumstances may be carried out.

If the Deputy wishes to have a particular case considered in further detail, she can arrange to have the details brought to the attention of my Department for consideration.