The family income supplement (FIS) provides income support for employees with families on low earnings, who otherwise might be at risk of financial poverty. FIS 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 have at least one qualified child who normally resides with him/her or is supported by him/her.
Creating jobs and reducing unemployment are key challenges facing the Government. The tax and social protection systems have a part to play in addressing these issues and in ensuring work is remunerative. To this end, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare with the aim of harnessing expert opinion and experience in order to address a number of specific issues. These include making cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes. The Group is currently examining the issue of working age supports, including in-work supports such as FIS.