I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 to 128, inclusive, together.
Section 242(1)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended, states that regulations may provide for the time and manner of payment of benefit. Article 192 of SI 142 of 2007 provides a number of options for payment, including through a post office, by cheque or by direct credit transfer to a financial institution.
The vast majority of jobseeker payments are made through the post office, although people working on a casual or part-time basis are paid by cheque for administrative reasons. There are other exceptions, including for instance those undertaking a course of study under the back to education allowance (BTEA) or partaking of an internship under the work placement programme (WPP) or national internship programme (JobBridge), where they may have difficulty accessing the post office during normal working hours and who may, if they wish, opt for their payment to be paid directly into a financial institution.
In January 2014, new provisions were introduced for older people who have left work before reaching the State Pension age of 66 and who wish to claim a jobseeker's payment. As a result, those aged 62 or over are no longer subject to the penalty rate provisions if they do not wish to engage in the Department’s activation process for jobseekers. They also have a more relaxed signing regime and may, if they so wish, have their payments made by EFT into an account in a financial institution.
This measure recognises the abolition of the State Pension Transition (SPT) for new entrants from January 2014 and has been introduced to ease the transition until they become eligible for a State Pension on their 66th birthday. The introduction of these new arrangements for older jobseekers has been necessary in order to prioritise scarce resources.
Those under age 62 continue to be subject to the full conditionality of the jobseeker schemes, including mandatory engagement in the activation process, and consequently no letters in relation to the above have issued to people under 30 years of age, as there has been no change to their signing and payment arrangements.