Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (349)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

349. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection the circumstances under which it is considered acceptable and legal to temporarily withdraw jobseeker's benefit or allowance from a person; the number of cases in the past year in which this has occurred; if this practice is compatible with her obligation to ensure that no person falls below a certain guaranteed minimum income deemed necessary to maintain a minimum basic standard of living; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22133/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance schemes provide income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative employment. The revised estimates for the Department of Social Protection provide for expenditure of €3.3bn in 2014 in respect of the jobseeker’s schemes.

It is a fundamental qualifying condition for these schemes that a person must be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work. The schemes also require that persons must be fully unemployed for at least four in any seven consecutive days. In the case of jobseeker’s benefit, they must also satisfy social insurance contribution and substantial loss of employment conditionality. In the case of jobseeker’s allowance they must satisfy a means test. Claimants are also required to comply with activation measures.

The full scheme criteria are established in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, as amended and associated regulations. These provisions inform detailed scheme guidelines which are available, along with further information on the schemes, at www.welfare.ie.

Generally, entitlement under the schemes is withdrawn as a result of failure on the part of a claimant to satisfy scheme criteria. Consistent with the objective of operating the schemes efficiently and effectively such withdrawals may be temporary in nature or a full disallowance may be imposed depending on the circumstances of an individual case.

Given the range of circumstances under which person may cease to have an entitlement under the schemes more specific information would be required from the Deputy before statistics could be provided in this regard.

Where an individual does not have entitlement under jobseeker’s benefit or allowance, they may be eligible for the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, which is considered the "safety net" within the overall social welfare system. The SWA scheme provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

A person who is not satisfied with the outcome of their claim for a payment under the jobseeker’s or SWA schemes has the right to appeal against the decision to the independent social welfare appeals office.

Question No. 350 withdrawn.