The family income supplement (FIS) is an in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children. FIS is designed to prevent child and family poverty and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment as compared to social welfare payments. Expenditure on FIS for 2015 is estimated to be of the order of €349.2 million and it is currently paid to some 55,000 families in respect of almost 121,000 children.
An integral part of FIS is that the payment continues at the same rate for a period of 52 weeks, assuming the eligibility requirements continue to be met, except in the following circumstances:
- If a claimant starts to care for an additional child in the course of the 52 weeks.
- If a claimant was getting a one-parent family payment and this payment was stopped because their youngest child reached the relevant age limit.
The rate of payment will not change if there is an increase or decrease in earnings. The advantage of this approach, which is unique to the FIS scheme, is that claimants will receive a guaranteed level of income support throughout the period. This certainty is important to the success of the scheme as it provides an incentive to claimants to maximise their earnings from employment (e.g. more hours, higher wages). For those who experience a reduction in earnings, the rate of payment will be reassessed at renewal of their FIS claim.
This aspect of the FIS scheme is important in minimising the administrative effort associated with the scheme and in speeding up processing times for claims, which could otherwise be subject to delays due to periodic reviews.
A legislative review of the 52 week rule was carried out in 2013/14 and an amendment was included in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014 to reflect this policy. In view of the above, I have no plans to change the legislation.