Thursday, 28 January 2016

Questions (33)

Sandra McLellan


33. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if a person participating in an apprenticeship who has a partner and two children, is eligible to apply under the family income supplement scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3522/16]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Family income supplement (FIS) is an in-work support, which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children. The Revised Estimates for 2016 state that in excess of €410 million will be spent on FIS this year. FIS is currently supporting approximately 56,000 recipients.

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. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with him/her or is supported by him/her. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount, which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

The “full-time” employment condition has been a fundamental part of the FIS payment since its introduction in 1984, although the number of hours worked in order to satisfy this condition has been reduced considerably. The requirement was initially set at 30 hours per week but was progressively lowered to 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week in 1996.

Apprentices during the course of their apprenticeship typically undertake three off-the-job full time education phases. Attendance on a full-time education course is not considered full-time employment and consequently apprentices cannot qualify for FIS during these periods.

However, apprentices can qualify for FIS for the four on-the job apprenticeship phases when they are working for their employer.