Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (715)

Eoin Ó Broin


715. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her role in the funding and issuing of free Leap cards for homeless families; the estimated cost of providing free cards to families in emergency accommodation outside of school term time; and if free cards for homeless families will be extended to include non-term time. [26766/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland commits to providing access to free public transport for family travel and for school journeys for homeless families in emergency accommodation. My Department is represented on the inter-agency group on homelessness where this issue is under consideration. As the Deputy is aware, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive currently provides Leap Cards to families to help meet costs of getting children to and from school. Further extension of that scheme is a matter for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is considered the "safety net" within the overall social welfare system in that it 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.

Families living in emergency accommodation placements may have additional costs, such as travel. Additional supports can be provided through a supplement under the SWA scheme which can be paid in addition to the weekly social welfare payment. In addition, under the SWA scheme the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.

Decisions on ENPs and SWA supplements are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. Assistance can be provided for travel costs where there are no other supports available.

I trust that clarifies the matter for the Deputy.