Thursday, 12 December 2019

Questions (350)

Martin Heydon


350. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of setting up an administrative regime in order that the approximately 150,000 qualified adults who receive the qualified adult payment at the same rate as at present directly from her Department rather than through the payment of another person. [52498/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

An Increase for a Qualified Adult is an additional payment made to social welfare recipients in respect of a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant who is financially dependent on them. This additional payment is means-tested.

The Department estimates that payments will be made in respect of an average of 150,000 Qualified Adults per week in 2020, across various working age schemes, as well as pensions.

Making payments directly to Qualified Adults and, as such, treating them as social welfare customers in their own right, would have administrative cost implications across various functions of the Department.

The Department's various schemes are operated through a network of Intreo offices and centralised scheme areas. The main components of workflow in the Department’s processing sections are claim processing, maintenance, control activity and dealing with enquiries. These functions are supported by inspectors and employment services, as appropriate, and by shared infrastructure and IT systems. The latter systems deliver various aspects of claim processing and payments, including means assessment. In addition, certain scheme administrative costs are also incurred centrally including accounts, payment costs by external agencies such as An Post, policy development, social welfare appeals, medical assessors and training.

I am advised that it is not possible to disaggregate the specific administration costs for particular schemes, or specific groups of recipients, given the level of costs which are borne centrally and the number of staff who are engaged, on one level or another, in the administration and support functions of more than one scheme, and for more than one group of recipients.

As such, it is not possible to provide an estimated cost for amending the current system to ensure that Qualified Adults across all schemes receive the payments currently made to their spouse, cohabitant or civil partner directly.