Committee on Finance. - Vote 53—Social Assistance.

Tairgim:

Go ndeonófar suim fhorlíontach nach mó ná £135,000 chun íoctha an mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1962, le haghaidh Pinsin Seanaoise agus Pinsin do Dhaill, Liúntais Leanaí, Cúnamh Dífhostaíochta, Pinsin Neamhranníocacha Baintreach agus Dílleachtaí agus le haghaidh Ilseirbhísí Ilghnéitheacha Leasa Shóisialaigh, lena n-áirítear Deontais.

Séard is cuspóir leis an Meastachán Fhorlíontach seo ná an t-airgead bhreise a fháil a bhéas riachtanach i rith na bliana seo de thoradh An Achta Leasa Shóisialaigh (Forálacha Illgnéitheacha), 1961, a mhéadaigh, le h-éifeacht ó thosach mí Lúnasa, 1961, na rátaí Pinsean Seanaoise agus Pinsean do Dhalla, Pinsean Neamhranníochach do Bhaintreacha agus na Rátaí Cúnaimh Dhífhostaíochta, agus a chuir feabhasanna eile i bhfeidhm ins na seirbhisí sin chómh maith.

Mar a teaspáintear ins an Meastachán Fhorlíontach, sé an suim bhreise atá ag teastáil le h-aghaidh Pinsin Seanaoise—Fo-mhírcheann A— ná £140,000. Nuair a bhí an Bille ós cómhair na Dála measadh go mbéadh breis caiteachais de £336,000 ar Phinsin Seanaoise sa bhliain 1961-62. Meastar anois ná rachaidh an bhreis caiteachais thar £328,500. Ar an dtaobh eile, beidh spáráil de £188,500 de bhrí nár shrois uimhir na bpinsean a bhí iníochta i rith na bliana an leibhéal a measadh ar dtúis. Mar sin, ní bheidh ag teastáil ach £140,000 sa bhreis i gcóir Pinsean Seanaoise.

I gcás Fo-mhírcheann D—Pinsin Neamhranníochacha do Bhaintreacha agus do Dhílleachtaithe—measadh ar dtúis go gcosnódh na rátaí nua agus na feabhais eile £75,000 sa bhliain 1961-62. Meastar anois go dtiocfaidh an costas go dtí £79,000. Meastar leis, toisc luach seachtainiúil na bpinsean a bheith beagán níos aoirde ná mar a ceapadh, go mbéadh £16,000 sa bhreis ag teastáil taobh amuigh ar fad de chostas na rátaí nua. Mar sin, tá £95,000 ar fad de dhíth fé'n Fo-mhírcheann seo.

Fé Fo-mhírcheann G, táthar ag lorg suim bhréise de £500 le h-aghaidh Leasa na nDall. Séard is cúis leis an mbarríocht ná méadú ó £40 go £60 in aghaidh na bliana a rinneadh i ráta an cheann-deontais i leith oibritheóirí dalla atá ag obair i seomraí oibre institúd aitheanta, agus atá in a gcónaí taobh amuigh. Méadaíodh an ráta deontais i mí Deireadh Fómhair, 1961, le h-éifeacht ón chéad lá d'Aibreán, 1961. Meastar go gcosnóidh an méadú £1,500 in aghaidh na bliana ach ní bheidh ach tuairim is a leath de sin iníochta roimh deire na bliana seo. Toisc go bhfuiltear ag súil le spáráil bheag ar an mbun-mheastachán, meastar anois gur leor suim bhreise de £500 in aghaidh na bliana 1961-62.

I gcás Cúnaimh Dhífhostaíochta, measadh go mbéadh suim bhreise de £165,000 iníochta i rith na bliana seo de bhárr forálacha an Achta a reachtaíodh i 1961. Meastar anois gur bé costas na bhforálacha sin ná £153,000. Ar an dtaobh eile, bhí laghdú in uimhir na n-éilitheóir ar chúnamh dhífhostaíochta sa bhliain seo, agus dá bhrí sin meastar go mbeidh an caiteachas £153,000 níos lú ná mar a measadh i dtosach. Mar sin, ní gá aon suim bhreise a chur ar fáil fé'n Fho-mhírcheann seo.

Chímíd mar sin gur bé an mór-iomlán atá de dhíth ná £235,000. Táthar ag súil le breis fáltaisí de £100,500 fé Fho - mhírcheann J — Leithreasa - i - gCabhair—agus nuair a cuirtear iadsan san áireamh, sé £135,000 an glaniomlán. Baineann na Leithreasa-i-gCabhair le suimeanna a íochtar ar an gcéad dul síos as an Vóta le h-aghaidh Cúnaimh Shóisialaigh, agus a bhfaightear amach níos déanaí go bhfuil na h-eilitheóirí i dteideal sochair árachais. Rinneadh a lán íochaíocht de'n tsórt san san tréimhse ón 6ú lá d'Eanair, 1961, go dtí an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1961, i gcás daoine a bhí ag fáil Pinsean Neamhranníochach Seanaoise agus a bhí i dteideal Pinsean Ranníochach Seanaoise nó Pinsean Ranníochach do Bhaintreacha ón 6ú lá d'Eanair. Niorbh' fhéidir na h-éilimh go léir ar an bpinsean nua a chinneadh roimh deire na bliana, agus dá bhrí sin níor mhór méid iomlán na n-íochaíocht san a aisíoch ón Chiste Árachais Shóisialaigh do'n Vóta um Cúnamh Sóisialach sa bhlian 1961-62.

This Supplementary Estimate is required to meet the additional cost in the current year arising from the operation of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1961, which increased the rates of old age and blind pensions, windows' non-contributory pensions and unemployment assistance as from the beginning of August, 1961, and effected other improvements in these services.

As shown in the Supplementary Estimate, the additional sum required for Old Age Pensions—subhead A— is £140,000. When the new legislation was being enacted it was estimated that the additional expenditure in the current financial year from this subhead would be £336,000. It is now estimated that the cost will be slightly less, namely, £328,500. However owing to the number of pensions in payment during the year being less than anticipated there will be an estimated saving of £188,500 on the original provision of £9,000,000 for old age pensions, with the result that an additional sum of £140,000 will suffice.

As regards subhead D—Widows' and Orphans' Non-Contributory Pensions—it was originally estimated that the cost in 1961-62 of the increases and other improvements would be £75,000. The cost is now estimated at £79,000. It is also now estimated that owing to the average weekly value of pensions in operation being slightly higher than anticipated, the original provision of £1,748,000 for widows' and orphans' non-contributory pensions will be £16,000 too low. Accordingly, an additional sum of £95,000 will be required under this subhead.

On subhead G, there is provision for an additional sum of £500 for welfare of the blind. The excess is due to an increase from £40 to £60 a year in the rate of capitation grant in respect of out-resident blind workers employed in the workshops of approved institutions. The rate was increased in October, 1961 with effect from the 1st April, 1961. The additional cost is estimated at £1,500 annually. Approximately half that amount will fall due for payment in the current financial year. As small savings are expected on the original provision of £19,000 for welfare of the blind it is now estimated that an additional sum of £500 will suffice for 1961-62.

I should mention that the additional cost arising under the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1961, in the case of unemployment assistance was originally estimated at £165,000 in the current financial year. The cost is now estimated at £153,000. Owing, however, to a reduction in the number of applicants for unemployment assistance in the current year, it is now estimated that there will be a saving of approximately £153,000 on the original provision of £1,110,000 for this service. Accordingly, the costs arising under the new Act will be met in full from the savings, and no additional provision is required on the subhead for unemployment assistance.

The gross estimated additional expenditure accordingly comes to £235,500. This amount is reduced by £100,500 in respect of estimated additional receipts to the Vote under subhead J.—Appropriations in Aid. Provision was made in the original Estimate for 1961-62 for repayments from the Social Insurance Fund of interim payments of social assistance totalling £8,600. It is now estimated that this provision will be increased by £100,500. These interim payments are payments from the Social Assistance Vote made to persons who are subsequently found to have been entitled to insurance benefit. The additional receipts in the current financial year are due to the fact that many recipients of non-contributory old age pensions became entitled, on or after 6th January, 1961, to old age contributory pensions or, in the case of certain widows over 70 years of age, to widows' contributory pensions. Payment of non-contributory pensions was made pending determination of their title to contributory pensions. The volume of claims to be dealt with in the initial stages of the new scheme was so great that many awards of contributory pension effective from a date in the quarter ended 31st March, 1961, could not be made before that date. Accordingly, payments from the Social Assistance Vote made in these cases in the last quarter of 1960-61 fell to be treated as payments on account of insurance benefit. The necessary adjustment between the Social Insurance Fund, from which the insurance benefits are paid, and the Social Assistance Vote was made in the current financial year. As the Appropriation Account for 1960-61 was closed, the receipts from the Fund fall to be credited as Appropriations in Aid of this year's Vote. When these excess receipts are taken into account, the net amount to be provided is reduced to £135,000.

There is just one point I wanted to ask the Minister in connection with this. As he points out, it is necessary to bring in this Supplementary Estimate by reason of the 1961 Welfare Act. In the second paragraph of the Minister's English translation of his Irish statement, he refers to a saving of £188,500, which is due to the number of old age pensions in payment during the year being less than anticipated. I was wondering if the Minister had the actual figure in numbers, whether there were 100 or 1,000 people fewer in receipt of the pension?

I cannot give it to the Deputy at the moment, but I shall let him have it.

Vote put and agreed to.