Séard atá sa Bhille seo ná forálacha is gá chun feidhm a thabhairt do na méadaithe a fógraíodh sa Cháinfhaisnéis i rátaí sochar, liúntas agus cúnamh faoi na scéimeanna leasa shóisialaigh agus chun scéim deontas a thabhairt isteach, faoin córas liúntais leanaí, i leith leanaí cáilithe a saolaítear in ilbhreith triúr leanaí nó níos mó. Ina theannta sin tá forálacha ann chun an uasteorainn aoise i leith dílleachtaí agus leanaí cáilithe de bhaintreacha, a bhfuil pinsean leasa shóisialaigh á íoc dóibh, a ardú ó 16 go 21 bliain fad a bhíonn na leanaí ag fáil teagaisc lánaimsire.
Forálann an Bille go bhfaighidh pinsinéirí neamh-ranníochacha uilig-sean-aoise, daille, baintrí nó dílleachta —10/- breis in aghaidh na seachtaine. De thoradh na méadaithe pinsean seo is féidir leathnú ar na teorainneacha bliantiúla acmhainne agus na rátaí pinsean i dtreo is go mbeidh rátaí breise ag an bpointe is ísle de gach scála iníochta le daoine nach raibh in ann pinsean dfháil go dtí seo de dheasca acmhainne.
Táthar ag méadú ar na rátaí cúnaimh dífhostaíochta do réir 10s in aghaidh na seachtaine agus do réir 10s eile i leith cleithiúnaí aosaithe, más iníoctha iad. De bharr na méadaithe leathmófar ar an dteorainn acmhainne i gcomhair daoine cáilithe chun cúnamh dífhostaíochta.
Forálann an Bille go méadofar rataí liúntas leanaí i leith an dara linbh cáilithe ó 15/6 go £1 10s in aghaidh na míosa agus ó £1 6s 6d go £2 i leith gach linbh cháilithe de bhreis ar beirt. Seasfaidh an ráta liúntas i leith an chéad linbh cháilithe ag 10/- in aghaidh na míosa. Ó Lúnasa amach beidh deontas íníochta de £100 i leith leanaí cháilithe a saoláitear in ilbhreith triúr leanaí agus £150 i leith leanaí d'ilbhreith ceathrar nó níos mó. Íocfar an deontas comh maith leis an liúntas míosúil i leith na leanaí, atá níos mó fé dhó i gcás mar sin ná an gnáth liúntas atá íochta.
Méadófar de réir 10/- in aghaidh na seachtaine na rátaí sochar dífhostaíochta, sochar míchumais, sochair máithreachais agus pinsean ranníochach i leith baintrí dílleachta agus seanaoise maraon le 10/- breise in aghaidh na seachtaine i gcás méadú i leith cleithiúnaí aosaithe más iníochta é. Méadófar na rátaí ranníoca fostaíochta agus na ranníoca saorálacha san Bhille fresin.
Forálann an Bille méadú de 10/- sna rátaí do na príomh sochar agus liúntas seachtainiúil faoin scéim árachais diobhálacha céirde agus méadú dá réir 'sna rátaí eile. Ardófar an uasteorainn aoise do dhilleachtaíagus leanaí baintrí ó 18 go 21 fhad a mbhíonn siad ag fáil teagasc lánaimsire. Méadófar do réir pingin méid na ranníocha i leith árachais díobhálacha ceirde chun íoc as na méadaithe sna rátaí sochar agus liúntas.
Anuraidh cuireadh ar fáil den céad uair, faoi coinníollacha áirithe, méadú pinsin de 45/- do phinsinéirí sean-aoise agus baintrí thar 70 bliain d'aois atá éagumasach agus ar gá bangaol forordaithe fostaíocht inárachaithe a fhágáil chun cúram lán-aimsire a fhreastal ortha. Cuirfidh an Bille seo ar cheall an coinníoll go gcaithfidh an bhangaol forordaithe fostaíocht inárachaithe a fhágáil sul a n-íocfar an méadú pinsin. Ardófar ráta an méadaithe go 55/- sa tseachtain freisin agus tiocfaidh na feabhsaithe ar an socar seo i bhfeidhmin Eanáir, 1970.
Beidh na feabhsanna thuasluaite ins na scéimeanna neamh-ranníoca i bhfeidhm ó thosach Lúnasa agus formhór na méadaithe ins na scéimeanna árachais shóisialaigh i bhfeidhm ó thosach Mí Eanáir seo chuiginn.
It is necessary with this type of legislation to draft the Bill mainly by way of amendments to existing Acts. The explanatory memorandum which was issued with the Bill has, therefore, been made as informative as possible and I trust the Deputies will find it helpful in interpreting the various amendments. The Budget increases in the field of social assistance will give an extra 10/- a week to all existing non-contributory old age, blind, widow and orphan pensioners making the maximum personal rate of old age and blind pension £3 15s a week and the maximum personal rate of widow's pension £3 13s 6d a week. The increases in the personal rates of pension will enable the scale of means and rates of pension to be extended in each case to give additional rates at the bottom of the scales which will be payable to persons whose means are outside the present limits for pension.
The rates of unemployment assistsid ance for persons in urban and rural areas are also being increased by 10s a week for the recipient and by a further 10s where there is an adult dependant. The maximum rate will then be £3 1s 6d for a single person and £5 17s 6d for a married couple resident in an urban area; outside urban areas the corresponding rates will be £2 15s for a single person and £5 9s 6d for a married couple. These increases of unemployment assistance at the maximum will have the effect of automatically extending the means limit for qualification for unemployment assistance.
The rate of children's allowance for the second qualified child in each family will be increased from 15s 6d to £1 10s a month and the rate for the third and subsequent qualified children from £1 6s 6d to £2 a month. The rate for the first qualified child will remain unchanged at 10s a month. As the Minister for Finance announced in the Budget Statement, adjustments of the tax free allowances under the income tax code in respect of the second and subsequent children in families will, to some extent, offset the increase in rates of children's allowances for the children in families which are liable for income tax. However, the larger families not so liable will gain substantially from the increases in children's allowances —a four child family will get £6 a month as against £3 18s 6d at present and a six child family will get £10 as against £6 11s 6d at present.
The Bill provides for a new grant of £100 to be payable on a multiple birth of three children and £150 on a multiple birth of more than three children. This will be in addition to any monthly children's allowance which the family may receive in respect of those children, the rate of which in any such case is double the normal rate.
The increases in rates of social insurance benefits and pensions will come into operation at the beginning of January next and will provide an extra 10s a week for recipients of old age (contributory) pension, widows' (contributory) pension, orphans' (contributory) allowance, disability benefit, unemployment benefit and maternity allowance. There will also be an additional 10s a week for an adult dependant. A single old age (contributory) pensioner will get £4 2s 6d a week and a married couple £7 12s 6d while a widow without children will get £3 15s a week. The personal rates of unemployment and disability benefit will then be £3 15s a week for a single person and £6 17s 6d for a married couple. Certain rates of unemployment benefit which are payable where unemployment continues after 156 days are the same as the maximum rates of unemployment assistance payable in urban areas. As assistance rates are being increased from the beginning of August next, these particular rates of unemployment benefit are also being increased from then.
To meet the extra expenditure on the increased rates of benefits and pensions, an increase in the social insurance contributions payable by employers and employees is necessary. The increase proposed in the rates of social insurance contributions, where all insurance benefits are covered, is 3s 9d a week, with lesser increases where only some of the benefits are covered. The increase of 3s 9d in the ordinary rate of men's contribution will be shared by the employer paying 1s 11d and employee 1s 10d and the total contribution will then be 25s 1d a week. Consequent on the increases and improvements in the social insurance system generally being provided in the Bill, it is proposed to deal similarly with the benefits payable under the occupational injuries scheme. The increases proposed are 10s in the rates of the main weekly paid benefits and allowances with proportionate increases in other payments. These changes will not involve any charge on the Exchequer as all benefits under the scheme are met out of the occupational injuries fund which is financed by contributions paid by employers only. An increase of 1d in these contributions will be necessary to meet the cost of the increases.
The overall weekly employment contribution payable in respect of men in ordinary industrial or commercial employment will, from January, 1970, be 28s 3d made up of 25s 1d in respect of social insurance, 2s 2d in respect of occupational injuries insurance and 1s in respect of redundancy payments. Of this, the employer will pay 15s 5d and the employee 12s 10d. In the case of women in such employment, the overall weekly contribution will be 26s made up of 23s 8d for social insurance, 1s 7d for occupational injuries insurance and 9d for redundancy. Of this the employer will pay 14s 4d, the employee 11s 8d.
The increase in the rate of voluntary contribution covering widows' and orphans' pensions only will be 8d making it 5s 3d and the increase in the contribution which covers also old age (contributory) pension will be 1s 6d, making it 10s 10d. A table showing the present and proposed rates of contribution appears in the explanatory memorandum.
Last year, a new benefit for incapacitated old age pensioners, both contributory and non-contributory, and for contributory widow pensioners aged 70 and over was introduced. The benefit originally consisted of an increase of pension of £2 5s a week in respect of a prescribed female relative where the pensioner is so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention and is living alone or has no other adult living with him capable of looking after him. It is proposed in the Bill to modify the scheme as from the beginning of January, 1970, so as to remove the requirement that the prescribed female relative must have given up insurable employment. The Bill also provides power for the general conditions of the scheme to be laid down in regulations. This will supplement the powers already in the scheme to prescribe the female relatives who qualify and the regulations which I intend to make will enable the increase of pension to be paid even where the daughter or step-daughter never left home. The rate of payment is also being increased to £2 15s a week under the Bill.
Another change affecting both social insurance and social assistance schemes is designed to assist widows and those having care of orphans in the education of the children. This involves the raising to 21 years of the age limit for orphans' pensions and for qualification for the increases of widows' pensions in respect of children, where the child continues in full-time education. The present age limit is 16 in the case of orphans' pensions, widows' pensions and old age pensions under both the contributory and the non-contributory codes. In the occupational injuries scheme, where the new age limit will also apply in the case of orphans and the children of widows and widowers, the present age limit is 18. Up to 1966 a person receiving old age (contributory) pension or widow's (contributory) pension was disqualified for receiving the corresponding non-contributory pension. In that year statutory provision was made to enable the contributory pensioners mentioned to opt for the appropriate non-contributory pension, if they satisfied the conditions for its receipt and it would be of advantage to them to do so. The necessity for this arose because, as a result of increases in non-contributory pensions, some of the higher rates of these pensions exceeded some of the lower rates of contributory pensions. From August next when non-contributory pensions are increased until January next when contributory pensions are increased, cases will arise where the non-contributory pension would be temporarily more favourable than the corresponding contributory pension. It was never the intention that the provisions of the 1966 Act should operate in such circumstances and the Departmental machinery is not geared for short-term switching from one pension to the other and back again. There is a provision in the Bill, therefore, to prevent such switching where the advantage would be a temporary one only. The right of a pensioner to switch where the advantage would be permanent will not, however, be affected.
A non-contributory old age pensioner who is detained in a mental hospital cannot at present get more than £1 of his pension as pocket money and then only if the hospital authorities think he is capable of using money. There is provision in the Bill to remove this limit of £1.
I do not propose to go into any greater detail at this stage as I feel sure that the explanatory memorandum will have given Deputies a good picture of the proposals in the Bill and of their effects. It might, however, be helpful to Deputies if I were to summarise the cost of the various proposals in the Bill. On the social assistance side there is £3,071,000 for old age and blind pensions, £507,000 for widows' and orphans' pensions, £1,280,000 for unemployment assistance, and £5,278,000 for children's allowances, the total cost being £10.136 million in a full year, all of which will fall on the Exchequer. There will, of course, be a recovery of some £400,000 of this by way of adjustments in the income tax code in respect of children. The gross cost of improvements on the social insurance side will be £6,969,000. Allowing for an increased annual income of £5,255,000 to be raised from the increases in rates of contributions, the cost to be met by the Exchequer will be £1,714,000 in a full year.
I have much pleasure in recommending the Bill to Dáil Éireann and I ask for speedy and favourable consideration of it.