asked the Minister for Defence the number of Old IRA applicants who are now deprived of special disability allowance due to the means test.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Special Disability Allowance.
In the period of 12 months from the 1st April, 1974, to the 31st March, 1975, 225 applications for special allowances were refused on the grounds that the applicants' means exceeded the prescribed sum.
Would the Minister consider changing the means test in relation to the special allowance? Is he aware that, in spite of the rate of inflation in the past couple of years, the exact same sliderule is being used to assess means of applicants?
I would not agree with the principle suggested by the Deputy. I think he is honestly mistaken in this regard. The means test is far from severe. It has been relaxed on many occasions. One of the principal forms of relaxation is to disregard, in full, increases in the various social welfare benefits, except in the case of disability benefit where, up to January, 1969, half the increases had been disregarded. The increases since January, 1969, are disregarded in full and that helps to keep pace with the cost of living. I will give some examples. Where a single person, widow or widower, is in receipt of an old age contributory pension of £10.50 a week or more, only 62½p per week is assessed. Where a married man is in receipt of a contributory old age pension of £17.15p per week or more, only £1.55p is assessed. Where a single person, widow or widower, is in receipt of a non-contributory old age pension of £8.85p per week or more, only 5p per week is assessed.
Is the Minister aware that I wrote to the Department giving details of three cases during the week and found that if there is 5p per week increase, the special allowance is reduced by a similar amount?
I should not like to comment on individual cases.
This applies generally.
I should not like to comment on any specific case sent to me by the Deputy, but only four persons who had special allowances ceased to be entitled to them during the period in question because on review their means were found to exceed the prescribed sum. Only four persons from a total of 10,000——
I will put down a question next week asking the Minister the number of special allowances that have been reduced.