Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 23 Mar 1995

Vol. 451 No. 1

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Ivor Callely


21 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Social Welfare his views on whether there is potential to develop the career's allowance scheme, particularly to encourage a carer to care for elderly people to remain in their own home rather than having to avail of nursing home care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6119/95]

The purpose of the carer's allowance is to provide an income maintenance payment to people who are providing elderly or incapacitated pensioners with full-time care and attention and whose income falls below certain limits. There is, of course, scope to further develop this important scheme in line with that objective and as financial resources permit.

I am pleased to be able to continue the work undertaken by previous Governments in progressively improving the carer's allowance. This year, as announced in last month's budget, the allowance is being improved in two important respects as provided for in the Social Welfare Bill currently before the House.
First, the scheme is being extended to include carers of incapacitated pensioners over 66 who are not in receipt of a social welfare pension, for example, those getting an occupational pension. It is only fair that those on social welfare pensions and those on occupational pensions should be treated equally as regards access to the carer's allowance. Many of those who will benefit will be public service pensioners on relatively low pensions.
Second, the means test for the carer's allowance is being significantly eased through an increase from £100 to £150 a week in the amount to be disregarded in respect of working spouses. In addition, the disregard will apply to income from all sources.
In addition a companion pass is being provided which may be used by the carer or by another companion which can assist the carer in taking a break.
As I have indicated, the further development of the scheme will be considered in the light of available resources. I should mention that no analysis has been undertaken by my Department of the cost of a general extension of the carer's allowance as against the cost of institutional care. That question has much wider implications which would fall to be considered by my colleague, the Minister for Health, in the context of current government policy in this area.

Mary Flaherty


22 Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for Social Welfare the estimated cost of extending entitlement to child dependant allowance for those up to the age of 22 years in full-time education to recipients of disability benefit and unemployment benefit; and the plans, if any, he has to extend such entitlement. [4233/95]

In this year's budget, the age at which child dependant allowances are payable with long term social welfare payments has been extended from age 21 to age 22 for those in full-time education. Child dependant allowances paid with short term payments such as disability benefit or unemployment benefit are payable up to the age of 18 years. The cost of extending that entitlement in the case of short term payments to age 22 would be of the order of about £3 million a year.

I should mention that a person who has been in receipt of disability benefit for 12 months and who is likely to remain incapable of work for a further 12 months may qualify for invalidity pension and, thereby, receive increases for children up to the age of 22 years in full-time education.

The proposed child benefit supplement is intended to subsume the child dependant allowances and no further extension of child dependant allowance is contemplated pending progress on this supplement.

Peadar Clohessy


23 Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the legal entitlements to social welfare payments of non-nationals who are in excess of 13 weeks residence in this State. [6198/95]

Claims by non-nationals for social welfare payments are determined in accordance with the same statutory conditions as claims by Irish nationals and, accordingly, the nationality of social welfare claimants is not an issue.

The EU social security regulations are a complex set of regulations covering migrant workers who are EU nationals and members of their families. The regulations provide for equality of treatment between workers who are nationals and other EU nationals in relation to Irish social insurance and social assistance payments covered by the regulations. The regulations provide, among other things, for the aggregation, where necessary, of a worker's insurance record in all member states for the purpose of acquiring or retaining the right to benefit. Thus, workers who do not satisfy the contribution conditions in our national legislation can rely on aggregation to qualify for payment of Irish disability benefit and unemployment benefit. If such persons have been insured in Ireland for at least one year, they can qualify forpro rata pensions (that is invalidity pension, survivor's pension and old age contributory pension). With regard to supplementary welfare allowance, which is not covered by the EU regulations, all persons in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs may qualify for payment.
Ireland has also concluded bilateral social security agreements with a number of countries which are designed to protect social security (pension) rights and prevent the possible double liability for payment of social security contributions. The agreements do not cover short term social security payments such as unemployment benefit, disability benefit, etc.