Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 14 Nov 1995

Vol. 458 No. 2

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Eoin Ryan


45 Mr. E. Ryan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the plans, if any, he has to waive the means test for non-contributory old-age pensions; the cost to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16757/95]

Entitlement to an old age non-contributory pension is determined by reference to the age of the applicant, whether he-she is resident in the State and satisfies a means test. This means test is similar to that used to determine entitlement to all social assistance payments and takes account of any income the applicant or his or her spouse or partner may have as well as property, other than the family home, and assets which are capable of providing an income. It also includes an assessment of the value of any capital or investments held.

The old age non-contributory pension forms part of the assistance payments directed at people with needs i.e. those with no other or only some limited form of income support. A means test is required to establish those needs.

The cost of abolishing the means test for entitlement to old age non-contributory pension is estimated at £255 million in a full year. It would also undermine the commitment to making contributions to the social insurance fund for pension purposes.

It is relevant to note in this context, that, as a consequence of the widening of the scope of social insurance coverage in recent years, the proportion of the elderly entitled to contributory pensions is rising. These pensions are, of course, not subject to the means test.

Desmond J. O'Malley


46 Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Social Welfare the impact that the increase in rent allowance subsidies will have on staffing levels in the eight regional health boards. [16777/95]

Expenditure on rent supplements under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme has increased from an estimated £8.6 million in 1990 to £44.8 million in 1994. The number of community welfare officers and superintendent community welfare officers — the staff who administer the scheme on behalf of my Department — employed by the health boards increased from 457 to 479 over the same period. A breakdown of those figures on an annual basis is set out in a tabular statement which I will make available to Deputies. This increase in staff has mainly occurred in the Eastern Health Board area.

The administration of the broader supplementary welfare allowance scheme involves basic payments, supplements, exceptional needs and urgent needs payments. Staff are also involved in assessing eligibility for health and welfare services administered by the health boards. Accordingly, in the absence of a detailed study, it cannot be assumed any increase in staff is solely a direct result of increased levels of expenditure on rent supplements.
Expenditure on Rent Supplements and Total Staff Levels in the Eight Health Boards

Expenditure on Rent Suppls. £m

Nos. of CWOs

Nos. of SCWOs





















Brendan Kenneally


47 Mr. Kenneally asked the Minister for Social Welfare the steps, if any, he will take to ensure that the social welfare tribunal hears a case which has been referred to it in regard to entitlements to unemployment benefit during periods from 1980 to 1982 in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16442/95]

The persons concerned were disqualified under the trade dispute provisions from receipt of unemployment benefit and assistance for the duration of the dispute by a deciding officer. The disqualifications were upheld by an appeals officer and the chief appeals officer. An appeals officer's decision is final and conclusive and may only be revised in the light of new evidence or facts. However, any person who is dissatisfied with the decision of an appeals officer may appeal the decision to the High Court on a point of law. No such appeal was made in this case.

The legislation establishing the Social Welfare Tribunal, the Social Welfare (No. 2) Act, 1982 provides that persons disqualified by a deciding officer and an appeals officer from receipt of unemployment benefit, arising from their participation in a trade dispute, can apply for an adjudication to the tribunal where the stoppage of work or trade dispute was "in existence on or after the 1st day of June 1982". The dispute in which the persons concerned were involved ended on 28 May 1982 and accordingly does not fall within the scope of the tribunal.

Austin Deasy


48 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason the adult dependant allowance for recipients of an invalidity pension is less than that for those in receipt of a retirement pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15617/95]

The adult dependant allowance payable with invalidity pension is £42.30, while in the case of retirement pension it stands at £48.10 if under age 66, and £52.30 if age 66 or over. The allowance payable with invalidity pension has historically been pegged at a higher rate compared to the adult dependant rates payable with short-term payments, but at a lower rate compared to the adult dependant rates payable with long-term payments.

It is of course open to a person to claim a retirement pension once he-she satisfies the qualification criteria.

It is estimated that it would cost more than £4 million to increase the invalidity pension adult dependant allowance to that payable for retirement pension, and could only be considered in the context of available resources.

Dermot Ahern


51 Mr. D. Ahern asked the Minister for Social Welfare the plans, if any, he has to amend the conditions for invalidity pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15417/95]

The conditions for entitlement to all the Department's schemes and services are kept under continuous review. Invalidity pension is payable in cases where an individual is deemed to be permanently incapable of work, and satisfies the contribution conditions. The decision as to whether an incapacity is such as to render an individual permanently incapable of work is based on a clinical assessment by one of the Department's medical referees. The scheme is operating effectively and I have no plans at present to amend the qualifying conditions.