Written Answers. - Home Help Pay.

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

225 Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has to standardise and improve the rate of home help pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16622/96]

Limerick East): The salary scale for full-time home helps with effect from 1 June 1996 is in the range of £202.88-£214.79 per week. This is the same rate as applies in the health services to group 1 non-officer grades. The scale applies throughout the country and is increased from time to time in accordance with increases granted to non-nursing personnel.

With regard to persons engaged in the home help service on a part-time basis, the position is that the rate of remuneration varies considerably throughout the country. In particular in the Eastern Health Board area, the service is provided wholly by voluntary groups which accounts for the wide variation within the area. In all boards the rates are determined by the particular requirements and the type of task undertaken in individual cases. There is no formal limit to the number of hours allowed each week for home help. It should be noted that payments made to part-time home helps do not come within the scope of the PAYE system. Neither is such income taken into account for the purposes of a means test where a part-time home help — or the spouse of a part-time home help — is in receipt of a means tested social welfare payment.

In response to previous questions in this House I stated that my Department, in consultation with the chief executive officers of the health boards, has under consideration a number of aspects of the home help scheme, including the overall organisation of the service and the diversity of arrangements which exist within health boards for the provision of this service.

A discussion document submitted by the chief executive officer group formed the basis for this examination. Following on from these discussions, I have decided to have an examination of the operation of the home help service carried out by an independent body which will advise on measures to ensure the equity and high quality of the service in respect of both providers and recipients. I am pleased to say that my Department has invited tenders for this review. It is expected that the review should be completed in three to four months.