Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 2 Nov 1999

Vol. 509 No. 6

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring


454 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the way in which his Department's assessment of the value of mountain ewes at £23 or £24 is arrived at in view of the fact the current market value is between £2 and £5; if he will liaise with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development to address this anomaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21027/99]

In assessing the means of a farmer for the purposes of farm assist, account is taken of the gross income from farming, including income from sheep farming, and any other self-employment, less any expenses necessarily incurred.

The assessment is factual and is designed to reflect the actual net income of the applicant. It is based on normal output and costs appropriate to normal stock levels, capacity and market trends. In the case of income from sheep, account is taken of the actual income received from sales together with any premium and/or headage payments received in respect of the flock. In any case where an applicant for farm assist feels that the assessment carried out does not accurately reflect current market trends and prices, it is open to him or her to request a review of the means assessment.

Richard Bruton


455 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the anomaly whereby blind pupils are restricted in their use of free travel in off-peak hours once they leave school; and if his attention has further been drawn to the restriction this places on these people moving on to avail of sheltered or open work opportunities which naturally require peak hour attendance. [21031/99]

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, as well as to certain people with disabilities under that age who are in receipt of certain social welfare type payments. It is also available to carers in receipt of carer's allowance and from last April, free travel is available to carers of people in receipt of a constant attendance allowance or prescribed relatives allowance.

An unrestricted free travel pass is issued to all visually impaired people under age 18 which enables them to travel during the normal restricted times. In addition, they are also issued with an unrestricted companion free travel pass that allows a person, aged 16 or over, to accompany the pass holder free of charge.

Visually impaired peopled over 18 years who are attending a full-time long-term rehabilitative course recognised by this Department are also entitled to an unrestricted free travel pass. However, persons in open work situations are subject to the time restrictions of the pass.

Time restrictions have been a feature of the free travel scheme since its inception on city bus services in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. There are no peak time travel restrictions on DART or sub urban rail services provided by CIE and private transport operators in other parts of the country.
The central issue in regard to time restrictions relates to capacity constraints. Time restrictions have been put in place because the transport companies concerned are under severe pressure from commuters travelling to and from work and school in the morning and evening.

Noel Ahern


456 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if a further period of exemption from disability benefit rule 5 will be allowed for a person (details supplied) in view of the fact he needs work and activity for therapy purposes and is not currently able or capable of going on full-time work. [21071/99]

The person concerned has been receiving disability benefit since February 1994. In September 1998, he applied for an exemption from the rules for a person receiving disability benefit to enable him to undertake part-time work with a view to rehabilitating himself for full-time work. The exemption was granted for a period of six months, subject to review at the end of that period.

In the course of the review in April 1999, my Department's medical adviser considered that the rehabilitative potential of the work involved as a means of preparing the person for full-time employment had been fully exploited. The chief medical adviser of my Department has since reviewed the case and he agrees with the view of the medical adviser in the matter. Accordingly, a further period of exemption from the rules of behaviour cannot be given and the person concerned has been informed.

Michael Ring


457 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the calculations of a farm assist payment to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [21116/99]

Michael Ring


458 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs when an oral hearing for a farm assist appeal will be scheduled for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [21117/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 457 and 458 together.

The person concerned applied for farm assist in April 1999.

Following an examination of his entitlement his income was assessed at £144 per week. This was based on assessments of £16 from his farm holding plus £128 benefit deriving from his spouse's earnings. In accordance with the rules he was assessed with half the means, namely £72 per week which qualified him for a weekly farm assist payment of £1.50.

The person concerned appealed that decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The case was referred to an appeals officer who decided that the assessment was in accordance with the statutory provisions and was fair and reasonable. All allowable expenses in respect of benefit from his spouses income and from the farming operation had been allowed in the means assessment. The persons appeal was disallowed and he was notified accordingly. In the absence of any new evidence the appeals officer did not consider that an oral hearing is necessary.