Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

406 Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will extend the living alone allowance payment to pensioners who live here but receive their pensions from another EU country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27906/01]

The living alone allowance is an additional payment of £6, 7.62, per week, to people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare type payments and who reside alone.

The allowance is an integral part of the Irish pension system which is paid as an additional allowance on our pensions. As such, it has no applicabilityvis-à-vis pension payments made under the social security regimes of other EU member states or countries with which Ireland has bilateral agreements.

Accordingly, there are no plans to change or expand the eligibility conditions along the lines suggested.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

407 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will consider making a recognition payment to carers who provide full-time care and attention for family and who are in excess of the income limit as assessed; his views on whether such persons provide the same care and consideration as eligible applicants; if he will recognise the fact by payment of an appropriate stipend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28086/01]

The review of the carer's allowance, published in October 1998, examined the purpose of the carer's allowance and concluded that it is an income support payment and not a payment for caring. Accordingly, a payment along the lines suggested would not be appropriate in the context of the existing carer's allowance.

However, the review did propose the introduction of a non-means tested continual care payment to recognise carers providing the highest levels of care and to promote care in the community. It envisaged that such a payment would be made, irrespective of income or social welfare entitlement, to carers caring for those who are in the highest category of dependency.

In order to differentiate between the levels of care and care needs, the review considered that a needs assessment encompassing both the needs of the care recipient and the carer should be introduced, and that the continual care payment could be introduced following the introduction of such an assessment.

Establishing a pilot system of needs assessment for carers and people needing care was identified as a priority in the Government's review of its action programme. This area is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children.
There are ongoing discussions at Government, regarding long-term care issues. These are taking place in the context of the health strategy, which I understand from my colleague the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, will be published shortly.