Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Ceisteanna (246, 247, 248, 249, 250)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

387 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if disabled children will be included on a carer’s travel pass; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24984/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, to all carers in receipt of carer's allowance and to carers of people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relative's allowance. It is also available to people under age 66 who are in receipt of certain disability type welfare payments, such as disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind person's pension.

Children who are registered as blind or visually impaired with either the National Council for the Blind of Ireland or the National League of the Blind of Ireland are also entitled to free travel. Further extensions to the free travel scheme would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

388 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person who is in receipt of carer’s allowance is debarred from going on a further education course which would involve 27 hours per week; and if their carer’s allowance will be affected if they take up this course. [25035/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The principal conditions for receipt of carer's allowance are that full-time care and attention is required and being provided and that the means test which applies is satisfied.

Where a person in receipt of carer's allowance takes up an educational course or part-time employment which exceeds ten hours per week, then that person would generally no longer satisfy the qualifying conditions for receipt of the allowance and consequently payment of the allowance would cease.

However, persons who have been in receipt of carer's allowance for over 15 months and take up an approved education course that is certified as being full-time, may have an entitlement to back to education allowance. This is subject to certain qualifying criteria being satisfied.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind and provides further details, my Department will then be in a position to advise accordingly.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

389 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the changes in regulations which will allow persons who have class D stamps to qualify for social welfare payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25036/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Permanent and pensionable public servants employed, including for example teachers and those working in local authorities, who were employed before April 1995 are liable for PRSI class D contributions. Class D contributors have traditionally been insured for a limited range of social insurance benefits: widow's or widower's and orphan's (contributory) pensions; bereavement grant; occupational injuries benefits; and carer's benefit. The level of benefits available broadly reflects the level of social insurance contribution paid and the reduced need for protection or coverage against the main other contingencies such as illness, unemployment and old age.

Public servants and civil servants recruited after 6 April 1995, however, are insurable at PRSI class A. These contributions can provide entitlement to the full range of social welfare benefits and pensions.

The number of public and civil servants paying PRSI class A is steadily increasing and will over time come to represent the norm throughout the public sector. At this stage, there are no plans to make any further changes to the PRSI arrangements for public servants.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

390 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position on the payment of the rent allowance to a recipient of the lone parent’s allowance who is now on FÁS and in receipt of €175 per week from FÁS; if their rent allowance will be reduced in view of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25054/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Subject to certain conditions the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which is administered on behalf of my Department by the health boards, provides for the payment of rent supplement to eligible people whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs.

The regulations governing rent supplement stipulate that, in addition to a minimum contribution, currently €13, each recipient is required to contribute towards his or her rent any additional assessable means he or she has over and above the appropriate basic supplementary welfare allowance rate.

In the case of a person who has additional income as a result of participation in an approved training course, such as those run by FÁS, the means test provides for a weekly disregard of up to €50 of such additional income for rent supplement purposes. It is likely that the rent supplement payable to the person, in the position as outlined by the Deputy, will be reduced in view of the increase in his or her income.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

391 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo is not receiving unemployment benefit, and when they can expect to receive payment. [25075/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The person concerned made a claim for unemployment benefit from 24 August 2004. The deciding officer disallowed the claim on the grounds that the person is not unemployed.

The person concerned has appealed this decision to the social welfare appeals office. The appeal has been referred to the appeals officer who is of the opinion that an oral hearing is required. She will be advised of the date and venue for the hearing when the necessary arrangements have been made.

Under social welfare legislation decisions on claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.