Thursday, 5 March 2015

Ceisteanna (55)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

55. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the extent to which she remains satisfied that hardship is alleviated in respect of non-European Union nationals in this country who, in most cases, have been employed and paid relevant taxes in this jurisdiction for up to ten years, but who may not qualify for social welfare payments in the event of their employers being forced to dismiss them on residency grounds; if she will examine these cases on humanitarian grounds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9763/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

Questions relating to the residence of non-Irish nationals are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

However, it is understood that any non EEA national who has worked here legally and consistently for a period of five years or more, is entitled to seek a letter from the Department of Justice and Equality granting permanent residence. Where a person is granted the right of permanent residence, entitlement to social assistance payments is on the same basis as that of Irish citizens.

The International Organisation for Migration (Ireland) provides a voluntary return programme that is open to non-EEA migrants wishing to return home voluntarily, without the means, including the necessary documentation, to do so.

In terms of services offered by the Department of Social Protection the supplementary welfare allowance scheme provides a "safety net" within the overall social welfare system and provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. The Government has provided €27.9 million for the scheme in 2015.

An exceptional needs payment is a means tested payment payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. Unlike other social assistance schemes operated by the Department, exceptional needs payments are not subject to the habitual residence condition.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 54.