I propose to take Questions Nos. 232 and 233 together.
The reduced age related rates of payment for younger jobseeker’s allowance and supplementary welfare allowance recipients were introduced on a phased basis to protect them from welfare dependency by providing them with a strong financial incentive to participate in education or training to improve their chances of obtaining sustainable full time employment.
Age related reduced rates do not apply to jobseekers with a dependent child, or those who have transferred to jobseeker’s allowance from disability allowance or who were in State care during the 12 months before age 18.
As part of Budget 2020 I announced that jobseekers aged 18-24 living independently and receiving state support towards their housing costs will receive the full rate of jobseekers allowance or supplementary welfare allowance.
My Department’s report on the impact of age related reduced rates of jobseekers allowance on young jobseekers aged 18 to 25 years of age found that there was a small cohort of young people who face significant financial barriers who are living independently and in receipt of State support towards their housing costs. The residual income of those on age related reduced rates after paying the minimum contribution payments on rent supplement, housing assistance payment (HAP) and other local authority housing supports is significantly lower than those on the maximum rate of jobseeker’s allowance or supplementary welfare allowance which can lead to financial hardship.
This measure, which comes into effect in January 2020, will provide that young people in these circumstances can receive the maximum rate of payment and will help young people to continue living independently and reduce the threat of financial hardship. For those aged 18-24 this will provide a weekly increase of up to €90.30 with their weekly payment increasing from €112.70 to €203 for jobseekers and to €201 for those in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance. The estimated expenditure in a full year is €1 million and the estimated number of young people who will benefit from this measure is 300.
Young people who qualify for this measure will continue to be encouraged to engage with the employment support services and avail of pro-employment supports and schemes. A range of activation measures for the under 25’s have been developed and improved over recent years, most notably the EU-wide Youth Guarantee Programme and the Youth Employment Support Scheme which I introduced as part of Budget 2018.
My Department works with Tusla and non-Government organisations to support all vulnerable people including young people who are leaving care, at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, or in insecure situations.
Protocols are in place in all Intreo Centres to ensure that payments and activation supports for young people in insecure situations such as homelessness are not interrupted and they are advised to register with the Local Authority to engage with Housing Assistance Payment and local homeless services.
Supports under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme are also available to young people to help with essential expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. Young people who are in vulnerable situations, including homelessness are assessed to see what supports are most suitable for their individual circumstances. As the needs of this group are complex they require assessment on an individual basis and I believe this is the most appropriate way of helping them to overcome the significant challenges they face.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.