Social welfare legislation provides that, for means-tested social assistance schemes, all income and assets belonging to the claimant, and his or her spouse/partner where applicable, is assessable for means testing purposes. The purpose of the means test is to ensure that resources are directed to those with the greatest need for income supports by the State.
I am advised that without knowledge of potential take-up, it is not possible to accurately calculate the cost of introducing the proposed disregard on Forest Premium Payments for recipients of Farm Assist payments.
As an indication, however, the full year cost per 1,000 Farm Assist recipients availing of a disregard similar to that applied to REPS, and based on an average annual premium payment of €4,900, would be €3.7 million.
Any change to the means testing of schemes would need to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.