The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme offers a safety net within the overall social welfare system by providing assistance to those whose means are insufficient to meet their own needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance to those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. There are several payments within the scheme, including urgent needs payments (UNPs).
Under Section 202 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, an urgent needs payment can be made to persons who have an urgent need which they cannot meet from their own resources or where an alternative is not available at that time. UNPs can be paid to people who may not normally qualify for SWA. The Department issued over 1,700 urgent needs payments in 2019.
Given the urgent need to ensure eligible claimants were paid as quickly as possible, Section 202 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 has been relied upon for the payment of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
There are a number of matters that may require placing the payment on a separate legislative footing including, for example, granting social insurance contributions to people who were temporarily laid off and are either in receipt of PUP or are being paid via the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. These matters are currently being considered and any necessary legislative proposals will be brought to Government for approval.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.