I recently signed Regulations which introduced a new disregard which will apply to Disability Allowance recipients who have been granted bursaries, stipends or scholarships towards completing a PhD. It is subject to an annual limit of €20,000 per annum (i.e. if a recipient gets more than one bursary, the combination cannot exceed €20,000) and is available for a maximum of four years.
The disregard applies to Disability Allowance. Invalidity Pension is a benefit payment and a person's entitlement is dependent on their social insurance history. As such, it is not subject to a means test. A recipient of Invalidity Pension can receive income through a scholarship without their payment being affected.
My Department encourages other social welfare recipients to avail of education and training through the Back to Education scheme, as well as by referrals to Education and Training Board courses through the Department's Intreo service. In addition, income received from the SUSI grant is disregarded in the means test for most social welfare schemes.
Also, there are a number of scholarships, such as those awarded by certain charitable organisations, which are not assessed as part of the means test for social welfare payments. These include payments under the 1916 Bursary Fund and under Higher Educational Scholarships for Adult Learners from Uversity to a maximum of €7,000 per annum. Uversity is a registered charity that has been awarding Higher Education Scholarships to adult learners since 2018.
Any extension of means disregards would need to be examined in an overall budgetary context.
Questions Nos. 1108 and 1109 withdrawn.