Thursday, 14 December 2006
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Social Welfare Benefits
Question 32: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the effect on persons in residential institutions resulting from the payment of full disability allowance; the number who will qualify; the way the payments will be handled by institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43159/06]
Question 62: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the effect on persons in institutions resulting from the payment of full disability allowance; the numbers eligible; the way these payments will be treated by institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43152/06]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 62 together.
The improvements made to the Disability Allowance (DA) scheme since its transfer from the Health Boards in 1996 mean that many of those who had previously been disqualified for payment under the DPMA scheme because they were in residential care are now entitled to payment under the (DA) scheme. Furthermore, people who are living in community-based residences are eligible to receive (DA) provided the relevant Health Board is not providing funding towards their maintenance.
However, the position of people in residential care since prior to August 1999, or those who entered residential care subsequent to that date without an entitlement to (DA), has been that they are disqualified from receipt of this payment solely because of their residency.
This situation was partially addressed in Budget 2005 when I introduced a new Disability Allowance (Personal Expenses Rate) to 2,700 people in residential care who qualified for this payment.
This payment replaced the pocket money (spending allowances) which had previously been paid to some of these residents by the Health Services Executive but at the standardised and higher rate of â¬35 per week. The weekly levels of the pocket money allowance had varied between Health Service Executive areas.
I have now moved beyond simply standardising the current personal allowances to make these people eligible for full (DA) at the rate of â¬185.80 per week as a matter of right, subject only to the same conditions as apply to others. As part of Budget 2007, the disqualification has been removed so that all persons in residential care will have an income maintenance payment on the same basis (in effect abolishing the disqualification and the Disability Allowance (Personal Expenses Rate)). The removal of the disqualification will ensure that persons in receipt of DA in residential care are treated in the same way as other social welfare recipients.
Arrangements are now being made to extend the payment of (DA), at the rate appropriate to their means, to approximately 2,700 people in residential care. This measure will be effective from 3 January 2007 and payments will be made in accordance with the joint level service agreements in place between my Department and the service providers. The payments to the people concerned will be treated in the same way as other Disability Allowance payments and in line with the protocols of the Health Services Executive for monies paid by my Department on behalf of persons in residential care.