Written answers

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Department of Social and Family Affairs

Flood Relief

9:00 pm

Photo of Ulick BurkeUlick Burke (Galway East, Fine Gael)
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Question 301: To ask the Minister for Social Protection if he will ask the Health Service Executive to reconsider the restrictive criteria imposed on the community welfare officers who are administering the humanitarian funds to flood victims in South Galway and Ballinasloe recognising that to date only €1.1million of the €10 million originally allocated has been given to support households affected; if the outstanding remainder will not be returned unspent to the Exchequer while hardship still exists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17763/10]

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Social and Family Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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The income test applied to the humanitarian aid scheme is designed to ensure that individuals and families with average levels of income will qualify for assistance. Applications under the scheme are income tested to determine the household's capacity to meet the costs of restoring their home to a habitable condition and to ensure that available assistance is prioritised for those who are most vulnerable.

All household income is considered when determining entitlement to payment and detailed guidelines have been provided to the HSE in that regard. These guidelines also contain a list of the type of goods/appliances that are generally covered by the scheme and what replacement value should typically be attributable to each item. This list is not exhaustive and is intended as a guide only. The income test and guidelines simplify the assessment process and to allow for the speedy processing of applications.

The level of payment available under the aid scheme to any qualified individual depends on the severity of the damage to that person's home and the extent of the loss experienced as well as household income and general family circumstances. The Community Welfare Service has full discretion to make payments at a higher level than a strict application of the income test would warrant in any individual case where it considers it appropriate to do so.

In conclusion, I would point out that the scheme has two objectives. Firstly, it provided financial and other assistance, without an income test, in the immediate aftermath of last November's flooding. Secondly, it provides income tested financial support for the replacement of essential household items and home repairs in cases not covered by insurance. I am satisfied that the scheme has met both of these objectives, bearing in mind that the scheme provides hardship alleviation as opposed to full compensation. Nobody has been refused support for the replacement of essential household items or for the repair of their home in cases not covered by insurance. In total, only six claims have been refused, none of which was because of household income, and there is no question of refusing to make a payment in any case where hardship still exists.

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