Written answers

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits

10:00 pm

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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Question 245: To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of applicants for the domiciliary care allowance that were refused in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. [39720/11]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Department has been accepting new claims for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) since the 1st April 2009. Statistics relating to the Allowance for the period prior to April 2009 are a matter for the HSE, the previous administrators of the scheme. The number of applicants for DCA refused in each year to date is detailed in the table.

Domiciliary Care Allowance applications April 2009 to date.

Applications receivedApplications fully processed in yearApplications allowed incl. on reviewApplications refused
2009 (From 1st April)3389282312201603
2011 (to 30th November)5226511823472771

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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Question 246: To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will review a matter (details supplied) regarding the household benefits package; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39751/11]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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There are currently 387,000 customers in receipt of the telephone allowance, administered under the household benefits package at an annual cost of €115 million in 2011. This is a significant increase since 2005 when 311,000 people were in receipt. The household benefits package, comprising telephone and electricity or gas allowance, as well as a free television licence is available for people aged 70 years or over, people in receipt of carer's allowance and people aged between 66 years and 70 years who are getting a qualifying payment e.g. pension, and are generally living alone. It is also available to people aged under 66 years who are getting a disability or caring related payment.

In recent months, the Department of Social Protection negotiated a deal with Eircom, the main supplier used by 75% of social welfare customers, whereby Eircom customers (including the person on whose behalf the Deputy has made the enquiry) now get a value of €26.86 toward their monthly telephone bill at a cost to the Exchequer of €22.22. This meant that from 1st September this year, the monthly rate of the telephone allowance charged to the Department was reduced from €25.91 to €22.22 achieving annual savings of €16.9 million on the scheme.

There was no change to the telephone allowance in Budget 2012. Difficult decisions had to be made in light of the existing economic situation and commitments made by the previous Government. However I believe the deal negotiated with Eircom provides real savings to the State while minimising the impact on the customer.


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