Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Code

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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47. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will reconsider the reintroduction of the diet supplement allowance for gluten-free products for coeliac sufferers who are in receipt of social welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46617/14]

Photo of Kevin HumphreysKevin Humphreys (Dublin South East, Labour)
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Diet supplement, administered under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, is payable to qualifying persons, in receipt of the supplement prior to February 2014, who have been prescribed a special diet as a result of a specified medical condition.

During 2013, the Department commissioned the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) to update their previous research published in 2006 and updated in 2007 on the costs of healthy eating and specialised diets.Pricing for a selection of foods based on branded and own label foods was surveyed in a sample of retail outlets for each diet. These outlets included large stores, large low cost stores, medium sized stores and convenience stores.

The research shows that the range of costs associated with a specialised diet is influenced mainly by the shopping location with the lowest costs being the large discount store and the highest cost the convenience store. The research showed that the average costs across all of the retail outlets of the diets supplemented under the scheme can be met from within one third of the minimum personal rate of social welfare payment, i.e. the SWA rate of €186 per week. The scheme was discontinued on the basis of this evidence andI have no plans to re-introduce it.

Payment of the supplement will continue to be made to the existing 5,000 recipients for as long as they continue to be entitled to the payment. In cases of particular hardship that may present, officials have the legislative power to award a payment under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in cases of exceptional need.


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