Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
617. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person who is unemployed and wishes to undertake an education and training board, ETB, course is not eligible for a social welfare payment while partaking in the course (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51361/19]
The range of education and training supports available through my Department enable eligible persons to pursue approved courses and to continue to receive income support for the duration of their training or study, subject to meeting certain conditions.
My Department supports jobseekers, through the preservation of their welfare payment, wishing to advance to part-time education or short term training from their first day in receipt of a payment. This ensures training and educational opportunities are available to jobseekers following initial engagement with the Department. These supports include SpringBoard, 1 year part-time courses and other part-time courses through the Education Training Boards (ETBs).
In addition those who continue to maintain their jobseekers payment while studying, there is a further group of people in receipt of a Training Allowance directly from the ETBs while pursuing education up to a QQI level 6. These would generally have been in receipt of social welfare support prior to transferring to the ETB's education programmes.
Longer term education supports are available under the back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme. Anyone interested in the BTEA will have to satisfy a number of conditions such as being in receipt of a prescribed social welfare payment for a specified time period and pursuing a full-time course of study leading to a recognised qualification. The conditions under which the BTEA operate are designed to ensure that they address the objective of supporting longer term social welfare customers into employment.
Overall, it is important to note that the purpose of these supports is to raise educational and skill levels so as to improve a welfare recipient’s employment prospects.
Eligibility to the supports available depends on the type and duration of the particular course being pursued. I would advise the Deputy that any person that is unemployed and seeking to undertake a course is encouraged to engage with their local Intreo centre to assess the options available to them.