Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits

Paul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein)
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431. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of the domiciliary care allowance increased to €320 per month. [44408/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The estimated full year cost of increasing the Domiciliary Care Allowance to €320 per month is €5.9 million.

The cost shown above is on a full year basis and based on the estimated number of recipients in 2021. This costing is subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of recipients.

Paul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein)
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432. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason there was no Christmas bonus issued to those claiming illness benefit. [44460/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Christmas Bonus is paid to social welfare recipients such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, lone parents and the long-term unemployed in recognition of their long-term financial dependence on their social welfare payment for all or most of their income.

In recognition of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on employment levels and the sudden financial impact on individuals, the Bonus was, on a once-off basis only, paid this year to those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for a period four months or more and who were in payment on the date the Bonus was paid. It was also paid to people on equivalent jobseeker payments who had been in receipt of these payments for four months or more.

The reason Illness Benefit is not a qualifying payment for the Christmas Bonus is that, in the majority of cases, Illness Benefit is a short-term payment for those who are certified by their GP as needing to take time out from their employment due to illness.

People who are permanently incapable of work may be eligible for the non-means-tested Invalidity Pension, subject to satisfying the relevant medical criteria. Those who are substantially restricted in undertaking suitable employment arising from a medical condition may be eligible for the means-tested Disability Allowance, subject to meeting the relevant medical criteria.

Recipients of both Invalidity Pension and Disability Allowance are eligible for the Christmas Bonus, and may also be eligible for other benefits including Fuel Allowance and the Household Benefits Package.

Any change to the current eligibility criteria for the Christmas Bonus payment would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

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