Thursday, 7 October 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Payments
85. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will remove PhD stipends and scholarship awards for PhDs from means-tested social welfare payments as she has already done for the disability allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48689/21]
Earlier this year, I signed Regulations which introduced a new disregard which applies to Disability Allowance recipients who have been granted bursaries, stipends or scholarships towards completing a Level 10 postgraduate course. It is subject to an annual limit of €20,000 per annum (i.e. if a recipient gets more than one bursary, the combination cannot exceed €20,000) and is available for a maximum of four years.
My Department encourages other social welfare recipients to avail of education and training through the Back to Education scheme, as well as by referrals to Education and Training Board courses through the Department's Intreo service. The Deputy will be aware that income received from the SUSI grant is disregarded in the means test for most social welfare schemes.
In addition, there are a number of scholarships, such as those awarded by certain charitable organisations, which are not assessed as part of the means test for social welfare payments.
These include payments under the 1916 Bursary Fund and under Higher Educational Scholarships for Adult Learners from Uversity to a maximum of €7,000 per annum. Uversity is a registered charity that has been awarding Higher Education Scholarships to adult learners since 2018.
Any extension of means disregards would need to be examined in an overall budgetary and policy context.