Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Payments

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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597. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if there is currently a backlog of applications for the one-parent family payment; if so, the number of applications in the backlog; and the average time for processing a one parent family payment application.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32448/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Currently the average time to decide an One Parent Family application by my Department is two weeks and there is no backlog of OFP claims.

In general once a claim is received it is reviewed by a Deciding Officer within 72 hours. The time taken for a claim to be decided will vary depending on the individual case, as the officer may need to request more information from the customer before they can make a decision.

At present all OFP claims received up to and including the 17th of June are in progress with an officer.

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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598. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way that income from scholarships (details supplied) bursaries, stipend or scholarships for PhDs is treated to ensure that it is disregarded for persons in receipt of the disability allowance and blind pensions. [32449/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The social protection system includes a variety of social assistance payments with different rules in relation to means testing, reflecting the different contingencies under which payments are made.  The means assessment reflects the fact that there is an expectation that people with reasonable amounts of income or capital are in a position to use these resources to support themselves so that social welfare expenditure can be directed towards those who need it most.  

The Department of Social Protection encourages 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.  In addition, income received from the SUSI grant is disregarded in the means test for most social welfare schemes.

There are also 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.  For Disability Allowance and Blind Pension, the disregard includes any amount of a bursary, scholarship or stipend awarded for completion of Doctoral Degree studies at an approved institution up to a maximum of €20,000 per year.

Other scholarships where a disregard is not provided for in legislation would be assessed as income.  

Disregards across all of the Department's schemes are kept under constant review and any changes will be considered in a policy and budgetary context.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

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