Tuesday, 12 July 2022
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Eligibility
614. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing eligibility thresholds for supplementary welfare allowance by €10%, 20% and 30% respectively in tabular form. [37316/22]
651. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of expanding criteria of additional need payments and exceptional needs payments, by €100, €200, €300, €400 and €500, respectively. [38007/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 614 and 651 together.
Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, my Department can make additional needs payments to help meet expenses that a person cannot pay from their weekly income. This is an overarching term used to refer to exceptional and urgent needs payments, and certain supplements to assist with ongoing or recurring costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary.
The payment is available to anyone who needs it and qualifies, whether the person is currently receiving a social welfare payment or working on a low income.
The household income amounts published in relation to additional needs payments are not an eligibility threshold, but are intended as an information guide to assist persons who may find themselves in financial difficulty and require assistance with essential expenses.
Guidelines issued to staff administering the scheme assist them in the decision making process and ensure consistency of service. However, they do not affect the discretion available to officers in issuing an additional needs payment to assist an individual or household in any particular hardship situation which may arise.
Payments are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme, considering the requirements of the legislation, and all the relevant circumstances of the case to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.
An additional needs payment amount, which can have a wide range value, will depend on a person’s weekly household income, their outgoings and the type of assistance needed.
On this basis, it is not possible to provide an estimated cost of increasing eligibility thresholds for additional needs payments by €10%, 20% and 30% or by €100, €200, €300, €400 and €500.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
615. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the capital disregards that are taken into account by her Department in respect of applications by persons for the State pension (non-contributory) and disability allowance payments in cases in which the applicants are married persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37318/22]
616. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position that applies to applicants for means tested payments to her Department, such as the State pension (non-contributory) and the disability allowance in cases in which one of the partners in the marital relationship reaches pension age and has no assets at all in their own name and the other partner has a landholding worth circa €300,000; if their application as the non-owning spouse is not affected by the ownership of the asset by the other spouse in respect of their entitlement to a State pension (non-contributory); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37319/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 615 and 616 together.
Social welfare legislation provides that, for social assistance schemes such as the State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Disability Allowance, all income and capital (such as savings, investments and property other than the family home) belonging to the claimant and his or her spouse/partner/cohabitant, where applicable, are assessable for means assessment purposes.
The system of social assistance supports provides payments based on an income need. The means test plays a critical role in determining whether or not an income need arises as a consequence of a particular contingency – such as disability, unemployment or caring. This ensures that each recipient has a verifiable income need and that resources are targeted to those who need them most.
If a claimant is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, the means of the couple will be assessed. This is the case even if only one of the couple is actually claiming a payment. The means assessed include income from employment or self-employment, non-social welfare pensions, and the capital value of savings, investments and property other than the family home. It should be noted that the value of the family home, regardless of who is the legal owner, is never taken into account in this assessment.
It should be noted that the full value of capital is not assessed. The standard formula for assessing the value of capital for most social welfare payments is as follows: the first €20,000 is fully disregarded; the next €10,000 is assessed at €1 per thousand, the next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per thousand, with the remainder assessed at €4 per thousand.
The formula for Carer’s Allowance and Disability Allowance is as follows: the first €50,000 is fully disregarded; the next €10,000 is assessed at €1 per thousand, the next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per thousand, with the remainder assessed at €4 per thousand.
Any proposals to change the means assessment formulas for social assistance schemes would have to be considered in an overall budgetary and policy context.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy