Dáil Éireann - Volume 436 - 01 December, 1993

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

117. Mrs. Doyle asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wexford, who is working one day a week is not entitled to unemployment benefit, in view of the fact that all her paperwork has been processed by the French and Irish authorities.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned claimed unemployment benefit in January 1993. Since she had been working previously in France details of her insurance record were sought from the authorities in France. Some details are still outstanding for the 1991-92 tax year and further inquiries are being made.

However, following a review of her case it has been established that the person concerned is entitled to “pre-entry” credited contributions and on this basis she is entitled to unemployment benefit without reference to her insurance record in France. She has been awarded unemployment benefit of £55.60 per week. She is also entitled to arrears of £435.80, in respect of periods of unemployment since January 1993 and [1167] after deduction of £318 supplementary welfare allowance paid by the South Eastern Health Board.

Her entitlement will be further examined when full details are received from the authorities in France. The inconvenience caused by the delay in making payment is regretted.

118. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Social Welfare the proposals, if any, he has to change the July 1992 regulations, whereby unless 13 paid contributions are paid in the current year or previous year a person is not entitled to disability benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The revised contribution conditions for disability benefit require claimants to have at least 13 paid contributions in the governing tax year, either of the two previous tax years or in any subsequent tax year.

In line with a commitment given in this year's budget I undertook a review of the measures introduced in 1992 with a view to alleviating particular difficulties which had arisen for certain social welfare customers.

Arising from that review, the condition requiring 13 paid contributions in a recent tax year for receipt of disability benefit has been revoked for those on long term unemployment assistance and pre-retirement allowance who qualify for disability benefit with effect from 23 March 1993.

119. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Social Welfare the cost of implementing the Commission on Social Welfare's recommended rates of payment for the year 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): In recent years, I have ensured that social welfare payments have more than kept pace with inflation. Long-term rates are generally above the priority rates recommended by the Commission [1168] on Social Welfare. There would be an estimated full year Exchequer cost of £17.5 million in 1994 terms in bringing the remaining short term payments up to these priority rates.

It is estimated that it would cost £280 million annually in 1994 terms to introduce the full rates recommended by the Commission on Social Welfare.

I will continue to keep payment levels under review within the framework of the commission's proposals, in the light of available resources.