Dáil Éireann - Volume 502 - 23 March, 1999

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

458. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if the back to work scheme will be approved for a person (details supplied) in County Meath who recently obtained a job after a year on a FÁS course but was late in applying for the scheme and now finds that he may not able to hold on to the job due to the fact his Department has refused to approve him for the back to work scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8037/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The objective of the back to work allowance scheme, is to provide an incentive to long-term unemployed persons who, in the [725] absence of the scheme, would not be motivated to take up a job. The scheme has a limited number of places and is targeted at people who need such an incentive to return to the workforce. It is, therefore, a requirement of the scheme that an application must be made prior to taking up employment to demonstrate that the scheme is instrumental in the applicant deciding to leave the live register. If payments were made under the scheme on a large scale after persons had returned to work it would give rise to serious deadweight effects which over time would impact adversely on the viability of the scheme.

The deadweight issue plays an important role in determining the overall cost and effectiveness of labour market programmes such as the back to work allowance. There are, however, circumstances where late claims for the allowance are accepted and the allowance is paid, for example, where an employer has delayed certifying and submitting the claim.

The person concerned commenced employment on 23 November 1998. He applied for the allowance on 28 January 1999. Under the rules of the scheme his application was refused as the claim was late and he was in a position to return to the workforce without the need for the financial incentive which the scheme provides. There were no extenuating circumstances in this case which could have justified a revision of this decision.