Dáil Éireann - Volume 396 - 22 February, 1990

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

76. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will review the guidelines for the assessment of capital for applicants for social welfare assistance, in particular, the 10 per cent valuation of sums in excess of £400; and when this will be carried out.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The formula for assessing the means derived from capital is set out in the legislation. Applicants for social assistance payments who have capital are assessed with a notional income from the capital. The formula for assessing the value of capital varies with different schemes. A 10 per cent rate of assessment is applied under the old age pension and unemployment assistance schemes to amounts of capital over certain levels.

Under the old age pension scheme there is an overall means disregard under which a person can have means from all sources of up to £6 a week and still qualify for the maximum pension. In the case of [461] a married couple this would be £12 per week. This means that, under existing arrangements, a married couple could have joint capital of over £5,900 and still qualify for maximum pension. They could have joint capital of almost £56,000 and still qualify for a pension.

I am keeping the means testing arrangements under review to see how they can be simplified and rationalised. Any additional concessions in this area would however have considerable financial implications. My priority has been to direct available resources as much as possible to increasing basic levels of payments for the benefit of all claimants including those with or without means.