Dáil Éireann - Volume 421 - 25 June, 1992

Written Answers. - Loss of Alleviation Payments.

135. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will give details of the amount of income two persons (details supplied) in Dublin will lose due to the loss of alleviation payments.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. McCreevy): One of the two people concerned is in receipt of Old Age Contributory Pension at the rate of £76 per week. This weekly rate includes a temporary alleviation payment of £12. The other person is receiving a Retirement Pension of £64 per week. The aggregate of the two pensions is £140 per week.

[1517] The Deputy will note that, arising from recent decisions of the European Court of Justice, it has emerged that the temporary alleviation payments, which offset the effects of the equal treatment legislation, are themselves in conflict with the principle of equal treatment and cannot be continued. These alleviation payments are being discontinued therefore with effect from 30 July 1992, coinciding with the date of implementation of this year's budget increases. However, many of the families affected by the discontinuance of these payments will be entitled to payments under retrospective legislation arising from the delay of the then Government in implementing the 1979 EC Directive on equal treatment between men and women in matters of social security. Accordingly, married women who were affected by this delay will have equal treatment arrangements applied to them retrospectively for a period between December 1984 and November 1986. In 1992 £22 million has been provided for these extra payments which will be made on a phased basis between 1992 and 1994.

In the case of one of the people referred to by the Deputy, the cessation of the temporary alleviation payment from 30 July will result in the loss of £12 a week. However, this loss will be offset to some extent by budgetary increases of £2.60 per week in each of their pensions (total £5.20) payable from 31 July 1992. Therefore the couple will incur a net loss of £6.80 per week in total. It is not known whether the couple concerned will benefit from the retrospective legislation, until the details in this case are fully assessed by my Department.