Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 29 June, 1993

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

156. Mr. Kenneally asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the reason a person (details supplied) in County Waterford, in receipt of disabled person's maintenance allowance, who had set up his own business was deprived of a payment which is available to social welfare recipients who start up their own business in view of the fact that this [147] resulted in the business having to be discontinued; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn): The Area (Enterprise) Allowance is one of a number of special measures being piloted by the 12 Area Partnerships set up under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. This pilot scheme involves payment by the Department of Social Welfare, for a period of twelve months, to a person who is starting a business, of an allowance equivalent to the social welfare payments that person would have been entitled to while on the live register. Such persons are also allowed retain a range of secondary benefits which are associated with receipt of the long term rate of unemployment assistance where that applies. This scheme is currently confined to persons who have been on the live register for at least twelve months. No arrangement exists at present to regard persons in receipt of disabled person's maintenance allowance (DPMA) as potentially eligible to participate in this scheme as such persons are not normally regarded as available for, capable of and genuinely seeking employment.

The question of whether the scheme should be extended to cater for such groups will be considered as part of the ongoing evaluation of the Area Based Response to Long-Term Unemployment. In the meantime I will take up with the Minister for Health the question of whether there is scope to enable disabled person's maintenance allowance to be converted, in certain circumstances, into an equivalent allowance in the way in which social welfare payments are treated for the purposes of this scheme.

I should emphasise that questions as to whether individuals in receipt of particular type of benefits are eligible for support under special schemes which are funded from Exchequer resources are a matter for the public body with responsibility for the particular scheme concerned. The question, however, of [148] whether any particular business proposal is potentially viable and unlikely to displace existing business is a separate matter to be considered, in this instance, by the Area Partnerships. I have no direct role vis-à-vis decisions taken by the Partnership Boards about individual applications.