Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 27 March, 1996

Written Answers. - Means Testing Arrangements.

23. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment if he is satisfied with means testing arrangements for schemes funded by his Department in view of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on means testing arrangements; if he supports a reform of the system to the benefit of the claimant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4652/96]

36. Mr. P. Gallagher (Laoighis-Offaly) asked the Minister for the Environment if he is satisfied with means testing arrangements for schemes funded by his Department in view of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on means testing arrangements; if he supports a reform of the system to the benefit of the claimant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4651/96]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): I [1100] propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 36 together.

From a value for money viewpoint, the report referred to examined means testing arrangements for schemes administered by Government Departments and a number of State bodies. The report identifies certain inefficiencies in the administration of means tests, and also certain impediments to the harmonisation of such tests including reservations by the Data Protection Commissioner about any further augmenting of information-sharing systems. The report makes a number of suggestions on how efficiencies might be achieved, although it acknowledges there are practical problems associated with the implementation of some of these.

Means testing is not carried out by my Department. The report adverts to means testing by local authorities in regard to the local authority house purchase and improvement loans, and shared ownership schemes, for which financial allocations are made by my Department. While the numbers involved are relatively few, my Department would be prepared to co-operative with any workable arrangements that may emerge from interdepartmental consideration of the report. Arrangements for the assessment of income under differential rent scheme, while not a means test as such could also be reviewed in this context.