Dáil Éireann - Volume 481 - 15 October, 1997

Written Answers - Social Welfare Benefits.

103. Ms Coughlan asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the amount of supplementary welfare paid in each health board area in 1996 and to date in 1997. [16627/97]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The expenditure figures in respect of supplementary welfare allowance for each health board in 1996 are shown in the following tabular statement.

The computerisation of the SWA scheme commenced in May 1996 and will be completed in all health board areas by mid-1998. Until the system is fully computerised there is a mixture of a manual and computerised payments system in operation.

While the total SWA expenditure for the first six months of 1997 is £66.1 million, the actual breakdown of payments for each health board is not yet finalised. I will arrange to have this information forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

[1065] [1066] 1996 up to end of December Expenditure (includes ISTS)

EHB

MHB

MWHB

NEHB

NWHB

SEHB

SHB

WHB

Total

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Interim

6,634,000

1,787,000

2,058,000

1,792,000

1,787,000

2,069,000

2,558,000

3,240,000

21,925,000

Basic

6,389,000

1,003,000

1,299,000

1,311,000

781,000

1,667,000

1,839,000

1,821,000

16,110,000

Rent

34,288,000

2,072,000

2,246,000

3,008,000

1,674,000

3,681,000

4,141,000

6,554,000

57,664,000

Mortgage

5,647,000

233,000

389,000

874,000

211,000

589,000

538,000

916,000

9,397,000

Other Supp

2,724,000

213,000

124,000

289,000

197,000

244,000

326,000

289,000

4,406,000

ENPs/UNPs

7,886,000

295,000

965,000

661,000

285,000

1,324,000

1,918,000

1,646,000

14,980,000

Others

1,545,000

159

1,000

14,00

159

1,000

77,000

20,000

1,658,000

BSC + F

2,011,000

94,000

178,000

1,103,000

94,000

236,000

277,000

1,314,000

5,307,000

Total

67,124,000

5,697,159

7,260,000

9,052,000

5,029,159

9,811,000

11,674,000

15,800,000

131,447,000

104. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the number of benefit recipients who hand their pension into institutional homes where they are in receipt of constant care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16547/97]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Pensioners who are unable to attend to their affairs may have another person, usually a relative, appointed to receive pensions on their behalf. This arrangement was introduced for the convenience of such pensioners. In some cases an official of a hospital or nursing home may be appointed for this purpose. In all these cases, the agreement of the pensioner must be obtained. Information on the number of persons appointed in these cases is not readily available in my Department, as it is not maintained in a format which would meet the Deputy's request.

105. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the total number of people over 65 years in receipt of a benefit payment; if he will give a breakdown of the type of payments involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16549/97]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The information sought by the Deputy, in so far as it is available, is contained in the following table.

Scheme

Number of Recipients over 65 or 66* at end of December 1996

Old Age (Contributory) Pension

67,988

Retirement Pension

69,740

Widow/er's (Contributory) Pension

65,614

Invalidity Pension

1,918

Deserted Wife's Benefit

421

Disability Benefit

320

Unemployment Benefit

233

Disablement Benefit

1,602

Total

207,836

*Note: In the case of invalidity pension and disablement benefit recipients, the figures relate to people aged 66 and over, as separate statistics are not kept on people over 65. Old age (contributory) pension is only payable to persons aged 66 or over. The statistics supplied in relation to other payments relate to recipients who are aged 65 years and over.

As the table shows, the vast majority (98 per cent) of social insurance payments to persons over 65 years are for old age (contributory) pension, retirement pension and widow's/er's (contributory) pension schemes. The remaining 2 per cent of payments are for invalidity pension, deserted wife's benefit, disability benefit, disablement benefit and unemployment benefit.

106. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will deal with the issue whereby elderly applicants for personal security under the community alert scheme are being told that no further finance is available for the provision of personal security for the elderly such as necklace alarms; and if he will rectify this situation in view of the recent attacks on the elderly. [16651/97]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The scheme of community support for older people was established to address the security needs of vulnerable older people in the community. Under the scheme my Department makes grants available to voluntary organisations such as Muintir na Tíre, Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch, who have undertaken to identify the older people in the community most in need of the schemes services.

Under the scheme funding can be provided for small-scale physical security equipment such as strengthening of doors and windows, window locks, door chains and locks and security lighting and socially-monitored alarm systems.

In 1996 grants were made to 528 voluntary groups, representing 15,000 individuals, at a cost of £2.562 million. Under the scheme the maximum grant available is 90 per cent of the cost and in 1996 grants were typically in the region of 60 per cent to 90 per cent. The scheme was continued in 1997 and was advertised early in the year and the deadline for receipt of applications was 25 April.

[1067] It was evident from an assesment of applications received that the initial allocation of £2 million was inadequate to meet the volume of worthwhile applications that merited funding. I felt that a selective approach to dealing with applications or payment of grants at a level considerably below 90 per cent would result in many people in need of protection not being adequately catered for under the scheme.

Recognising the very real need that still exists among older people in the community in relation to security I obtained Government approval for the allocation of an additional £3 million to the scheme for this year, bringing the total allocation for the year to £5 million.

Allocations from this £5 million have been made to the regional offices of my Department who are now processing applications on hand. My Department expect to provide funding to voluntary organisations in respect of 21,000 individuals who wish to avail of the scheme this year. It is also expected that the additional funding secured will enable a greater number of applications to be funded at higher levels than in 1996, with many applications being funded at the maximum 90 per cent allowable under the scheme.

As outlined the additional funding was secured to cater for the volume of applications received before the advertised closing date and my Department expects to be in a position to provide funding under the scheme to all eligible applications received before that date.

The Department will be undertaking a fundamental review of the scheme to ensure that the scheme is achieving its aims and to ensure that the security needs of the most vulnerable older people in society are being met in the most effective way.

The findings of the review will be taken into account in determining how best support for community initiatives in the security of older people can be delivered in the future.

107. Mr. P. Carey asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if financial assistance will be made available to enable a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who is a 16 year old lone parent to return to full-time education. [16654/97]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The person in question was awarded one-parent family payment from 3 April 1997. She is currently in receipt of payment at the maximum rate of £82.70 per week. This is made up of a personal payment of £67.50 plus an increase of £15.20 for one dependent child.

The person in question may avail of educational opportunities that arise and still retain title to her one-parent family payment. However, there is no provision under the social welfare code to provide additional financial assistance in respect of child care costs to lone parents who wish to return to full-time education.