Dáil Éireann - Volume 490 - 29 April, 1998
Written Answers. - Home Help Service.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
17. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs his views on the role of the home help scheme; the effect participation in such schemes has on social welfare benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10032/98]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern) Dermot Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The valuable role which is played by home helps in the overall care of older people in this country is widely recognised. As the Deputy will be aware, the home help service is operated by the health boards who come under the aegis of my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children. His Department has arranged to have an examination of the home-help services carried out by an independent body, under the supervision of the National Council on Ageing and Older People, to advise on how the services can be developed in a cost-effective way in tandem with the other community based services. I understand that this review is expected to be completed by early summer. The Minister for Health and Children will, on receipt of the report, give consideration to how best to bring about improvements on the overall organisation and development of the home help service.
In so far as entitlement to social welfare payments is concerned, the position is that any income deriving from participation in the home help service is not in general taken into account for the purposes of determining entitlement to means-tested social welfare payments.
A further issue, however, relates to the position of people who, by virtue of being engaged as home helps, are deemed to be unavailable for work and thus have no entitlement to claim unemployment assistance in respect of any day in which they undertake such work. However, the introduction of any change in the existing statutory provisions in this regard would not be straightforward. Apart from the direct costs involved, any proposals along those lines would have to have regard to the position of other similar types of employment. 
Dáil Éireann 490 Written Answers. Home Help Service.