Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 09 February, 2000
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
198. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the benefits for persons over 55 who go on pre-retirement allowance; if these people can keep their payment from a FÁS community employment scheme as is allowed to lone parents; if he will clarify the situation; if he will introduce changes for those over 55 and remove a portion of the present inequality; the other categories in addition to lone parents who can retain income from community employment and social welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3726/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Pre-retirement allowance is a means-tested payment which allows a person aged 55 or over to retire from the labour force and receive a weekly allowance. To qualify, a claimant must be in receipt of a long-term unemployment payment, or be no longer entitled to one-parent family payment or carer's allowance or be separated from his-her spouse and have not engaged in employment or self-employment for the preceding 15 months.
The community employment (CE) scheme, which is operated by FÁS under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, aims to re-integrate the long-term unemployed into the active labour force. Accordingly,  persons in receipt of PRETA are not among the categories eligible to participate in the scheme.
In general, the CE allowance is paid in lieu of a social welfare payment. In the case of claimants of the one-parent family payment, however, income arising from participation on CE is treated in the same way as any other income from employment in the means-test which applies to that scheme.
Eligibility to participate in CE schemes has recently been extended to claimants of widow/er's contributory and non-contributory pensions. In the case of claimants of the widow/er's contributory pension, the CE allowance may be paid in addition to their existing welfare entitlements.
Dáil Éireann 514 Written Answers. Social Welfare Benefits.