Dáil Éireann - Volume 517 - 11 April, 2000
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Mr. S. Ryan Mr. S. Ryan
71. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will reconsider his refusal to introduce a package of supplementary benefit for hard pressed fishing families on the east coast who have lost their livelihood. [10545/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I understand that the Deputy is referring to the consequences of the closure of certain Irish Sea fisheries under the EU sponsored conservation programme.
In so far as the welfare system is concerned, the fishing assist measures provided for under the unemployment assistance scheme are designed to provide income support to low-income fishing
Two key improvements to the means test governing the fishing assist measures are provided for in the Social Welfare Act, 2000, and will take effect from October of this year.
First, the child-related income disregards are being increased by £100 in each case, from £100 to £200 in respect of each of the first two children and from £200 to £300 in respect of the third and subsequent children. Second, the assessment rate is being reduced from 80% to 70%.
It is open to those fishing families affected by the closure of the tracts of Irish Sea fisheries under the EU conservation programme to avail of the supports provided under this scheme.
The Deputy must appreciate that the role of my Department is to provide income support to all low-income families. While I appreciate the difficulties faced by those families affected, I am not in a position to introduce special additional compensation measures in response to circumstances of the kind referred to by the Deputy.
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
72. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the likely involvement of his Department in the proposed working group on benchmarking of adult and child social welfare payments; and when the working group and independent chairperson will be appointed. [10536/00]
Ms McManus Ms McManus
83. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs when the working group on relative income poverty will be established; the proposed terms of reference of the review in view of the commitment given in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10524/00]
Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin
96. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs when the working group to examine the adequacy of the social welfare payments for children and adults will be established in view of the commitment given in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10525/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 83 and 96 together.
The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness contains a commitment to set up a working group, with an independent chairperson, to examine the issues of developing a benchmark for adequacy of adult and child social welfare payments, including the implications of adopting a specific approach to the ongoing up-rating or indexation of payments.
Following the recent ratification of the programme, arrangements will be made soon to consult the social partners on the composition and establishment of this working group, including the appointment of the chairperson. My Department will play a leading role in conjunction with other relevant Departments.
While formal terms of reference for the working group have not been established, the issues to be covered by the group are set out in the programme. These include relative income poverty, as well as the long-term economic, budgetary, PRSI, distributive and incentive issues. These are highly complex issues which will need careful study. The outcome of the work of the group will have a significant impact on future policy in this regard, and I look forward to receiving the results in due course.
Dáil Éireann 517 Written Answers. Social Welfare Benefits.