Dáil Éireann - Volume 545 - 27 November, 2001
Written Answers. - Home Help Earnings.
Mr. R. Bruton Mr. R. Bruton
268. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the change in the rules governing the assessment of earnings from home help work for the purpose of eligibility for adult dependant allowance is resulting in a reduction in availability of home help in many cases; and if he will consider introducing an income disregard in respect of some amount of such earnings. [29515/01]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): There has been no change in the way income from home help employment is treated for the purpose of determining entitlement to a qualified adult allowance.
The position is that regulations provide for the tapered withdrawal of the qualified adult allowance or QAA for claimants of certain welfare payments where the spouse or partner of the claimant is earning between £70, 88.88 and £145, 184.11, per week. The level of qualified adult allowance varies from one payment to another. So, in order to phase out the payment over the same income range for all payments, the withdrawal rates vary with the level of qualified adult allowance. The QAA is withdrawn when the  spouse or partner's weekly income exceeds £145, 184.11. These arrangements apply to income from all sources, including earnings from employment in the home help service.
The Deputy may be aware that agreement was reached on a revised overall pay structure for home helps in return for a restructured and enhanced home help service, following the conclusion of Labour Court negotiations in June 2000. The agreement provided for the alignment of hourly home help pay rates with the pay rates of other non-nursing health service employees, the payment of travel expenses, premia payments for Saturday-Sunday working and full annual leave entitlement as set out in the part-time workers agreement in the health service.
The revised pay rates were awarded on a phased basis of 75% from 1 January 2000, 85% from 1 July 2000 and the full rate from 1 January 2001. Accordingly, home helps now have full employee status similar to all other health service employees.
In light of these developments, the provision of an income disregard of earnings from employment in the home help service would give rise to certain equity implications as regards the application of the qualified adult allowance arrangements. For example, those with similar levels of earnings, including non-nursing staff in other areas of the health service, would not be entitled to such a disregard.
Dáil Éireann 545 Written Answers. Home Help Earnings.