Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
511. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the hardship of pensioners living alone who qualify for the free telephone rental allowance but are unable to afford the installation fee; and his proposals in this regard. [8330/02]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The telephone allowance covers the normal line and instrument rental charges associated with a standard telephone and a limited allowance for calls. The VAT element of the allowance is also covered. At present there are approximately 248,000 allowances in payment. Installation fees are not covered by the allowance.
Obviously, there would be concerns if people are not availing of the scheme because they cannot afford the installation charges. In this regard, in view of the extra business which the scheme can generate for the service provider I think it is reasonable, as suggested in the review of the free schemes published in 2000, that they should play a role in assisting those eligible to have telephones installed.
In the past reduced installation fees have been offered to social welfare pensioners. While the granting of concessions on installation fees is, of course, a matter for the provider, my Department will continue to encourage them in the context of negotiations and discussions on the operation of the scheme to offer such concessions.
Dáil Éireann 550 Written Answers. Social Welfare Benefits.