Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 24 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

  41. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will include children who are doing apprenticeship courses as dependants for the family income supplement assessment. [19525/02]

  48. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if child benefit is avail[405]able for children up to the age of 22 years completing an apprenticeship training course; and if not, if she will extend the child benefit scheme to cover this. [19524/02

  Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 48 together.

  Child benefit is payable in respect of all children up to the age of 16 years and continues to be paid in respect of children up to age 19 who are in full-time education or who have a physical or mental disability.

  The family income supplement, FIS, scheme is designed to provide an incentive for low-paid workers with families to take up or remain in full-time employment. It provides a weekly payment related to income and family size. A qualified child for the purpose of the scheme must be under the age of 18 or, if in full-time education, aged between 18 and 22.

  Apprenticeship courses consist of a combination of paid employment plus block release during which a training allowance is paid by FÁS. The rate of pay is determined by the relevant industry body but can be substantial. Periods on apprenticeship courses are not regarded as periods of full-time education for the purpose of child benefit or family income supplement and there are no plans to extend the qualification criteria to include such periods. Any further extension of child benefit or the payment of the child dependent increase would have to be considered in a budgetary context in the light of available resources and overall priorities.

  Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 39.