Dáil Éireann - Volume 590 - 14 October, 2004

Written Answers - Social Welfare Benefits.

  182. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons in the past three years who have applied for the back to school clothing and footwear scheme; the number who were approved and were awarded the scheme; when the guidelines were last increased with regard to this scheme; and if entitlement to this grant is retained if a person returns to work on a back to work allowance, as is the case with other secondary benefits. [24947/04]

  Mr. Brennan: The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme provides assistance towards the cost of school clothing and footwear for children attending mainly primary and post-primary schools. Under the scheme, an allowance of €80 is payable in respect of qualified children aged two to 11 years while €120 is payable in respect of qualified children aged 12 to 22 years. The income limits for the scheme are adjusted on an annual basis. Details of the income limits for 2004 are set out in the tabular statement below, together with the number of applications received, awarded and refused for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2004, 73,268 applications have been received in the period to 30 September. However, details of the number of applications awarded and the number refused in 2004 are not yet available.

A person may qualify for payment of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance if he or she is in receipt of a qualifying social welfare or health board payment or is participating in an approved employment scheme, such as the back to work scheme or a recognised education or training course, and has household income at or below the prescribed levels. Where the prescribed income limits are exceeded in the case of persons participating in approved employment schemes, including the back to work scheme, special arrangements are in place which allow such people to retain entitlement to back to school clothing and footwear allowance subject to a separate income limit of €317.43 per week. Back to work allowance and family income supplement, in cases where one or both of these are in payment, are disregarded in the assessment of the €317.43 weekly income limit.

In effect, this means that people who had been unemployed and who commenced employment through the back to work scheme can have a weekly household income significantly in excess of €317.43 and still qualify for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance. In the first year of his or her participation in the back to work scheme, a single person can have combined income from the back to work allowance and wages of €418.50 while a couple with two children can have an income of €510.75. A participant on a back to work scheme may be assessed under [822] either the retention rules applicable to employment scheme participants or the income limits of the back to school clothing and footwear scheme itself, whichever is more beneficial.

Back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme

Year

Applications received

Applications refused

Applications awarded

2001

71,660*

7,691*

63.969

2002

78,181

6,422

71,759

2003

81,851

6,649

75,202

* Does not include applications refused by the South Eastern Health Board as these data are not available.

The BSCFA standard income limits for 2004 are as follows:

Couple with

Income limit

Lone parent with

Income limit

1 child

348.10

1 child

238.90

2 children

367.40

2 children

260.50

3 children

386.70

3 children

282.10

4 children

406.00*

4 children

303.70**

* Limit is increased by €19.30 for each additional child

** Limit is increased by €21.60 for each additional child

  183. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason dietary allowance has been reduced in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who is a celiac; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24965/04]

  Mr. Brennan: The South Western Area Health Board was contacted regarding this case and has advised that a review of the person’s diet supplement was carried out in May 2004 during which it came to light that an incorrect amount of diet supplement was in payment. The amount of supplement was duly corrected and a revised supplement was awarded from June 2004. The board has further advised that this person’s diet supplement is subject to a further review, the outcome of which may affect the amount payable.

  184. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason for the fluctuation of rent allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24966/04]

  Mr. Brennan: Under the standard rules for entitlement to rent supplement, the supplement is of such amount as to ensure that the person’s income after payment of rent is the rate of supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to his or her family circumstances, less €13. Where a person is in receipt of a basic weekly payment other than supplementary welfare allowance, any change in household composition, for example, [823] an additional child, will mean some change in the level of rent supplement. Any other change in household income also affects the amount of rent supplement payable.

With regard to the person concerned, there have been a number of changes in both family composition and the level of household income which necessitated reviews and consequent [824] adjustments to the amount of supplement payable. The South Western Area Health Board has advised that the amount of supplement was adjusted most recently in light of additional maintenance payments, as advised by the person concerned, in respect of her second child. The adjustments which were made were in accordance with the rules governing payment of rent supplement under the scheme.