Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 31 May, 2005

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Code.

  293. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the cost to the Exchequer of abolishing all means tests for social welfare payments; if savings will arise on administrative costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18162/05]

  Mr. Brennan: There are currently three types of payments within the social welfare system: universal, which is payable regardless of contributions or income, for example, child benefit; insurance, which is payable according to contributions paid into the social insurance fund; assistance, which is payable based on need and subject to certain contingencies such as unemployment or old age — these payments feature a means test which is intended to ensure that available resources are targeted at those most in need.

The abolition of means tests for social welfare purposes would represent a fundamental change in income maintenance provision in the State. Such an abolition would also directly impact on the existing social insurance system. It would, therefore, be necessary to determine the underlying conditions attaching to any new non-means tested scheme or schemes which might replace the existing means tested schemes and, possibly, social insurance based schemes, before a tentative estimate of the cost and associated administrative implications could be provided.