Dáil Éireann - Volume 627 - 14 November, 2006
Written Answers. - Migrant Issues.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on the NESC conclusion in the NESC publication Managing Migration in Ireland A Social and Economic Analysis, that the decision to exclude migrants for welfare categories because they were not habitually resident in Ireland was a short term policy which will eventually have to be replaced  by one which allows some migrants to establish long term residence in Ireland. [37668/06]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: The requirement to be habitually resident in Ireland was introduced as a qualifying condition for certain social welfare payments with effect from 1st May 2004. It was introduced in the context of the Government’s decision to open the Irish labour market to workers from the new EU Member States without the transitional limitations which were being imposed at that time by many of the other Member States.
The effect of the condition is, for the purposes of certain social assistance schemes and child benefit, to distinguish between a person whose habitual residence is elsewhere and a person who has established a habitual residence here. None of the contributory schemes of my Department are affected by the condition, so (for example) jobseeker’s benefit and illness benefit are available to all workers who satisfy the contribution and other conditions, regardless of nationality or citizenship.
Furthermore, in the case of workers from EU and EEA countries, EU legislation regarding social security for migrant workers provides that periods of employment in other Member States of the European Economic Area are taken into consideration for the purposes of benefit entitlements.
The habitual residence condition therefore does not create a barrier to migrant workers establishing long-term residence in Ireland. This is demonstrated by the fact that only about 2.5% of the persons from the 10 accession countries to whom PPS numbers have been allocated lodge claims for assistance. In addition 76% of over 43,000 claims which have been examined with particular reference to the habitual residence condition have been allowed.
Of these claims:
39% were by persons from some 130 countries outside the EU 25;
26% were by Irish nationals;
16% were by nationals from the 10 EU accession countries;
11% were by UK nationals; and
8% were by nationals from the other EU Member States.
I am satisfied that the principal effect of the habitual residence condition is to ensure that persons who have not worked in Ireland or who have not established their habitual residence in Ireland cannot take advantage of our assistance schemes or child benefit, and there are no plans to remove this important protection of the Irish social welfare system.
Dáil Éireann 627 Written Answers. Migrant Issues.