Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 as initiated and Explanatory Memorandum


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Explanatory Memorandum-Introduction


This Bill provides for increases in the rates of social insurance and social assistance payments and improvements in Family Income Supplement. It also provides for certain amendments to the social welfare code, as announced in Budget 2009, and includes amendments to PRSI.

The Bill further provides for amendment to a number of other Acts, including the Pensions Acts 1990 to 2007, the Civil Registration Act 2004 and the Citizens Information Acts 2000 and 2007.

Main Provisions

The Bill comprises 4 Parts and contains 28 sections.

Part 1 — Preliminary and General

Section 1 provides for the short title, collective citation and commencement of the Bill.

Section 2 contains the definitions of certain terms as they apply in the Bill.

Part 2 — Amendments to the Social Welfare Acts

Increases in Payments

Sections 3 and 4 and Schedules 1 and 2 to the Bill provide for increases in the rates of social welfare payments. These include an increase of EUR7.00 per week for recipients of pensions and carer payments who are aged 66 years and over. The Bill also provides for an increase of EUR6.50 on all working age
payments, including

  • Jobseeker’s Benefit,
  • Disability Allowance,
  • One-Parent Family
  • Payment and
  • Carer’s Benefit and Allowance payable to carers aged under 66 years.

It further provides for increases in the allowances payable in respect of qualified adults and qualified children. These increases come into effect in January 2009.

Family Income Supplement

Section 5 provides for increases in the weekly income limits used to determine entitlement to Family Income Supplement. This measure will take effect from January 2009.

Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) changes

Sections 6 and 7 provide for an increase, from EUR50,700 to EUR52,000, in the annual PRSI earnings ceiling applicable to employees and optional contributors. This amendment comes into effect from 1 January 2009.

Reckonable Income

Section 8 provides that income from dividends arising from stallion fees, stud greyhound fees and profits from the occupation of certain woodlands will be taken into account in estimating reckonable income for PRSI purposes. This amendment is necessary to disregard the provisions of Section 140 of the Tax Consolidation Act 1997 when estimating reckonable income for PRSI purposes.

Amendments to definitions

Sections 9 and 10 provide for the amendment of the references to a reformatory or industrial school and medical practitioner which are contained in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, by replacing those terms with the definitions ‘‘children detention school’’, and ‘‘registered medical practitioner’’ as provided for in the Children Act 2001 and the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 respectively.

Widowed Parent Grant

Section 11 amends the definition of ‘‘widowed parent’’ in order to provide that the Grant will be payable to a widow whose child is born within 10 months of the date of death of the deceased spouse.

Pre-Retirement Allowance

Section 12 provides for the deletion of a provision which applied to persons who were in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance prior to April 1993. This provision is obsolete as all such recipients would
have transferred to State pension payments before or during 2004.

One-Parent Family Payment

Section 13 clarifies that, for the purposes of the One-Parent Family Payment scheme, a ‘‘qualified parent’’ must be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of the qualified child. It also provides for continued payment to existing recipients who established entitlement under the current definition of ‘‘qualified parent’’.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Section 14 provides for amendments to the provisions governing payment of Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplement under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. It provides that the maximum amount of Rent Supplement will be specified in regulations. It also provides that the amount and duration of Mortgage Interest Supplement will be determined by the Health Service Executive having regard to the circumstances of the person concerned and subject to any conditions etc. that may be prescribed.

Illness Benefit

Section 15 provides for a number of amendments to the provisions governing the Illness Benefit scheme, with effect from 5 January 2009, as follows:—
(a) the minimum number of qualifying contributions required will be increased from 52 to 104;
(b) Illness Benefit will be payable for 624 days (i.e. two years) in the case of a person who has more than 260 paid PRSI contributions;
(c) payment will continue where a person has been in receipt of Illness Benefit on a long-term basis, provided that the claim is not broken for a period exceeding 3 days; and
(d) existing special provision for claimants who participate in reactivation programmes will be maintained.

Health and Safety Benefit

Section 16 provides for amendment to the provisions governing the Health and Safety Benefit scheme, by increasing, from 52 to 104, the minimum number of PRSI contributions required in order to qualify for benefit, and providing that the claimant must have at least 13 paid PRSI contributions in the relevant tax year.

Jobseeker’s Benefit — linked claims

At present the Principal Act provides for the disregard of certain periods where a Jobseeker’s Benefit claimant participates in specified training and employment schemes. Section 17 provides for the extension of the linking period in respect of Jobseeker’s Benefit to two years and six months in the case of a person who is participating in certain Vocational Training Opportunities Schemes (VTOS).

Jobseeker’s Benefit — amendments

Section 18 provides for a number of amendments to the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme as follows:—
(a) an increase, from 52 to 104, in the number of PRSI contributions required in order to qualify for benefit;
(b) a requirement that the claimant must have 13 qualifying contributions in the relevant tax year;
(c) amendments to the duration of benefit (12 months in the case of a person who has paid at least 260 PRSI contributions, and 9 months in the case of a person who has paid
less than 260 PRSI contributions); and
(d) special provision for claimants who were in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit on Budget Day, 14 October 2008. Domiciliary Care Allowance

Provision was made in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2008 for the transfer of the administrative responsibility for Domiciliary Care Allowance from the Department of Health and Children to the Department of Social and Family Affairs in 2009. While those provisions have not yet been given effect, Section 19 of this Bill provides for amendments to the Domiciliary Care Allowance scheme.
These include:—
(a) reflecting the amendment to the definition of children detention school, as provided for in Section 9 of this Bill;
and
(b) providing an increase, from \299.60 to \309.50, in the monthly rate of the Allowance.

Child Benefit

Section 20 contains amendments to entitlement to Child Benefit, by providing that the benefit will be payable in respect of a child up to his or her 18th birthday. It also provides that a special payment, of half the standard Child Benefit payment rate, will be payable in 2009 only in respect of qualified children who are currently aged 18. Special provision is made to provide for a compensatory payment of EUR15 per week to families in receipt of social welfare payments which include a payment for qualified children in this age group and lowincome families in receipt of Family Income Supplement which include qualified children in this age group. This additional payment will also be applicable to persons within this age group who are in receipt of Disability Allowance in their own right. This compensatory payment measure will cease to have effect on 31 December 2010.

Early Childcare Supplement

Section 21 provides for a small increase in the rate of Early Childcare Supplement to \92 per month to facilitate transition from quarterly to monthly payments, it also provides that payment will be made monthly in arrears rather than on a quarterly basis, and that the Supplement will be payable in respect of a child up to the age of five years and six months. These amendments will take effect from 1 January 2009.

Family Income Supplement

Section 22 provides for the deduction of any contributions payable under the tax known as ‘‘income levy’’ in calculating weekly family income for the purposes of Family Income Supplement.

Part 3 — Miscellaneous amendments to other Acts

Amendments to Pension Acts

Section 23 clarifies requirements for the submission of an actuarial funding certificate for new schemes commencing on or after the date of transposition of Directive 2003/41/EC (23 Sept 2005). The amendments also confirm that 8 named schemes shall have an effective date for the submission of an actuarial funding certificate of 1st January 2009.

Civil Registration Act 2004

Section 24 removes the requirement for an tArd-Chla´ raitheoir to consult with the Minister for Health and Children when giving information to certain specified others. This change is necessitated in the context of the transfer of functions in relation to the General Register Office from the Minister for Health and Children to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

Part 4 — Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Sections 25 - 28 provide for the proposed transfer of the functions relating to the provision of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service to the Citizens Information Board. The purpose of the measure is to provide that the Board will promote, develop and disseminate information and education about debt, money management and related matters. It will compile and publish data. It will undertake research and it will provide the Minister with information and advice on matters related to its functions.

An Roinn Gnothaí Sóisialacha agus Teaghlaigh,
Deireadh Fómhair, 2008.

Last modified:04/11/2008
 

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