This Bill provides for the full transfer of the employment services and community services programmes of FÁS to the Minister for Social Protection and the integration of FÁS staffing etc. into the Department of Social Protection. Section 4 provides for the declaration of unemployment by way of electronic communication. The Bill also provides for a new condition for rent supplement payable under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme which will require that from 1 January 2011, before rent supplement can be awarded, the landlord's tax reference number must be supplied to the Health Service Executive (HSE). The Bill also provides for miscellaneous amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. It also provides for a textual amendment to the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.
The Bill comprises 3 Parts and 19 sections.
Preliminary and General
Section 1 provides for the short title, construction, collective citation and the commencement of the Bill.
Section 2 provides for the definition of certain terms as they apply in the Bill.
Amendments to Social Welfare Acts
Section 3 clarifies the provisions for the calculation of the duration of payment of Illness Benefit claims.
Section 4 provides for the use of electronic means of making and capturing the declarations of unemployment that are required for the purposes of claiming Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance.
Section 5 clarifies the calculation of entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance where weekly means comprise earnings from insurable employment. In determining a week of unemployment (3 days of unemployment consecutive or not in any 6 consecutive days), the practice is to include a day only once in any computation where that day is part of a week of unemployment in respect of which Jobseeker's Allowance is paid. This section, which amends section 141 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, ensures the Act is not ambiguous as regards applying this practice.
Section 6 provides that the lower basic rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance payable to people under 25 years will not, of itself, lead to any reduction in Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplements payable to people getting other social welfare payments.
Section 7 provides for a new condition for the Rent Supplement payable under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme which requires that from 1 January 2011, before a claim for Rent Supplement can be awarded, the landlord's tax reference number must be supplied to the Health Service Executive (HSE). As certain landlords will not have such a tax reference number, e.g. nonresident landlords, confirmation from the landlord to that effect is required to be supplied in those cases. This section also provides that a landlord will be obliged to provide his or her tax reference number (or confirmation that he or she does not have a tax reference number) in respect of each tenancy for which a Rent Supplement is payable.
Section 8 clarifies the position with regard to the information to be provided by or in respect of a customer registering for a Personal Public Service (PPS) Number. Section 262(3) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 currently requires that a photograph and signature be submitted for any customer registering for a PPS Number. However, it is not practical to collect these items in all cases, e.g. where the customer is non-resident, deceased and in probate cases. Section 8 clarifies the position by only requiring that these items be submitted when required. This section also provides that providing additional security information will become a compulsory part of the registration process for the purposes of allocating and issuing PPS Numbers.
Section 9 is a technical amendment to change references in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and in other enactments from "public service card" to "public services card" in order to reflect the de facto situation. There is a reference to "public service card" in the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 and this section also provides for a textual amendment to change this reference to "public services card".
Section 9 also makes a number of changes to the current provisions relating to the public services card under section 263 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and the social services payment card under section 264, including clarifying that both the social services card and the public services card can be used for the purposes of paying social welfare benefits.
Section 10 amends the rules relating to the means test for the Carer's Allowance scheme so as to exempt any foreign social security payments, up to the appropriate level of the Irish State Pension Contributory, that are paid to the carer or the spouse of the carer. This section also clarifies that a general income disregard for the purposes of Carer's Allowance under Rule 1(5) for a single carer and Rule 4(2) for a couple will not apply to income from a social security payment, whether an Irish social welfare payment or an EU or foreign social security payment.
Transfer of Staff and Property from An Foras Áiseanna Saothair
Sections 11 to
18 of the Bill provide for the full transfer of the employment services and community services programmes of FÁS to the Minister for Social Protection and the integration of FÁS staffing etc. into the Department of Social Protection and also provide for a consequential amendment to the Labour Services Act 1987.
An Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí,