Minister Launches National Awareness Campaign to Promote Greater Take Up of Support Scheme For Low Income Families


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Brennan Says That Up To 20,000 Families Entitled To the Weekly Top-Up Payment May Not Be Claiming It

The Minister for Social Affairs, Séamus Brennan T.D., said today that up to 20,000 working families on relatively low incomes may be entitled to welfare top-up supports of between €20 and €400 per week-depending on their income and the size of their family-but to date many appear not to have been claiming it.

Minister Brennan was speaking when launching a nationwide awareness campaign to promote and encourage a greatly increased take up of the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme for working families on low incomes.
The Minister said today that FIS is a central element of a programme of reforms targeted specifically at addressing child poverty. FIS provides direct cash supports for workers on low incomes with families and the new increased income limits announced in Budget 2006 means that it is now easier for families to qualify. He said a large number of families who may be experiencing financial strain may well be entitled to the FIS support, particularly under the greatly expanded thresholds, and he appealed to them to use the present campaign to seek more information and to check out their entitlements

Currently over 17,000 families, with almost 34,000 children, benefit directly from the weekly top-up payments but thousands of other families who, based on research, would be likely to qualify for FIS, are not applying for the entitlement. Families can get top-up supports of between €20 and €400 a week, depending on their income and the size of their family. Expenditure on FIS in 2005 reached €72.1million.

The national awareness campaign includes an extensive week-long TV, national and regional radio and national and regional print media advertising campaign. In addition, the support scheme will be promoted through the Department of Social and Family Affairs (LoCall 1890 66 22 44), all Social Welfare local offices, Citizen Information Centres and Citizens Information Phone service (1890 777 121) and by Comhairle, the national information support agency. An information booklet can be ordered by phoning 1890 20 23 25 and further information is available on the Department's website at: www.welfare.ie

Minister Brennan said: "As I have repeatedly stated this Government is determined to eradicate the blemish of child poverty from the economically prosperous and visionary Ireland of the 21st century. In working to achieve this it is imperative that welfare support schemes that are specifically targeted at households where child poverty is an issue, or in families where there is a risk of child poverty, reach the maximum number of those in need. I am determined to continue to target those vulnerable families on low incomes who need to be supported and given particular attention. The economic surge Ireland continues to enjoy can only be considered a real success when the benefits of it reach all of the people, especially those struggling on the margins of society,"

Minister Brennan said that a number of improvements to the FIS scheme in recent years, including the assessment of FIS on the basis of net rather than gross income, and the progressive increases in the income limits, have made it easier for lower income households to qualify under this Scheme. The new increases in FIS weekly income thresholds announced in Budget 2006 of between €19 and €282 will deliver extra weekly income of between €11.40 per week to €169.20 to the payments of virtually all existing FIS recipients.

"However, despite all the improvements and appeals for greater take-up, the reality is that independent experts, such as ESRI, have stated that up to 60% of FIS entitlement is not taken up," Minister Brennan said. "This campaign is part of a determined drive by my Department to test this widely held view by ensuring that everyone is made fully aware of their entitlements and that every possible effort is made to ensure that every single family in the State that is entitled to FIS receives this weekly income top-up. The campaign will also gauge the extent of the anticipated increase in the level of take up and identify, if required, what further measures are needed."

The Minister published statistics showing how FIS can boost the earnings and welfare incomes of working families which show that a 2-parent family with 2 children (1 child under 6 years) on the minimum wage of €16,000 can boost their income through FIS by over €5,000. This increases to over €6,000 from FIS for a working family with 2 children under 6 years: to over €8,250 for a family with 3 children - 2 under 6 years and all under 12 years - and to more than €10,280 for a family with 4 children in which 2 are under 6 years. The statistics also show how overall welfare payments, and the new Early Childhood Supplement of €1,000 a year for children under 6 years, can significantly boost the overall income of working families on relatively low to moderate incomes.

Minister Brennan added: "The Family Income Supplement is designed to provide vital cash supports for employees on low earnings with families, while at the same time preserving the incentive to remain in employment. Research has shown that poverty is more likely to be concentrated in larger families and in the families of Lone Parents. It has also shown that the best route out of poverty for all who are experiencing difficulties is through paid employment. The new FIS thresholds significantly increase all payments while concentrating additional resources on larger families. I am confident that the improvements will contribute towards targeting resources at households in poverty and in helping them deal with real income difficulties."

At the end of December 2005, there were 17,448 families in receipt of FIS - all of whom would have benefited from the budget increase. The following is the net increase for families per no of children:

Number of children

Net increase

1 child

€12 per week

2 children

€23

3 children

€41

4 children

€65

5 children

€91

6 children

€117

7 children

€147

8 or more children

€170

So far this year applications received for FIS have increased by over 35% compared with the same time last year and the number of claims already awarded this year has increased by 30% compared with the same time last year.

The following table sets out the income thresholds for FIS:

Family Size

Income Limit

1 child

465.00

2 children

510.00

3 children

565.00

4 children

630.00

5 children

705.00

6 children

775.00

7 children

845.00

8 or more children

905.00

FIS is calculated at 60% of the difference between net weekly income (ie gross pay less Tax, Employees PRSI, Health Contribution, Superannuation) and the income limit for your family size.

The Family Income Supplement can make a significant top-up contribution to working families on low incomes. The following examples display the overall social welfare supports for such families and includes the direct benefit from the FIS support:

Example 1: 2-parent family, 1 child (under 6 yrs)

Gross Earnings

Net Income from employment

FIS

CB

Childcare

Back to school..

Total SW

Net disposable income

16,000*

15,624

5,134

1,800

1,000

120

8,054

23,678

20,000

19,464

2,829

1,800

1,000

120

5,749

25,214

25,000

23,764

249

1,800

1,000

0

3,049

26,814

30,000

27,984

0

1,800

1,000

0

2,800

30,784

35,000

31,684

0

1,800

1,000

0

2,800

34,484

40,000

35,384

0

1,800

1,000

0

2,800

38,184

* National Minimum Wage @ 40 hrs pw = €15,912

       

Net income below which FIS is payable

€24,180

     

 

Example 2: 2-parent family, 2 children (both under 6 years)

Gross Earnings

Net Income from employment

FIS

CB

Childcare

Back to school..

Total SW

Net disposable income

16,000*

15,624

6,538

3,600

2,000

240

12,378

28,002

20,000

19,464

4,223

3,600

2,000

240

10,073

29,538

25,000

23,764

1,653

3,600

2,000

240

7,493

31,258

30,000

27,984

0

3,600

2,000

0

5,600

33,584

35,000

31,684

0

3,600

2,000

0

5,600

37,284

40,000

35,384

0

3,600

2,000

0

5,600

40,984

* NMW @ 40 hrs pw = €15,912

       

Net income below which FIS is payable

€26,520

     

 

Example 3: 2-parent family, 3 children (2 under 6 years, all under 12)

Gross Earnings

Net Income from employment

FIS

CB

Childcare

Back to school..

Total SW

Net disposable income

16,000*

15,624

8,254

5,820

2,000

360

16,434

32,058

20,000

19,464

5,949

5,820

2,000

360

14,129

33,594

25,000

23,764

3,369

5,820

2,000

360

11,549

35,314

30,000

27,984

838

5,820

2,000

0

8,658

36,642

35,000

31,684

0

5,820

2,000

0

7,820

39,504

40,000

35,384

0

5,820

2,000

0

7,820

43,204

* NMW @ 40 hrs pw = €15,912

       

Net income below which FIS is payable

€29,380

     

 

Example 4: 2-parent family, 4 children (2 under 6 years, all under 12)

Gross Earnings

Net Income from employment

FIS

CB

Childcare

Back to school..

Total SW

Net disposable income

16,000*

15,624

10,282

8,040

2,000

480

20,802

36,426

20,000

19,464

7,977

8,040

2,000

480

18,497

37,962

25,000

23,764

5,397

8,040

2,000

480

15,917

39,682

30,000

27,984

2,866

8,040

2,000

0

12,906

40,890

35,000

31,684

645

8,040

2,000

0

10,685

42,370

40,000

35,384

0

8,040

2,000

0

10,040

45,424

* NMW @ 40 hrs pw = €15,912

       

Net income below which FIS is payable

€32,760

     

Ends


Last modified:06/03/2006
 

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