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Written Answers - Social Welfare Code

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 259.  Deputy Alex White Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White  asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  the phenomenon whereby adult children who are in receipt of social protection payments temporarily return to the family home, principally as a result of a loss of financial independence induced by unemployment and or overwhelming debt burden, whether she will introduce a period of discretion whereby a parent in receipt of a State retirement pension and a household benefit package would retain the latter benefit, thus allowing some space to come to terms with the implications of such a cohabitation arrangement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6480/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton It is not possible to allow household benefits to be retained if the household composition rules are not satisfied. One of the conditions for receipt of the household benefits package is that an applicant who is under age 70, must be living alone or only with excepted people. These excepted people include: a qualified adult; a dependent child or children aged between 18 and 22 years of age, if in full-time education; a person who would qualify for the allowances in his or her own right; or a person providing full time care and attention.

[439]The rules relating to the household composition do not apply where the person who is getting the household benefits is 70 years of age or over.

The household benefits package is made up of three allowances, electricity or gas allowance, telephone allowance and free television licence. These allowances provide contributions towards electricity or natural gas or bottled gas refill bill and telephone bill and cover the cost of the television licence each year. Provision for 2011 on household benefits was €382 million. As of end of December 2011 there were over 400,000 customers on household benefits package.

One of the objectives of the household benefits package is to provide assistance to older people who are living alone or with certain excepted people by targeting them with specific benefits that provide both income and social inclusion gains. Given the current economic situation, I am not in a position to consider extending the scheme to provide for temporary changes to household composition.


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