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Written Answers - Social Welfare Code

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 340.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  if she has any plans to introduce additional top-up payments to social welfare entitlements for diabetes sufferers in recognition of the additional expenses they incur on account of the disease; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16956/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, a diet supplement may be paid to a person who is receiving a social welfare or health service executive payment where a special diet is prescribed as a result of a specified medical condition and they satisfy a means test. A person’s medical condition, such as diabetes, does not qualify them for a diet supplement rather it is the requirement for a special diet that allows them to be considered for a diet supplement.

The Department commissioned a study by an expert from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute which was called ‘The Examination of the Cost of Healthy Eating and Specialised Diets’. The study was published in January 2006 before revised diet supplement arrangements were introduced in April 2006 and subsequently updated in January 2007.

These revised arrangements reflected the findings of the study. The objective is that all social welfare recipients, including those with special dietary needs, should be able to purchase an appropriate diet at a cost of no more than one third of their income. However, under the revised arrangements, diabetes was not classified as a prescribed diet but rather comes within a healthy eating diet which every person can meet from one third of their basic weekly payment from the Department.

There are no plans to make diabetes a prescribed diet for the purpose of qualifying for diet supplement.

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