Thursday, 23 March 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
229. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will address the anomaly for means testing of REP scheme payments whereby those in receipt of unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit and farm assist can disregard the first £2,000 REP scheme money while those on disability allowance are means tested; if those in receipt of disability allowance will be approved a back payment to the date when the disregard of the REP scheme money was first introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8556/00]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): When the disregard of income arising under the rural environment protection scheme – REPS – was originally introduced in 1996, it was confined to those social assistance schemes which were considered to be of most direct relevance to farmers, i.e. unemployment assistance – smallholders assistance – pre-retirement allowance and old age non-contributory pension.
With the introduction last year of a specific farm-related income support payment scheme, i.e. the farm assist scheme, it was considered more appropriate to confine, as far as possible, all farm related exemptions and incentives to this scheme. The existing REPS disregard has, therefore, been applied to this new scheme.
While the REPS disregard does not apply in the case of the other social assistance schemes, it should be noted that many of these schemes already have their own separate income dis regards which would apply to REPS payments. For instance, under the carer's allowance scheme there is a weekly income disregard of £75 for a single person and £150 in the case of a couple. The one-parent family payment provides that the first £115 of weekly income is disregarded. Both of these income disregards apply also to payments made under the REPS scheme.
Under the disability allowance scheme, the first £50 of earnings from rehabilitative employment is currently disregarded for means test purposes. Last December's budget provides for a 50% increase in the level of this disregard, from £50 to £75 a week. In addition, I have made provision in the Social Welfare Bill, which is currently before the Oireachtas, for an extension of this enhanced disregard to those in rehabilitative self-employment. It is estimated that some 1,300 self-employed recipients of disability allowance will benefit from this measure, which will come into operation in early April. This £75 earnings disregard will apply also to income from REPS payments.
|Last Updated: 11/09/2010 04:35:13||Page of 208|