Irelands Income Maintainance System

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Discuss the payment of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance in Ireland’s system of income maintenance.

In discussing the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (S.W.A) this essay will give a brief description of its inception into Ireland’s income maintenance system and will provide a brief outline of the different types of payment under the scheme. This essay will show the method in which it is administered and the costs involved in the scheme. The discussion will outline some of the major advantages and disadvantages as well as the S.W.A objectives and how they are compatible with other organisations. Finally this essay will look at how the scheme is viewed by organisations concerned with the S.W.A

The Social Welfare (Supplementary Welfare Allowance) Bill was introduced in 1975, by the then Parliament secretary of Minister of Social Welfare Frank Cluskey with these words ‘‘I regard this as an important step forward in the development of the Social Services and one that is long overdue. The Poor Law was the legal embodiment of the attitudes of the last century, harsh and unfeeling attitudes which should have no place in the society of today.’ ‘The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is designed to fulfil a residual and support role within the overall income maintenance structure’. (Cluskey F. 1975 cited in Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA), 2004, p.17). It did not come into effect until July 1977 and the main aim was to provide a minimum weekly income for people residing in the state. There are a number of different types of payment under the S.W.A

These are a Basic payment which is paid out to people with either no income or an income lower than the S.W.A to bring them up to this level. This type is known as a non-interim basic payment and is normally paid on a weekly basis. Sick no Benefit is a payment to people who are sick and not receiving a primary payment (this can be unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit) from the Department of Social and Family Affairs on production of evidence from their doctor. An Interim basic payment is paid to people while they are awaiting a primary payment; it is normally repaid once the claim comes through. Supplements are paid to people either weekly or monthly if their income is too low to meet certain needs. These include; Rent supplements; given to people to assist them with accommodation in the private rented sector. Mortgage Interest Supplement are payable to people on social welfare payments to assist with repayment of mortgage interest only. Diet supplement; People on welfare payments with special dietary requirements resulting from a health issue can apply for assistance towards the food costs. Exceptional Needs Payments; these are once-off payments for exceptional purposes such as essential household equipment or funeral expenses. Urgent Needs Payment; this can even be paid to people who do not qualify for a welfare payment in the event of a fire or flood to assist with food, clothing and shelter. (DFSA 2006)

Other payments that are included under the S.W.A scheme include; The Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance to assist with costs of school going children. National Fuel Scheme to assist with fuel costs during the winter months, there is an additional allowance for smokeless fuel in areas where coal is banned. Travel Supplement to assist people who have recurring travel expenses such as visiting sick relatives, family in prison or children in care. Crèche Supplement to pay for a child to attend a crèche while parents can attend parenting courses. Heating Supplement; for people in receipt of a welfare payment who have exceptional heating bills due to illness or infirmity. Monetary Advice and Budgetary Services (MABS) Supplement paid to people who are in debt working with this organisation to repay the debt. (DSFA 2006).

The basic role of the S.W.A is to provide a ‘safety net’ to prevent people from falling into poverty and...
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