The 2011 Act was designed to give legislative effect to certain Social Welfare measures announced in the Budget Statement of 5 December 2011, which are due to come into effect from 1 January 2012. These include the following:
- Redundancy Payments scheme—reduction in employer rebate for statutory redundancy payments from 60% to 15%.
- Disablement Benefit — abolition of entitlement to Disablement Benefit where loss of faculty is less than 15%.
- Disability Allowance/Domiciliary Care Allowance — increase in the maximum age for qualification for Disability Allowance from 16 to 18 years, for new cases, and a consequential increase in the maximum age for receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance from 16 to 18 years.
- Disability Allowance — alignment of the rates of payment for new claimants aged 18 to 24 with the rates of payment for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Child Benefit — abolition of higher rates of payment for three or more children and discontinuation of once-off grants for multiple births.
- Qualified Child Increase — discontinuance of entitlement to a half-rate Qualified Child Increase where the claimant’s spouse or partner has weekly income in excess of €400, in the case of new claims for Invalidity Pension, Carer’s Benefit, State Pension (Contributory), State Pension (Transition) and Incapacity Supplement.
- One-Parent Family Payment — phased reduction over a five year period in the weekly earnings disregard for all claimants and discontinuance of the 6 month Transitional OPFP payment (payable where weekly earnings exceed €425) where the claimant has been getting OPFP for at least a year.
- State Pension (Contributory), State Pension (Transition), Widow/er’s and Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension schemes and Guardian’s Payment (Contributory) —reduction in the statutory backdating arrangements for ‘‘late claims’’, from 12 months to 6 months.
- Widow/er’s and Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension — increase in the total number of contributions required to qualify from 156 to 260 from July 2012 and to 520 from July 2013, for new claimants.
- Changes to means tests — abolition of income disregard for income from employment as a HSE home help for means test purposes, and increase in the proportion of income from farming and fishing assessed for Farm Assist and Jobseekers Allowance purposes.
It also provides for miscellaneous amendments to the Social Welfare Code.
The 2012 Act provides for changes to the One-Parent Family Payment to reduce the age limit applying to the youngest child in the family on a phased basis from 14 to 7 years. . The age limit for the youngest child is being reduced in 3 steps — from 14 years to 12 years from May 2012, from 12 years to 10 years from January 2013 and from 10 years to 7 years from January 2014
The 2012 Act provides for an increase in the minimum number of paid PRSI contributions required to be eligible to become a voluntary contributor from 260 to 520.
The 2012 Act extends the list of weekly social welfare payments that are excluded from the general disqualification for receiving a weekly social welfare payment where a person is also participating on a Community Employment (CE) scheme. Before that participation on a CE scheme did not affect a person’s entitlement to the Rent Supplement payable under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.
The 2012 Act provides that participation on a CE scheme will not affect a person’s entitlement to the Mortgage Interest Supplement or the Diet Supplement payable under the
Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.
The 2012 Act provides for the following changes arising from Budget 2013—
- Changes in relation to certain Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions,
- Reduction in the maximum duration of Jobseeker’s Benefit,
- Changes in the assessment of income from farming and fishing for means-tested social assistance payments,
- Reduction in the monthly rate of Child Benefit,
- Reduction in the Respite Care Grant,
- Abolition of the employer rebate in respect of statutory redundancy lump-sum payments paid to employees, and
- Facilitation of the recovery of a greater amount of overpayments through weekly deductions from social welfare payments.
The 2013 Act amended—
- the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 to provide for a number of changes to the Social Welfare Code, including the implementation of the announcement in Budget 2013to broaden the PRSI base by extending liability for PRSI contributions to modified rate contributors who have income from a trade or profession,
- the Civil Registration Act 2004 to allow for the provision of index information from the registers held under that Act to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in accordance with the National Genealogy Policy, and
- the Pensions Act 1990 to provide primarily for the amendments to that Act that are necessary to give effect to the recommendations in the Critical Review on the Pensions Board and the Pensions Ombudsman which have been undertaken as part of the Public Service Reform Plan.
The 2013 Act amended a number of references contained in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 to training which is provided or approved by FÁS in the light of the new structural arrangements for the provision of State training that are being provided for in the Further Education and Training Act 2013 and the Education and Training Boards Act 2013.
The 2013 Act was designed to give legislative effect to a range of Social Welfare measures announced in the Budget Statement of 15 October 2013, which are due to come into effect in early 2014.The Act also provided for the implementation of a measure announced in Budget 2013.
The 2013 Act provided for the following changes arising from Budget 2014—
- Increases in the number of waiting days for Illness Benefit and Injury Benefit,
- The standardisation of the rates of Maternity Benefit and Adoptive Benefit,
- The discontinuation of payment of the Bereavement Grant,
- Reductions in the rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance for persons aged between 22 and 25 years,
- Reductions in the rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance for persons aged between 22 and 25 years,
- The discontinuation of the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme for new applicants and the winding down of the scheme for existing claimants over a 4 year period,
- Reductions in the rate of Invalidity Pension at age 65 years and the standardisation of the qualified adult rate,
- Recovery of the value of certain illness-related social welfare payments from compensation awards made to persons as a consequence of personal injuries claims.
The 2014 Act amends the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005—
- to provide for the transposition of certain aspects of Directive 2010/41/EU on the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity, in so far as they relate to ensuring that the spouse or civil partner of a self-employed worker can benefit from social protection in accordance with national law,
- to strengthen the residence requirements relating to entitlement to social assistance payments and child benefit,
- to strengthen control of social welfare expenditure by extending the powers to recover social welfare overpayments, and
- to make a number of other changes to the social welfare code arising from policy, administrative and operational matters.
The 2014 Act provides that increases in jobseeker’s allowance, preretirement allowance, supplementary welfare allowance, disability allowance or farm assist in respect of the qualified adult of the recipient will not be payable for any period during which that qualified adult is— (a) resident, whether temporarily or permanently, outside the State, or (b) in prison or otherwise detained in legal custody.
The 2014 Act provided for the deletion of 3 uncommented amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 which were no longer necessary, i.e.—
- provisions relating to disqualification for receipt of social welfare payments and increases of such payments where the recipient or the spouse of the recipient is either absent from the State or in prison,
- provisions enabling regulations to be made to provide that more than one qualified adult increase can be paid to the same recipient in certain circumstances, and
- provisions enabling the transfer of pension rights accruing under the social insurance system to the pension scheme of the EU institutions and the transfer of pension rights accruing under the pension scheme of the EU institutions to the social insurance system, in certain circumstances.