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Monday, 13 May 1985
Page: 1869

(Question No. 175)

Senator Maguire asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 27 March 1985:

(1) What categories of social welfare recipients are eligible for supplementary (rental) assistance.

(2) Are any unemployment benefit recipients eligible for supplementary assistance; if so, under what circumstances; if not, why not.

(3) What proportion of unemployment benefit recipients have been in receipt of unemployment benefits for (a) more than 12 months; and (b) more than six months but less than 12 months.

(4) What would be the estimated cost to the social welfare budget of making supplementary assistance available to all pensioners and beneficiaries.

Senator Grimes —The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Under the Social Security Act, supplementary (rent) assistance is payable, subject to a rent test and an income test, to people in receipt of: age pension; invalid pension; widow's pension; wife's pension; spouse carer's pension; supporting parent's benefit; rehabilitation allowances.

A similar payment, known as supplementary allowance, is payable to sickness beneficiaries who have been continuously in receipt of benefit for six weeks or more.

(2) Unemployment beneficiaries are not eligible for supplementary assistance/allowance. The extension of such assistance to unemployment beneficiaries would be a matter for consideration by Government in the Budget context.

(3) Data on unemployment benefit recipients by duration of benefit are only available from the quarterly computer surveys of beneficiaries. At the November 1984 survey (the latest available) the proportion of unemployment benefit recipients who had been in receipt of benefit for (a) more than 12 months was 36.1 per cent, and (b) more than six months but less than 12 months was 20.0 per cent.

(4) Supplementary assistance is already available to all pensioners, and supplementary allowance (after six weeks) to all sickness beneficiaries who meet the eligibility conditions. The estimated cost, in a full year, of extending supplementary allowance to unemployment beneficiaries and special beneficiaries under similar conditions as for sickness beneficiaries is of the order of $194m and $6m respectively.