Healy O'Connor

The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011

LEGISLATION GIVING statutory backing to key provisions of last month’s jobs initiative has been published.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011 also provides for changes to the social welfare code in the pensions area and elsewhere.

The Bill, which was published yesterday by the Department of Social Protection, will also put some of the commitments in the EU-IMF rescue programme for Ireland on a legal footing.

The main jobs initiative features the restoration of the national minimum wage to its previous level of €8.65 per hour; the introduction of a new lower rate of employer PRSI contribution, halving it to 4.25 per cent; and other measures that will ease the way for the 5,000 intern places announced in a new scheme.

The Bill will also formalise the commitment in the EU-IMF memorandum to increase the qualifying age for a State pension to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

There are also a number of other significant changes. Claimants of social welfare benefits will be required to provide additional information, tougher sanctions for illegal use of public services cards will be introduced and the supplementary welfare allowance scheme will be transferred from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection.

(The Irish Times, Friday 3rd June 2011)

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