Stephen asked the Minister for Social Protection:
the reason certain measures are being introduced into the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012, such as the change to the basis of calculation of jobseeker’s benefit from six days to five days, by way of amendment at Committee Stage; and her views on whether this means these measures will get less scrutiny in the Oireachtas.
Question No: 430 Ref No: 20324-12
Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D)
As there is a very tight timeframe between the finalisation of the measures to be included in the Budget 2012 package, in early December 2011, and the implementation date of many of these measures in early January 2012, there was an extremely short period of time available in which to draft the Social Welfare Bill 2011 and to have this Bill enacted by the Oireachtas before the Christmas recess. This necessarily reduced the scope to include all of the required amendments to the Social Welfare Acts arising from Budget 2012 in this Bill. Accordingly, it has been necessary to introduce a further Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012, to provide for the enactment of the remaining amendments to the Social Welfare Acts arising from Budget 2012 by early May 2012 in order to comply with the implementation dates provided for in the Budget.
Given the complexity of some of the Budget 2012 measures to be included in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012, it was not possible to include all of these items in the Bill as published. Accordingly, a number of measures have had to be provided for by way of Committee Stage amendments, including the change to the basis of calculation of jobseeker’s benefit from six days to five days. Due to significant technical issues which arose as this measure was being designed, which related primarily to benefit duration, drafting of the necessary legislation was delayed, which prevented its inclusion in the published Bill.
However, I have arranged for detailed written briefing on the Committee Stage amendments to be issued to the various Whips in advance of the Committee Stage of the Bill and for an oral briefing to be provided to opposition spokespersons in both the Dáil and Seanad.