Written Answers. - Social Welfare Payments Method.

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

80 Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the feeling of dissatisfaction felt by many recipients of social welfare payment, that the service provided to them in sub-post offices is totally inadequate as many of these sub-post offices are so small that queuing is a common occurrence; if he is considering any alternative methods of paying mainly elderly pensioners, other than by obliging them to use these sub-post offices; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

An Post, through its network of 2,000 offices countrywide is responsible for paying about 70 per cent of social welfare payments. Over 400,000 pensioners are paid each week in addition to about 70,000 unemployed persons. Some 475,000 families receive their child benefit payment each month at post offices. In general the service provided by the post office network is very satisfactory and operates reliably and efficiently.

The provision of a choice of payment facilities for pensioners is currently being considered in the broader context of developing the most appropriate range of payment methods for all social welfare clients. My Department is liaising with An Post on the development of its counter services to ensure that the needs of social welfare clients are being met. One of the objectives being pursued is the provision of greater flexibility to clients as regards date, time and place of encashment. This would eliminate certain problems which can occur at present due to peaking on certain days, for example, with regard to the monthly payment of child benefit.
Questions as to the adequacy of individual office premises are a matter for An Post.