Written Answers. - Social Welfare Schemes.

Frances Fitzgerald

Question:

773 Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the number of reviews of social welfare schemes currently being undertaken in his Department; the number of working groups currently engaged in this regard; the terms of reference of each working group; the expected completion date in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20264/00]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Civil Service wide series of expenditure reviews initiated by this Government in July 1997 as part of the strategic management initiative, SMI.

My Department has completed ten reviews under this process including the review of the one-parent family payment which I published last month.

Four further reviews are currently under way in my Department: the review of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance will be completed by the end of this year; the review of the urban and Gaeltacht school meals scheme is expected to be completed early in the new year; the review of the illness and disability payment schemes is expected to be completed in July 2001, and the review of the supplementary allowance is expected to be completed in December 2001.

The specific terms of reference for each of the reviews currently under way are as follows: to examine and report on the back to school cloth ing and footwear scheme with a view to identifying the scheme's objectives; considering the extent to which these objectives remain valid and compatible with the mission and the current strategy of the Department; evaluating the extent to which these objectives have been achieved; establishing the level and trend of (a) the cost and (b) the staffing resources associated with the scheme activity; defining the outputs associated with the scheme's activity and identifying the level and trend of those outputs; commenting on how efficiently and effectively the scheme has achieved the objectives; evaluating the degree to which the objectives warrant the allocation of public resources on a current ongoing basis; examining the scope for alternative policy and/or organisational approaches to achieving the objectives and specifying suitable performance indicators which can be used to monitor and evaluate the scheme in the future.
To examine and report on the school meals scheme with a view to identifying its objectives; considering the extent to which these objectives remain valid and compatible with the mission and the current strategy of the Department; evaluating the extent to which these objectives have been achieved; establishing the level and trend of (a) the cost and (b) the staffing resources associated with the scheme activity; defining the outputs associated with the scheme's activity and identifying the level and trend of those outputs; commenting on how efficiently and effectively the scheme has achieved the objectives; evaluating the degree to which the objectives warrant the allocation of public resources on a current ongoing basis; examining the scope for alternative policy and/or organisational approaches to achieving the objectives on a more efficient and effective basis and specifying suitable performance indicators which can be used to monitor and evaluate the scheme in the future.
To examine and report on the range of income maintenance payments to people with illness and/or disabilities, including the proposed sickness allowance scheme, with a view to identifying the objectives of each scheme; having regard to the Department's mission and current strategy, considering the extent to which the objectives remain valid, for each scheme in its own right and also within the overall system of income support for people with illness and/or disabilities; in this regard distinguish between objectives related to income maintenance needs and those related to costs of disability; estimating the level and trend of recipients and programme costs for each scheme; identifying anomalies and inconsistencies within and between the schemes; examining the extent to which the schemes support self-sufficiency, in particular as regards incentives to take up employment/training opportunities in situations where the person's physical condition and social circumstances so warrant and examining the scope for alternative policy and/or organisational approaches to achieving the objectives, including alternative financing arrangements.
To consider the current objectives of SWA and identify the original objectives, having regard to the context of the community welfare service as originally envisaged; identify the extent to which the original objectives remain valid; evaluate the extent to which the original objectives remain compatible with the Department's statement of strategy and with the strategies being pursued by the Department of Health and Children and by the health boards; evaluate the extent to which the original objectives have been achieved, taking account of other relevant arrangements; evaluate the extent to which the original objectives warrant the allocation of resources on a current and ongoing basis; identifying additional objectives which are explicitly or implicitly pursued through SWA, consider whether they are valid, compatible with the relevant statements of strategy, have already been achieved or warrant resources on a current and ongoing basis and consider what are the appropriate objectives for the SWA scheme, having regard to the Government's policy programme, Partnership 2000, the national anti-poverty strategy and other agreed policies.
To consider SWA programme and administrative costs and establish the extent and trend of these costs; define the outputs associated with scheme activity and identify the level and trend of those outputs; comment on how efficiently and effectively the scheme has achieved its original objectives and additional objectives pursued through SWA having regard to anomalies, inconsistencies and administrative inefficiencies within the SWA scheme and between SWA and other relevant schemes; the extent to which recurring need currently met through SWA could more appropriately be met through other means within the social welfare system; the extent to which SWA is used to deliver services proper to other agencies.
To examine the scope for alternative policy and organisational approaches to achieving the objectives which are appropriate to SWA and any others currently pursued through SWA, having regard to the efficiency and effectiveness of the current arrangements; the role of SWA within the community welfare services and the potential for enhancing the role of community welfare officers in the context of SWA or otherwise.
To specify suitable performance indicators which can be used to monitor and evaluate the scheme in the future.
Question No. 774 taken with Question No. 119.
Question No. 775 taken with Question No. 121.
Question No. 776 taken with Question No. 116.