Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Questions (138)

David Stanton


240 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the agencies that operate under the aegis of his Department; the areas of responsibility of each such agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25799/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

Six agencies operate under the aegis of my Department, namely, the Pensions Board, the Pensions Ombudsman, the Combat Poverty Agency, Comhairle, the Family Support Agency and the Social Welfare Tribunal.

The remit of the Pensions Board, which was established on 21 December 1990, is to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act, and pensions developments generally.

The remit of the Pensions Ombudsman, established in September 2003, is to investigate and decide on complaints and disputes involving occupational pension schemes and personal retirement savings accounts, PRSAs.

The Combat Poverty Agency has an advisory, research and public information role regarding poverty issues and a role in initiating and evaluating programmes in this area. Its role is set out in the Combat Poverty Agency Act 1986. Comhairle, which was established on 12 June 2000, is the national agency responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice and advocacy services to members of the public on a wide range of social and other services. Comhairle has a statutory commitment to assist and support people, particularly those with disabilities, in understanding their needs and options and in accessing their entitlements to social and other services. Comhairle provides financial and other supports to the network of 85 independent citizens information centres, CICs, and in addition, operates the citizen's information phone service. Comhairle has also developed as a web-based source of information on public services.

The Family Support Agency has responsibilities for family mediation services, marriage and relationship counselling, promotion of information, and research and provision of advice on family related issues, and developing a range of family support services, as set out in the Family Support Agency Act 2001.

The remit of the Social Welfare Tribunal, which was established in 1982, is to deal with cases where entitlement to unemployment benefit or assistance is refused due to an involvement in a trade dispute.