Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (408)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

408. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the criteria used by her Department to determine the level of demand for community welfare clinics in County Donegal in view of the fact that the exact numbers of persons who have accessed each community welfare clinic in County Donegal is not available; if she will provide a breakdown of the staff employed in the Community Welfare Service in County Donegal, differentiating between those responsible for making payments and those with supervisory or administrative roles, over the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8237/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department has restructured a number of Community Welfare Service (CWS) clinics across the country, including in County Donegal, with the aim of providing an efficient service to all customers.

Some smaller clinics have been closed or will close where the level of demand for a service was low. Where a closure has occurred or is planned, an increased level of service has been made available to the customers from these areas at alternative locations in the general vicinity and the provision of an enhanced service to the public by providing a better service at the remaining clinics within the areas.

There are currently nineteen Officers (former CWOs) in Donegal operating from thirty four different locations throughout the area. These officers are responsible for assessing claims, providing control functionality, making payments and providing information on Departmental schemes as required, in addition to performing supervisory and administrative roles in their respective offices where clerical support is in place.

Although figures are not available on the exact number of persons who have accessed each community welfare clinic in County Donegal in recent years, an examination of the Department’s payments system undertaken in September 2011 showed that almost 4,300 individuals in Donegal were in receipt of a payment under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme. By November 2012, the number of SWA recipients in Donegal had reduced by approximately 21% to 3,400 individuals.

It is also worth noting that the Department has reduced the level of demand on the CWS service in recent years by centralising the administration of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear (BSCFA) scheme within the Department. In addition, CWS staff are no longer involved in the administration of Medical Cards.

Tabular Statement 1 below shows the number of staff under each specific grade who perform CWS functions. Since the integration of the CWS into the Department, the roles and/or functions of certain individuals will have changed.

Tabular Statement 1

Year

Superintendent CWS/AP

Assistant (Grade 7)

Former CWO

Clerical

Total

2008

1

1

24

5

31

2009

1

1

24

5

31

2010

1

1

24

5

31

2011

1

1

22

5

29

2012

1

1

20

5

27

2013

2 * (see note)

1

19

5

27

* Note – These 2 Superintendent CWS/APs also have responsibility for functions other than CWS functions