Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (901, 902)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

901. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the adequacy of the rules relating to the typical amount provided under the supplementary welfare scheme for items such as replacement washing machines were last reviewed and changed. [30786/19]

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Róisín Shortall

Question:

902. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount budgeted for and spent on exceptional and urgent needs payments in each of the past ten years; the number of payments issued in each of the years; and the number of recipients. [30787/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 901 and 902 together.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. An urgent needs payment (UNP) may be made to persons who may not normally qualify for SWA but who have an urgent need which they cannot meet from their own resources or where an alternative is not available at that time.

In total €38.8 million has been provided for ENPs and UNPs in 2019.

The Tabular Statement below shows the revised estimate, expenditure and the number of payments for exceptional and urgent needs payments for each year since 2008.

ENPs are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. There is no automatic entitlement to a payment under this scheme. Payments are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.

Guidance provided to staff included recommendations in relation to the maximum amounts payable for a number of items covered under the scheme. These recommended maximum amounts were last reviewed in 2018. The guidelines assist Departmental staff and do not limit the discretionary powers available to officers administering the scheme to assist an individual or household in any particular hardship situation which may arise.

If the Deputy is aware of particular cases where the recommended maximum amounts have caused difficulties, I would ask that she bring these to the attention of the Department.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular Statement - ENPs and UNPs: Revised Estimates, Expenditure and Number of Payments 2008-2018

Year

Revised Estimate

Expenditure

No. of Payments

2008

€76.5m

€82.3m

259,900

2009

€102.00

€75.2m

239,000

2010

€90.0m

€69.9m

218,000

2011

€72.1m

€62.6m

226,200

2012

€51.60

€52.7m

197,500

2013

€47.5m

€35.7m

132,990

2014

€31.3m

€30.1m

107,100

2015

€27.9m

€31.0m

101,600

2016

€30.3m

€32.2m

100,100

2017

€31.5m

€38.1m

103,500

2018

€36.4m

€42.3m*

112,500

* Provisional outturn