Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (597)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

597. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if due process and fair procedures can be considered to have been followed in an application and appeals process in which the factual information provided by a social welfare inspector, later found to be incorrect, is relied upon to make the decision in respect of an appeal; the steps taken by her Department to ensure due process is followed in such circumstances to ensure fairness, impartiality and transparency in the decision-making process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38891/20]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that it made enquiries with the Deputy's office as to whether this question related to a particular appeal. It was advised that a general reply was being sought.

The published aims of the Social Welfare Appeals Office are to provide an independent, accessible and fair appeals service with regard to entitlement to social welfare payments and to deliver that service in a prompt and courteous manner. The Office's training and awareness raising measures for its staff are based on those principles.

Under social welfare legislation the decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed under Section 317 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 by an Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. In addition, the Chief Appeals Officer has power under Section 318 of the Act to revise any decision where it appears to her that the Appeals Officer’s decision was erroneous by reason of some mistake having been made in relation to the law or the facts.

If the Deputy wishes to raise any concerns in relation to any specific appeal decision the Chief Appeals Officer will ensure that the matter will be examined and the outcome communicated to him.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.