Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (180)

Gary Gannon


180. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount spent on communications and publicity in respect of the supplementary welfare allowance in 2020. [7802/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

My Department administers over 80 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the State. The Department is committed to ensuring that members of the general public are aware of the welfare supports and services that are available to them.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department has delivered 18 public information campaigns designed to promote and increase public awareness of the available income supports and related Department services, as they evolved in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A further aim of these campaigns was to direct customers with questions or concerns to the Department's Income Support Helpline where trained Department staff could, through a protocol in place since March 2020, arrange for a Community Welfare Officer to engage with any person who urgently required financial support and assistance. This was a new route to access supports available from Community Welfare Officers in addition to the usual route availed of by people wishing to access these supports - i.e. by contacting their local Intreo office by phone.

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme incorporates a number of supports, as well as urgent and exceptional needs payments for those in urgent financial need. During 2020 the Department issued 5 press releases related to Supplementary Welfare Allowances. In addition, there were 144 social media posts shared from the Department's Twitter account highlighting Supplementary Welfare Allowances last year. These included, but were not limited to, tweets relating to Rent Supplement support for those at risk of domestic violence, Back to School supports and flooding relief support. The Department also issued related social media posts on Instagram and LinkedIn. This clearly demonstrates the Departments strong efforts to get this information to the public through media and social media channels. The Department continues to promote supports available through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance to members of the public in 2021.

My Department is very aware of the importance of Supplementary Welfare Allowance payments and, as ever, urges any person who considers they may have an entitlement to an exceptional needs payment to contact the Community Welfare Service by phoning their local Intreo office or contacting the Department's Income Support Helpline.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.