Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Ceisteanna (89, 90, 91)

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

150 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of Irish citizens that have applied for unemployment benefits in other EU countries; the countries involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7920/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

222 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of Irish citizens that have applied for social welfare benefits in other EU countries; the countries involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8028/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

I propose to take Question Nos. 150 and 222 together.

The facility whereby persons receiving unemployment and other social welfare benefits in Ireland can transfer those payments to another member state is provided by Regulation 1408/71. It deals with the application of member states' social security systems to persons moving within the EU.

One of its basic principles is that where an insured person is in receipt of a social security benefit they must be allowed to export that benefit to another member state. There are a number of conditions attached to the export of unemployment benefit. First, a person must satisfy all national legislative requirements for entitlement to that benefit, such as being available for and genuinely seeking employment. Where, after being in receipt of unemployment benefit for four weeks, a person decides to go abroad, they can apply at their local office to have their benefit exported.

After arriving in their destination state the unemployed person must immediately register with the employment services of that state and be subject to whatever control procedures are in place there. Entitlement to Irish unemployment benefit in that state will then continue for a maximum period of three months, unless the unemployed person finds employment.

It is not possible to tell how many people exporting their unemployment benefit from Ireland are Irish citizens. Under Regulation 1408/71 any person, not just an Irish citizen, in receipt of the benefit can export it to another member state. During 2003 a total of 346 people availed of this provision. The countries to which they exported their unemployment benefit were as follows:

Country

Number

Luxembourg

1

Denmark

1

Portugal

2

Greece

2

Norway

3

Austria

4

Finland

9

Belgium

10

Italy

11

Netherlands

22

Germany

28

France

46

Spain

85

UK

112

Question No. 151 answered with QuestionNo. 110.
Question No. 152 answered with QuestionNo. 114.
Question No. 153 answered with QuestionNo. 115.
Question No. 154 answered with QuestionNo. 113.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

155 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she has satisfied herself that all persons entitled to social welfare payments have their attention drawn to their entitlements; if she has plans for additional promotional or information campaigns to ensure that persons have their attention drawn to their entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7817/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

An essential element of the delivery of social welfare services is the provision of comprehensive information in a clear and simple manner. The objective of my Department's information policy is to ensure that all citizens are made aware of their entitlements across all social welfare schemes and supports and are kept informed of changes and improvements as they occur. I am satisfied that objective is being met.

My Department directs information to citizens on new schemes and services through advertising, using an appropriate mix of national and provincial media, and through information leaflets, fact sheets, posters and direct mailshots. All our schemes and services are publicised on our website atwww.welfare.ie. Selective use is also made of freephone telephone services to provide information on new schemes and services and at particular times of the year, such as budget time.

With regard to information products, my Department produces a comprehensive range of information booklets covering each social welfare payment. These are widely available from the network of 130 social welfare local offices and branch offices throughout the country as well as from citizen's information centres and many local organisations. Information is also available from information officers located in SWLOs who give talks to many groups and organisations and attend exhibitions and seminars.

My Department also works closely with voluntary and community organisations involved in an information giving role. A number of such organisations receive funding on an annual basis towards the cost of providing welfare rights and information services for their target groups.

Consultation with our customers is another route towards understanding their needs and expectations. We use a range of methods such as customer panels, customer surveys and comment cards. The findings of our customer surveys are, in the main, positive and show a high overall satisfaction rating with the services provided, including information provision. My Department is planning an information campaign for later this year which will promote the role of our SWLOs, particularly the information officers, as a key information contact point in disseminating information on social welfare entitlements across all age groups.

Comhairle is the national information agency operating under the aegis of my Department. It supports the provision of independent information, advice and other supports to all citizens, including those with disabilities. The organisation supports a network of 85 citizen's information centres whose role is to provide information to members of the public on all social services.