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Social Welfare Benefits

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 30 June 2022

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Ceisteanna (220, 224, 228, 233)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

220. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which her Department continues to receive requests for assistance under the exceptional needs or supplementary welfare codes; the number received in each case on a weekly and monthly basis over the past two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35212/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

224. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications for emergency payments and hardship payments normally received by her Department and in the course of the past year to date; the extent to which sufficient provision has been made to meet such requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35216/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

228. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which she and her Department continue to meet the requirements of persons with insufficient income to meet their ongoing requirements, including cost-of-living requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35220/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

233. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which her Department is in the position to respond to the extra requirements arising from cost-of-living and inflation requirements in the future given the various applications made by persons in various categories; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35225/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220, 224, 228 and 233 together.

The Government is acutely aware of recent price increases and their impact on households who are dependent on social welfare. For this reason, this Government did not await a further budget cycle to address these challenges but acted early. Overall, the tax and spending measures we have introduced to ease the burden and provide support to those most in need have amounted to €2.4 billion.

The Government continues to monitor the situation carefully in preparation for the Budget later this year. I will be meeting a range of NGOs at the Department's pre-budget forum next month and will listen carefully to the views expressed.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, my Department can make additional needs payments to help meet expenses that a person cannot pay from their weekly income. It provides supports and services to help support people on low incomes and facing financial hardship.

The additional needs payment is an overarching term for exceptional and urgent needs payments, and certain supplements paid under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. This scheme is administered by the Community Welfare Service of the Department of Social Protection.

The Government has provided funding of €45.75 million for the provision of exceptional and urgent needs that are provided for as Additional Needs Payment in 2022. A further provision of €5.3 million has been provided for SWA Supplements in 2022 (excluding rent supplement). The scheme is demand led and is funded accordingly. The payment is available to anyone who needs it and qualifies, whether the person is currently receiving a social welfare payment or working on a low income.

An exceptional needs Payment (ENP) is a single payment 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 supplementary welfare allowance but who have an urgent need which they cannot meet from their own resources or where an alternative is not available at that time.

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.

The Department is developing more extensive statistics in relation to the number of applications made to the ENP/UNP schemes. The focus of the development has been on current data from January 2022 with details on the number of applications available from this date onward. Details of applications pre-January 2022 are not available at this time, however it is possible to provide details on the number of payments that were made.

Table 1 shows the number by category of ENPs and UNPs paid by month for January 2020 to end of May 2022.

ENP and UNP

Table 2 shows the expenditure by category of ENPs and UNPs paid by month for January 2020 to end of May 2022.

Expenditure by category ENP and UNP

Table 3 shows the number of ENP/UNP applications received/awarded/disallowed to-date in 2022 (end of May).

Year

Received

Awarded

Disallowed

2022 (to end of May)

30,345

27,848

2,059

Note: These figures in tables 1, 2 and 3 are taken from the Department’s ENP/UNP database and represent a snapshot of the ENPs/UNPs as they are approved by an officer rather than when they are paid. Please note the figures do not capture payments that are cancelled, payments that go out of date or overpayments recouped.

This represents a snapshot of claim activity taken at 1st June 2022 and is subject to change.

Any person who considers they may have an entitlement to an additional needs payment is encouraged to contact their local community welfare service. There is a National Community Welfare Contact Centre in place - 0818-607080 - which will direct callers to the appropriate office.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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