Foreword from the Minister
I welcome the publication of the 2002 Annual Statistical Report, the twentieth edition of this Report, which provides comprehensive statistical information on all Social Welfare Services operated by this Department, in addition to trends over the past ten years.
This Department operates a broad range of schemes and services to benefit families as well as the wider community and is central to the provision of social protection in this country. The Report will be of significant value in the development of policies responsive to the needs of people in a wide variety of circumstances.
From birth, through life to death, our system of social supports administered by my Department helps approximately one in three citizens at any one time. With a Budget spend last year of €9.52 billion the increase of 21.4% in social welfare spending has remained above the rate of inflation and increased by over €3.5 billion between 1997 and 2002.
Important developments in 2002 highlighted in the Report include:
- Total Social Welfare expenditure in 2002 was € 9.52 billion, which represented 28.8% of Gross Current Government expenditure.
- Over 938,000 people were in receipt of a weekly social welfare payment at the end of 2002.
- Expenditure on Old Age Payments increased by 15.5% on 2001.
- Expenditure on Child Related Payments rose by 49.2% in 2002.
- Carer's Allowance expenditure increased by € 30 million in 2002, an increase of 22.8% over 2001.
- The number of recipients of Family Income Supplement increased by 4.1% with an increase in expenditure of 14.4%.
- In 2002, a Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance was paid in respect of 155,811 children, an increase of 12,782 on 2001 with expenditure on the scheme increased by 18.8% to just over €15 million.
Our social service policies allied to our policies on education, housing, health and governance to name a few, make real differences to the lives of our citizens and I am committed to the ongoing maintenance and development of those social services. Timely and accurate information is a key input to this process and this Report makes an important contribution in this regard.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wide range of staff in the Department who contributed to the compilation of the Report.
Mary Coughlan TD
Minister for Social and Family Affairs