Foreword from the Minister
I welcome the publication of my Department’s Annual Report for 2006.
The developments which are outlined in the Report show clearly the significant progress we have made in implementing real and significant improvement in social welfare provision and in modernising the system to make it more relevant to changing needs in society. As the member of Government charged with the responsibility for the Department, I am proud of our achievements in this regard.
Many of the initiatives we have introduced – for pensioners, for people of working age and for families – will bring about long-term improvement in the opportunities available to the groups concerned and their full participation in society.
Expenditure on social provision in 2006 exceeded €13.5 billion – an increase of 11.7% on 2005.
This Report outlines how this major expenditure was used. The most vulnerable sectors of society – the unemployed, those unable to work due to illness and the elderly – benefited significantly from the 2006 Budget increases. The introduction of the Early Childcare supplement and the significant increases in Child Benefit in 2006 are further indicators of our commitment to families and to helping them meet the costs which they face.
I place particular priority on ensuring that people avail fully of the services to which they are entitled and the success of various initiatives to improve information provision and to promote schemes and services more effectively have been of particular satisfaction to me. I would like to thank all of the staff of my Department for their commitment to their work and for their support during the year.
Séamus Brennan, TD
Minister for Social and Family Affairs