Foreword from the Minister
I welcome this first Report on our Department’s Statement of Strategy 2008-2010 which outlines the delivery of services in 2008.
The progress made in social welfare provision during 2008 is documented in the Report. The cost of this provision exceeded €17 billion, an increase of 14.5% on expenditure in 2007. The increases introduced in Budget 2008 show our commitment to supporting citizens at every stage in their lives, but particularly when they experience unemployment, illness or any change in their circumstances.
The Report demonstrates the implementation of policies which make real differences to the lives of a very large number of people on a regular basis. These policies are informed by the principal of equality of opportunity and are aimed at facilitating people to avail of work, training and educational opportunities in order to encourage them to become less dependant on the welfare system. For example, the innovative Disability Activation Project, implemented on a pilot basis in 2008, is a comprehensive employment strategy based on individual case management that will have the capacity to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities.
The Report also highlights the Department’s emphasis on the provision of quality customer service through the continuing enhancement of its processes and supporting IT systems.
The economic downturn, manifested during 2008, put significant pressure on the delivery of the Department’s schemes and services. The Live Register alone increased by over 70% in the year to December 2008. The challenge for us all now is to maintain and promote greater social inclusion in these difficult times for our economy and society. This means ensuring that those who are most vulnerable are protected and have their living standards and access to essential services maintained.
I recognise that staff across the Department are under pressure coping with increased claimloads and I wish to thank them for their continued support and commitment during 2008.
Mary Hanafin, TD
Minister for Social and Family Affairs