Foreword from the Minister
I welcome the publication of the 22nd edition of the Annual Statistical Report, which provides comprehensive statistical information on all programmes administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.
This Department has been to the forefront of the recent trend across Government towards evidence-based policy, with recent Departmental expenditure reviews developing a focus on more complex social outcomes. As part of this approach, reliable data on outputs and trends as contained in this Report in tandem with alternative data sources are invaluable elements in anticipating likely outcomes.
Supports administered by the Department provide for the complex and often multi-faceted needs of people over a range of contingencies and at every stage of life. Continuing to reflect the trend of recent years, social welfare programme expenditure increased to €11.3 billion in 2004 - an increase of 7.6% over the previous year. This re-affirms the Government's commitment to the welfare of all those in need of support in this modern and rapidly evolving society. The wealth of data in this report will also influence and help shape important ongoing reforms in the area of social policy.
The main features of my Department's activities in 2004 were:
- Social Welfare Expenditure in 2004 was €11.3 billion which represented 28.5% of Gross Current Government Expenditure.
- Over 957,000 people were in receipt of a weekly Social Welfare payment, which was paid in respect of 1.5 million beneficiaries.
- 540,911 families received a monthly Child Benefit payment, which was paid in respect of 1,051,005 children. Expenditure on Child Benefit increased by 5.9% to €1.8 billion.
- Expenditure on Old Age has increased by 9.2% to €2.7 billion. The number of recipients in this group has increased by 5,484.
- Expenditure on Carer's Allowance and Carer's Benefit increased by 14.7% and 10.9% respectively. The numbers in receipt of a Carer's payment increased from 21,955 to 23,709, an increase of 8%.
- Family Income Supplement was paid in respect of 14,727 families, an increase of 19.6% on the previous year. Expenditure on Family Income Supplement increased by 23% to €55.8 million.
This report illustrates and charts the progress being made in improving and developing services, in tandem with wider Government aims and objectives, that have at their core the delivery of improved quality of life and opportunities to people of all ages.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the staff throughout the Department for their continuing efforts in implementing the Government's programme of social welfare protection, support and reform.
Séamus Brennan T.D.
Minister for Social and Family Affairs