Foreword from the Minister
I welcome the publication of the 23rd edition of the Annual Statistical Report, which provides comprehensive statistical information on all programmes administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.
Accurate information is vital to support evidence-based policy making and enable the measurement of progress in these areas. 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 are invaluable elements in the development and implementation of policies to build social inclusion and progress social cohesion.
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 €12.2 billion in 2004 an increase of 7.8% over the previous year. This reaffirms the Government's commitment to the welfare of all those in need of support in this modern, increasingly demanding and rapidly evolving society.
Statistics tell their own story and in 2004:
- Social Welfare Expenditure was €12.2 billion, representing 28.2% of Gross Current Government Expenditure.
- Over 976,000 people were in receipt of a weekly Social Welfare payment, which was paid in respect of 1.5 million beneficiaries.
- Family Income Supplement was paid to 17,448 families with 33,956 children, an increase of 18.5% on the previous year and the highest level in the history of the scheme. Expenditure on Family Income Supplement increased by 29.3% to €72.2m.
- 547,000 families received a monthly Child Benefit payment, which was paid in respect of 1,060,740 children. Expenditure on Child Benefit increased by 7.6% to €1.9 billion.
- Expenditure on Carer's Allowance and Carer's Benefit increased by 122.4% and 24.6% respectively. The numbers in receipt of a Carer's payment increased from 23,709 to 25,837, an increase of 9%.
- Expenditure on Old Age has increased by 8.0% to €2.95 billion. Payments were made to 311,170 people in this area.
Behind every one of the statistics in this report are real people involved in the day to day stresses, strains and struggles of working to build better lives for themselves and, in many cases, their families. That is why I am determined that increasingly we must strive to get behind the payments and the statistics and confront the social issues and problems that lead to the needs for the benefits, supports and entitlements in the first place.
This report charts the progress being made in improving and developing services, in tandem with wider Government aims and objectives, which 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 Affairs