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Foreword from the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Regina Doherty TD

I welcome the publication of the Annual Report 2017 of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Since being appointed Minister in 2017, I am constantly reminded of the Department's significant and varied role. It is the largest Department in Government with over 6,000 civil servants.

Each week, nearly 1.6 million people receive a social welfare payment. These payments benefit almost 2.1 million people, when qualified adults and children are included. Our department spends approximately €20 billion a year on schemes and benefits for families and individuals in our society. We have a lot to be proud of.

To that end, through the wide range of services it provides, the Department impacts on the lives of almost every citizen in the State in the course of their life; from child benefit to the State pension and every contingency in between such as maternity, paternity, illness, unemployment and redundancy.

As a Government, our top priority for the next few years is to remain prudent in our approach to the economy and public spending. As a Department, our priority is to use our improved public finances for the betterment of our people – particularly those who need it most. Or, to use the words of our mission statement, we promote active participation and inclusion in society through the framework of employment rights and the provision of income supports, employment services and other services.

This report shows the wide range of service and policy reforms implemented by the Department in the last year. We have extended Treatment Benefits to the self-employed. We are working to modernise our pension system while continuing to target resources at the most in need.

We made progress on all of our priorities in Budget 2018. We increased the rate of weekly payments for 1.47 million beneficiaries including pensioners, lone parents, jobseekers, carers, people with disabilities and widows. We increased the national minimum wage. We enhanced the JobsPlus Recruitment Incentive to encourage employers to hire older workers. We increased the Weekly Fuel Allowance and added the Telephone Support Allowance.

My focus is firmly on employment, pension reform, and reducing child poverty. I want to ensure that families are better off in work than on welfare. My goal is to ensure that people are rewarded for working by reforming the PRSI system and reinforcing the contributory principle.

My specific goals for the coming year include pensions reform, enhanced working conditions for insecure workers, more benefits for the self-employed, and reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Since my appointment as Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection I have been consistently impressed by the calibre and commitment of Departmental staff. I thank them for their commitment, on behalf of the millions who benefit from their great work.

Regina Doherty TD
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Last modified:13/09/2018