The Department supports the Minister for Social Protection in the discharge of governmental, parliamentary and departmental duties.
The main functions of the Department are to:
- advise Government and formulate appropriate social protection and social inclusion policies
- design, develop and deliver effective and cost-efficient income supports, activation and employment services and provide comprehensive, accurate information to all its customers
- work towards providing seamless delivery of services in
conjunction with other departments, agencies and bodies
- control fraud and abuse in relation to social welfare payments.
Scale of the Department’s business
The Department serves a wide and diverse group of clients including families, people in employment, unemployed people, people with illnesses and disabilities, carers and older people. In more recent times, the Department has expanded its remit to provide a range of services to employers and it has invested significantly in developing its employer relationship capacity to position the Department as a partner of first choice for employers in relation to recruitment and employment support services.
The Department administers over 70 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the state. Key services include:
- payment of a wide range of social insurance and social assistance income support schemes such as child benefit, jobseeker payments, illness benefits, pensions and supplementary welfare allowances
- integration, through Intreo services, of employment services and benefit payment services, to ensure that the payment of income supports to people who do not have a job is directly linked to the equally important task of supporting people in their pursuit of employment, training and education opportunities, in order to improve their life chances
- provision of a range of employment supports, internship opportunities, guidance and placement services to help jobseekers find and secure employment
- delivery of a range of employer services including recruitment services, online publication of job vacancies, employment supports (e.g. wage subsidy schemes available to people with disabilities) and redundancy and insolvency services
- a range of community services to promote social inclusion and provide a pathway to employment for those who are unemployed
- the development of appropriate and robust policies in areas such as pensions, child income support, jobseekers and activation
- co-ordination of the implementation of government strategies for social inclusion under the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion and the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth.
Each week, nearly 1.6 million people receive a social welfare payment and, when qualified adults and children are included, almost 2.1 million people benefit from these payments. Over 619,000 families receive child benefit payments in respect of almost 1.2 million children each month.
Some €19.9 billion (provisional outturn) was spent by the Department in 2015. The activities of the Department in 2015 included:
- 1.7 million applications processed
- 82.2 million scheme payments made
- more than 1.1 million control reviews carried out
- 8.3 million telephone calls answered
- 25,400 social welfare appeals finalised
- almost 124,000 job opportunities advertised nationally
- almost 170,000 PPS numbers allocated to clients from over 180 countries, and
- almost 630,000 Public Services Cards (PSC) issued, bringing to 1.75 million the number of
PSCs issued by the end of 2015.