Department of Social Protection - Overview


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Contents

  1. History of Social Welfare in Ireland
  2. Mission Statement
  3. The Function of the Department
  4. The Work of the Department
  5. Types of Payments
  6. Customer Services and Organisation of the Department
  7. Information Services
  8. Employment Support Services
  9. The General Register Office
  10. Social Welfare Appeals Office
  11. Citizens Information Board
  12. The Pensions Board
  13. Office of the Pensions Ombudsman
  14. Social Welfare Tribunal

 

1. History of Social Welfare in Ireland

1766 - Friendly Societies & Trade Unions

1834 - Poor Relief Act

1908 - Old Age Pension Act

1911 - National Insurance Scheme

1933 - National Health Insurance transferred to Minister for Local Government & Public Health

1936 - Insurance contributions for Widows and Orphans

1947 - Department of Social Welfare established

1952 - Department of Social Welfare became fully functional

1974 - Introduction of compulsory Social Insurance

1979 – Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) Scheme introduced

1982 - Set up of Social Welfare Tribunal

1986 - Set up of Social Welfare Services Office

1988 - Introduction of PRSI for the self employed

1991 - Set up of Social Welfare Appeals Office

1997 - Renamed Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs

2002 - Renamed Department of Social & Family Affairs

2010 – Renamed Department of Social Protection

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2. Mission Statement

The Mission Statement of the Department is to promote active participation in society through the provision of income supports, employment services and other services.

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3. The Function of the Department

The Department supports the Minister for Social Protection in the discharge of governmental, parliamentary and departmental duties. The main functions are to:

  • advise Government and formulate appropriate social protection policies;
  • design, develop and deliver effective and cost-efficient income supports, activation and employment services, advice to customers and other related services; and
  • work towards seamless service delivery in conjunction with other Departments, Agencies and bodies in the delivery of Government policies.

The Department plays a key role in supporting those most in need, including children and their parents, people who are unemployed, ill, carers, people with disabilities and older people. Each week approximately 1.4 million people receive a social welfare payment and, when qualified adults and children are included, a total of almost 2.1 million people benefit from weekly payments. Over 600,000 families receive child benefit in respect of 1.2 million children each month. Expenditure on schemes and services provided by the Department accounts for almost 40% of gross voted Government current expenditure. The projected expenditure for the Department in 2012 is €20.55 billion.

In carrying out our work we are guided by four key values and principles:

  1. 1. Excellent customer service
    We are committed to providing a professional, inclusive and timely service that is responsive to the needs of our clients. We will conduct our business in an impartial, open and transparent manner and will treat people fairly, with dignity and respect. We will keep personal data confidential.
  1. 2. Value for money
    We will deliver all of our services in an effective and efficient way. We will strive to minimise the levels of fraud and error in the social welfare system.
  1. 3. Flexibility, innovation and responsiveness
    We will seek to anticipate and respond to challenges and societal change in a flexible and innovative manner.
  1. 4. Partnership and consultation
    We recognise that effective delivery of our services and management of our work requires a partnership approach with staff, clients and other agencies. We believe in continuous and effective consultation with all stakeholders and developing relationships built on trust and mutual respect.
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4. The Work of the Department

The Department administers over 70 separate schemes and services which impact on the lives of almost every person in the State. Schemes operated by the Department can be viewed here.

Services of the Department include:

  • the development of appropriate social policy, including pension policy;
  • promoting and supporting the incorporation of anti-poverty and social inclusion objectives in public policy development and monitoring the implementation of these strategies;
  • administration of a wide range of social insurance and social assistance schemes, including pensions, benefits, allowances and grants for children, people of working age, carers, people with disabilities and older people;
  • activation, employment and community services and programmes to promote development, progression, participation and social involvement of our clients;
  • administration of and ensuring compliance with the social insurance scheme and administration of the Employers PRSI Exemption Scheme and the Redundancy and Insolvency Payment Schemes;
  • provision of social welfare information, directly and through the Citizens Information Board and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS);
  • regulation of occupational and private pensions through the Pensions Board;
  • investigation of complaints of maladministration of pension schemes through the independent Office of the Pensions Ombudsman;
  • provision of an independent redress system through the Social Welfare Appeals Office and Social Welfare Tribunal; and
  • administration by the General Register Office (GRO) of the Civil Registration Service (for the registration of births, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in the State).
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5. Types of Payments

Payments are generally divided into three groups:

  • Social Insurance (or contributory) payments which are made on the basis of PRSI Contributions. Payments made under the social insurance system are funded, in part, by contributions from employers and employees. Any deficit in expenditure is met by Exchequer subvention;
  • Social Assistance (or non-contributory) payments which are made on the basis of satisfying a means test. Social Assistance schemes are financed entirely by the Exchequer; and
  • Payments (such as Child Benefit or Free Travel) which are not dependent on PRSI contributions or a means test. These payments are funded entirely by the Exchequer.
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6. Customer Services and Organisation of the Department

Services to the Department's customers are delivered at local level and through headquarter offices. All offices have access to the Department's computer network so that information on claims and payments is readily available to callers.

The Department has over 6,700 staff. The organisational structure can be viewed here

Details of the offices of the Department can be viewed here

Headquarter offices are located in Buncrana, Carrick-on-Shannon, Dublin, Dundalk, Letterkenny, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Tubbercurry and Waterford.

The delivery of services locally is organised on a regional basis with 3 regional and 13 divisional offices supporting a network of 64 Social Welfare Local Offices, 850 former Community Welfare Offices and clinics and 60 former FÁS Employment Services Offices across the country. In addition, the Department delivers services through a network of 62 Branch Offices managed by individuals on contracts for services.

Details of Local Offices by county can be viewed here

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7. Information Services

Information Services provide a central information contact point for members of the public as well as supporting Information Officers located in Social Welfare Local Offices. Among the services provided are:

  • website updating and development;
  • telephone enquiry service;
  • design of leaflets and booklets;
  • advertising; and
  • information campaigns.
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8. The National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES)

The Department of Social Protection has established a new National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES), as provided for in the Programme for Government. The objective is to integrate the provision of employment services and benefit payment services within the Department and in so doing to ensure that the payment of income supports to people who do not have a job is directly linked to the task of supporting such people in their pursuit of employment and related opportunities and improving their life chances.

The Department is seeking to change its focus from the passive provision of transaction based services (claims processing and payments) to the active case management of clients. Under the case management model the Department will work with clients to prepare, execute and monitor a personal progression plan. This progression plan will have a number of elements, for example, an income support-plan, a skills/training development plan and an employment plan. Clients will be expected to engage with this approach and failure to engage will lead to a reduction or cessation of benefit payments. A ‘social contract’ will be created, between the person applying for a payment and the State, which will set out the rights and responsibilities of each party. Under this agreement, the individual must commit to engage with the employment advice, placement and training referral services provided by the Department.

This new service delivery model is aimed at increasing the social and economic participation of our clients in society. In some cases, the successful outcome will be full-time employment without any further social welfare support. In other cases where people are quite distant from the labour market, activation measures will support people on social welfare payments taking up other progression options, such as training and education to enhance employability.

More information, including the NEES Project Plan, is available here.

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9. The General Register Office

The General Register Office (GRO) manages the Civil Registration Service which provides for the registrations of births, stillbirths, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in the State. Registration services are provided by registrars appointed by the Health Service Executive at various locations across the State. GRO also operates a genealogical research facility.

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10. Social Welfare Appeals Office

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements, insurability of employment issues and certain decisions made by the HSE under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Schemes.

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State Agencies under the aegis of the Department

11. Citizens Information Board

The Citizens Information Board is the national agency responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice and advocacy on social services and for the provision of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

The Citizens Information Board is the national agency responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice and advocacy on social services and for the provision of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

All appointments are made by the Minister and the legislative provisions governing board membership of the CIB are contained in the Comhairle Act 2000 and the Citizens Information Act 2007. The legislation provides that:

  • The Board shall consist of fifteen members;
  • One member of the Board shall be designated as chairperson;
  • The period of membership shall not exceed five years;
  • The members of the Board shall include one officer of the Minister, three members representative of people with disabilities and one member of CIB staff;
  • Not less than six members of the Board shall be female and not less than six shall be male.
  1. Current Board Membership
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12. The Pensions Board

The Pensions Board is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Pensions Act which provides for the regulation of occupational pensions and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts. The Board also advises the Minister in relation to pension policy.

The Board must comprise representatives of:

  • Trade Union Members;
  • Employers;
  • Occupational Pension Schemes;
  • The Actuarial Profession;
  • The Accounting Profession;
  • The Legal Profession;
  • Consumer Interests;
  • Pensioner Interests;
  • The Minister for Finance; and
  • The Minister for Social Protection.

While all of its members are appointed by the Minister, the Pensions Act, provides that of the 16 members, eight are nominated by representative bodies and not the Minister. These eight members represent the first six of the interests set out above. This comprises two representatives each of the trade union and employer groups and one representative each of the occupational pension schemes, the actuarial, accounting and legal professions. There is no change proposed in these arrangements.

A new Board was appointed on 21st December 2010 for a period of five years.

  1. Current Board Membership
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13. Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman investigates complaints of financial losses due to maladministration and disputes of fact or law, in relation to occupational pension schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts. The Pensions Ombudsman is a statutory officer and exercises his functions independently.

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14. Social Welfare Tribunal

The Social Welfare Tribunal is a statutory body set up in 1982 to deal with cases where entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance is refused due to an involvement in a trade dispute. Where a person feels that she/he has been unreasonably deprived of employment because the employer refused or failed to engage in the mediation process for settling disputes, application may be made to the Tribunal for adjudication on the matter.

The legislation governing the operation of the Social Welfare Tribunal is provided for in Sections 331 to 333 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005.

The Tribunal consists of a Chairman and four ordinary members, two nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and two nominated by an organisation representative of employers. All members are appointed by the Minister for Social Protection for a term of three years.

  1. Current Board Membership
Last modified:04/09/2012
 

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