"Our mission is to promote a caring society through ensuring access to income support and other services, enabling active participation, promoting social inclusion and supporting families."
Foreword from the Minister
I welcome the publication of this Strategy Statement, "Security with Opportunity", prepared by my Department in accordance with the terms of the Public Service Management Act, 1997, which sets out our main objectives for the next three years.
The Department of Social and Family Affairs is the biggest spending department in the State. Its budget this year, at over €12.2 billion, means that for every three euro spent by the State, one euro goes on welfare supports and entitlements.
For hundreds of thousands of people this Department is the safety net that keeps them out of the grip of poverty, provides supports when they are sick, or are unable to obtain work, gives pensioners an income and helps carers to continue their valued and valuable work.
Week in, week out the Department delivers payments to over 970,000 people that, when dependants are taken into account, directly benefits more that 1.5 million men, women and children.
It is my Department’s responsibility to deliver welfare supports and entitlements that raise living standards, offer security and a degree of empowerment.
But this Department is not just a mechanism for paying money. We also have a responsibility to use that income support to help solve the social problems behind the payments being made. It is not sufficient to have schemes for such things as child poverty, lone parents or pensions on the basis that if we pay the bill and sign the cheque, the problem will go away. If the problem does not go away, we must deal with the social issue behind the payment. All of us have this responsibility.
We have a responsibility, in conjunction with other agencies, to give people the opportunities that they need whether it be to get back into employment, education or training or to support them with their caring responsibilities. At different stages of people’s lives different interventions may be appropriate. Any interventions must be sensitive to the circumstances of each customer.
The Department and I are committed to helping our customers achieve their potential and to deliver income supports to them in a manner that facilitates their participation in the labour market and in wider society.
The objectives outlined in this Strategy Statement support these commitments and I look forward to working with the Secretary General and the staff of the Department, together with all other stakeholders, in progressing the achievement of these challenging objectives.
Seamus Brennan T.D.Minister for Social & Family Affairs
Foreword from the Secretary-General
The publication of a new Strategy Statement gives us the opportunity to reflect on the appropriateness of our goals and how well we have been achieving them.
While our mission is unchanged, our goals and objectives have been updated to reflect the diverse needs of our different customer groups. They also reflect our increasing emphasis on developing a range of services that not only give our customers financial security but also encourage them to maximise their participation in society, at whatever level their skills and abilities permit. Of course, this is not something which can be achieved by ourselves, but in partnership with other Government Departments and Agencies.
In our last Strategy Statement I referred to the challenges ahead. We must continue to respond to the developing needs of our customers in a time when resources are constrained. A new challenge is to do this while implementing an ambitious programme of decentralisation. I am confident that, in the light of our previous experience,we can rise to this challenge.
In meeting these challenges we depend on each and every member of staff. I would like to thank all those who contributed to the Strategy, and, more importantly, all of those whose work has contributed to the successful implementation of our previous strategies. I am confident that,working together in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation, we can achieve the significant programme that is outlined in this Strategy.