"Our mission is to promote a caring society through ensuring access to income support and related services, enabling active participation, promoting social inclusion and supporting families."
Foreword from the Minister
I welcome the publication of this Strategy Statement, 'Promoting a Caring Society', which I have agreed with the Secretary General of the Department in accordance with the terms of the Public Service Management Act, 1997. This is the first Strategy Statement published under this Government's term of office and the fourth Strategy Statement for the Department.
This Government is committed to improving the welfare of every Irish citizen. Our Programme for Government has set ambitious targets for tackling poverty - particularly child poverty - and social exclusion. It contains commitments to implementing a coordinated programme of measures for older people, including pensions and carers, and to a new benchmark level of €150 (in 2002 terms) for social welfare payments.
I believe that this new Strategy Statement provides a comprehensive framework for the Department to progress and develop its services over the next three years. It is fully reflective of Government policy, as articulated in the Programme for Government, the National Anti-Poverty Strategy and with Government priorities for better delivery of public services.
The Department provides essential supports to many people. The delivery of those services has to be of the highest standard to meet the legitimate needs and expectations of citizens. I look forward, as Minister for Social and Family Affairs to delivering on the improvements outlined in this strategy for people depending on the social welfare system, and for families.
I want to acknowledge the energy and hard work of all the staff in the Department who make all of this possible. The scale of our business is enormous and it is a tribute to the dedication and commitment of all that we stand in the position to confidently move forward.
Mary Coughlan, T.D. - Minister for Social and Family Affairs
Foreword from the Secretary-General
This strategy builds on our experience and our achievements in delivering on previous strategies. While many of the actions outlined here echo those in previous strategies, we have taken the opportunity to restate our mission and our priorities in the light of our new remit and the changing environment in which we operate.
Over the next three years we face many challenges. There is the challenge, first of all, of responding effectively to the needs of our diverse range of customers. We must continue to provide our services to the highest standards and in a way which delivers value for money for contributors and taxpayers. The changed economic climate poses a challenge to us in terms of the increased demands on our services and the changed environment for the public finances.
The changes which are taking place in our working environment bring renewed challenges for the relationship between the organisation and its people. The degree to which we create effective team working, maintain trust in each other, foster good communication, encourage individuals and build good performance, will determine our success. We have as a guiding principle that we work in partnership and move ahead in a framework of trust and mutual respect.
The process of preparing this strategy involved many people throughout the Department. I would like to thank everybody who helped in this. It is important now that everybody in the Department sees the link between the strategy and their own role and that the strategy be a working document which drives what we do and becomes a 'living strategy' to be used, built on and, if necessary, revised as we move forward.
I look forward to working together, under the guidance of our Minister, and with the agencies under our aegis and other Departments and agencies, to deliver on the significant programme of development which is outlined here.