Minister Doherty publishes Department of Social Protection Annual Report for 2016


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Tuesday, 18th July, 2017: Today Minister for Employment and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, T.D. published the Department’s Annual Report for 2016.

The Department is the largest Department in Government with some 6,000 staff and an annual budget of almost €20bn.

In launching the report, the Minister reflected on the wide and diverse customer groups served by the Department - including families, people in employment, jobseekers, employers, people with illness and disabilities, carers, and older people.

Through the wide range of services it provides, the Department of Social Protection 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 possible life stage in between – maternity, paternity, illness, unemployment and redundancy. 

“The scale of the Department’s work is considerable. Each week almost 1.4 million social welfare payments are made and, when qualified adults and children are included, around 2.1 million people benefit from these payments.   In addition, some 623,000 families receive monthly Child Benefit payments in respect of almost 1.2 million children.” 

Minister Doherty acknowledged the role of her predecessor, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in providing enhanced supports to jobseekers seeking to get back to work during his tenure in the Department of Social Protection;

“Throughout 2016, the Department implemented key actions and initiatives from the Pathways to Work Strategy for 2016-2020.  Significant progress was made in supporting jobseekers to return to work with the unemployment rate falling from a peak of 15.1% in 2012, to 7.1% at the end of 2016.  This success has continued and this Government’s continued and relentless focus on tackling unemployment is continuing to reap rewards into 2017, with an unemployment rate of 6.3% for June this year.”

While recent improvements in the performance of the Irish economy have reduced the numbers of people in receipt of unemployment related income supports, wider demographic trends in Irish society mean that the demands on the Department’s services continue to grow.

In 2016, a number of improved measures for people receiving social welfare payments were also secured in the Budget that was announced in October.  These included the weekly increase of €5 for people receiving the maximum rates of payment with a proportionate increase for those on reduced rates.  The Budget also provided for the extension of Treatment Benefit (dental, optical, hearing) and Invalidity Pension to the self-employed, all of which are taking effect at various stages throughout this year.
A Christmas Bonus, amounting to €221 million was paid at the increased rate of 85% to 1.2 million people during the first week of December 2016.  

The developments outlined in the Department’s report show the wide range of service and policy reforms that were implemented by the Department in 2016, to help jobseekers secure employment, to reflect the changing needs of families and to improve service delivery. These included the provision of work placement opportunities, guidance and training services for jobseekers as well as the delivery of a range of services for employers including recruitment services, PRSI supports and jobsfairs.

Key Achievements of the Department in 2016 include:

  • The introduction of Paternity Benefit in September 2016 that offers two weeks payment to new fathers who avail of paternity leave
  • The Department completed its rollout of the full Intreo service to people with disabilities as part of commitments under the Comprehensive Employment Strategy (CES)  
  • The Department partnered with the Department of Health to commence work on a ‘Healthy You: Early Intervention’ as part of a commitment in the Programme for Government to support people to get back to work if they have an illness or disability
  • The Department and the National College of Ireland became partners in the development and delivery of accredited educational programmes for the staff working in the Department
  • The Department released its Customer Charter and Action Plan 2016 – 2018 which sets out the level of service customers can expect when dealing with the Department and its commitment to providing a professional, efficient, courteous and timely service to all customers
  • The roll out of a programme of online services via the www.mywelfare.ie customer facing platform commenced in 2016.  By the end of 2016, Maternity and Paternity Benefit were available online with further services continuing to become available to customers presently
  • The Department won the International Social Security Association Good Practice Award for Europe 2016 for its work in developing the integrated welfare and employment Intreo service which is now nationwide
  • The Department was included in the 2016 Civil Service Excellence Awards, being honoured in the category of World Class Civil Service and also in the category of Leading Civil Service Renewal
  • An innovative mortgage arrears resolution service, Abhaile, was officially launched on 3rd October 2016. The scheme, co-ordinated by the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice and Equality, is implemented by MABS, working closely with the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), the Legal Aid Board, and the CIB.
  • 2016 also saw the extension of the Personal Micro Credit (PMC) Scheme which provides for small scale loans by Credit Unions to borrowers who have difficulty accessing low cost credit. The aim of the scheme is to move people from the use of high cost moneylenders to legitimate low cost, locally available, alternative access to credit.
  • In September, JobsWeek 2016 held over 150 events nationwide which saw an overall attendance by over 14,000 jobseekers.  The events included jobsfairs, career advice and networking initiatives along with networking events with a broad range of employers.

 The Annual Report 2016 is available on the Department of Social Protection’s website at http://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/ar2016.pdf

ENDS

 

 

Last modified:18/07/2017