Tánaiste & Minister for Social Protection publishes Dept. of Social Protection Annual Report for 2014


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Significant progress made in helping people back to work

Speaking on the publication today (Monday, 25 May 2015) of the Department of Social Protection’s Annual Report for 2014, the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., said significant progress had been made in helping jobseekers back to work during the year, and that focus is continuing in 2015.

The Annual Report outlines the significant developments during 2014 in all schemes and services administered by the Department which impact on the lives of almost every person in the State. Each week, almost 1.44 million people receive a social welfare payment and, when increases for dependants are included, almost 2.3 million people benefit from these payments.

In line with its job activation drive, the Department continued to roll out its Intreo service in 2014 and introduced a range of employment supports, internship opportunities, guidance and placement services to help jobseekers secure employment. The Department also enhanced its services for employers to help them find recruits and assist with the cost of recruitment.

There was a major focus on tackling youth unemployment during 2014 as part of the EU-wide Youth Guarantee. Initiatives under the Youth Guarantee provided over 28,000 places for unemployed young people during the year.

Overall, by the end of 2014, the number of people at work rose significantly to over 1.938 million, a year-on-year increase of + 1.5%, resulting in the highest level of employment recorded in five years. 2014 also saw the level of unemployment fall to 10.4%, representing a one-third fall from the 15.1% crisis peak.

"Today, as we publish this report, unemployment has fallen even further, to 9.9%, and it is essential that we increase the pace of this progress with full employment the ultimate goal. The progress made to date in building a jobs-led recovery is clear evidence that the Department’s Pathways to Work strategy is working."

The Annual Report also reflects the wider demographic changes throughout the country and the demands on the Department’s services that these bring. Since 2000, increases in the number of older people has contributed to increases of 58% and 65% respectively in the number of people in receipt of pension and disability payments, while the relatively high birth rate has resulted in a 20% increase in the number of recipients of child payments - some 615,000 families receive monthly Child Benefit payments in respect of almost 1.2 million children.

In 2014, €19.8 billion was spent by the Department across an extensive range of activities including:

  • 1.9 million applications processed;
  • 84.8 million scheme payments made;
  • more than 1.1 million control reviews carried out;
  • 8.1 million telephone calls answered;
  • 31,000 social welfare appeals finalised;
  • almost 140,000 job opportunities advertised nationally;
  • over 172,000 PPS numbers allocated to clients from over 181 countries; and
  • almost 700,000 Public Services Cards issued, bringing to 1.12 million the number of PSCs issued to end 2014.

Control of fraud and abuse remained firmly on the Department’s agenda in 2014, to ensure that all taxpayers can have confidence in the social welfare system. In April last year, the Department published its Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014 - 2018. Under this strategy, an enhanced debt recovery system was introduced and 20 members of An Garda Síochána joined the Department’s Special Investigation Unit to increase the investigative capacity of the Department to prevent, detect and deter social welfare fraud.

More widely, the Tánaiste noted that, because of the progress made by Government in returning the economy and public finances to health, a range of targeted welfare increases were possible in Budget 2015. This included the increase in Child Benefit, the partial restoration of the Christmas Bonus, and the new Back to Work Family Dividend.<

The 25% bonus was paid in the first week of December 2014 to over 1.2 million social welfare customers, mainly pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, lone parents and long-term unemployed people.

The Annual Report 2014 is available on the Department of Social Protection’s website at http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Annual-Reports_holder.aspx

ENDS

Last modified:25/05/2015
 

 Annual Report