Foreword from the Minister
I welcome this final Report, in respect of our Department's Statement of Strategy 2005-2007, which outlines the delivery of services in 2007.
Our income and supports services impact on the lives of almost every person in the State. Over 1 million people each week claim a social welfare payment and, when qualified adults and children are included, a total of more than 1.5 million people benefit from weekly payments. In addition, over 580,000 families receive child benefit payments each month. The total expenditure by our Department in 2007 was just over €15.45 billion or €1 in every €3 of day-to-day spending by the State.
I wish to thank all members of staff of the Department for helping to make this happen. I wish to acknowledge the leadership provided by Ministers Seamus Brennan and Martin Cullen during 2007.
This Annual Report once again clearly shows the very positive impact of the Department's services on the lives of many thousands of people in a range of socio-economic situations. This was achieved through direct payments and supporting people to avail of relevant work, training, education or development opportunities.
This Report is, above all, a statement of the progress made in social welfare provision in 2007, outlining improvements in customer service through improved access to front-line services and in information technology which greatly facilitates the delivery of services.
The payment increases delivered through the implementation of the social welfare provisions of the Budget show the commitment that exists to people at all stages of the lifecycle. A key feature of Budget 2007 was that it introduced a number of significant reforms of social policy. Specifically, these:
- tackled remaining child poverty by combining three levels of qualified child increases into a standard higher rate;
- further supported carers through the introduction of an entitlement in certain circumstances to retain a full social welfare payment and to receive, in addition, up to half-rate Carer's Allowance; and
- increased the status and incomes of women pensioners by making progress towards a Government commitment to bring the qualified adult increase up to the level of the State Pension (Non- Contributory) within three years, starting in 2007. Provision was also made to have the qualified adult increase of State Pensions paid directly to the qualified adult.
The other major event in 2007 was the publication of the Government's Green Paper on Pensions which outlines the major policy choices and challenges in the pensions area. Our Department will, in 2008, facilitate further consultations in this regard in order to assist the Government
Mary Hanafin TD
Minister for Social and Family Affairs