Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Social Welfare Benefits Reviews
I do not want to flog a dead horse. We are all aware the primary purpose of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection system is to provide income supports to individuals and families when their circumstances, through loss of income or hardship, require it.
My Department provides a broad range of income support payments for such circumstances including illness or disability and to support the valuable service provided by care givers.
These payments account for a significant proportion of the Department's budget with expenditure on illness, disability and carers' payments amounting to just under €4 billion this year, which is nearly one fifth of the Department's overall spend. In this way, income support payments such as disability allowance, invalidity pension and carer's allowance are designed to play an important role in addressing social exclusion and minimising the possibility of hardship for recipients. The application and decision procedures reflect this overall objective.
Evidence from national income surveys such as the CSO's Survey on Income and Living Conditions, SILC, shows that social transfers do play a very significant role in reducing poverty and hardship by cutting the risk of poverty for people with disabilities in half. These results demonstrate effective social protection spending and Ireland continues to be among the best performing EU countries in reducing poverty and inequality through social transfers.
Nonetheless, I can assure the Deputy that a reduction in measured poverty rates for people with a disability is a key priority of the Government. We will continue to keep the range of supports under review as well as implement the comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities. I think the Deputy will be aware that we launched the Ability programme on Monday, a new structure is being rolled out in all of our EmployAbility services and the Make Work Pay strategy is implemented. We need to ensure better outcomes and incomes for people with disabilities with regard to employment and State support services.