Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Social Welfare Benefits Reviews
I have only become aware from the past couple of months that the targets we set down in the Department for all of the services regarding the payments we facilitate are fairly ambitious. An appeal should take no longer than 12 weeks although clearly that is not always the reality. I am not apportioning blame to either the Department or to people but there is a sense, which I have experienced, that some people are holding back information for when the Department says "No" so that we can pull something out to give them something else. If people give all the information at the outset then hopefully they will never get to an appeal because if they are entitled to something, they should get it. If they give all of the information required for a successful outcome, they will get a successful outcome. I can say genuinely that some people expect to be refused so they hold something back for the appeal and when the appeal comes, they give the Department further information. If I can do nothing else, it is to reiterate to people applying for any social welfare payment that it is their money and that they are entitled to it. If they have made contributions, they will get the benefit and if they have not, they will get an allowance that will be mean-tested but it is taxpayers' money and it is a social contract that is designed to ensure that people are uplifted at a time when they need it most - be it through a disability or the loss of a job. People should give all of the information at the start of the application and it will be much easier.