Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Community Welfare Services

4:45 pm

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State for his reply. Unfortunately the reality in County Laois does not correspond with what he has outlined. Councillors from the Government parties raised this matter at the monthly meeting of Laois County Council last Monday and are very exercised about it. It is a real problem. I understand the Minister cannot be here and appreciate that the Minister of State is standing in for her. I ask the Minister of State to get the Minister to investigate this and examine what the situation is on the ground. What she sent me in this letter of 8 September and what the Minister of State has outlined is just not the case. The Minister of State has outlined that it is a safety net. It is a safety net and the last hope for a lot of people. The Minister of State mentioned that people are doing back-office work and preparatory work. Sometimes the people who are going in need help filling out forms, be it the community welfare, the supplementary allowance form, the additional needs form or the urgent needs payment form. They need help with those. The CWO going around and having the local network of five or six clinics in a county provided that help for them. The further we take things away, the more complicated they get.

The other thing that is missing is that there was a local appeals system. There was a superintendent in each county or one for every two counties. If a case failed, there was an opportunity for the person to appeal to that superintendent. Now it goes to D'Olier Street and by the time it comes out of D'Olier Street, God help anybody who would be waiting on it. The Minister of State knows from his own office that it can take six or nine months or longer to get stuff back from D'Olier Street. If there was a justifiable, genuine case there, the appeal could be made to the local superintendent who would review the case again and maybe there was additional information required. We cannot pull away all of that. People talking to a phone, getting through to a chasing line telling them to press this button, press that button, or trying to download forms on a computer when they do not have a computer just does not work. This is causing real hardship. People who are in this situation are already in hardship. I do not want to see them put in further hardship. I am appealing to the Government and the Minister of State to review this and try and get the network back in place in County Laois.


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